Lloyd Webber Stage Makeup Tutorials

"This face which earned a mother's fear and loathing; a mask, my first unfeeling scrap of clothing..."

The Phantom's appearance in Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1986 stage musical is an iconic image of pop culture. Even people who have never seen the musical know what that image represents.

The Phantom's congenital condition (birth defect) affects the right side of his face and head. His lip is usually enlarged on the top (sometimes the bottom as well) and pulled upwards, his right cheek is twisted and misshapen. He has some kind of crater-like malformation on the side of his head. The Phantom also suffers from apparent alopecia, with sparse patches of wispy hair dotting the left side of his head.

This affliction varies slightly from each production, even within the production through the years. London in 2023 does not look like London from the 1980s; Broadway went through several variations during its 35-year run, and some of the world tour deformities were wildly different from the original London makeup. As the show ages and the Brilliant Original model slowly fades away, giving way to more non-replica productions, we are seeing more and more variation on the Phantom's makeup.

Like other versions of the makeup design, the ALW stage show inspires thousands of eager fans to attempt to replicate this memorable look. But for those who have never done stage or effects makeup before, this can be extremely intimidating. The two tutorials below offer two different approaches: one will use pre-made prosthetics, one will utilize liquid latex and cotton to be built up on the face.

Phantom Prosthetics

Prosthetics are pre-made applicances that are glued on to the actor's face, edges blended into the skin, and painted to match. Phantom prosthetics may be made out of slip (liquid) latex, foam latex, silicone, gelatin, or foam gelatin. Smaller appliances (for small wounds, zombie bites, lacerations, etc) are commonly made out of prosthetic adhesive transfer materials. ALW Phantom prosthetics typically consist of a lip/cheek piece, the "skull crater" and possibly a lower lip piece if desired.

Where to Purchase Prosthetics:   Studio D FX (ships worldwide)

Prosthetic Adhesives:
Never use spirit gum to glue a prosthetic to your face. Always use medical grade adhesives such as Pros-Aide ("prosthetic adhesive") or a silicone-based adhesive such as Telesis to adhere the prosthetic. Spirit gum is too weak and often crystalizes quickly when exposed to sweat. Pros-Aide and Telesis last much longer and provide a much stronger/secure hold. If using these stronger adhesives, you must use an adhesive remover such as Isopropyl Myristrate, Super-Solv, Bond-Off, etc.

DO NOT pull prosthetics off your face without first dissolving the glue with one of the above solvents.

Applying a Bald Cap

Bald caps may be used if the cosplayer or actor wishes to do the "full" Phantom deformity as seen in Act II of the stage show, with the skull deformity and alopecia fully exposed. Bald caps may also be used if the cosplayer/actor has longer hair that they wish to conceal. Bald caps are made out of either latex or plastic/vinyl. Adhere them using either Pros-Aide or Telesis.
While latex/rubber bald caps are less expensive, thicker, and more durable, they are impossible to blend seamlessly into the skin. However, plastic caps, while thinner and more expensive, can be blended perfectly into the skin using acetone. This careful blending process makes it look as if the actor is truly bald, not just wearing a cap.

The video to the right beautifully demonstrates the application of a plastic bald cap. Bald caps are usually applied by a makeup artist or assistant. They can be applied on your own head by yourself, but it can be extremely difficult to get it to lay flat in the back.

Using a bald cap is not mandatory for Phantom makeup and cosplay.

- Prosthetics (Studio D FX or make your own using my prosthetic tutorial)
- Prosthetic adhesive (Pros-Aide, Telesis, or other medical-grade adhesive. NOT spirit gum)
- Adhesive remover (Bond-Off, Super-Solv, isopropyl myristrate, etc)
- Foundation Makeup (greasepaint, creme, water-based cake makeup, alcohol activated, etc)
- Translucent Setting Powder (for creme and greasepaint makeups) and powder puff(s)
- Contour: Eye liner/shadow for highlights/shadows (or cream makeup highlights/shadows)
- Lipstick/color
- Makeup wedges and/or beauty blenders
- Makeup brushes
- Disposables: cotton buds, cotton balls, makeup pads
- Fake or crepe hair to apply to create alopecia look

Optional Supplies:
- Skin primer or barrier such as Telesis TopGuard (highly recommended)
- Zinc Oxide (reduces sweat underneath prosthetic)
- Setting Spray to prevent the final makeup from rubbing off

The Key to a Great Makeup? Edges

The most important part of a convincing three-dimensional makeup using prosthetics is the blending edge of the appliance. This is where the prosthetic meets and transitions into your actual skin. A good prosthetic, no matter the material (slip latex, foam latex, silicone, etc) will have a paper thin, irregular edge. Straight or smooth edges, or thick edges, attract the eye immediately and are a dead giveaway that there is a prosthetic on the face. It ruins the illusion. While the application and paint is important, none of that matters if the edges are poorly done.

