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Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Do I Need to Buy Different Makeup For Halloween?

Halloween is just around the corner and if you're like me, you'll want to have both an awesome costume and not spend any money. Sadly these hardly ever go hand in hand, but luckily for beauty bloggers, MUAs and makeup geeks, we have a lot of makeup at our disposal which can really help when Halloween or other fancy dress occasions come around. While I would never discourage people from buying funky special effects and theatrical makeup, it's not easy to get hold of good quality stuff and just isn't something most people are going to uses. This post is going is about what makeup is worth buying for very casual SFX use and what you can use that you probably already have.



White foundation: White foundation is *so* handy to have for Halloween! It can be hard to find, especially at this time of year, but Illamasqua and larger Barry M stands in the UK both carry them, and brands like Kryolan and Ben Nye both have them available online to buy fairly cheaply. A white foundation can be mixed with so many things - it can be mixed with other foundation colours to change them, or used all over the face or body as to create a blank canvas to allow you to colour your skin. To an extent, it can be mixed with loose pigments as well. Foundation is worth getting as opposed to greasepaint or facepaint as you can use it after Halloween is over - mix a little to lighten your usual foundation and you've got yourself a darn good highlighter! If you're planning on doing this, try and get the type of foundation you normally use, i.e, cream or liquid. I really dislike the nasty cheap cream makeup you get at Halloween – it smells bad, it doesn’t apply well, you can’t store it or use it more than once due to the packaging and it’s almost certainly worse for your skin than your usual makeup.


Eyeshadows used over a white base to create a fantasy look. (Yes, I know it’s pink.)

Matte eyeshadows: See above. It may take a little longer than using cream makeup, but blanking out your face and using shadows means that most of us won't be spending money on expensive theatre makeup and you avoid those god-awful cream palettes that pop in in costume shops. A good neutral palette can be really helpful at Halloween - a couple of deep browns, a black, a cream or white and a grey can be really helpful for creating undead or dirty looks or aged makeup. A matte plum, red and yellow can also be useful for bloodied or bruised looks. Always, always go with matte if you can - shimmery shadows don't tend to go well with spooky makeup, and shimmery makeup in photography can both look gritty and contribute to the makeup looking washed out.

Setting powder: If you're creating any looks with cream based products or even with just more makeup that you're used to, a translucent setting powder . For purposes of costume makeup, any old setting powder will do. Pressing a larger amount than usual over the makeup with a puff and then brushing the excess off will keep your makeup good n' fixed.

Using a felt liner pen to sketch out villainous eyebrows!

Felt tip liner pen: Seriously, these are great for everything. Liner, obviously. Drawing fangs, stitches, 'cracks' for creepy dolly looks. Freckles, eyebrows, 'shadows' for pop-art makeup, widows peak hairlines for Dracula, KISS makeup... everything. Plus they're cheap and intuitive to use.


Using eyeliners to sketch out a zombie jaw.

Cheap lipsticks and eyeliners: Or even your more expensive lipsticks and eyeliners, this one is really about thinking outside of the makeup box. Eyeliners easily double up as lip colours or to draw designs on the face - your black eyeliner will save you from buying a black lipstick you'll never use again! Lipsticks can be used in place of cream paints or to colour eyebrows.  Just bear in mind the textures of what you're using if and whether that will need to be set, as well as whether what you're using is eye or lip safe. Eyeliners easily double up as lip colours, lipsticks can be used in place of cream makeup, cream eyeshadows can be used all over the face, blah blah blah blah. I would add to do a patch test of your usual makeup to see if it stains – something that might not stain your lips may stay a different texture of skin, for example, so do a wee test!

Mascara: Mascaras are great for drawing beards, moustaches and darkening eyebrows. If you're a girl going a a dude, or a guy going as a pirate or someone who needs an odd beard shape, your mascara will really work wonders. Wipe the excess off your brush and dab it sideways gently on the face to get stubble.

Sponges: Sponges might seem obvious, but ripping and tearing the surface of the sponge can be really useful for creating mottled, gross effects on the skin.

A translucent setting powder and some lipliners that I use often for regular makeup lined up with some special effects goodies…

If you buy *one* thing from a special effects store or brand, some good fake blood will really be worth it and can be got fairly cheaply – I love Ben Nye's Fresh Scab/Thick Blood. Please, please steer clear of the cheap, 99p fancy-dress shop blood - it looks horribly fake and can really cheapen an otherwise good look. If you do get this, get a couple of tubes and try play with adding coffee grounds or pigments to get a more realistic, less syrupy-looking effect. It *will* look better than neon cheap blood, I promise! Another thing I see a lot at Halloween that is really awful is crappy ‘scar putty,’ often in kits with aforementioned crappy cream makeup, that mostly just falls off or  ends up looking like blobs of chewing gum on the face. If you need something to add texture, or to create scars or zombie flesh, buy a small cheap bottle of liquid latex from eBay or Amazon and play layering that with toilet paper and other textured stuff you might have lying around like cereal (srsly, porridge oats can be awesome!) Something that is even more fool proof but a little more expensive is a substance called rigid collodion, also available from SFX makeup retails. Please read up on this before using as it’s NOT something you want to get near your eyes, but it’s basically a liquid you paint on your skin and as it dries, it contracts and creates a puckered scar-like effect which you can then apply makeup over to look like really realistic scars!

While this post  may seem obvious to most of you, I've told so many of my friends that they don't actually need to buy all that much, or if they do, to buy something they will actually use again that I thought it was worth writing!

What are you going as for Halloween? *Be prepared* for my costume!


  1. I never even thought of half of this, this is why I love you

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