Halloween is finally just around the corner. We wait all year for this holiday because it’s like the Super Bowl for those of us who love to get a little creative with our hair and makeup. Unfortunately, Halloween beauty has a bit of a reputation for being cheesy—but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are 10 ways to take your Halloween makeup game to the next level, and look totally gorgeous while doing so.
Theatrical Face Paint 101
If you’re painting yourself a strange color—like corpse white, blue, green, gold—use actual theatrical foundation, not face paint because it’s easier to apply and better on your skin. But these foundations can be difficult to apply; they tend to be a little thinner than normal foundation, and the last thing you want is to look patchy. Use a sponge to apply these foundations, not a brush (which leaves bristle marks) or your fingers (which leave smear lines). If you need to apply multiple layers for maximum opacity—and if you’re painting yourself white, you definitely will—dust a thin coat of translucent powder on in between. This will help set each layer and give you a seriously saturated, true color.
Make A DIY Wig Cap
Wig caps are so essential: nothing saps your will to live faster than a wig that’s slipping off or giving you a headache. Luckily, wig caps are easy to DIY: buy a cheap pair of pantyhose or tights and tie the legs together in a really tight double-knot. Cut the legs off as close to the knot as possible, then put it on your head. It should totally cover your hair and sit about half an inch back from your hairline. Voila! You’re ready for all the fake hair your head desires.
Bonus tip: If you have very long hair, braid it and then pin it to the back of your head in a flat bun before you put on your wig cap. This will prevent damage, and it will also stop you from looking like you have a massive lump on your head.
Make Your Wig Less Shiny
Super-shiny strands are always a sign of a cheap wig, and even on Halloween, nobody wants to look like a bargain basement escapee. Tone down the shine by soaking your synthetic wig in fabric softener for an hour or two, then washing it well with gentle shampoo. It will look far more matte and realistic once it’s dry!
Bonus tip: Don’t do this with human hair wigs, okay?
If you’re getting creative with novelty contact lenses, be careful. Lenses that cover your sclera (the whites of your eyes) or that are opaque (like Marilyn Manson’s white contact) seriously impact your vision and practically nobody tells you this. There are no hacks to get around this save taking a friend with you as a guide. Be careful out there.
Skip Spirit Gum
Because taking it off SERIOUSLY hurts. Use eyelash glue instead—it adheres to all skin types and, provided whatever you’re gluing has a wide enough base, can support surprisingly large objects!
Skip Glue Stick On Your Brows
Changing your eyebrows is an amazing way to really take your Halloween makeup to another level—but concealing them with a glue stick and layers of concealer can be time-consuming and potentially damaging to the hairs. Instead, use a very thick concealer in a shade that matches your skin and paint over your brows, dusting translucent powder in between layers, until your brows are minimized. Now, draw over the top with a pencil or heavy duty brow pomade, and voila! Your brows have been totally transformed.
Fake Blood Removal
Most fake blood stains skin. Sad but true. The best thing to remove it with? Just like unfortunate hair dye stains, it’s olive oil and a cotton washcloth. Rub the stain with small, circular motions until the redness has lifted away.
Fake Blood Alternatives
Say you want bloody hands for Halloween, but you don’t fancy the idea of bright red rubbing off on everything you touch. Instead of fake blood, use red nail polish. Whether you smear it around or leave it in dripping globs, it looks shiny and wet (like real blood) and won’t come off until you take it off with remover. If you need to cover more skin, you can also use a few colors of acrylic paint—just don’t put it on your face.
Bonus tip: If you’re bloodying up your face, it can be tempting to reach for the red lipstick. This is fine, but don’t ever put red lip colors near your eyes! There are ingredients in reds that can cause allergic reactions in some people, and I think we’d all rather not ACTUALLY look like an illustration from a medical encyclopedia on Halloween.
Colored Hair Spray Removal
So you skipped the wig in favor of colored hair spray, and now it won’t wash out properly. Tale as old as time. Instead of cutting off all your hair a la Anne of Green Gables, mix a dime-sized amount of purple shampoo in with a silver dollar-sized blob of baby shampoo, then wash your hair. This will strip the “temporary” color out without resorting to bleach or scissors.
Un-tease Your Hair
Vintage-inspired costumes are trending hard this year, and along with the sexy “Mad Men” dresses come the absolutely massive beehives, flips and pompadours. Teasing your hair is easy—brushing it out is freaking hard. Instead of ripping at your tortured locks with a brush, spray leave-in conditioner throughout your hair, then gently comb it out beginning at the ends and working your way to the roots. The conditioner lubricates and detangles the hair, so you won’t have any breakage to worry about.
Bonus tip: Use a wide-tooth comb or Tangle Teezer for this, NEVER a brush—and especially not a round brush. You really only have to get a round brush stuck in your teased hair once for it to scar you for life.