Friday, October 25, 2013

Halloween Costume: Zombie Makeup Tutorial

Have you been wondering what you should be for Halloween? If you're like me, I put off deciding till the last minute. I'm usually left scrambling for a costume idea based around things I already have on hand. Going as a Zombie is a great last minute costume idea that can be really affordable by using things you probably already have at home or can pick up at your local grocery or drugstore. Keep reading to find out how to recreate this scary unisex costume and to see my YouTube video!

I'm a big scaredy-cat and typically don't watch scary movies/shows, but somehow I managed to get hooked on The Walking Dead. The 4th season recently started and I've had zombies on the brain so why not dress up as one? I already had everything I needed to recreate the look and I even watched a video from The Walking Dead Consulting Producer and Special Effects Makeup Artist Greg Nicotero (see here). With a few pro tips, I was ready to create my own zombie look, and share with you how I did it.  

Before & After: You too can experience similar results! haha :)

I've got a lot to cover in today's post including:
  • DIY Wounds & Gashes
  • Makeup Tutorial
  • DIY Fake Blood
  • Hair Tutorial
  • Costume Ideas

DIY Wounds & Gashes:

I made a gelatin mixture to apply all over my face to create wounds, gashes, and texture. You could also use liquid latex if you have it on hand.

Gelatin Mix:
1 part gelatin powder to 3 parts water

Microwave mixture in 10 second intervals until powder is dissolved. 
You don't want the mix to boil, it'll change the gelatin's structure.
Some mixes also use gliserin, but I don't have any on hand. 

Test the temperature of the gelatin mixture before applying to your face;
you don't want to burn yourself!

I used a label peeler to smear on the gelatin and added dimension by tapping and dragging the tool around. I was able to build up layers of gelatin to create edges of wounds and gashes. If you have a popsicle stick or plastic spoon, that would also work for this application.

I applied pieces of facial tissue (toilet paper would also work) to my nose and layered a thin coat of gelatin over top of it to create varied texture.

By using tweezers, you can create flaps of torn skin (by pealing back parts of the dried gelatin) or make holes in the center of wounds to add depth and create a pocket for blood to collect. Okay, I'm grossing myself out! Moving on. 

You'll want to allow the gelatin to dry before applying makeup and blood. To speed up the process I used a blow dryer set on low. 

Liners: ELF Eye Liner w/ shadow brush in Black, Rimmel Scandaleyes in Nude
Face: Baby Powder and   L'Oreal True Match in W1 Porclean
Shadows & Creams: Ulta lipstick in Iced Cappuccino, Purple- Estee Lauder, Red- Unknown, and 
White/Yellow/Green/Black/Brown- ELF Smokey Eye Book

I selected my lightest shade of foundation and using an inexpensive cosmetic sponge I applied foundation over my entire face. I tore one end of the sponge so it would have nooks and crannies that would fill in the texture of the dried gelatin.

I set my foundation with baby powder, which is also mattifying. Zombies aren't supposed to look radiant and glowy, ya know? A light shade of setting powder would work if you're not as fair.

There's no need for under eye concealer; dark circles are an asset for this look. I added black and red eye shadow around my eyes to help create a sunken and irritated effect.

Contouring is an important step in a zombie's gauntly look. I used matte black, brown, and purple eye shadow to create strong contours.

Shadow can also be added in and around the gelatin wounds and gashes to make them look more real and dimensional. Adding red shadow and even a red/brown lipstick can help to sell the torn flesh look.

I added green, yellow, and brown eye shadows to create a look of dirty, rotting flesh. How lovely.

For exposed bones, I used white and nude eye liners and topped it with white and yellow eye shadow for longevity. 


DIY Fake Blood:
Water- 1/4 cup
Corn Starch- 2 tsp
Cocoa Powder- 2 tsp
Red Food Dye- 8-10 drops

*Alter ingredients if you're allergic to something*

This mix can stain-- be careful when applying it.  

I applied the blood mixture to the inside of my wounds and around my mouth. Since this fake blood mix is made with food grade products, you'll be fine if any gets in your mouth.

