So you want to be a zombie: Makeup tips from an expert
When it comes to transforming into a zombie for Halloween, you'll want to go big with your bruises — or go home.
That means not skimping on the makeup.
Kate McCarthy, a Denver-based makeup artist with more than 10 years of experience in special effects makeup, gave us some insider zombie-makeup tips, including how much you'll be spending, how long the application will take and exactly which supplies you'll need.
But even before you start budgeting for your shopping trip to Makeup Mania — which, if you're starting from scratch, could cost more than $100 — McCarthy recommends addressing these five points ahead of time to help you prepare for your makeover from living to dead.
Know your zombie narrative
Start looking at pictures and watching videos to help decide what kind of zombie you want to be — and start long before Oct. 31. How many years dead are you? How old were you when you became a zombie, and what were you wearing? The more detailed your narrative, the more you can tailor your makeup to best tell your story.
Choose one wound
Don't leave out the most important part of your story: how you became a zombie. Were you run over by a tractor? Stabbed with a fork? Shot with a bullet? Zero-in on creating and manipulating only one wound that best reflects your manner of dying, and spend time and care making it look precise and realisitic.
Avoid cheap kits
Avoid low-quality makeup sold in some party stores that could irritate your skin or your eyes, or could fade easily. Read the ingredients list closely, and pay attention to what you may be allergic to. Zombie contact lenses can block the flow of oxygen to your eye. Colored eye drops are safer.
Show some skin
Evolving into a zombie is a process that affects your entire body — not just your face.
Do you plan to show your neck, your arms, your hands or your legs? Remember to smear some makeup onto the exposed parts of your skin before your go out and terrorize your neighborhood.
Take your time
Set aside at least two hours to transform into a zombie, including creating your wound.
Keeping your narrative in mind, pay attention to color. Apply makeup with a light touch. Use detail when creating veins and defining cheekbones. Create depth on your face by shadowing the parts that naturally sink in.
Don't forget about your teeth, the inside of your lips, your temples and the sides of your nose.
Blend similar cream makeup colors for your base, and layer, layer, layer.
Ready to create your wound? Here's your 10-step guide:
1. Organize your materials, first separating five squares of toilet paper into individual plies — this is what you'll use to create your wound. Tear the plies in half. Spread a penny-size amount of liquid latex onto each ply, and lay out on foil to dry. Create 10 strips.
2. Begin applying makeup for your basic zombie face with a foundation wedge. Blend pale, washed-out, neutral colors. Darken around your eyes. Contour around your cheeks, and add any other special touches before adding your wound, such as veins, using a pointed defining brush. Set your makeup with powder after you've added plenty of layers.
3. Apply spirit gum to the area where you want your wound to live. Start with small amounts — it's easier to add more than it is to remove.
4. On top of the gum, apply your wax. This will help you to mold and "pull" the wound.
5. On top of the wax, begin applying the latex strips you created in step one. Add two or three at a time as one layer. Use your face-painting sponge to "smear" it on.
6. Wait 10 or 15 minutes for your first layer of strips to dry. Do not use a blow dryer.
7. Once dry, the wound consistency will become malleable. You can begin manipulating, molding and pulling the wound to create a rotting effect.
8. Add multiple layers to your wound, repeating steps four through six. The more layers you add, the more dimensional your wound will become. The key is to end up with a "flesh-peeling" look.
9. Cover and dress the wound, and the area around it with fake blood using your stippling sponge to make it look like pus is oozing from the wound.
10. Take a step back. Is your face missing anything? Do you need to add more blood? Another layer to the wound? Anything at all? Take pictures, and make notes about your process so you're better prepared for next time.