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DIY Makeup Hacks You Need for Halloween

By: Sarah Kester

With Halloween being only a hop, skip and another watch of Hocus Pocus away, you might be entering serious crunch mode to find an epic costume. Because let’s face it: You can’t bear to be a cat for the third year in a row.

The issue with most epic costumes is that they can be complicated. Some seem to require skills that only those with a background in makeup or special effects could master.

To help you achieve your spooky look this year, we asked several makeup artists for their best makeup hacks for Halloween. See what they had to say.

Makeup Hack #1: How to Make Fake Blood

Buying fake blood from the store may be convenient, but it usually comes at a high price. Make it at home instead with things you already own in your fridge or makeup drawer.

“To make fake blood, you can use molasses base and red food coloring or corn syrup as a base,” says makeup artist Margina Dennis. If you need it to look thicker, Dennis says to add cornstarch. As a plus, both recipes are edible!

If you prefer going the makeup route to create fake blood, Noreen Taylor, founder and creator of Donore Cosmetics and celebrity makeup artist for the Emmy Award-winning series, The Bay, says to use different shades of red lipsticks. This can range from a bright red to a maroon color (maybe pass on that $40 tube and use something inexpensive instead).

If scabs are what you’re looking to create, Taylor suggests using strawberry jelly for an extra gooey effect. Delicious? Yes. Appetizing? Definitely not.

makeup hacks for halloween

Makeup Hack #2: How to Create Mermaid Scales

With the live-action TV and movie versions of The Little Mermaid coming out, now’s the time to dress up as your secret alter ego!

While scales may look labor-intensive to create, they really couldn’t be easier so long as you have an extra pair of fishnet stockings lying around. It’s actually Taylor’s favorite Halloween hack: “I pull my hair back in a ponytail and pull a stocking over my head then I use in eye shadow shades of pink, purple, greens, blues,” she says.

“I like to use a blush brush to dab the colors on and use an eye shadow brush to intensify certain areas. Brush along cheeks and jawline neck as well as forehead.”

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Makeup Hack #3: How to Create Any Lip Color

This is a hack that can be used all year-round – not just on Halloween. Taylor explains that you blend Chapstick and eye shadow colors along the lips with a lip brush. This will help you create virtually any lip color!

Makeup Hack #4: How to Block Out Your Eyebrows

When your costume calls for an entirely new eyebrow shape, put the tweezers down and block them out instead. All you need is an old toothbrush, a water-soluble glue stick and a spatula.

Simply brush the brows up so they are spread out and thinner and then glide the glue stick over them. Then, Dennis says to use the spatula to press down hairs; repeat until brows are flat.

Dennis likes to use a tinted glue stick that dries clear so that she can see where she is applying. Once everything is dry, apply makeup over brows with a patting motion. “This is so that you do not disturb the brows,” she explains.

makeup hacks for halloween

Makeup Hack #5: How to Create Wounds

If you want latex-free wounds that make you look like an extra on The Walking Dead, follow Dennis’s hack, which requires items that you likely already have lying around the house.

You will need facial tissue or toilet paper, white school glue, fake blood, bronzer or cocoa powder, red food coloring, a small bowl and a small paintbrush.

“Mix glue, red food color and cocoa powder or bronzer together to create a blood color to paint on the skin,” says Dennis. “Separate layers of tissue or toilet paper before using and tear into sizes that fit the size of the wound you are looking to create.”

From there, apply the glue to the toilet or tissue paper and then layer to your liking. You can use your fingers to form the shape before the glue is completely dry. At the end is when you can add fake blood if you want.

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Makeup Hack #6: Use Stencils for Perfect Lines

If you have enough trouble trying to perfect your liquid liner every morning, it might be best to use stencils for seamless Halloween makeup results that look professionally done. No shame in this, either. Even the pros use them!

“Makeup stencils are a great way to create intricate, attention-grabbing designs quickly and easily,” says Morgan Celeste, a makeup artist and beauty blogger.

Makeup Hack #7: How to Create Pimples

This is likely the only time you’ll actually want pimples. To create them, you’ll need clear gelatin, liquid foundation, red and yellow food coloring, a small brush, a microwave-safe bowl, a spatula, glycerin and toothpicks.

Dennis says to start by following the instructions to mix the gelatin. Once that is ready, add the liquid foundation and add in the drops of food coloring (the color you choose will depend on the look you’re going for). For example, Dennis likes to use red food coloring for pimples and yellow to create the look of pus.

Next, paint the glycerin on in layers and then, she says, to use the toothpick to build up the roundness of the pimples. “You can also create texture by lightly running a toothbrush over after it is dry,” says Dennis.  

Glycerin can also be added for a sweat or shine effect.

Makeup Hack #8: How to Create Your Own False Lashes

Instead of buying falsies that you’ll only wear once, make your own at home. “I like to embellish a false lash by gluing on the additions using eyelash glue,” shares Taylor. “I'll add feathers, tinsel and rhinestones to enhance my false lashes.”

Makeup Hack #9: How to Add Dragon Scales

If you’re in a total dragon mood this Halloween, use this makeup hack, which can also be used to create mermaid scales.

Using mesh or fishnet stockings, Celeste says to start by roughly cutting out the size of scaling you would like to use.

“You can choose to cover large parts of your face and body with scales. Use the scales as accents or mix and match large and small sections of scales wherever you’d like them,” she says.

“Place the sections you’ve cut out where you’d like your scales to be and use two fingers or your thumb and middle finger to make sure that your fishnets or mesh are taut.”

From there, you want to use either your fingers or a makeup brush to apply different shades of colorful highlighters or shimmering eye shadows over your fishnets or mesh. Get creative with it!

Celeste suggests greens, blues and purples for a mermaid look and reds and blacks for a dragon look. “Once you’ve applied your makeup, spritz it with a setting spray to lock everything in place. Carefully remove your fishnets or mesh and reveal your DIY scales!"