Halloween Makeup Tips, Techniques and Costume Trends

With the right makeup and proper techniques, you can create almost any look for Halloween

Blue is the first cake makeup colour to sell out at Halloween due to popular characters like X-Men’s Mystique and Avatars Na’vi

More than ever, Halloween makeup and costumes take their cues from celebrities and Hollywood characters

Some of the hottest looks this year include Lady Gaga, vampires (Twilight, True Blood, Vampire Diaries), zombies, and the entire cast of Alice in Wonderland and Harry Potter. These memorable characters have become icons because each has a distinctive look.

With the right makeup and a few professional techniques, you can create your perfect Halloween face.

Professional Makeup for a Professional Look

Even if you just want a simple look for your costume, it’s best to use professional stage makeup. Not only will you get a whole range of colours, textures and finishes, but it’ll last a lot longer—even if you end up trick or treating all night.

Plus, since these are products meant for professional use, everything has been tested and is non-toxic, even safe for children. Stores like StudioFX carry a range of top theatrical makeup lines such as Ben Nye (official makeup for the original Cats) and Kryolan (official cosmetics of Miss Universe).

Best Special Effects for Halloween Makeup

StudioFX manager and professional makeup artist Sheryl-Lynn Discusso recommends these products and techniques to make your character stand out:

  • Aquacolor: This is an opaque, water-activated cake makeup that you apply with a damp sponge. It provides intense colour, perfect for those looking for full-body coverage. The metallic silver is perfect for the Tin Man and the sparkly beige is very fairy-like. The most popular colour? Bright royal blue. It’s the first to sell out every year so start shopping if you’re planning on being Mystique (X-Men), Na’vi (Avatar), a smurf or a member of the Blue Man Group. Prices start at $15 for a 30ml cake, which is enough to cover two adults head to toe.
  • Fangs: By far one of most popular accessories every Halloween, fang kits come with a pair of fangs and a moulding ingredient that, once set, creates a custom set of reusable fangs that easily clip on your own teeth. They come in classic and petite sizes (for women and kids), $24.
  • Cosmetic Contact Lenses: This is an instant way to make a freaky impact whether you want to look like a vampire, an anime cartoon, the devil, a wildcat or The Joker. Terror-eyes contacts are $36 for one ($72/pair) and will last a year. Demon-eyes contacts (which include a selection that glow in the dark) are $48/pair and will last three months.  
  • Skin Embellishments: Don’t forget the finishing touches like blood, warts, bruises, pus and grease. If you’re looking for a gory, bloody mess, you’ve got your choice of Thick Blood for a fresh just-scraped look or Fresh Scab for a darker, more coagulated effect. And for that touch of theatricality, get some blood capsules and gush at will ($11/10). If you need to build up some flesh in the form of warts, boils, scabs or a broken nose, try Skin Flesh (110g $26), a silicone product that mimics real flesh and can be moulded into the lesion of your choice. For nearly everything else there’s a bottle, tube or packet to meet your needs: Faux Pus ($19), Faux Mucus ($19), Clean Grease ($7), foam capsules ($17/10) and character powders including dirt, ash and charcoal ($7).
  • Waterproof Makeup: Use a product like LiquiSet (1oz spray bottle $7) to ensure your masterpiece is waterproof. This will keep your glitter in place, your full body paint from rubbing off and ensure different colours don’t bleed into one another.
  • Pre-packed Kits: If you’re overwhelmed with choices, go with a pre-made kit. Need a bruise? Get the Bruise Wheel ($12), which contains five cream colours that will perfectly simulate a bruise. Looking for a realistic gash? The 3-D Effect Kit’s your best friend for creating anything fleshy and with texture (think Freddy Krueger). If you want something even easier to apply, try temporary tattoos and transfers. Locally filmed TV shows rely on these for scratches, slashes and blood drips (starting at $4/sheet).

Quick and Easy Halloween Costumes

If you’re in a bind and have little time or money to invest in a full head-to-toe costume, Discusso has a few quick tips for easy yet dramatic transformations:

  • Fairy/elf: Use a sparkly or iridescent Aquacolor to impart a supernatural glow. Use a coloured hairspray ($6.50) to add some metallic or sparkly highlights in your hair. For women, add dramatic feather or jewel false eyelashes (starting $9.50/pair). For men, add a pair of pointy ear tips ($12/pair).
  • Vampire: Use the Death Wheel ($17), a round palette with five pale, ashy colours to impart a rotted, deathly hue to your skin. Add some fangs, cosmetic contact lenses and add a dribble of blood on the corner of your mouth.
  • Hobo: Use Tooth Color ($7.50) to black out some teeth. Add some liquid hair colour ($9 for 1oz) to add grey or white to your hair. Then toss the character powder of your choice over your face, hands and clothing.