Three dimensional makeup refers to products and techniques which change the physical structure of the subject. It can be further subdivided into buildup effects which are molded directly on the subject,pull and stretch techniques which change the shape of the skin directly and prosthetic appliances which are made in advance and adheared to the skin.

Through history prosthetic appliances have been made from almost every material on hand .Gauze, cotten, horsehair and almost every imaginable food item. Currently the most popular for film and TV are foam rubber,silicon, latex and gelatin.

Foam rubber is frothed stabilized heat treated latex rubber. Latex rubber was used on stage for aging and casting shell prosthetics. Foam rubber became more popular as film studios looked for a more flexible alternative that could be used of the mobil areas of the face.They are very durable products that can be strongly adhered to the skin, but lack the natural translucency of some skin types.

Gelatin was also used for stage, medical prosthetics, and film but always fell out of favor because the inability to keep it adhered and to keep it from melting. Recently there has been revival as film and TV developed better resolution and could detect the lack of tranlucency in the piece compared to the skin. Silicon was the next developement in translucent pieces. Silicons were developed that were as soft as skin ( and sometimes fat), but did not leech the softeners so that adhesives would hold better. Silicon gel filled prostheics (GFA's) were developed that used a thin skin around a very soft silicon gel. Recently that technology lead to using adhesives in a skin (Prosaid transfers).

Stretch and Pull techniques aren't generally discussed by makeup people,but some great makeups have been done with them because they are so out of the realm of expectation. Dick Smith's "Godfather" make-up for Marlon Brando used latex applied to stretched skin (old age stipple) to keep the skin from relaxing back creating lots of fine wrinkles. The larger old age jowls were created by dental plumpers which held out his lower cheek area and gave his voice a rather echoey sound. Lon Chaney and maybe Cecil Holland (help me here Mr. Blake) used skin from the lining of fish stomach to pull back the nose for Phantom of the Opera, a kind of wire monocle for sunken eyes in, and a form of dental plumper for the Hunchback of Notre Dame. In an old Encyclopedia Britanica article nutshells were mentioned to simulate a swollen nose. I use baby nipples instead, but it works indetectably. Recently Steve Johnson has done some very interested work with pulled skin.

Before the 1930's, make up artists or make up men (as they were known) were not recognized for their artistry of bringing the imagination of others to life. Many of these early pioneers were also actors or stunt men, and learned the craft by applying their own make up for film and theatre.