Three Ways to Do Zombie Makeup

Complete your scary zombie Halloween costume by trying out these zombie makeup ideas!

About Zombies

Zombies are the living dead: animated, decaying corpses who wander the earth wreaking havoc in their path. The concept of zombies originated from the practice of Voodoo, in which they are under control of a sorcerer and do not operate on their own will. Sometimes they even feed on live humans.

The first film about zombies was Night of the Living Dead, directed in 1968 by George Romeo. Since, zombies have been featured prominently in horror films, establishing them as highly identifiable figures in pop culture. Notably, Michael Jackson's 1983 Thriller video featured a troupe of dancing zombies.

Three Popular Zombie Makeup Ideas

To achieve a simple zombie look, begin with white face paint or powder. Apply it all over your face and neck to achieve the appearance that the blood has been drained from you so that you look dead.

Basic Zombie Makeup Instructions

Before attempting to create any zombie look, be sure to have the basic makeup necessities on hand. Always start off with a clean face free of oils and makeup. By using products under your makeup, the makeup may slip off your skin and not hold properly.

To create your basic zombie look , you will need:

zombie makeup
zombie eye makeup
  • White cream makeup to use as your base foundation. Apply your makeup with soft sponge applicators for light even coverage. Start off with it light and add as needed. Adding to much in the beginning can result in it clumping and not adhering well to your face.
  • Grey cream makeup to use over the white to create a realistic corpse-like skin tone. Apply this with a sponge and do not use all over the face. Use it to contour around the eyes, nose and cheek to give you a lifeless look. The sponge will allow you to apply it lightly and add as needed.
  • Light powder. This can either be regular makeup powder or baby powder. Use this to set your foundation.
  • Dark eye shadow and eyeliner to create a sunken eye look. The eyes will be a major focus of your zombie look. Zombie eyes have dark circles under and around them and by using dark shadow and liner you can create a sunken, darken appearance. Blend a combination of black, purple or blue eyeshadow around your eyes for a hollowed-out effect.
  • Cream makeup in red, black and green. All these colors can be used alone or mixed together to create bruises and scars. The red can also be used to create blood around the mouth. Use the black cream makeup on your lips for a dramatic look. Apply the creams with sponges or a fine paint brush.
  • Finally, apply black lipstick, or cover lips with white face paint.

Keep the zombie makeup basic and pay close attention to applying the makeup in a realistic fashion. Be sure to use makeup on exposed areas such as your neck, hands, arms and even feet. Use darker makeup to create a dirty look like you stepped out of the grave on your feet and hands.

zombie wound makeup

This can be achieved by using the black and green makeup and applying it lightly with a sponge. Add some baby powder and gel to your hair to make it look dull, matted and lifeless as well. Be creative and add whatever you like. There are no set rules to what a zombie should look like. It is up to you and the possibilities are endless.

Bloody Zombie Techniques

Take the zombie look described above one step farther by adding some fake blood. Purchase fake blood where Halloween costumes are sold, or make your own by mixing water, corn syrup and red food coloring until it resembles the consistency and color of human blood. To make it more realistic, add a very small amount of blue or yellow food coloring to tone it down.

After you have applied your zombie makeup, smear or drip the fake blood mixture on your face. Try dripping blood from the corner of your mouth and your eyes.

Fake Wound Makeup

Go all out with your zombie look by adding a festering, open wound to your face. Layer liquid latex to resemble torn flesh. You can create similar effects with unflavored gelatin, marshmallows, or experiment with mixtures of flour, oil and cream of tartar. Rather than create your own, you can buy strips of fake flesh or scabs that you can attach with a thin layer of liquid latex. Liberally apply fake blood to your wound to achieve the ultimate gory effect.Use blue and purple makeup to create fake bruises. Get creative and draw fake scars with a white or pink makeup pencil. For a several week-old zombie look, blend in green and yellow makeup to achieve a rotting wound effect.

Zombie Special Effects Makeup Techniques

zombie scar makeup

There are a number of ways to get creative with a zombie look and add special effects:

  • To create a bruise, stipple on brown, green, yellow, and then purple greasepaint around the wound in an irregular pattern..
  • After you have applied the white cream makeup, add a green tinge by stippling on some green greasepaint with a soft sponge. Be careful not to rub the greasepaint into the skin or it will hide the texture.
  • To create a rough, flaky effect, apply liquid latex, then rub vigorously when it is dry wherever you want the holes and flakiness to appear.
  • For a sunken cheek look, lightly sweep some green and red greasepaint under the cheekbones.
  • To create a sunken zombie eye, use your finger to blot red greasepaint along the bottom of the eye socket and around the top of the lid. Then use a paintbrush to outline the bottom of the eye socket in black. Blend the black in toward the eye, and blot the red area with a light layer of black and blue.

Create a Back Story for Your Zombie

bloody zombie makeup

Since zombies are essentially dead people, you can get creative and come up with a story about who you were before death and exactly how you died. Perhaps you were a doctor, policeman, cheerleader or pilot. Did you die in a car accident, stabbing or sustain gunshot wounds? Did you die recently or has it been awhile? Zombie brides and grooms are great as a "couples costume" and zombie cheerleaders add a bit of pep to the undead world. Whether you share your zombie story with friends or not, having a scenario in mind can inspire you as you apply your makeup.

Where to Buy Zombie Makeup

Most major retailers such as Target, Wal-Mart and many drugstores carry Halloween costumes and makeup kits. For the simple zombie look listed above, you can use regular cosmetics to achieve this effect. To create special effects, you can purchase zombie makeup kits from many online retailers:

Applying Zombie Makeup

While many kits come with tools to help you apply the makeup, you can use regular makeup tools as well as a few other handy supplies you probably have around the house:

  • Makeup brushes
  • Cotton swabs
  • Cotton balls
  • Sponges
  • Your fingers-one of the best blending tools

Final Tips

Before Halloween night or the party you plan to attend in costume, practice your look so you are comfortable with applying zombie makeup. This will give you an idea of how much time you need to get ready. Test products on a small patch of skin 24 hours before applying to make sure you don't have an allergic reaction. Set your makeup with a light dusting of baby powder so it doesn't melt off throughout the evening.Makeup shouldn't stop at the edge of your face. Be sure you blend your zombie makeup to your hairline, over your ears, and down your neck. Don't forget your hands, too. Cover any skin that is exposed, or you'll lose your zombie credibility!

Three Ways to Do Zombie Makeup