Witte Artistry


Updates on Witte Artistry projects and other information relevant to makeup effects art.

Fx Makeup Basics: How to use Alcohol Activated Makeup (Skin Illustrator, etc)- Witte Artistry

When starting off into the makeup world, things can be a little daunting. There’s just so many different brands and types of makeup, how in the world are you supposed to know what you need for a project and how to use it? Well, I am writing this blog to explain what alcohol activated paint is, when and how to use it, and where to find it, to save you the frustration.

What is Alcohol Activated Paint/ Makeup?

Alcohol Activated paint is a type of bodypaint / makeup that has it’s pigment (the color making material) suspended in a special polymer base that dissolves only in alcohol. What this means is that the makeup product will stay solid and unmoving in the wells until 99% isopropyl alcohol comes into contact with it. Do not use water to try to activate the paint, for it will not work and will only make the makeup sad and wet. When the makeup is “activated” that means that it is ready to use. Also, note that only 99% isopropyl alcohol will activate the paint.

The most well known Alcohol Activated paint in the united states in Skin Illustrator.


FIND 99% ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL HERE: http://amzn.to/2k81ytL

What to use Alcohol Activated Makeup on?

Since this type of makeup can only be activated and removed using alcohol, the makeup tends to have a strong resilience to water and sweat. That means it is commonly used on skin in wet climates or water based scenes in movies and tv shows. Pirates of the Caribbean used a lot of alcohol activated makeup for the scenes that take place during a storm or out at sea. DO NOT use alcohol activated makeup near the eyes because the alcohol’s fumes are an irritant and DO NOT use the paint on the lips because it will sting and dry the skin out.

Because of the makeup’s properties, it can also be used on artificial surfaces such as silicone prosthetics, gelatin prosthetics, and/or nose and scar wax.

How to Use It

First add 99% isopropyl alcohol to the makeup well or to a mixing palette. I either use a spray bottle to activate the makeup well or I just dump some directly from the alcohol bottle. Then use a makeup brush or sponge to massage the alcohol into the dried makeup color beneath it. You will notice that the clear alcohol will start to take on the color of the puck beneath it. The more you lather the brush into the makeup puck, the more pigment becomes suspended in the alcohol, and in turn makes the paint a more concentrated color.

Then you use the brush to paint light washes of a color onto your skin or a gelatin, silicone, or nose and scar wax surface. The paint will apply like water color (in light washes) and then dry in less than 10 seconds.

The main purpose of this makeup type is to maintain a type of translucency. Alcohol activated makeup, when applied in light washes, appears translucent and almost “sits under the skin”. So, when using this type of paint, make sure you apply it in gradual thin layers! You can always add more, but it is harder to remove it.

To change the intensity/ concentration of a color, simply modify the amount of alcohol you are using. The more alcohol you use with less of the paint pigment, the lighter the color will be!

How to Remove the Make up

Even out of its container, the makeup is still only alcohol activated, so it can only be removed with 99% isopropyl alcohol. What I like to do it use a spray bottle to coat the colored area with alcohol, then simple remove the alcohol and pigment with a baby wipe.

Since alcohol does dehydrate your skin, please apply lotion after removing a makeup look.

Benefits of using Alcohol Activated Makeup

  • Highly water/sweat resistant

  • Creates gradual washes of color

  • Easily Portable

  • The product lasts a long time

  • Appears to lay under the skin so it is more realistic

  • Great for small details

  • Great for small wounds

Cons of using Alcohol Activated Makeup

  • Typically it is more expensive than creme, grease, and water activated makeup

  • Alcohol fumes are irritating to the eyes, lips, and nasal passages


I hope you enjoyed this blog and found it helpful! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me on the “contact us section”

Photo from FormX.eu.

You can follow my art and projects here:




For business inquiries:


To childhood imagination: may it never die.

-Kim Witte-

CEO, Branding Master, Makeup Artist

Witte Artistry, LLC