A Mini Guide to “Professional” Halloween Makeup

Yep, I put that in quotes for a reason. I’m most certainly not a professional. I don’t get paid for my work and I don’t know if I plan to. For the last couple of years I have been trying my hand at halloween makeup and SFX makeup. I don’t use any prosthetics, just plain ol’ makeup. My goal is to refine my artistic skills by messing around with some fun and interesting new mediums.

Basically, I like horror movies and gore and it’s super fun to make yourself look like a ghoul 😉

So, here’s what you need to know. If you want to get into face/body painting or SFX makeup there are a few different ways to go. Of course, before we get into that, you should know the products that I use are 100% cruelty-free. Every reputable professional makeup manufacturer will list this information on their website. If they don’t, they probably test on animals and it’s just not worth buying.

What I use: Mehron Paradise Paints in Basic and Tropical. About $40 from the Mehron site. (Can be found on Amazon for $20-$30)

These are excellent quality water-activated paints. The colors are very opaque and require very little water in order to get enough on your brush for a clean, smooth, application. The colors can be diluted, concentrated, and mixed very easily. If you’re a beginner these really aren’t too much of an investment for professional quality makeup. These colors dry quickly and won’t budge even if you wipe your hand across your work. However, if you are sweaty or you get caught in the rain these will wash right off. It makes for quick clean up. A hop in the shower won’t leave a trace.

The individual pans can be purchased if you run out. Although, I have been using these semi-regularly for about 2 years and have only ever run out of the white shade. Everything else could last me for 2 more years or more, since I only do makeup on myself and a couple other people.

The ingredients are completely vegan. Cocoa butter, avocado oil, and aloe nourish the skin instead of stripping it of essential oils. So, not only does this paint work as a beautiful professional-grade paint, it’s actually good for your skin. While other paints have made my sensitive skin break out, these make my skin feel soft and hydrated after use instead of cracked and stained.

Other items I use: Eye Shadows – Naked Basics Palette $29 from Urban Decay. (Couldn’t find it anywhere for cheaper)


Any ol’ eyeshadow palette will work as long as the colors are matte and not shimmer or glitter shades (unless that’s the type of thing you’re going for).

I usually use the cool light brown in this shade to contour my face right under my cheek bones, right above my temples, and around my eye sockets – especially if I’m going for that dead/emaciated look. Then, I’ll go back in with the darker brown and even black if I’m doing an extreme look. Then, I use the lightest shade to highlight the cheek, chin, and brow bone. This makes the face look nice and sickly.

These shades are very high quality and I find it’s all I need to create a nice face shape, no matter how complex. The quality is great and they blend a bit easier than the Mehron paints, which is why I usually lay down a base with these before I go in with my paints.

Urban Decay is also 100% cruelty-free and sells quite a bit of vegan makeup as well. I’ve had this palette for at least 5 years and love it to death. It’s well worth $30 bucks.

Items that also work: Cream Paints (Around $5+) & Alcohol Paints ($35 for a very basic one-toned palette all the way up to $100+ for a full spectrum palette).

I’ll just say up front that I do not have experience with these two mediums. I have used a few cream paints in the past, but not for years. They make my face breakout something awful, but if you’re face isn’t as sensitive as mine, it’s definitely a cost effective option – the cheapest option really.

These are easily blendable, but sometimes never fully dry down. They can smear easily and can sweat off much easier/faster than water-activated paints do.

On the other hand, alcohol based paints are the most professional option available. They are only activated using 99% alcohol and won’t come off unless, you guessed it, you use 99% alcohol. You can sweat, jump in the shower, whatever you want and these things won’t come off.

As I understand it, they work just as well as water-activated paints. They are blendable, buildable, and completely smear-proof. This is the type of product that is used on professional shoots and film. Yet, it is the most expensive option for sure.

Tips: Stuff that I have tried that works (or doesn’t)

  • Try some techniques on your hands or arms before you try them on your face or body. It’ll always pay off in the end. I’m always strongest the second or third time around lol.
  • A girl is only as good as her crappiest brush. Not really, but you get what I’m saying. If you want to do professional looks then I suggest getting some nice brushes. You don’t have to necessarily purchase an entire set of makeup brushes, paint brushes also work just as well. Unfortunately spreading paints with your fingers just doesn’t cut it.
  • Oh yeah, and wash your brushes after every use. It’ll stop your colors from becoming contaminated with germs or other colors.
  • Don’t be afraid to “copy” other artists. Learning new techniques from more experienced artists is the best way I know how to practice and hone my skills. BUT if you’re going to be posting your work online that is based off of a character or someone’s artwork you MUST credit the original artwork. If you don’t, you could get sued and you’re just a jerk.

Most of all just have fun with it and don’t take anything too seriously. Like any other art form, painting and SFX just takes time.

Here are a few of my favorite works. Happy Halloween!

img_1579  img_1581  img_1585  img_2809  img_0175   img_0267  img_0427  img_1525  img_1590  img_1938  1a2e8f24-9bc9-488c-baee-9f03ff5ccdbc  fullsizerender

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s