• Shane A.S. Ritchie, CFSP

Building Your Cosmetic Kit

Updated: Jul 31


BRUSHES My favorite brushes are made by Bdellium Tools (www.bdelliumtools.com). They are not the cheapest but I find that cheap brushes don't gold up and are a source of frustration. I would rather spend a little extra on quality brushes. My favorites are their SFX and Maestro lines. I always carry the following brushes:

• SFX 195 Large Stippling • SFX 193 Small Stippling (which is more of a medium stippling) • SFX 191 Precision Stippling • SFX 190 Mini Stippling • SFX 156 Veining • SFX 174 FX5 • SFX 127 Large Glue • SFX 184 Water Color • SFX 167 Finger • SFX 110 Splatter • SFX 108 Precision Splatter • Maestro 980 Large Natural Powder • Maestro 546 Square Lip • Maestro 733 Lash

I also carry some cheap 1” chip brushes, both trimmed and untrimmed for splattering work with the alcohol activated palettes and a few cheap acid brushes for miscellaneous uses. It is very important to keep your brushes clean. I would use nothing else other than the NecroMetics® Brush Cleaner. Not only does it clean better than any other cleaner that I have tried (and I have tried many), it also sanitizes your brushes, killing germs that can be spread from body to body or even to the makeup artist. Also store your brushes in a protective case. Don’t just throw them in your kit or a drawer.


There are many airbrushes on the market, but my choice, and the choice of professional makeup artists has always generally been Iwata (www.iwata-airbrush.com). The two that I use and recommend are the HP-CS (Iwata Eclipse HP-CS Gravity Feed Dual Action Airbrush) and the HP-C Plus (Iwata High Performance HP-C Plus Gravity Feed Dual Action Airbrush). Both are gravity feed, dual action airbrushes. The HP-CS is slightly less expensive and doesn’t have the adjustable trigger control, but either can do a great job with cosmetics. I highly recommend starting with one of these two airbrushes because you will know for sure that if you can’t airbrush properly, it’s you and not the tool. Airbrushing is a skill that requires practice, just like any other. You cant just buy an airbrush and think that your cosmetic work is going to soar to new heights automatically.

As for compressors, I use and recommend either the Iwata SilverJet (Iwata Silver Jet 110-120V Airbrush Compressor) which is smaller and easily portable yet powerful enough to handle cosmetic work. My other choice and the compressor I use at my shop is the Iwata SmartJet Pro (Iwata Smart Jet Pro 110-120V Airbrush Compressor). It is larger and not as portable but has dual filters and a wider pressure range.

No matter which airbrush and compressor you choose, I recommend equipping your airbrush and hose with an Iwata quick disconnect kit (Iwata QuickFit Quick Disconnect Set) and your airbrush with an Iwata pistol grip (Iwata Pistol-Grip Moisture Filter). Not only will the quick disconnect increase your convenience factor many times over, the moisture filter will keep any moisture from your hose from mixing with your cosmetics which can cause sputtering, improper coverage, etc.

I also use and suggest an Iwata cleaning kit (Iwata Airbrush Cleaning Kit). Cleaning your airbrush after every use is essential to proper operation.

TIP: If using alcohol-based airbrush cosmetics, such as those from NecroMetics®, be sure to flush and clean your airbrush first with NecroActivator™ or 99% alcohol before you perform a regular cleaning.

One last item I use and recommend is an Iwata Spray Pot (Iwata Universal Spray Out Pot). This will keep cleaning chemicals out of your breathing zone when cleaning your airbrush. I consider it a must.

I purchase my airbrushes, compressors, and accessories from www.coastairbrush.com


Airbrushing NecroPAX™ is an excellent way to achieve quick, smooth coverage but there are some considerations. First, I DO NOT recommend using your Iwata airbrush for spraying NecroPAX™. It is just too easy to clog your expensive precision airbrush and cause a difficult cleaning problem. For spraying NecroPAX™, I use and recommend the Paasche H Series Airbrush HS-202S or the HS-Set (www.paascheairbrush.com/product-category/airbrush/airbrush-airbrushes/single-action/)

The H-Set is considered the “Tank” of airbrushes. It is an external mix, single action airbrush that is tough, easy to clean, and inexpensive. The set comes with many accessories, three different head sizes, and is ideal for spraying thinned NecroPAX™. Simply flush and clean with NecroPAX™ Airbrush Cleaner after every use. DO NOT allow the thinned NecroPAX™ to dry in the airbrush. Should some NecroPAX™ dry in the head, soak in acetone to soften and remove.