Always be sure to protect the delicate edges of your prosthetic appliances by keeping them clean and stored flat until it's time for application.

Can Prosthetics Be Used More Than Once?

Generally speaking, no. It is tempting to purchase a decent set of prosthetics and use them multiple times throughout a convention season to save money. However, any appliance with a decent blending edge is never going to glue back down as smoothly as it does the first time. Good blending edges are so thin, so irregular, and so delicate, that cleaning them thoroughly enough to store and reapply is extremely difficult. As a result, they are likely to catch on themselves and fold, creating obvious creases. Additionally, using a prosthetic multiple times is somewhat unsanitary and not recommended.

Slip (dried liquid) latex prosthetics are durable enough to be used twice if carefully removed and cleaned. However, foam latex and silicone applicances are too delicate and are strictly a one-time use only material.

Applying Prosthetics
  1. Clean skin with soap/water and then apply witch hazel or TopGuard to remove any excess oils prior to placing prosthetics
  2. Place prosthetic on the face (no glue) until in desired position then apply translucent powder on the outside edge to outline where you want the appliance to go. Place the appliance back on the table
  3. Apply adhesive to center of prosthetic, being careful not to place glue near the delicate edges
  4. Place adhesive on your skin in the center where the prosthetic will go. Allow the adhesive to dry clear
  5. Place the prosthetic on the face and press gently, allowing the adhesive on the skin and prosthetic to bond
  6. Once center is secured, carefully place adhesive under the edge of the prosthetic in small sections, working your way around the prosthetic slowly and ensuring there are no gaps in the adhesive coverage
  7. Slip or foam latex prosthetics: Once appliance is completely glued down and edges smoothed, take pros-aide and cover over the top edge of the prosthetic into the skin. Allow dry.
  8. Press translucent powder into the dry pros-aide over top of the appliance edge. Brush off excess. This will help hide the edge and create a smoother blend into the skin
  9. Silicone prosthetics: dissolve/blend out the edges using a cotton bud dipped in acetone. Roll down and away from the center of the prosthetic to burn away the flashing and blend the appliance seamlessly into the skin
Finishing the Phantom Makeup
Lots of attention is given to the disfigured side of the face, but don't forget to give that left side the same effort and attention! A completed makeup is a believable makeup. The video above also discusses how to finish the "good" side of the face to tie the makeup together and give you that professional look.
  1. Blend the "good" side of the face with the prosthetics by applying the foundation makeup of choice to your bare skin and up into the prosthetic slightly. Powder if using greasepaint or creme makeup
  2. Contour cheeks, temples, jawline, and nose to reshape and age the face as desired. Non-male identifying cosplayers: search YouTube for genderswap (female to male) makeup tips
  3. Apply lip color as desired.
  4. Powder and seal finished makeup with setting spray to prevent/minimize smudges
  5. If doing alopecia look, apply alopecia wig or lay loose hair on bald cap
    1. LINK: Hair laying tutorial

Photos below are the Studio D FX "Original Crawford" prosthetics, painted and applied by me at MusicalCon 2023:

Applying "Out of Kit" Latex/Cotton (no prosthetics)

Utilize this technique if you do not have any pre-made prosthetics to use.

