I hope you're ready for as much information as you can handle on applying bald caps!
The materials you will need to apply the bald cap:
• Bald Cap
• Head Block, or something similar shape
• Bondo (this is NOT body filler, see post below)
• Hair Products/ Gels
• Surgical adhesive / Duo
• Hair Dryer
• Make-up Pencils
• Water = H2O
When it comes to bald caps, quality is everything. Cheap "Woochie/Halloween" caps have edges that are way too thick to be useful. You need to find one that is professional grade if you expect to get a good result. The thinner edges the better.
The first thing you must do before you apply the bald cap to an actor is, prepare it. To do this you need to take your bald cap and place it inside out on something resembling the shape of a head...a head block is best if you have one.
Take your sponge, and while at the same time holding the cap taught, stipple Pros-Aide in the following pattern. Work one section at a time starting with the forehead, dry the Pros-aide with the hair dryer, and then power. Then move on to the following sections. Be sure you don't let the cap fold over on itself or it will stick, and that's trouble. The powder will keep it from doing that.
After your cap has been prepared then it is time to prepare your actor. The main goal in prepping the actor is to try and get the hair to lie as flat as possible against the head. To do this we take our hair gel, and start to slick the hair back. Be sure the hair product you use will not break down the latex in the cap. If your actor has very short hair then no hair gel is necessary.
If your actor has long hair then start out by slicking the hair back and crossing it over, then pull the hair up, and fasten with a bobby pin. Be sure to pull the hair near the ears up, and away from the ear because this will cause problems later on.
Spray the hair down with Non-alcoholic hair spray and let it dry. Be sure to remove the pins before applying the cap.
Once the actor's hair is dry, and as flat as you can get it, it is time to prep the skin. Take a cotton pad with some 99% alcohol on it and gently rub around the forehead and temple areas, the sideburn areas, around the ear, and the back of the hairline. This will clean the area of excess oils.
Take your sponge and apply a thin layer of Pros-Aide around the same areas that you just rubbed with alcohol. Blow dry the Pros-Aide until it is dry and then powder.
Next take your bald cap, and making sure that the Pros-Aide side is on the inside, and get your actor to make "Rabbit ears/air quotes" on their forehead.
Take the front of the bald cap and place it over the actor's fingers. This will allow you to pull the back of the cap down without the front sliding off. Pull the cap down onto the head and position it so the crown of the cap sits on the crown of the actor.
Once the bald cap is in position then you need to trim the front. To do this, get your actor to raise their eye brows to create wrinkles in their forehead. Pick a wrinkle pattern in the upper middle area of the fore head, and draw a line on the cap using your make-up pencil. This is the wrinkle we are going to try and hide the edge of the cap into.
Take your scissors and work from one side to the other in semicircle following along the wrinkle line.
Scissors are sharp. Your actor in the chair must feel safe while You are cutting close to the skin. Always hold your fingers between the actor and the scissors; this will assure you cut yourself, and not your actor.
Do not cut the bald cap in an upward direction. This may cause a nylon effect, and split the cap.
Once you have your front edge cut it is time to start gluing the cap down. Get your actor to sit up as straight as they can to make sure the skin is in the proper position. Take your 99% alcohol on a brush, and re-wet the Pros-aide. Before the alcohol has time to evaporate, gently pull the cap down slightly so it lines up with the wrinkle, and then gently press it down to the forehead. Once the alcohol evaporates the cap should be firmly stuck.
Make sure once again that your actor is sitting up straight, without their legs crossed. Get the actor to tilt their head slightly back. By tilting the head back it will assure that when the actor relaxes their head back to a natural position the cap will have stretch to it.
With the head tilted back, run your hand from the front of the cap to the back to work out any slack, and wrinkles. Re-wet the Pros-aide on the neck area with 99% alcohol, and then pull the back end of the cap down and forward using both hands on either side. Then stick the cap down.
Take your towel, and wrap it around the back of the neck, and get the actor to hold the two ends, this will make sure the cap has time to stick firmly and evenly.