You can use your Iwata compressor with the Paasche H-Series, but it may require a hose adaptor. Always use the Iwata Quick Disconnect set and Pistol Grip filter with the Paasche airbrush. Slightly higher-pressure settings may be needed to spray thinned NecroPAX™. NEVER try to spray non-thinned NecroPAX™. ALWAYS thin NecroPAX™ in a 1:1 ratio with NecroPAX™ Thinner and mix thoroughly before spraying. A small metal cup or ramekin (www.samsclub.com/p/stainless-steel-sauce-cups-12pk/185782?xid=plp_product_1_1) and a battery powered Badger paint mixer (http://badgerairbrush.com/Acessories_7.asp) are ideal for this.

SUNDRY ITEMS There are many other items that I carry in my kit. Some are specialized cosmetic items; others are just basic supplies. I will give you a rundown of items and make specific recommendations where I feel they are necessary.

Lip Palettes – For the most part I use just one actual lip palette. It is the Dodge 8 in 1 Lip Color Kit #031861 from the Dodge Company (www.dodgeco.com). It contains a good assortment of colors and they are highly pigmented so it doesn’t take much. Just remember; natural lips are not all one color. You need to learn and train your eyes to recognize the variations in hues and tones throughout the lips. I also often use custom mixes of alcohol-activated palette colors for lips. I’ll cover lips in much more detail in another post.

Powder – For years I have used RCMA No Color Powder for all my cosmetics work. It is an excellent finishing powder. We will soon be releasing a new, improved powder on our web store. Created by Skin Illustrator ZeroColor Powder was the result of nearly a year of development but I feel it is the best I have ever used.

Eyebrow pencils, false eyelashes, and mascaras – I prefer a selection of browns, blondes, and charcoals. Solid black is generally too pronounced unless a person used it and was recognized for the heavy color. These are available anywhere and I have not noticed much difference from one to another. I usually get mine from Frends Beauty Supply. (www.frendsbeauty.com).

Spirit Gum – A must for hair replacement work. I use and prefer the Matte Spirits Gel from PPI (www.ppipremiereproducts.com/collections/adhesives-removers/products/ppi-spirits-gel). It is the standard for professional work. Paint it on a small area and allow a few minutes for it to become tacky before applying hair. Tapping very lightly with a piece of nylon hosiery can help adherence after it has been allowed to set for a few minutes.

Crepe Hair – Made from wool, crepe hair is used to replace missing hair. Colors must be blended and hair must be straightened but it can be of great use when human hair is not available. I usually get it from Frends Beauty Supply. It is applied with spirit gum. I’ll be doing a full blog post on hair replacement in an upcoming post.

Q-Tips – Many uses.

Plaster Bandage – Used for many purposes such as re-enforcing fractures, building up areas that had to be excised, etc. Get the fast setting type. You can get these on Amazon, Frends Beauty Supply, and most shops that sell mold making supplies.

Airbrush Foundation – I use Skin Illustrator alcohol-based airbrush cosmetics. They are considered the industry

standard and offer better coverage without looking caked on. They will not rub off from touching, kissing, etc. They also will not absorb into areas of razor burn or abrasions like water-based

cosmetics do. I always use a sealer over foundations, whether airbrush or NecroPAX™. Skin Illustrator Green Marble™ is my choice. It will soon be available on our web store. It is not shiny when dry and resists not only water but also alcohol-based products, which makes it a perfect sealer before using alcohol-activated palette cosmetics for adding pointillism and variegation. You can spray it between various shades of color to add depth.

3M Super 77 spray adhesive – Available at Lowes or Home Depot, this adhesive has multiple uses and is much better than any other adhesive spray I have used.

Lip Wax – I use Dodge (www.dodgeco.com) pink lip wax to fill in tiny gaps of the lips or inner canthus of eyes. I DO NOT wax the entire surface of the lips with colored waxes as some do as this tends to create a one-dimensional, mannequin like appearance.

Lace Hair Pieces, Beards, Moustaches, Eyebrows – These can be time savers. Trim and apply with PPI Spirit Gum. Trim and pluck to desired shape. I get mine from Frends Beauty Supply (www.frendsbeauty.com).

Dental Floss – For suturing lacerations.

Vaseline - Mainly I use it with the tissue reducer, Can be used on eyecaps. I don't like it on the lips that much because it is hard to remove and, contrary to popular thought, doesn't actually add moisture. It simply holds in moisture that is already there and forms a dehydrating seal from the air. If the lips are already dehydrated, it wont do anything.