* Avoid getting liquid latex in your hair or clothing.  It is difficult/impossible to remove! 
* Avoid using Barrier Spray or No-Sweat spray around your eyes
* Allow about two hours from start to finish

- Liquid Latex
- Cotton balls
- Foundation Makeup (greasepaint, creme, water-based, etc)
- Translucent Setting Powder (for creme and greasepaint makeups)
- Eye liner/shadow for highlights/lowlights (or cream makeup highlights/lowlights)
- Lipstick/color
- Makeup sponges
- Sponge paint brushes

Optional Supplies:
- Castor Sealer (for creme makeup)
- ProFace No-Sweat Spray
- Prosthetic adhesive (such as Telesis, Pros-Aide, medical adhesive, etc....requires remover)
- Barrier/Setting Spray

Types of Makeup:
There are numerous options to choose from when it comes to selecting the type of makeup (foundation) to use.  Generally speaking, stay away from everyday street makeup you can find in drug stores, etc, and stick to theatrical quality makeup.  It'll have much better coverage and therefore be much more effective.  I've stuck to creme makeup over the years, but one thing to keep in mind if using creme makeup is the need for castor sealer as well.  You cannot put creme makeup on latex, because the latex will begin to break down.  Creme makeup lacks the castor oil ingredient to prevent this, so before you put on any cream makeup, you must put castor sealer on the latex first.  Let that sit ten minutes or so, then wipe the excess off.  After that you can apply the creme makeup over the latex and continue.  Creme makeup also requires the use of setting powder to set the makeup and prevent it from rubbing off all over you and your clothing.  Rubber mask grease paint (RMGP) is a widely used makeup made especially for latex appliances, therefore requires no preparation with the castor sealer.  I would suggest RMGP only for use on the appliances, though, and not the entire face.  Use creme, water-based, etc makeup everywhere else if you choose RMGP for the latex.  RMGP also requires powder to set it, and generally much more powder than creme makeup does.  Water-based cake makeup is another option, and should not require any special preparation.  Finally, alcohol-activated makeup is a fine choice that does not need any preparation or setting materials like spray or powder.  It stays put on one's face very well on its own.  However, it's generally much pricier than other options listed here.  For a list of theatrical makeup websites, scroll to the bottom of my Makeup page.

Covering Eyebrows:
You may want to cover your brow to conceal it and protect the hair from the latex.  You can purchase eyebrow plastic to cover, use gelatin such as Mehron 3D Gel, or go especially low-tech with a simple bar of soap.  To use this method, simply dampen the soap and rub it into the brow with and against the hair growth until all the hair is well covered.  Smooth the hair down and cover with cream makeup, latex, or whatever other product you intend on using.  Spirit gum and glue sticks also work well for blocking out eyebrows.

Advice on Adhesives:
Spirit gum is a favorite sell for Halloween shops, but it is a poor choice for attaching prosthetics.  It is much better suited for lace hair pieces and crepe hair.  It is cheap and easily found, but be aware that there are higher quality products available.  A silicone or acrylic based adhesive such as Telesis or Pros-Aide, respectively, will offer a much more secure bond.   Be aware that these more powerful adhesives require a proper removal agent.
Creating the Stage Disfigurement
1.  Start with a clean face
2.  Pour small amount of liquid latex onto disposable plate or dish (after allowing it to sit in the open bottle for a moment to allow ammonia smell to dissipate) and dip sponge brush into it
3.  Use the sponges or sponge paint brushes to apply in thin layers to desired area (in my case the cheek, around the nose/mouth, and just under the jaw)
4.  Rip cotton balls into desired size and roll pieces of cotton in latex
5.  Apply to face in desired areas and allow to dry
6.  Apply several layers of latex over the cotton to help smooth and secure it
7.  Once finished with latex applications, apply Castor Sealer to latex (ONLY if using creme makeup) and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes, then wipe it off
8.  Apply foundation makeup with sponge
9.  Apply setting powder to help set the creme or greasepaint makeup and prevent it from smudging
10.  Create highlights/lowlights using eye liner and eye shadow to desired effect (if using cream highlights/shadows, powder after each color)
11.  Apply lip color as desired.
12.  Spray setting spray over face and all areas covered by makeup to prevent it from rubbing off (consider using cotton balls to apply the setting spray in order to prevent it from getting in the eyes)

* Apply prosthetic adhesive to glue the edges back down if/when latex separates from the skin (remove using an adhesive remover or 90+% Isopropyl Alcohol)
* To remove the latex (with no adhesive), simply peel off.  Remove foundation makeup with makeup remover cloths, cold cream, etc
* If using gelatin to cover eyebrows or as a substitute for the latex, see the gelatin tutorial for instructions