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Scary Scars and Wrinkles Made with Collodion

Ok, moms and dads, push the children from the room and close the door. We gotta talk. Done? Good. Look, its about scarring the kids. Not scaring the kids, though that would be fun, but scarring the kids. I’m not calling the Division of Family services; in fact, I want you to scar the kids… not for life, but just for Halloween.

I think I have a pretty good idea how you’ve been doing it up ‘til now: You’ve been going to the corner store and buying that cheap Halloween make-up to try to make your kids scary – as if they weren’t already 🙂 If you are like my mother, she used to put band-aids on my face to create the effect. Nope, sorry, not good enough.

It’s time to graduate, inexpensively, to the big time, like the professionals use: In one word, collodion.

Collodion has been around a long time for theater and movies. It comes from the Greek word meaning “glue”. It is a material called pyroxylin that is dissolved in ether and alcohol, and was originally used in the early 1800’s as a primitive band-aid. Way back then it was used to “glue” wounds back together by simply pouring it on the wound, or by using strips of cloth dipped in collodian and then stretched across the wound, pulling it tight. Then, since around the middle to late 1850’s, it has earned about a gazillion other uses, including photography, optics, plastics, etc…

When exposed to air, the ether and alcohol evaporates off, leaving the material that was dissolved to harden and shrink – which is why we want to use it to make scars, or even wrinkles! It temporarily shrinks and wrinkles the skin, making it look like scar tissue!

A Word of Caution – VERY FLAMMABLE

CAUTION: Remember, this stuff is for professionals, and there is a reason: Collodion is extremely flammable. And PLEASE, PLEASE don’t let children use this stuff themselves. Make sure you are where there is adequate ventilation. Don’t use it near the eyes, and don’t get it in the eyes. That would be like getting Super Glue in your eye. Ouch. That would also mean a trip to the emergency room. Am I making my point here? An adult must supervise the use of collodion.

Where to Buy Collodion

You’re going to have to buy some somewhere – try Amazon. Because it’s so flammable, you can’t get this stuff at WalMart. Unless you live near a theatrical store, you’ll have to buy it online. Usually it’s only about $5 for a small bottle, and you only need a small bottle. I have a bottle that I bought 15 years ago, and it’s still more than half full. DO NOT buy the “flexable collodion”, as it does not shrink when it dries. You want “rigid collodion”, which is the theatrical stuff.

How to Create Your Costume Scar

  1. What Types of Scar?

    First, decide what kind of scar you’re going to have. The choices are:

    • short scars
    • long scars
    • pock marks
    • wrinkles
  2. Prepare the Area

    Prepare the skin area by washing it with soap that has no oils or lanolins. This stuff works even when the skin is oily, but better if it is not. Make sure the skin is dry before application.

    collodion-before-scarTo make the scar even more gory, “draw” the scar with red, or purple ink first, and then lay the collodion down over it. The ink will show through.

    (I once made a scar that went from above my eyebrow to my jaw line, like I must have gotten it in a knife fight or something. I then went to a gathering of people who didn’t know me; the scar was so real that people would not make eye contact, and would talk to me while looking away. I’m a good looking guy, if I do say so myself! But the sky is the limit.)

  3. Apply the Collodion

    I use a small paint brush, but you can use cotton swabs or, if you are making a large area wrinkled or scarred, you can just pour it on. Use a larger brush, and you get a larger area (this is how they make people look old in the movies or on stage), or keep re-applying it to the same swath with a small brush to make a nasty scar.

    You can make “pock” marks by dabbing in one spot. The more layers you lay down, the deeper the scar.

collodion and brushcollodion-first-application
ANOTHER CAUTION: This stuff, as it dries, pulls the skin in tight, and that is why it looks so much like a scar. However, that also means it can be uncomfortable after a while. Little kids may not like having this on their skin, so be aware of this.


Removing the Scar

The instructions on the bottle say to peal it off, but from my experience that can be a bit painful. Better to use fingernail polish remover. Again, needless to say but I’m going to say it anyway, make sure there is adequate ventilation and don’t get this stuff in your eye!

Ok. Order it. Use it. Scare people. Or, make people feel sorry for you and put money in your tin can. Simple.

Happy Haunting!

About David Lay

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  1. That’s so funny–your knife scar story! I once went to Halloween party as Little Red Riding Hood, and pretended the wolf ate half my arm. I tucked my arm under the cape and fashioned the stub (elbow) with blood, “fur” and teeth from the wolf. I was later told that people who didn’t know me thought I was amputee. (“Pretty girl, shame about the arm…”) Ha, ha

  2. this stuff is awesome!!!!!!!!!!!! im gonna scare the living daylights out of everyone at my halloween/b-day party, which is somewhat of a legend amoung my friends.

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