Once the back is stuck it is now time to attach the earflaps.
Take one of the sides in your hand, and gently pull it in a downward direction. Take your make-up pencil, and draw a circle on the cap in the middle of the ear, then draw a line straight down. This is where you're going to make the slot for the ear.
Take your scissors and fold over the cap so you can make a small slit in the ear circle you drew. Cut out the circle remembering to be careful of the direction you are cutting, and then cut downward along the straight line.
Once you have cut the cap, you should now be able to loop the cap over each side of the ear. You will notice that if you pull the two flaps down that you get a weird buckling effect at the top of the ear. This needs to be trimmed to allow it to be stretched down, and fit nicely around the ear.
To do this, cut in a semicircle pattern as you did with the forehead, and trim it back. Be careful around the ears, and be careful not to take too much off the cap, take a little at a time until it will fit nicely when the two flaps are pulled downward.
Once you have the ear trimmed, you can now glue it down. Start with the front flap, and stretch it slightly downward, you may have to adjust the angle to work out any wrinkles that may occur. Re-wet you Pros-Aide and then stick down the flap. Repeat the same with the back of the ear.
Be sure that you have the cap glued all the way around the ear, especially on the top. If you are having trouble with long stray hair falling out of the cap, take your tail comb and very gently push them back inside the cap.
Once the ear is glued down nicely, move on to the other ear, and repeat the process.
If at anytime in this process you encounter a hole in the cap, it can easily be fixed with a patch. To make a patch, take some of the excess cap that you will cut off, and cut it into a round shape slightly bigger than the hole. Apply Pros-aide to both the cap and the patch, dry the Pros-Aide and then gently place the patch over the hole.
Now that you have the bald cap securely glued down, the next step is to trim the excess off the cap. To do this take your naphtha on a brush and carefully start to break down the latex around the edges. To do this take and lift the cap slightly away from the head around the edge, and melt the cap with the naphtha, then place the edge back onto the glue, making sure it doesn't fold under on itself. The point of this is to get rid of the excess cap at the same time making a nice edge to blend. Take extra care to not get any of the naphtha on the skin.
Alcohol and Naphtha in the eyes can cause damage, be extremely careful when using it near the eyes.
After the front is secure, it's time to do the back of the neck.
After you have worked around all the edges, you may find you need to go back and glue down some of the edges, do this by re-wetting the Pros-Aide with 99% alcohol, or taking a little Pros-Aide on a Q-tip or brush. It's helpful to use your tweezers to pull up the edge while you re-glue.
Another way to trim the edges of the cap is by using scissors to cut around the edge. This works as well as the naphtha method but you must be sure that you don't cut the cap in a straight line. The eye has a natural tendency to follow a straight line; this will mess up the illusion.
After you have finished gluing down the edge as close to the skin as you possibly can get, its time to blend the edges off.
Take your Duo Surgical adhesive, and using your sponge, stipple around the edges and then up onto the cap about a ½ inch. The duo will seal the cap, and also bring the natural texture of the skin, into the smooth bald cap. Work your way around the edge, blow dry it clear, and then powder the areas you just applied Duo.
After you have finished your layer of Duo, you should check the edges to find places that need to be filled. To do this you can have you model stand in the sunlight, or use a flashlight to create a cross light, you should be able to see the edges. A magnifying glass can also help.
To fill these edges take a small amount of your bondo on a spatula. Pull the bondo up into the cracks on the edge. Then to smooth down the bondo, take a tiny bit of water on a Q-tip. Work in small sections at a time, and work carefully. Blow-dry the bondo, and then powder. After you have worked your way around the edge of the cap, you should have a fairly well blended cap, if you still have rough edges you can repeat the process starting with the Duo.
The cap is now ready for coloration.
I hope that helps. I realize it's long....you can imagine how much effort goes into making a good looking bald cap. I once had a job where I had to create Dr. Evil from Austin Powers for a traveling theme band and I had to apply a bald cap 4 times a week. :S
If you have any questions about anything above, don't hesitate to ask.