Painting Latex Lekku
Latex is a natural plant product, so you have to take care of the lekku if you want them to last. It is best to store them in a box or tub with a layer of pillow stuffing on the bottom to give the lekku a soft surface to rest on. Put some pillow stuffing in the head area to keep gravity from making the forehead section slump, which can cause a crease in the latex. The lekku should be stored in the house to protect them from extreme temperatures, and out of the sun. Latex darkens and dries out when exposed to the sun for a long time; even sunlight coming through a window.
Full disclosure: I stopped wearing latex headpieces years ago, so I am quite rusty on the painting procedure for them these days. Once I learned how to make wearable silicone headpieces, I moved over to them!
For painting my latex headpieces, I used the same body paint on my lekku that I used on myself so I could be sure the color would match. I painted my lekku once, and then painted myself to match them each time after that. At first I used Ben Nye MagiColor Liquid paint and a few similar brands, but water based paints rub off my skin easily and I got frustrated by the constant need to touch up my paint, so I switched to alcohol based paints. Alcohol paints last all day and still look great at the end of the day. I would sponge on a first splotchy layer of paint, and then I airbrushed a second layer of paint to even out the color. I followed that with a light spray of sealer, and the paint lasted for a long time. It did rub off the latex in the areas where the lekku rubbed against my clothing over time, or anywhere that something scratched against the lekku, so I did have to do repairs every now and then.
Many special effects stores sell paint that is specifically formulated for painting latex prosthetics. They are designed to bond tightly with the latex, and won't peel. Monster Makers sells a good quality latex mask paint that I have experience with, and I found it to work really well.
Acrylic crafts paint can be used to paint lekku headpieces if you mix the paint 50/50 with liquid latex or pros-aide and powder it well when the paint dries. Keep in mind that the paint will change color as it dries and it will be shiny. Don't paint the lekku with acrylic paint straight out of the bottle, because it will crack and peel off! I painted one flesh toned headpiece with acrylics mixed with Pros-Aide, and I found that a mix of colors gave me a nice match to my skin tone, though it took a bit of experimenting to get the color match AFTER the paint was dry. At first I matched the color to my skin while the paint was wet, but it dried much darker so I had to start over. I found that the paint lasted for about two years before I started to notice cracks in the paint and a few places where it had scratched off the lekku.
Some girls have used flesh colored creme makeup on the lekku, and then sealed the makeup with setting powder or spray. They said it stayed on well and looked good.
Another popular painting technique for latex lekku is to use sprayable Plasti Dip. I have never tried this so I cannot offer any advice, but I have heard other costumers say that it gives a sturdy coat of color that protects the latex and doesn't peel off, but it can crack if the painted areas are stretched too much.
People want to touch the lekku all the time and you tend to bump them into things behind you, which causes smudges after a while. Sometimes the smudges wash off easily with a damp washcloth, and sometimes it gets bad enough that the lekku need a new coat of paint. It all depends on what you've put them through! My oldest paint job on a latex headpiece was about six years old when I retired it, on my Astraal headpiece. I wore it quite a few times and it still looked spotless. But then, I was wearing it with an all-white costume so I tended to be really careful about not getting dirty when I was wearing that outfit!