Department of Drama
Felix Morlock

Makeup FX

Halloween Makeup comes in many types and applications.  You makeup can truly accentuate your Halloween Costumes making it unique to you and ultimately memorable to all those seeing it.  As this page grows we will show you some different types of makeups as well as  different application techniques.

Halloween, that special night when the proprieties of societies are turned inside out. It is the night when fantasy becomes reality, when mere mortals may don the mantle of acting legends and perform without script or care for the local populace. In other words, it is a night of sheer fun and the only night of the year that you get to put on Adult costumes for a night of enjoyment!

The history of Halloween is as old as time itself, one of the few remaining traditions that predate history. It is the night between years when the veil between this world and that beyond is at it's most transparent. It is the night we become our fears and conquer our own inner child. It is a night for tricks, treats, costumes and makeup.

Ah, but how, may you ask, do I compete with FX masters and artists? Learn my student, learn what the masters teach, learn the tricks of the trade and the treats of creating a masterpiece. In simpler terms, come, let me show you.

Safety considerations

  1. Always perform a skin test to ensure skin compatibility

  2. Never use makeup or baby powder around sources of open flame.
  3. Only use approved makeup for facial areas.
  4. Do not mix different kinds of makeup.
  5. Apply makeup thinly, one color at a time allowing the makeup to adequately dry (a hair dryer set on cold air can speed the process)

Makeup-The Basics

Types of makeup

Pancake makeup is powdered in form and is usually applied with a powderpuff. Oftened used as foundational or setting makeup

Cream-Cream based makeup is the most widely purchased at halloween, comes in a variety of colors with multi packs oftened centered towards a specific makeup design, witch, devil, ghost. Comparable to grease paints but removal is easier.

Tube or stick-Best used for shadowing and highlighting.

Face Paints are specifically approved makeup for use in the facial area and require FDA certification in the US. Ensure that this certification is present when you buy any facial makeup.

Body-liquid makeup paints often used in airbrushing

Adhesives-Spirit Gum, liquid latex and corn syrup are the most widely used adhesives. Liquid Latex is ammonia based and often has overpowering vapors. (Never use around the eyes as burning may result.)

Prosthetics-fake noses, scars and warts are common. Most are rubber or latex. Prosthetics can also be made by combining layers of tissue soaked in adhesives.

Color chart courtesy of Mehron

Makeup Preparation

Every good makeup begins with a simple skin test. For young children and adults with fair skin, makeup preparation should always begin by rubbing a little of the makeup inside of the arm twenty-four hours before the event. If there is going to be an allergic reaction, it will take place within the first hour or so. If a rash develops, discontinue use, clean and apply a topical hydrocortisone cream. If the rash does not fade in a day or two, consult a Physician.

No Rash, good. Now it's time to decide whether or not the makeup should be applied before donning the costume or after. Turtlenecks or other bulky clothing will streak and possibly ruin the makeup job you spent hours creating. Think about it.

First begin with a clean face. Most FX artists recommend a good astringent to remove facial oils followed by a cold water rinse to close the pores. An extremely thin coat of vaseline at this point will aid in makeup removal.

Find a place in front of a mirror with a good light source. A good comfortable chair would help. Ensure there are no sources of flame near the makeup.

Decide if there will be any prosthetic pieces such as scabs, scars or areas where the face will be built up. I like to apply them first, as the spirit gum adheres better to a clean face.


Start with any of the prosthetic devices you want to add, scars, warts, nose etc. Where the device will go, apply spirit gum to both the face and the device. Allow the spirit gum to get tacky before applying the device. If using latex, apply a base coat of latex and gradually build the area. For scars, apply a thin layer of latex then cover with a single piece of tissue, repeat the process until the scar is formed. For Zombie skin, mix oatmeal with corn syrup and apply gingerly to the face. Another effect with latex is to cover an area then gentle pull back part of the latex, this gives the impression of dead, rotting skin. It takes some practice so try fiddling with it until you're satisfied. Remember, sometimes mistakes can turn out to be the best effect.


When you're satisfied with the build-up or prosthetics, apply a foundation makeup. The color will depend on the required outcome, white for vampires, gray for corpses, red for devils, green for witches and goblins, blue for a frozen look. The foundation should be applied lightly rubbing on face then patting to blend the makeup. With the foundation applied it's time to highlight and shadow. A makeup brush will assist in even coating.


Makeup can be applied to form different textures. A makeup brush when brushed gives a smooth appearence, but using the brush in a dappling motion can make different effects. Front load the brush with a light color, the back with a darker shade and dapple the brush stroke to give an uneven, weathered look. Texture can be created using a sponge or coarse texturing sponge.


Shadows emphasize the face and highlights are nothing more than an exaggeration of the facial features. Shadows employ a darker color, highlights a lighter color. With a handheld light, shine the light at various angles on your face. You'll immediately notice the shadow areas, sunken areas and lines. To shadow, take a darker color than the foundation and apply it where to the shadow areas IE the cheeks, temple, below the eyes, below the eyes and above the chin. Zombies have areas around the eyes shadowed to give that sunken look, while vampire and goblins tend more towards the cheeks.


Take a moment while sitting in front of the mirror and pucker in your mouth and squint hard to tighten the facial muscles. This will the lines of your face, wrinkles and features. These are the areas to highlight. Remember, the brighter the highlight the more you'll look like a fantasy character. For witches and goblins wrinkles are especially highlighted.

Body Painting
The ultimate illusion

Want a whole new look for that Halloween Party. Body painting can provide a costume by itself. The best example of this is "Mystique" in the X-men Movie. The body becomes the canvass using brushed or airbrushed techniques. Modesty can create some drawbacks as the costume is often skimpy or non-existent and melded with the body through airbrushing. Time is a consideration as makeup like this takes hours but the total effect is sure to amaze onlookers.

Setting the Makeup

The final step in any makeup design is to set the makeup. For any who has tried to wear makeup while acting in a haunted house or going to a party can tell you, unset makeup while run with sweat ruining the makeup in a matter of minutes. The key is to set the makeup. There are many commercial products but nothing is cheaper and works as well as baby powder. A simple dusting of baby powder while keep the makeup fresh and set throughout the night. Baby powder is also especially useful for creating the look of age in zombies. A good powdering of the hair and clothing provides instant aging.

Products and Literature

Want to see professional makeup products and results, I recommend Mehron. For more information about products and tips on creating professional makeup FX, you can access their website at

For the absolutely best, free Makeup Tips, Get Kelsey Coe's Makeup FX Extreme

For More Information and Ideas Visit