The Tools of the Trade
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, next to Christmas and Thanksgiving. I still love getting dressed up in creepy costumes and freaking people out. I am, by no means, a professional or on the level of masters like Stan Winston or Tom Savini. However, I have been doing my own makeup for over 20 years and have picked up a few things along the way.
Over the next few articles, I’ll go over general tips for applying your make up and specific techniques for turning yourself into a zombie, a vampire, a demon, and a creepy old man. The techniques for these four costumes can be adapted to any other look that you think of. In this first piece, I want to go over the most common tools I use for any look I create.
- Makeup Sponges – I find these most useful for smoothing out edges around shading and applying powder. I prefer the triangular sponges. The flat sides are perfect for patting on powder and the sharp edges are ideal for smoothing everything out.
- Makeup Powder – I use this to set my makeup after it’s applied. This helps prevent your makeup from rubbing off and adds a natural look. You want to look for a neutral set colorless powder.
- Spirit Gum – I use this to stick latex appliances to my face when I use them. You’ll also want Spirit Gum Remover when you’re ready to rejoin the human race.
- Molding Wax – This will help keep any appliances in place and help hide the seams between the appliance and your skin. It’s also known as Scar and Nose Wax.
- Eyeliner Brush – This is most effective for getting sharp lines or shading in small areas such as your nostrils.
- Makeup Pencil – I use mine to draw lines for wrinkles and veins.
- Liquid Latex – Perfect for creating wounds. Be cautious, most latex contains some ammonia and can irritate sensitive skin. I only use name brand latex from my local costume shop.
- Toilet Paper – Yes, toilet paper. Nothing is better for creating inexpensive and disgusting effects. Combined with liquid latex, I use it to create burn scars, rotting flesh, and open wounds.
- High Quality Makeup – High quality costume makeup is more subtle, allows your skin to breathe and washes off with soap and water. I generally avoid grease paint as it is heavier, it’s not as subtle, it makes me break out, and usually requires make up remover to wash off.
- Appliances – You can add bullet wounds, horns, pointy ears, or a third eye to round out your look. High quality, ready to use appliances usually come with instructions on how to apply them and start out fairly inexpensive. If you have the patience, you can also create your own appliances with some latex, molding wax, and a little imagination. I usually buy mine and keep them for future use.
- Special Effects Contacts – I use them. However, I also have been wearing prescription contacts for a long time. So, I am used to wearing contacts. If you are going to buy special effects contacts, buy them through an optometrist. This is one item that you do not want to skimp on. Low quality contacts purchased online or from a drug store have been known to cause conjunctivitis and in extreme cases blindness.
Your best bet for finding the makeup and makeup related supplies is to find your local costume shop or theater supply company. You can also find good quality supplies at a party supply store or the temporary Halloween stores that pop up once the season starts.