Electric Tissue Reducer - For removing wrinkles in skin after swollen eye repair, edema reduction, etc. I carry two so that one can be heating while the other is in use and switch back and forth. They must be very hot in order to work properly. I purchased mine from Dodge (www.dodgeco.com) Be sure to use plenty of Vaseline on the tissue to avoid burning. Also, don't "drag" the tip across the skin. Just touch for a second and move over in a straight direction. Continue until wrinkles are gone. Use more Vaseline as needed. Clean the area thoroughly before attempting cosmetics. Acetone will likely be required to remove residue.

Electric Hair & Beard Trimmer – I prefer the rechargeable cordless type.

Hair Dryer – Make sure it has a COOL setting.

Facial Tissues - Many uses.

Tissue Builder and Remover - Use to fill in emaciated areas. I prefer the Dodge brand and use both the Normal and the type with formaldehyde, depending on the case. I inject with a syringe and a 20 gauge needle. Be careful not to overuse. Not all bodies need tissue builder. You can "turn back the clock" too far and create the "they don't quite look like themselves phenomenon" if you aren't careful. Be especially careful when using on lips. It's easy to enlarge the lips too much and it is difficult to reverse once it's been done. The remover is used mainly to clean your syringe and needle after use.

Webril Prep Towels - Numerous uses. Don't use plain Webril in the mouth. It will act as a wick and cause the lips to dry out. I like to dip strips in Dodge Restorative before using it to fill out a mouth to avoid this problem.

Stainless Steel Cups or Ramekins – Handy for many things. I get mine at Sam’s Club.

Spray Bottle of Distilled Water – Many uses, such as smoothing NecroDerm™ Prosthetic Skin Compound Wax Replacer.

Acetone – Used for blending edges on NecroDerm™ Prosthetic Skin Sheets, cleaning NecroPAX™ from airbrush, removing nail polish, etc. Available from Lowes, Home Depot, etc.

Clay Modeling Tools – Used to shape and sculpt NecroClay™. Available from Blick Art, Frends Beauty Supply, Hobby Lobby, or most any sculpture store.

Super Glue – Numerous uses. I get mine from Harbor Freight Tools (https://www.harborfreight.com/10-piece-high-strength-super-glue-68345.html) because it is inexpensive and not too thin like many of the expensive mortuary brands.

Tech Bond Accelerator – Used to instantly set super glue. A must have. (https://tbbonding.com/accelerators/%E2%80%8E) . They make a Prep Room kit that is nice also.

Small Flashlight – Used to cross-light NecroDerm™ Prosthetic Skin Wax Replacer repairs to ensure seamless edges and smooth application.

Electronics Duster – Comes in a can and is generally used to blow dust out of computers, keyboards, etc. Available at most stores that sell computers, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, etc. In our use the can is turned upside down and the freezing propellant is sprayed on a NecroDerm™ Prosthetic Skin Wax Replacer repair. The freezing will bond the acrylic polymer molecules together and permanently “fix” the material. This should only be done once after the repair is totally complete and perfect.

Palette Knives – Useful for applying a variety of materials, including NecroDerm™ Prosthetic Skin Wax Replacer. I get mine from Blick Art (www.dickblick.com). A good starting point is their three knife set (03117-0269).

Baby Wipes – Good to clean the face of any massage cream or other moisturizer before applying cosmetics. Get the kind that does not contain lanolin or other moisturizers if possible. Always clean the face the last time before applying cosmetics with 99% alcohol or NecroActivator™. Any residue from mortuary moisturizers will impede cosmetic work. Anything that contains silicone may require acetone to completely remove.

Hair Trimming Scissors - These range in price from reasonable to very expensive. They are a must for hair and beard work. I use a mid-priced pair from Frends Beauty Supply.

• TIP: A much better way to ensure that the hands and face do not dry out after embalming is to mix one part Dodge Rectifiant with one part Dodge Restorative in a spray bottle and spray the hands and face thoroughly. Cover gently with plastic wrap after spraying This will keep the tissue moist but will wipe off easily and will not impede cosmetic application.

I have covered most all the items I normally carry in my cosmetic kit. Remember I also carry all the NecroMetics™ products as they are the “backbone” of all my work. If you have questions or would like to discuss the use of any NecroMetics® product, you can use our CHAT icon seven days a week from 9:00 am – 9:00 pm. We try to be available via the app during those times. You can also email me at info@necrometics.com anytime. We are always ready to help!


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