How to Apply Basic Horror Face Makeup

Ghoulish couple in horror makeup
Let your creativity shine!

It's not for every day, but when the occasion calls for horror makeup, get your cosmetics out and let your creativity fly.

A Time for Horror

Naturally, horror makeup looks are most popular around Halloween. Kids and adults can have fun portraying favorite characters or simply making themselves up into a unique and frightening creature. Good personas to adopt include:

Applying Basic Horror Face Makeup

Your makeup look can vary widely. You can go for a light application, which may only take minutes, or you can go all out in creating a brand new face, which may take hours. The more involved your horror makeup, the more likely you'll need stage paint or a special kit. Regular makeup is fine, but may not last as long, so if you're planning to play a character all night long, you'll want makeup that lasts.


This is an area where detail counts. It can make or break your scary look. You'll probably veer toward dark colors when creating a horror look around the eyes. Good color choices include black, charcoal gray, indigo, violet and even red or pink.

To create that sunken eye look, apply dark colors on the upper lids and underneath the eyes in a wide circle. Blend well.

Light-colored eyes contrast well with dark colors, but some people go even further by wearing colored contact lenses in unnatural colors especially for the occasion.


Want sunken cheeks when you go out as a ghoul? Horror makeup can help you achieve a suitably scary look. This is when knowing how to contour helps a great deal.

  1. Suck in your cheeks to identify the hollow part. This is where you'll apply your makeup.
  2. Apply blush or stage paint in your choice of color to the hollow. Good colors include gray or brown for a ghoulish look.
  3. Blend well with your fingers or a cosmetics sponge.

However, if you want a pale tinge to your face overall, stick with foundation that's lighter than your skin tone or a thin application of white or other light stage paint.


Vampires, even the male ones, will probably want to use some type of red lip color to imitate fresh blood. This is not the time to be shy about that crimson lipstick! Matte color works well for creating an "undead" appearance, but women who want to create a sexy and scary look can opt for glossy red lips.

Other lip colors that work well for creating frightening creatures include black, burgundy and dark brown. If you don't have or don't want to use lipstick, you'll find "gel blood" that can be applied just about anywhere to simulate the look.


Depending on who you plan to be for Halloween, your horror makeup look may require fake blood as part of your overall costume. This can be in the form of blood dripping from a vampire's mouth to creating realistic-looking wounds on your face and/or body. Inexpensive makeup kits sometimes contain all you need to make scars and scabs that appear all too real.Use tools such as sponges, Q-tips and cosmetic brushes to apply your makeup. This helps you get the detail you want, making for a more realistic appearance.

Practice Makes Perfect

If you only apply horror makeup once a year, you don't need to spend a lot of money. The inexpensive makeup kits you find mixed in with other Halloween supplies may be all you need. However, if you take part in theatrical productions, it's worth investing in better quality materials. Lines like Ben Nye are made specifically for creating realistic looks that last.

Look at pictures and photo galleries of scary makeup ideas to find inspiration if you don't know where to begin. Once you have a look in mind, take your time and practice makeup application beforehand. You may have to go through several looks before you find one you're happy with. Once the big day rolls around, you'll be ready to apply your horror makeup like a real pro.

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How to Apply Basic Horror Face Makeup