Gilding Techniques: the Hair Gel Method
Make your own gilding pastes easily, safely and inexpensively!

Gilding Paste and Henna

Use hair gel for your base.

To find a hair gel suitable for making gilding paste, go shopping for a hair styling gel which advertises "super hold", "wicked hold" and is meant to pull hair up into rigid gravity-defying spikes.  Look for "water resistant" in the product descriptions.  Turn the bottle of hair gel upside down and see if any bubbles rise quickly, slowly, or don't move at all.  If the bubble rises fast, your gilding paste will be runny and not hold its shape.  If the bubble stays still, your gilding paste will hold a fine, neat, firm line.

If you can find a hair gel that is water resistant, and so thick that the bubbles rise slowly or not at all, that's the one to get. The ones from beauty supply stores are more expensive, but tend to work better than those from grocery stores.   Manufacturers change their formulae, change products, and products vary in different areas, so shop around for your gel, and expect to have to change your mix from time to time.
Bubble in gelbubbles
Turn hair gel upside down to see if bubbles rise or stay in place.
Left: Bubble rising in hair gel: the paste may be runny.
Right: Bubbles do not rise in hair gel: paste will hold its shape.

Hair gel based pastes are slow to dry, but once they're completely dry, they're tenacious, flexible, and water resistant. If you scrub or soak them, they're GONE.  The ones that are slow drying tend to flake less.  Those that dry quickly flake more.  Thicker, more expensive beauty supply shop gels hold their shape and line better than thinner, cheaper grocery store gels.  If you don't know which gel to get, go to a beauty supply shop, and ask what gel makes the highest, most rigid hair spikes, and doesn't easily wash out. Buy that one.
You will need pigment and glitter:

We have a large selection of pigments, glitters, and gems for you, all safe to use in body art.

Click HERE to order Becoming Moonlight® Glitter HERE and to get more instructions for use.

Click HERE to order Becoming Moonlight® Gilding Powder and to get more instructions for use.

Click HERE to order Mehron Metallic Powder and to get more instructions for use.

gilded henna
Mehron also makes great mica gilding powders. These are very finely ground so they are easy to mix up and won't clog even the finest tip.  You can also grind up old eyeshadow powder and use that for color, if you can even out all the lumps.

Click HERE to order Mehron Precious Gem Powder

Metal based gold and silver powders have a chemical reaction with some hair gels 4 days after mixing, separating into curds, water and bubbles.  Use these quickly.  Mica and talc based powders last longer.
Mehron Precious Gems
Mix paste with hair gel:

Stir one part gilding powder and glitter into eight parts of hair gel. That proportion is very approximate!  Please experiment and decide for yourself what's going to work best for YOU! Stir it until there are no more lumps and the powder is completely mixed into the paste.

Spiking gel and lumiere powder
If you're doing a lot of this, use a filter mask!  The mica and glitter powders would prefer to fly around than mix into the paste! It's easier to put the powders on top of the paste and stir them in, rather than trying to stir gel into powders!

Stir up your paste or gel
Fill cones or plastic baggies

When you've got your pastes stirred up, put them into baggies or carrot bags.  The gilding gels and glues will stay fresh in the refrigerator or a cool place until you need them!  Do not freeze your gilding paste; it may separate when it thaws.
little cones of shiny stuff

When you're ready to work, squeeze some paste from your carrot bag into a mylar cone.  Make the tip smaller than you do for henna.  Click HERE to Learn to make and use a mylar cone!

Click HERE to buy ready-made cones and triangles to make your own cones.
Apply Gilding Paste

Apply the gilding paste in very fine lines, finer than you usually apply henna paste!   Thinner lines dry faster, and are less likely to peal off than thicker lines.  Use the same techniques and skills with gilding paste as you use for  henna.
Hair Glue work

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