Black Hands: A Drow Dilemma

One issue that plagues anyone dressing as a Drow (or any other creature which requires the skin to be a different colour!) is what to do about the hands. If you paint them, you will get paint all over everything you touch unless you get a very special kind of paint that is hard to come by. (Alcohol activated stuff.)

So I am making a foray into troubleshooting this perennial problem in a way that both works and doesn’t break the bank.

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Ingredients: Black latex gloves, Rapid Grip (or other epoxy), and acrylic nails.

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Now, the gloves need to be as tight as you can get them without cutting off your circulation to minimize wrinkles. You will need to put a little corn starch or talcum powder inside the gloves and on your hands in order to put them on without tearing them. Be gentle when putting them on and taking them off! You want them to last you a few years.

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Glue the nails on and wait for the glue to dry. I recommend not doing this on both hands at the same time!

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Now we trim and file the nails to the desired shape. Be careful of the latex gloves with your clippers/scissors/file! You don’t want to put holes in them.

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You can certainly leave the nails as-is or you can do what I did and paint them a more realistic colour for a person with black skin. Drow still have red blood after all so their nail-beds will show some of that hue through them. I also made the nail tips a little closer to beige than white so as to give them more of a realistic appearance. Very few people have perfectly white nail tips.

I did this in acrylic paint and put a coating of top-coat over the paint to seal it. The next order of business I think will be to put a bit of glue around the bases of the nails to give the appearance of cuticles.

Now, this obviously isn’t a perfect solution. Let me present to you the pros and cons of the latex glove solution and you can decide if this is something you’d want to use.

Pros:

  1. Unlike paint, the latex will not rub off on everything you touch.
  2. Latex gloves are far less expensive than getting alcohol-activated paints like these shipped to you.
  3. You can wash your hands without fear of them coming off, especially if you’ve used a waterproof adhesive like Rapid Grip.
  4. You can actually (very carefully!) peel the nails off if you need to re-set or replace them without damaging the gloves.
  5. Unlike leather gloves or most cloth costume gloves, you can fit jewellery such as rings over the fingers of the latex gloves.
  6. Unlike cloth gloves, latex will afford you grip and much more tactile sensation. You will be able to operate your smartphone, take credit cards out of your wallet, turn the pages of a book, etc.

Cons:

  1. Latex does not breathe. You will have sweaty hands, I’m afraid. If you’re wearing them for several hours, you will need to give your hand some care and attention afterward. I recommend using gentle soaps and a nice vitamin E lotion to give them some after care.
  2. Latex doesn’t rub off but it does tear, especially at the thinness that you’re going to want. You will have to be gentle with these gloves.
  3. You will probably have to go to an adult store or fetish shop online to get your hands on gloves like these. This might be a problem for you if you’re under the age of majority in your area.
  4. Latex will afford you grip but it also tends to be slightly sticky when dry so you may need to apply a little corn starch or talcum powder to them after you’ve washed and dried them. You will have to be sure you’ve dried them thoroughly before you apply the powder or it will stick to the rubber and be rather obvious. Another solution to this is to bring disposable plastic or nitrile gloves with you to the event so you can put them on when you use the washroom or do other things which necessitate washing your hands.
  5. If you are allergic or sensitive to latex, you may not want to do this at all. Thankfully, there are nitrile gloves available in black. I have not tried this solution yet so, if you do, please feel free to put a message here and let me know how it goes!
  6. Latex gloves will not adhere to your skin perfectly. When you bend your fingers and wrist, there will be wrinkles. This is why I advise getting gloves as tight as possible without cutting off your circulation or tearing. Normal skin does indeed wrinkle when bent but not as much as the gloves will. It’s up to you to decide if you’re satisfied with the appearance of the gloves or not.

I don’t claim to be an expert on this subject. Just offering up a cost-effective solution for folks who enjoy costuming and require unusual skin-colour to get the outfit right. If you have any suggestions or solutions that work for you, I’d be absolutely delighted to hear them so please feel free to post them! I’m always looking for new ideas.

I will be testing out some alcohol-activated paint from Reel Creations this weekend and I will post my findings in a future entry so you can see how it went.

As always, thanks for stopping by, and happy costuming!

Author: Ethan Kincaid

Ethan Kincaid was born in 1985 in Brockville, a sleepy little town on the St. Lawrence River. He graduated from Carleton University in Ottawa with a degree in Linguistics and a minor in Japanese Language. After finishing his education, he settled down there with his wife Kaitlyn and became a full-time writer. In 2011, he moved to Montreal and discovered its vibrant writing culture. In 2015, Ethan moved to Helsinki, Finland with his wife; he works as a props crafter and part time author. His first book, Blood of Midnight: The Broken Prophecy is the first of a new fantasy trilogy. The greatest joy in his life lies in helping budding writers find their voices. In his words: "I like to shake people until cool stuff comes out!"

3 thoughts on “Black Hands: A Drow Dilemma”

  1. Your tutorials awesome!!! I have a question though for this one. What was the brand of the black latex gloves? I am trying to find something about the same length.

    Like

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