From Glam to Gore: Halloween Makeup Secrets Exposed

Published on in Advice / Tips & Tricks

Let memories of tacky, unsuccessful Halloween costumes go to the grave (R.I.P.): it’s time to resurrect your supernatural side. Are you ready to stand out this year? These tips are guaranteed to give you that extra spooky flair to help scare, impress, and fascinate, all by using only two things: makeup and items found in your kitchen. 

Don’t turn into a Pumpkin after Midnight: How to Keep Makeup on all Nightlong

“If you are going out and want that All Nighter Makeup to last and not rub off, definitely use NYX HD Studio Photogenic Finishing powder. This is what you put on under your eyes as a ‘baking method’ to help makeup not crease and last ALL NIGHT. Especially if you are taking a lot of photos. Another way to keep your makeup lasting all wicked Hours of the Night is Merhron Barrier Spray: May be misted on top of finished powder makeup to set and preserve the makeup application. [It] also can be used under makeup to stop sweat.” – Amy Castro, celebrity hair & makeup artist


“No beautiful Halloween beat is finished without Ben Nye's Final Seal. This cult-favorite is great for use in the airbrush or in a fine-mist spray bottle. You can apply it to the skin before you paint or as after your masterpiece is finished. It has a light, refreshing smell and helps your makeup to really go the distance. Use it once and you'll wonder how you ever lived without it!” – Amina Garrett-Scott, hair and makeup artist


Time to “Vamp” up Your Makeup Game: Take Your Sinister to the Next Level

 “One important tip to make any makeup scary, even pretty up scaled makeup, is adding veins…especially under the eyes, adding a few veins coming from the eyes or neck (or whatever you are trying to achieve) can make any sick, deadly person more realistic.” – Castro

“Makeup For Ever's Flash Color Palettes are great options for multi-tasking color options. These creamy color bases are super blendable and versatile- and the color pay-off they deliver makes them great for any facial or body painting design that you can imagine.” – Garrett-Scott 


“If you are really trying to be scary and want to go the extra mile, I would suggest getting some creepy contacts and some really awesome teeth. They aren't as expensive as they used to be and the quality has only gotten better. [And] remember all those clown contour memes that were going around? Put this method to good use and make yourself look extra gaunt. Use a dark color [such as] black, grey or maroon for the contour color.” – Stella Sensel, makeup artist

“Looking to do some quickie skin effects? Eyelash adhesive is a great short-term option. With a little imagination, layering and a stipple sponge, you can make a simple bruise or other skin imperfection that you can easily paint over and design for the perfect scary costume. My favorite brand is DUO Eyelash Adhesive (a little goes a long way, it dries quickly, but not too quickly and it comes in latex and latex-free formulations).” – Garrett-Scott


Getting Caught Dead: Adding Injuries Using Makeup

“If you want to make your own blood, the recipe is quite simple. Clear Caro Syrup, lots of red food coloring and a few drops of blue, and even less of yellow will give you a nice edible blood. People always ask me for blood that won't stain. It's food coloring, not much can be done there. However, if you add some DOS detergent to the recipe above, it acts like a built-in pre-treatment to help guard against stains, it's just not edible anymore. 

Most basic effects can be found right in your kitchen! Or at least the grocery store. A good scab technique is to put down a layer of the fake blood and smoosh coffee grounds into the blood. When it dries it will look like a really nasty scab. And for burns and scars, you can mix unflavored gelatin and glycerin (drugstore, first aid isle) together with a drop of foundation for color (or red for fresh wounds) and microwave for 15 seconds, stir, 15 seconds, stir, and repeat until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Let cool until it solidifies. Now it's ready to be used for scars. You need to reheat using the same steps above so as not to burn the mixture. This last step is the most important! Make sure you let the mixture cool down to lukewarm before applying to the skin. You will burn yourself or others if you are not careful.” – Sensel

For prosthetics (scars, cuts, etc.) you want to think about edges, because that's where you can lose the illusion, and you want depth, because that's the part that can disturb or cause shock in viewers--the effective part of the illusion. For depth--be it bruising or wounds--you'll want to contrast between blue tones (deep) and yellow ones (high) to pull everything into shape. As far as edges, hide them under the blood if you can, and use glue to blend/create texture--disguising or blurring the line between real skin and prosthetic. Alcohol colors are nice because they'll last long and won't be messed up as easily with sweat and being worn. And use professional products. If you invest in alcohol paints, some latex, and Prosaide, you can get lots of different kinds of Halloween looks, from old-age to zombie, wounds, etc. It's safer for your skin, and you'll have much better looks.

