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Ask an Expert: How Do I Improve My Halloween Makeup?

Student with bloody face makeup and a latex zipper opening into his face.

With a little under a week before Halloween, last minute costumes can be a pain. Here you are, scrambling to find the perfect look to take pictures with all of your friends and celebrate a holiday dedicated to thrills, chills, and free candy, but you have nothing to wear. This year, if you’re going to dress up anything, why not dress up your face? But how do you accomplish this and give yourself a realistic look? To learn the best tips and tricks on special effects makeup for Halloween, we spoke to our very own expert, Professor Erika Guay of SUNY Plattsburgh

Erika teaches THE 308 – Theatrical Makeup at Plattsburgh, a hands-on, workshop styled class that teaches students how to research, design, and apply theatrical makeup for productions. Students are introduced to the topic as if they’ve never applied makeup before before learning how to apply highlight and shadow to properly contour faces for natural appearances. In addition to these skills, they learn how to manipulate faces for various characters, aging, historical styles, and special effects.

Erika Guay, SUNY Plattsburgh professorName: Erika Guay
Capacity: Associate Professor of Theatre
Campus: SUNY Plattsburgh


Question: What makeup tricks can students try at home for their Halloween celebrations?

Much of the makeup we use in THE308 implements techniques you would see in films or TV shows. Besides the obvious, like The Walking Dead, or other horror/zombie flicks, we also create similar makeup to many historical TV shows, like Rome.

For those seeking to jazz up their looks this Halloween: don’t be afraid to try some simple special effects! Grab some liquid latex, tissues, a hairdryer, and some fake blood. Apply the latex over the top of the tissues and use a hairdryer to set the latex. Pull the latex back and apply some fake blood in the fold. It looks like your skin has been pulled away every time.

Another easy trick is to try making your own blood. There are a bunch of recipes out there, but most call for a blend of corn syrup, food coloring, and water. Just mix until the consistency is right. For a blood that comes out of your costume, mix in clear laundry detergent, but make sure not to drink it!    


Be sure to try out these tricks and send us pictures! Have a fun and safe Halloween!

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