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We’re going to go ahead and squash the school of thought that last-minute Halloween costumes always suck—especially with the help of some totally killer skeleton makeup—but more on all of that a bit later. On the contrary, if your makeup is on point, your whole look will scream “I worked on this for weeks.” It’s true.
While you may not be able to throw together (or purchase) a super last-minute costume that comes across like you actually tried, but you can always use makeup and hair to for an instantly festive and ghoulish-glam look. One that’s sure to impress even the most staunch Halloween aficionados and costume enthusiasts.
For instance, a full face of black and white Halloween skeleton makeup can leave you looking drop-dead gorgeous (literally). Think a makeup DIY like this is super hard? Think again. Sure, skeletons may sound like a bit of an over-done and slightly cliched look for Halloween costumes—not to mention a dead giveaway (pun definitely intended) that you didn’t think about what to dress up until the literal very last minute, but the truth is that it’s really one of the most foolproof templates that allows you to customize the look and make it your own. Aside from that, it’s also as high or low maintenance as you want it to be. I mean, you kind of just can’t go wrong with the good old-fashioned and low-key chic skeleton get-up.
We’re breaking this costume down for you from head to toe—and it only takes about an hour to put the whole thing together, so it’s literally the perfect Halloween “costume” idea for all of my fellow lazy folks and extreme procrastinators out there. Get ready to go super spooky (and ultra-glam) this Halloween thanks to these helpful makeup tips courtesy of Nichole Ciotti, a San Francisco-based blogger along with some of our favorite skeleton makeup product suggestions below.
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1. Liquid Foundation
Opting for a liquid foundation that’s slightly lighter than your regular skin tone is key to achieving this look. We love this affordable drugstore foundation because it’s also flashback-free, making it perfect for flash photography.
2. Black Liquid Eyeliner
A good waterproof and fast-drying liquid liner will help your look stay put all night long.
3. Black Powder Eyeshadow
Opt for a richly-pigmented and ultra black eyeshadow with a matte or satin finish and avoid formulas infused with shimmer or glitter.
4. Eyeshadow Brush
If you’re looking for a new eyeshadow brush lineup (old brushes simply won’t work as well for this look) Sigma’s trio is one of the best and highest quality options on the market.
5. White Eyeliner
This opaque and ultra-precise white eyeliner is perfect for drawing in lines and creating sharp detail.
6. Angled Eyeliner Brush
These inexpensive angled eyeliner brushes each help you create a multitude of different looks.
Step 1: Apply the foundation all over your face, including over your mouth.
Step 2: Outline your eye sockets with your favorite black liquid eyeliner. The circles will look best if they’re actually *not* perfect, so don’t worry if they aren’t exactly the same shape.
Step 3: Fill in the eye sockets with black eyeshadow using an eyeshadow brush.
Step 1: Using the liquid eyeliner, draw the letter M across the center of your nose. The sides of the M should wrap around your nostrils.
Step 2: Fill in the letter M with the black eyeshadow.
Step 1: Color your lips completely white (apply over your foundation) with the white eyeliner pencil.
Step 2: Using the liquid eyeliner, draw a line from the corner of your mouth toward your ear, about three inches, on both sides.
Step 3: Using the liquid eyeliner, draw a vertical line down the center of your mouth, from just above your top lip to just past your bottom lip.
Step 4: Draw six more vertical lines about half an inch apart to the left of the center line.
Step 5: Repeat on the right side to finish your teeth.
The Jaw and Cheekbones
Step 1: Using the liquid eyeliner, outline two hollow areas on the side of your face; one hollow area should be close to your teeth and the other hollow area should be closer to your ear, on your cheekbone.
Step 2: Draw a straight line that connects the two hollow areas.
Step 3: Draw matching hollow areas and the connecting line on the other side of your face.
Step 4: Fill in all four hollow areas (two on each side) with the black eyeshadow and darken the straight lines that connect them.
Step 5: Connect the last two top teeth on both sides of the mouth to the hollow area closest to your teeth.
Here are a few more tips to make your glam skeleton look really pop:
- Using the black eyeshadow, shade underneath your jawline and down your neck. Your neck will appear more emaciated if you concentrate the shadow on the sides of your neck while leaving a section of natural skin visible down the center.
- Lightly shade around the hairline with black eyeshadow.
- Using an angled eyeliner brush, pull the excess eyeshadow from the inner corners of your eyebrows up and into a curved line on both sides.
- Similarly, pull the excess eyeshadow on the outside of your eye sockets into several lines, toward your hairline.
And there you have it! Your super-easy and totally awesome Halloween costume is complete—just add some black leggings, a matching top, and some chunky boots and you’re good to go. Happy Halloween!
This tutorial was provided by Nichole Ciotti, a San Francisco-based blogger who shares her personal style, beauty tips, and adventures at nicholeciotti.com.
Originally posted October 2013. Updated August 2020.