Skinsuit Maintenance

by Lillian

This guide aims to offer advice on storing and caring for your skinsuit, as well as some tips on things that have the potential to damage your suit and how to avoid them. In short, this guide should be helpful for both giving new performers a helping hand and the more experienced of you out there a few pointers. 


Storing your Skinsuit

The most important things about storing your skinsuit is to keep it out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources. A good solution is to hang your suit up in either a large cupboard or wardrobe that is dry and roughly room temperature (being a bit colder is ok, but you don't want it much warmer). This not only avoids the issue of the sunlight, but also means the suit wont gather dust. One thing to note if storing the suit in a wardrobe or cupboard though is to make sure you keep it away from anything sharp or pointy that it may catch on. This should be fairly self-explanatory, but if you are not careful, the suit could get quite damaged. An optional step you could take if you are worried about things potentially marking the suit is to store it inside out.

Another way you can store the suit if you don't want to hang it up, or don't have the space, is to keep it in the bag you received it in. Again, you can store it inside out if you prefer. The other thing about storing your suit in its bag is that it is much easier to transport, as it is packed up quite small and you don't need to worry about anything else in your bag/suitcase damaging or marking the suit. It is recommend that you wash the suit regularly after use if you plan to store it in the bag, as if not it will start to smell quite a bit as the smell just builds up in the bag. Speaking of washing the suit, whilst it will get particularly smelly if left unwashed in the bag, it is a good idea to do it on a regular basis regardless of how you store it. This leads on to the next section of the guide, as seen below.


Washing your Skinsuit

There are only really two options when it comes to washing your skinsuit, machine washing or hand washing. If you decide to go with machine washing, make sure you use a wash bag, as this will prevent damage to the suit during the wash cycle. The other thing that is important to note is to make sure you wash it on a low temperature. If you are cautious about damage, you can choose to do a delicate wash (some machines may even have a hand wash setting), but in most cases just making sure you do it at 30ºC (86ºF) should be enough to make sure your suit suffers no damage. Also, make sure to use non-bio detergents or tablets and if you decide to use fabric softener, just be sure not to use too much. 

If you decide to wash the suit by hand, make sure the water is between a cold to lukewarm temperature. It is best to do this in a relatively large plastic bowl or basin, as while a large bucket could work, they tent to be narrower and deeper, which is a bit harder to work with. After adding the detergent to the water (there are specific detergents designed for hand washing), place the suit in the water and make sure to soak and submerge fully when doing so. Gently agitate and knead the suit for a few minutes before leaving it to rest and soak in the water for 10-20 mins.

After this done, drain the water from the bowl and try to squeeze out as much of the excess water from the suit as you can. Make sure not wring the skinsuit like you would a towel or cloth, instead bunch it up a bit at a time and squeeze firmly, as this is far less likely to damage the suit. Finally, find somewhere warm and hang the suit up to dry. If you do not have space in a bathroom or wet room, you can just use the bowl to catch any potential water drip (another reason a wider bowl would work better than a bucket).

An alternative to simply air drying the suit is to first use a towel to absorb most of the remaining water. The way you would do this is to lay the towel out flat (preferably on a clean surface) and then lay the skinsuit out on top of it. You will need a fairly large towel for this, like a beach towel, but don't worry about the suit being completely flat. Don't worry if it overhangs the end of the towel, just fold the excess back over and occupy and empty space that is left.

Once everything is laid out, simply roll up the skinsuit inside the towel (but not too tightly) and leave in a location of your choice, preferably somewhere warm. You can choose to leave it on a radiator if you want it to dry quickly, but just ensure it is not turned up too high to avoid any potential damage. It is best if you can leave it above the radiator if there is a windowsill or other flat surface to use, but that may not be an option for some. Check the suit after a few hours to see how dry it is, and once most of the water is gone, remove it from the towel and leave to air dry until it is suitable to be stored away. 


Potential Risks to your Skinsuit

Velcro

Of all the things to to take into account and look out for when taking care of your skinsuit, Velcro is probably at the top of the list. Velcro rough is probably one of the most destructive materials for skinsuits (setting aside things that are more obviously harmful), as it hooks into the suits material at essentially pulls the threads/fibers apart when removed. If you should happen to get any Velcro rough caught on your suit, it is impossible to remove without damaging it in some way, so try to avoid it at all costs. If you have an outfit or cosplay that has Velcro fastenings, it is advised you get someone else to help you put on and remove that part of the outfit. Alternatively, if either you or someone you know is good at sewing, you could look into removing the Velcro altogether and replacing it with some sort of clip or popper.

Dirty Hands

Another important thing to keep in mind is the hands of your skinsuit, as they are often the first things to get ruined, stained, dirty and so on. This is obviously because your hands are the only real part of your body to regularly come into contact with different objects and surfaces. A notable example for a lot of kigs would be a keyboard and mouse, which you would be using a lot during a webcam session, as typing is a very quick way of damaging the fingers on your suit by steadily blackening them (something that is extremely difficult to wash out).

A good way to reduce the risk of damage to the hands of your suit is to use gloves. One example would latex surgical gloves, which are good if you are needing to handle any equipment or objects that are obviously dirty or could potentially cause damage to the suit (can be anything from camera equipment to food), but they aren't exactly the most photogenic option. An alternative would be gloves that can be used with the outfit you are wearing or that are part of your cosplay, as this will obviously look a lot better and have more or less the same effect. However, if surgical gloves are not to your liking and you don't have any outfits or cosplays that would work with gloves, we at DAME do offer the option of gloves made from the same material as our skinsuits that could be a good alternative. The only disadvantage of our gloves is that you would need to wear something that covers at least the top of your arms if you want the gloves to blend in.

Colour Bleeding

Moving on from gloves, clothing in general is something to look out for when it comes to skinsuit care, specifically the type and quality of materials used. This is because some materials can leak colour; this is sometimes caused by bad craftsmanship (if it was coloured or dyed poorly) or age, so just be weary of buying things too cheaply. The other way this can happen is through friction, which can occur if the outfit or piece of clothing is quite tight. Stains caused by these issues tend to be quite hard to remove, so while they are less common as a general rule, be cautious with cheap, darker coloured clothing just in case, as this tends to be the main culprit for issues of this nature. This is a good thing to keep in mind when buying cosplay, as a lot of sellers try to do things cheaply, so you can never be too sure of the quality you are receiving.


Taking your Skinsuit on and off

The last thing to take note of is how you actually put on and take off the suit. This will not be a step by step guide to doing so, its more just a few things to keep in mind so as to not cause unnecessary damage to you suit. First of all, make sure that when you are putting on the suit to bunch up the suit at any point you are needing to pull on it to get it in place, similar to how you would do so with socks or tights. This will avoid the issue of overstretching the suit, which could lead to damage and generally altering the fit of the suit. A similar precaution should be taken when removing the suit; don't just pull it by the fingers and toes, make sure to roll and slide it off your body instead, even if it ends up inside out afterwards.

Another thing to be cautious of would be the zippers. If you feel like you are struggling doing them up on your own, try to get someone to help you, as trying to force them up could end up breaking them. An alternative for when you are on your own is to tie a cord of some kind to the zipper, but make sure you pull it up slowly while trying to hold the two sides of the opening together, as while it make take you a while to do it up, it will greatly lower the chance of damaging the zip or zip head. When the zip is done up, then cord can easily be hidden under the mask, so make it as long or short as you need it. 


Thanks for taking the time to read this guide, hopefully any new and aspiring performers will now be more confident going forward and the more experienced now have some useful tips to take away. Good luck to all you kigs out there!