Simulate Smoke Inhalation

Tips on how to simulate facial burns, burned-off eyebrows, and soot.

Smoke inhalation is the leading cause of death in fires. It can cause thermal injury to the upper airway and injury from toxic gases, including carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide. Typical external signs of smoke inhalation are facial burns, singed/burned hair, and soot deposits around the nostrils and mouth.

To simulate facial burns, use a creme makeup like Kryolan’s Burn & Injury Wheel (Art #1307). Prepare a white makeup sponge by picking off tiny bits to make an uneven texture. Apply the burn makeup with the picked sponge using a stippling motion. Set the makeup with neutral set powder applied with a large powder brush; remove excess powder with a soft fan brush.

You can simulate burned-off eyebrows by carefully working Nose & Scar Wax into the brow. A tiny amount of water-based lubricant, applied to your fingers, will keep the wax from sticking while you smooth it out. Cover the wax with burn makeup.

To simulate soot, apply Ben Nye Charcoal Powder under the nose and around the mouth using a damp, picked makeup sponge. Once you have the effect you want, set the powder by spraying with a matte makeup sealer. Ask the person to hold their breath and close their eyes while the sealer is being applied.

Safety note: Do not use real charcoal or ash on human skin. The Ben Nye character powders are made from skin-safe cosmetic colours. Real wood ash may be caustic (source: “Use caution with wood ash on your lawn and garden”, Peg Herring; Dan Smith (Soil Science), Oregon State University Extension Service, January 1, 2011).

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