PAX can be categorized as an acrylic adhesive based makeup. It specifically refers to a mixture of Pros-Aide and Liquitex artist's paint. Generically, it can refer to any mixture of skin-safe acrylic adhesive and nontoxic acrylic paint.
PAX was originally developed by Oscar winning effects artist, Dick Smith. He was in need of an extremely opaque makeup with a strong Staying power. The original formulation was a 50/50 mixture of Pros-Aide brand prosthetic adhesive and Liquitex acrylic paint. The ingredients form the basis of the name, Pros Aide + LiquiteX. The result is a tacky paint which can be painted on, or airbrushed on if properly thinned. Liquitex was a good choice as the entire line of basic acrylics have been government rated as non-toxic but, the Liquitex acrylic paint is not approved for use on the skin as per the FDA. A professional PAX for use on the skin need to be pigmented with approved FDA colors.
In time, PAX's popularity grew, and products for PAX began to specialize. ADM Tronics the manufacturer of Pros-Aide developed a new specialized formulation of their acrylic adhesive, tailored for the purposes of mixing up PAX. This product is marketed as maintaining the same strong staying power of the original PAX, while greatly reducing the residual surface tackiness. Other manufacturers began selling premixed PAX. These are typically sold in a line of colors common and beneficial to the Makeup and special FX industry.
PAX may be purchased ready-made from various special FX Suppliers, but it is more commonly mixed by the individual makeup-artist as needed. This allows the flexibility of ingredients. There is little to no difference in quality.
- In a mixing bowl, cup, or watercolor palette, Portion and mix a quantity of (Liquitex) artists' acrylic paint to reach the desired color and amount.
- Mix an equal portion by volume of prosthetic adhesive (slightly more or less to taste).
- Thin with distilled water if needed (this is usually only done when airbrushing PAX).
- Use immediately or store in an airtight container.
When kept in an airtight container at a reasonable temperature, homemade PAX remains usable indefinitely.
The mixing container may be cleaned of unused PAX immediately by mixing in warm water, then finishing with a paper towel and alcohol, or on smoother surfaces, it may be left to dry, and peeled off in a single piece. The later technique becomes more difficult when the concentration of prosthetic adhesive increases.
PAX must be powdered heavily to prevent the makeup from sticking to itself during movement. If the adhered face powder is visibly excessive, it can be reduced by blotting lightly with a dampened towel. PAX should only be removed with a careful cleaning procedure; it should never simply be rubbed off. Soap and warm water are sufficient, but Prosthetic adhesive removers such as Bond-Off by Ben Nye, 99% Alcohol or Isopropyl Myristate can aid in the removal process.
PAX and prosthetics/masks
PAX is also used to paint latex masks and prosthetic appliances. PAX is a beneficial material as the pros-aide greatly improves the flexibility of the acrylic paint. Furthermore, unlike oil based makeups, PAX does not deteriorate latex. On the contrary, PAX can be applied as a basecoat over latex appliances, and other paints and makeups, normally unsuitable for latex may confidently applied overtop. The surface tackiness of the PAX coating further aids in adhering successive layers of other products, preventing them from flaking off.
Because PAX is difficult to use in high detail airbrush work, and does not lend itself particularly well to blended effects, Many artists prefer to use different products for all but the base coat of a mask or prosthetic.
Like most substances, PAX is ineffective for painting appliances made from silicone. The nonstick nature of silicone prevents PAX from adhering.