I created a splattered blood effect by dipping my finger into the blood mix and tapping it around. You can also use a toothbrush or paint brush to spray/splatter blood onto the face.

After my blood dried, part of it looked a little chalky so I tapped Aloe Vera Gel on top of it. This was really cooling and also gives the illusion of wet blood.


Skip washing and brushing your hair 'cause zombies don't have time for that! Second or third day hair would work wonderfully with this look, but you can fake it by adding conditioner to your dry roots (it's a tip from The Walking Dead set). I back combed through my hair to create a messy and disheveled style.


You can become a zombie version of yourself, a Sexy Zombie, or a Zombie Cheerleader, Bride, etc. Just keep in mind that your clothes wouldn't remain perfect if you were covered in blood and looked like you were torn apart. An outfit that reflects the trauma that your face and body appears to have been through will sell the look. You can tear parts of your clothes, add blood, and even rub some black, brown, and green eye shadow on clothing to resemble dirt.

Check out my tutorial on YouTube. It's my first "beauty" video! I had some issues with filming, but everyone has to start somewhere right? Don't forget to subscribe :)

In the comments:
What will you be dressing up as for Halloween? 

**An Update**

Estimated time:
The whole look can be completed in 1-2 hours. 
That would account for variation in drying time and wound count.

Removal was less painful than I imagined and never passed 'ripping off a band-aid' level. I used warm water and a washcloth to loosen everything. To avoid clogging my drain, I pulled off large sections of gelatin to tossed in the trash. Then, I jumped in the shower to gently rub the remaining gelatin, blood, and makeup off with warm water and a soapy washcloth. I recommend applying a moisturizer after the shower to hydrate the skin. 


  1. Wow! Impressive job. I hope you lurched downstairs and scared your brother while you were made up! Lol!

    1. Ha! I didn't try to scare him, but he saw my face, jumped back, cursed, and asked "What happened?"
      I was laughing so hard I thought would die if I didn't stop-- not being dramatic at all... my mouth wasn't able to open much and I was worried I might somehow suffocate myself with laughs.

  2. Holy crap this looks so good!

  3. Wow I like your work!! Looks amazing, I might try some of it on my kids, I think they would love it. Thanks for sharing, great post and thank you for leafing such a nice comment on my blog!! Thanks for the tip with the sponge applicator on the concealer.

    1. Thanks Evelyin, I appreciate your comment! I hope your kids like it too!

  4. Wow! This is sooooo well done! I'm really impressed! It looks amazing!

    Making It Sparkle

    1. Thanks Val... now hopefully we don't get nightmares!

  5. you did such an amazing job here!!!!

    A Beautiful Zen

  6. WOW! This is really cool, great job!


  7. That is one HELLA transformation o_o
    (ngl, even I'm scared) Fantastic work though!

    (It's k, I don't do scary either. My friend plans on linking me to the scariest 'Walking Dead' episode she can find, just for Halloween :c )
    Vanessa | Citron and Guavaberry ʘ‿ʘ | Makeup & Silly things

    1. Ha! I hope you enjoyed your Walking Dead scare fest!

  8. You look amazing! Very creepy. Congrats on your first youtube video :)

    Charming Silence

    1. Thanks so much Jen! And thanks for saying I look creepy :) mission accomplished!

  9. Wow this looks so cool, you did a great job! I'm obsessed with the Walking Dead also so this is a great take on the zombies from the show :)

    1. Thanks Christel! I appreciate your comment. Glad you liked my zombie.

  10. wow this is amazing! I didn't do anything special for a halloween costume but this definitely inspires me for the next year :)

    1. I hope you do something next year, its a lot of fun :)

  11. Hey Nikki...
    You have such a pretty blog and that's why I have nominated you for the Liebster Award!

    For more information on how to receive the award, go to this link below. I hope you like it :)



Thank you so much for your comments and support! I really appreciate it.

Be sure to check back or subscribe; I do make an effort to reply to comments.