For overall effect, make sure to extend all blood, dirt, vomit, tearing/scraping/cuts etc. into both clothing and skin. It seems obvious, but you really need to think about the character, his backstory, his trauma, all that stuff, and work from the major strokes to the smallest details, because that consistency is how you build something that feels real and fully present. You wouldn't want someone's throat cut and his shirt clean. You don't want dirty hands and clean cuffs. Follow the threads of your character, your story, wherever they lead, and most importantly of all, make sure to have fun with it! - April Townes, freelance makeup artist

Looking to Strike Fear into Everyone’s Hearts?

Step-by-Step Makeup Tutorial for the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland

“You will need: Red queen wig - White face paint - Blue face paint - Red lip liner & lipstick - White face powder Black liquid liner and or eyeliner pencil - Nontoxic school glue – Makeup brushes and makeup sponges.

1. Start with a clean dry face. 

2. Block out the eyebrows with a clear, nontoxic school glue stick that you would buy in the drugstore, then set it with a white makeup powder. (There are many “how to” videos on this; check YouTube) 

3. Paint the face with a white, cream-based makeup. I like to start with a makeup brush and thinly paint it on the skin layering it until it looks opaque; don't forget the lips and into the neckline. (If you don't want to use a brush use a makeup sponge) For this particular look I used [the] Makeup Forever Flash Palette. It is a pro grade palette so if you are on a budget this isn't for you. Check your local Halloween store for other brands of face makeup. 

4. Powder face using a white powder for long wear. I used Ben Nye super white powder. 

5. Take an aqua blue color and brush it onto eyelids drawing a line from each corner of your eye and go up, [taking] it above the natural brow that you just blocked out. Keep the shape rounded at the top. You can use a paint brush or makeup brush of your choice. 

6. Line top and bottom of eye with black pencil then add mascara. 

7. Create a new brow just above the aqua blue. You can use black pencil, or liquid liner. 

8. Add in a fake beauty mark on left cheek. (You can use liquid liner or a black eye liner pencil.) 

9. Fill in lips in the shape of a heart with a red lip liner and red lipstick. 

10. Top the makeup off with a Red Queen wig.” – Daniella Minnella, celebrity makeup artist

The end result will look like this (only with a red wig): 


Meet some of our outstanding pros and learn more about what they do best.

Danielle Minnella 


Danielle is a 3rd generation oil painter and a native New Yorker. Her love of oil painting led her to use faces as her canvas. Danielle freelances in TV production, media events,corporate video, photographic sessions and editorial. Her professionalism,vibrant personality mixed with her peaceful energy & impeccable eye for detail makes her one of the most sought after makeup artists in the industry. Her ability to bring out ones own natural beauty leaves her clients feeling confident both on and off camera. Some of her clients include: VH1, MTV, Downton Abbey Cast, Derek Jeter and many more. 

Visit her site:

Amy Castro 

Amy Castro is the proud owner of Bella MUA and lead hair and make-up artist, since 2004.  At an early age, Amy grew up learning from the best-" er mother” and quickly realized her passion for hair and make-up.  Amy is a licensed cosmetologist, so that she could offer her clients make-up applications, hairstyling, haircuts, color corrections, nail services, eyebrow threading and waxing.  Amy has been featured in many different hair and bridal shows, including Keune Hair. Amy has also done hair and makeup on " Dr OZ" "The Kennedy Brothers"  & show's for NBC & CNN.

Visit her site:

Amina Garrett-Scott 

Professionalism, passion, artistic integrity, technical proficiency and service driven performance are but a few of the qualities that Amina brings in her approach to each and every client and every project, big or small. With 10 years of experience in the beauty industry as an Artist and an Educator, she is armed with training from such notable companies as Paul Mitchell Systems, Redken, Wella/Sebastian and MAC Cosmetics, just to name a few.

Visit her site:

Stella Sensel

Stella Sensel is a NYC based makeup artist specializing in Special Effects Make-Up: including application, design, sculpture, molding, formulation of foam latex, silicone, gelatin, and pros-aide transfers. She is also quite proficient on Beauty and Natural make-up application for film, HD television, print photography, and commercial. 

Visit her site:

April Townes

April S. Townes is a freelance special effects, hair and makeup artist based out of New York City. Originally from Virginia, April moved to New York to attend the master program at Make-up Designory. She loves collaborating with creative people and driven artists, helping to make their visions come alive.

Visit her site:

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  • Kim Karel Zink said…
    Thursday, October 22, 2015 12:12 PM
    Awesome. These are great tips. Can't wait to try them.
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