6 Special Effects Makeup Looks to Put a Twist On This Year














Happy Halloween! We don’t have to tell you just how exciting this day is for makeup artists, especially special effects makeup artists – you really get to work those creative muscles and create unforgettable makeup looks (with costumes to match)! We also know how boring it can be to create the same looks each year, which is unfortunately what often happens with special effects makeup. It’s inevitable with so many horror movies giving us inspiration!

So this year, why not do something a little different? We’ve put together a list of 6 special effects makeup looks that you can easily put a twist on. It’s time to shake things up this Halloween, so stick with us as we run through some ideas!

1. Gory sugar skull

If you’re pursuing a career as a makeup artist, it’s a pretty safe bet that a sugar skull is part of your repertoire. All makeup artists should be somewhat familiar with how to create a sugar skull, a way in which Mexican families honor and remember their loved ones on Day of the Dead (or Dia de Meurtos) in November of each year. While it may look pretty straightforward, a sugar skull is a challenge to create, as it requires a keen eye for detail and a steady hand to complete the intricate decorations and circles.

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But once you’ve mastered a basic sugar skull (with this helpful tutorial), why not turn it up a notch by adding some gore? Using liquid blood makeup and prosthetics, put those special effects makeup skills to use by adding gory eyes and cheeks to your sugar skull. Give the impression that this skull isn’t quite dead by creating gashes, saggy skin, and bloody effects. No one will forget this unique creation, or your careful attention to detail as a makeup artist!

2. Creepy Disney Princess

If you want to be instantly recognizable at Halloween, it doesn’t get more familiar than a Disney Princess. Who wouldn’t recognize Cinderella, Ariel, or Sleeping Beauty? While these costumes are undeniably gorgeous (and a great exercise in makeup and hair!) why not add a twist, specifically a creepy one?

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A creepy Disney Princess is a relatively easy special effects look to achieve – simply turn yourself into your favorite Disney heroine (we’re partial to Snow White, as her dark hair, porcelain skin and red lips lend themselves beautifully to a gory look) and then add wounds such as chemical burns, cuts, or scratches. Follow this step-by-step tutorial from our Special FX Makeup Course to create a realistic scratch! Not only will you have a recognizable costume (because no one enjoys explaining their costume on Halloween!), you’ll also get to put a wicked twist on it that will have everyone talking.

3. Little Red Riding Hood/Wolf

There’s something very somber about even the sweetest Little Red Riding Hood costume. A little girl headed out into the deep, dark woods armed with only a picnic basket and red cloak – it’s a recipe for danger! Red’s rosy cheeks and red lips can’t take away from this story’s creep-factor, but we’re willing to bet that you can take this costume from creepy to downright terrifying with a little imagination and some special effects. Specifically, some black, white, and grey body paint that will transform half of Red’s face into the wolf himself!

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If you keep Little Red Riding Hood’s face as innocent as possible by using light coverage foundation, soft eye makeup, and red lipstick, you can really turn up the horror on the other side! Make sure you create your wolf with as much texture as possible, taking time to create the hair and fangs and making them lifelike.

With half an innocent, little girl’s face and half a hungry, angry wolf, this costume will become legendary. Add a set of wolf ears on top of the red hood, and you’re all set.

4. Zombie Barbie

Since she made her first appearance almost 60 years ago, Barbie has inspired millions of Halloween costumes for children and adults alike. And with good reason – she’s held numerous jobs, had a succession of different looks, and her likeness is instantly recognizable. This Halloween, however, you can take Barbie to a whole new level by turning her into a zombie! How’s that for a twist?

This is probably the easiest costume on our list to create, so we recommend it if you’re pressed for time. Choose a white top and miniskirt, or a hot pink bodycon dress, and then let the fun begin – adorn Barbie’s familiar face with some dark eyes, bloody skin, and wounds galore!

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Pro tip: Use your airbrush machine to create highly realistic bruises, stitches, exposed muscles or bone. Check out this list of airbrush tricks and get inspired!

5. Miss Scissorhands

You may know him as Edward Scissorhands, with his wild hair, scratched face, and blade fingertips, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative with this Halloween costume! We’re listing 6 special effects makeup looks to put a twist on this year, and Mrs. Scissorhands has earned its place!

Drawing your inspiration from Johnny Depp’s look in Edward Scissorhands, turn this character into a slightly more feminine one by adding a cupid’s bow lip, a little more mascara, and if you want to take it even further, a dress instead of Edward’s trousers and suspenders.

We recommend an updated vampire look for this costume, as it will provide you with the white face, dark grey shadows, and deep red lips that will truly set the tone for Miss Scissorhands. You can find some helpful tips on creating this look (and others like it) here. Tease your hair and complete your look with a dress similar to Edward’s outfit – just slightly more feminine.

6. Steampunk Bride of Frankenstein

In recent years, “steampunk” has become a household word! Incorporating elements of old fashioned materials such as brass and copper with gothic and burlesque styles, this trend is no longer just a throwback to the 19th century. It’s a full-fledged lifestyle for many, and as a makeup artist, it’s one that you can apply to almost any horror character.

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We recommend a Steampunk Bride of Frankenstein, as it’s a fabulous twist on a character who is already rooted in the 19th century and lends herself very well to the steampunk style.

So how do you go about creating it? Well, you can get extremely creative here and take some liberties! Metallic golds and greys work beautifully together, and you’ll have the opportunity to create realistic stitches, bolts, and machinery with your paint. Your Bride of Frankenstein can be reminiscent of a black and white film star, with a white face and dark lips, or you can choose to create a full steampunk skull, instead, complete with robot-like details. The specific twists on this costume are entirely your call, but one thing’s for sure – when you walk into a Halloween party clad in an old, lacy wedding dress complete with steampunk makeup, you’re going to turn heads!

Need some more last-minute Halloween ideas? Get inspired with this list of recommendations from QC Makeup Academy tutor and Professional SFX Makeup Artist, Michele Mulkey!


Victoria Begin

Author Victoria Begin

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