Hair punching

 If you ever need to push hair into a foam latex or silicone mask so it looks real you will need a punch needle.
The traditional one was just a sawed off sewing needle but now we can offer something much better than that.

What do I need ??

Punch needles (of course)
Hair of some sort that matches your project.
A piece of silicone, gelatine or dense foam latex to punch hairs into.
A soft poly foam sponge at least 3 cm thick to place to put thin pieces on.

If you end up stabbing your self in your fingers too much you could also test our practical magnetic hair holder! Check it out in the shop!

Are there different sorts of needles?

Yes, there are two different types of needles.
The traditional one you can make yourself at home by cutting the eye of a sewing needle off. Very small beading needles work best.
This creates a small fork in which you can grab the hairs and punch it into the material.
The negative with this type of needle is that most of the time you have to fold the hair in two and that makes that you will have 2 hairs coming out of the hole.
Also it takes a long time since you have to grab the hairs indivdually before pushing them in.

Traditional punch needle made from a sewing needle.

The Makeup-FX punch needles has either a crown at the top or line of front facing hooks at the tip of the needle that makes it possible to just push the hair straight into the silicone without any grabbing of individual hairs.
This needle system has become very popular and we have sold thousands of kits to customers worldwide the last couple of years including to some very big films

We sell five different sizes of needle to work for any project.

Size 19: Very heavy for hidden areas (Brown marking)
Size 36: Normal for human hair (White marking)
Size 38: Fine for thin human hair (Blue marking)
Size 40: Very fine for mohair or wool (Red marking)
Size 43: Ultra fine for the finest fiber  (Yellow marking)
Size 46: An ridiculously tiny needle for the smallest of the smallest animal hairs (Purple marking)

This is a remarkable tool set which makes hair punching so much faster and easier.
The only thing I today prefer a traditional needle for is eyelashes.
Otherwise I use a combination of the different punch needles.
Watch the video below to get more details of the benefits of this type of needle.

 Makeup-FX Punch needles

Ok. I understand! Now what?

Now you watch the video.  37 minutes long

That looked fun!! I want to try it!!
Well buy some needles then!

I don't understand what the needles look like??
Check out our microscope video below:

But in short the best thing about this technique compared to the classic punch needle is that you do not need to fold the hair to punch it in.
This makes it much easier to only have one hair sticking out of the fake skin.
You just hold the hair straight out in your hand and punch the needle through the ends of the hair.
But all of this is much better explained in the video.
But after the video you will most likely have some questions that are not covered in the video.

So I will try to answer them here instead.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

What materials can I use it on??

The best results you get on silicone or gelatine.
Some people have had good results on foam latex but I have not explored this much.
It will not work on slip latex masks and it will not work on wax.

How do I punch the hairs into a silicone piece that should be worn on the face i.e. full mask or prosthetic??

When I first discovered these needles I thought they would mainly be used for fake heads and other props but with time more and more people and started using them on prosthetics.
Big productions like “The Hobbit” and “World War Z” both bought several hundreds of needles from me and used them for prosthetics.

The most important thing to remember when punching on a prosthetic is that the hairs need to punched all the way through.
Unless the part is very thick of course! The needle is only 8 cm long.

After this you have a choice to either glue the hairs down or cut them off.

But making sure they have come through tells you that you will get the maximum hold you can get so you can style the hair without being scared they will come out.

The best way to be able to punch hairs all the way though is to put a soft foam sponge under the mask so you can punch really deep without being scared that the needle will break.
The hairs will be punched deep into the foam sponge but it can quite easily be slowly separated from the piece by pulling them apart while holding the hairs on the outside of the mask/prosthetic.

I would never punch hair into a silicone piece that is resting on a hard surface.
Especially the thin needles will break! And I mean break quickly! One punch and "next needle, please!"
This is not the needles fault! They are made from very good steel and will last a long time if used correctly.
But as an example, if you bash your iphone into a brick wall you wouldn't think it is the iphone's fault that it broke would you??
So think first before starting to punch hairs!!

How do I get the hairs to stay in once they are in place??

As a general rule it is difficult to get hairs stay on if the silicone is very thin.
The thicker the better!
Don’t expect to be able to punch a long beard into a face prosthetic that is very thin. You need some material to keep the hair in place.

If it is possible I prefer to glue it down on the inside of the mask.

This can be done in a number of different ways.
The quickest and simplest is just to glue the hair down with Telesis or similar glue. This is the best way for prosthetics.
But this will stay a bit sticky and might become a problem if it is a re-usable mask.

If you made the mask yourself and know exactly what silicone you used and that it is less than a month ago since it was made you can use the same silicone as the mask is made from.
After a month the silicones seem to start becoming more and more difficult to get a good bond to it.

The same goes for masks that you have not made yourself or have no idea what materials or when it was made.

For these cases I use Sil-poxy from Smooth On.
It is a brilliant product because it can be used to mend broken masks too!
A tip is to seal it very well in something airtight after it has been opened.
This will give it a longer storage time since it sets when in contact with air.

Sil-Poxy can be bought at most places that stock their products.,-Silicone-an/c11_1189/index.html 

The longer hair you leave on the inside the better the hairs stay on!

I know some people have dipped the punch needles in thinned down silicone caulking before punching with good results.
For some reason the silicone tubes sold for sealing Aquariums work the best.
I have not tried this myself so I am just telling you what other people have told me.

You will need a petroleum based solvent like naphtha or heptane to thin the silicone down.
Please be responsible when using chemicals! Use a gas mask with the right filters!!

Are these needles felting needles?

Yes,but also No.
Felting needles you can buy in hand craft shops are made for working wool by hand and most of them are very poor quality.
And most of the time you will not know what size they are and we have rarely found any needles smaller then 36 or 38.

The needles in our shop have been made for use in large factory machines and can only be bought in large packs..
The needles we sell have been chosen especially after testing many different brands and suppliers from all over the world.
Most other needles we tested broke very easily when working on silicone but these ones are the finest quality avalible and are very strong.
We then colour dip the needles by hand in a solvent resitant Plasti-Dip so they will not start leaking marking colour onto your project.
So when compared to a common craft store felting needle our needles might seem expensive but you are getting a very high quality product.

Where do you buy hair?

I buy most of my European hair from:
Blond and Braun in Austria and
Fischbach Miller in Germany
Both these companies are great but they sell top of the line hair! And that is expensive!

So why not try to find something on E-bay??
Search for “real hair weft” or “yak hair weft” and you will most likely find someone selling affordable hair on a weft that is very easy to handle.

Most hair qualities work well. Even really shitty synthetic hair seems to work even if you need to use a bigger needle for it.

What needle should I use for what hair??

The most obvious answer is to start with the smallest needle you have and if that doesn’t catch the hair in the way you want then take the next size up. Try and try again until you get nice results!
But for those of you who wants it spelled out:

The 19 is an evil needle that can shred silicone to pieces but it will work with ANY hair but will make big holes in your piece! I would only use this for very thick pieces like a werewolf back or similar.
The 36 is best for thick black Asian hair.
The 38 works with European hair or strongly bleached Asian hair.
The 40 is better for finer fibre like wool or very blond European hair.
The 43 works for the same as above but less often.
The 46 works with almost no hairs at all because it it sooo tiny but some animal hair like squirrel, rabbit and fine wool work fine.

I hope these answers will help you!
Happy punching!!

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