The Complete Guide To Costume Makeup That Doesn’t Suck

The experts weigh in

Not much can be worse than pulling together a killer Halloween costume, only to discover that the corresponding beauty look you planned with it falls flat.

The face paints and fake blood you’ll find at your local pop-up Halloween shop just aren’t going to cut it, especially if you’re looking to take home the prize for best costume of the evening. On the other hand, our usual beauty picks aren’t necessarily as powerful or long-lasting as we need when it comes to keeping our face intact while party-hopping all night long.

That’s why we turned to the experts. We chatted with makeup and special effects artists to get the low-down on all the products they swear by when it comes to costume makeup. From no-fail tools for creating fake gashes and scars to sweatproof pigments and the best fake blood, treat the below as your shopping guide to creating a truly show-stopping DIY costume.

Read up on each of their picks, below—and be sure to stock up as Halloween approaches.

Photo courtesy of Danessa Myricks

Danessa Myricks, Colorfix, $18, available at Danessa Myricks.

If you’re looking for the perfect versatile pigment, makeup artist Clara Rae suggests looking no further than Danessa Myricks’ Colorfix. “This 24-hour wear cream makeup comes in three different finishes—matte, metallic, and glaze—goes on super-smooth and opaque, and stays in place amazingly well,” says Rae. “You can use them anywhere on the face and can create tons of looks. They’re great for bold eyeliner, lipstick, for painting a skull or sugar skull on your face, or for colorful mermaid highlights, just to name a few ideas.”

Bonus? “They especially wear well around the mouth and eye area, so you don’t have to worry about half of your makeup falling off as soon as you have a drink.”

Photo courtesy of Kryolan

Kryolan, Color Spray, $9.95, available at Kryolan.

Rae also recommends Kryolan’s Color Spray for easy to use, all-over color. “I love these sprays because they are very versatile, easy to use, and easy to wash off when you’re done. You can use them on hair, wigs, clothing, and on your body and face. They come in 'UV Glow' colors, regular matte shades, and glitter sprays. They cover a large area easily and fast, which is ideal if you want to paint your arms or chest a solid color or add a touch of glitter to your skin. They’re great for stenciling, as well, if you want to create scales or super-straight lines.”

Photo courtesy of Alcone Company

Premiere Products, Fleet Street Bloodworks Drying Blood in ‘Dark,’ $20, available at Alcone Company.

What would a Halloween makeup roundup be without the perfect fake blood? Rae recommends Fleet Street Drying Blood by Premiere Products. “I love to use this blood because it dries while maintaining a wet appearance. It’s great for filling in wounds/gashes, or if you just want to add a little bloody accent to your look—bloody tears, nose, or around your mouth. You don’t have to worry about it transferring onto everything and becoming a mess, it’ll stay in place and look realistic all night.”

Photo courtesy of Camera Ready Cosmetics

Ben Nye, Studio Color Essential FX Crème Colors, $68, available at Camera Ready Cosmetics.

If you’re looking for the essential all-in-one palette for costume makeup, makeup artist Tony Tulve recommends the Studio Color Essential FX Crème Colors palette from Ben Nye: “This crème palette has everything you’d need to create wounds, effects, or extreme character makeup. The colors are also great to have as a base for some of your bolder beauty looks, too.”

Photo courtesy of Lemonhead

Lemonhead, SpacePaste, $22, available at Lemonhead.

For any costumes that involve a glitzier look, Tulve swears by Lemonhead’s SpacePaste, a super-thick, metallic glitter concentrate. “Hands down, this is my favorite glitter to use,” he says. “It’s suspended in a self-adhering base and can be used for eyes, lips, and cheeks. It won’t budge until you remove it, which is a plus.”

Photo courtesy of Alcone Company

Alcone Company, False Eyelashes, $3.50, available at Alcone Company.

Even if false lashes aren’t usually your thing, there’s no denying how well they can amp up any costume. If you’re looking for quality lashes this year, Tulve suggests lashes by Alcone Company. “Alcone lashes are a fave year-round, and with so many styles at a great price, it’s easy to stock up for all of your various needs. My personal favorites for a big makeup look are the 301s and 316s.”

Photo courtesy of Make Up For Ever

Make Up For Ever, Universal Pure White, $14, available at Make Up For Ever.

A number of costumes require a pure white foundation as a base, which is arguably one of the toughest quality products to find. Makeup artist Sofiia Strykova shared her favorite with us, the Universal Pure White face and body cream by Make Up For Ever. “This is an amazing white cream foundation that feels great, moves with the skin, and never cracks. It feels comfortable, which means you can party all night long, and it uses quality ingredients that won’t damage your skin.”

Photo courtesy of Cozette Beauty

Cozette Beauty, Stylist Crème Eyeliner in ‘Jet Black,’ $18, available at Cozette Beauty.

When it comes to Halloween makeup, sometimes our go-to black liquid liner just won’t do. For the ultimate long-lasting black pigment, Strykova suggests Cozette Beauty’s Stylist Crème Eyeliner. “It’s totally matte, long-wearing, and unmovable, making it perfect for drawing sharp, skinny lines for any Halloween look, including sugar skulls and more.”

Photo courtesy of Mehron

Mehron, Mixing Liquid, $10.95, available at Mehron.

Looking to keep your makeup perfectly in place all night long? Makeup and special FX artist Melanie Licata swears by Mehron’s mixing liquid. “Water-based face paints are a great way to create a graphic look for Halloween. However, once the sweat starts, your amazing art starts to drip, distort, and disappoint. Spray or dab some Mehron Mixing Liquid onto your makeup to preserve that fresh out-of-the-makeup-chair look—or, for even extra hold, use the mixing liquid to activate the face paint instead of water.”

Photo courtesy of Amazon

Kryolan, Collodion, $30, available at Amazon.

Looking to create realistic scars for your Halloween getup? Licata recommends trying your hand at collodion. “Rigid collodion is one of Hollywood’s oldest secrets for creating scars. It’s inexpensive, incredibly effective, and easy to use. Paint the collodion where you’d like your scar, and you can pinch the skin to help create a deeper mark. After only a few moments, the collodion will contact and an indent of a scar will appear. Add a few more layers for a more severe effect, and use makeup to accentuate, and simply remove with acetone.”

Photo courtesy of Tinsley

Tinsley, 3D FX Transfers, $10.99 to $13.99, available at Tinsley.

Chances are, the prosthetics you find at your local costume pop-up aren’t going to be up to par with the quality you want—but more professional products may seem intimidating to a non-makeup artist. That’s why Licata swears by Tinsley’s 3D FX Transfers. “Tinsley’s transfers make even the most amateur makeup artist look like a total pro. The application is simple and mimics the application process of temporary tattoos—except with a 3-D-painted design.” The brand also carries a pretty vast variety of pieces, from unicorn horns to Frankenstein bolts.

Photo courtesy of Camera Ready Cosmetics

Mehron, Spirit Gum Liquid Adhesive, $3.50, available at Camera Ready Cosmetics.

When it comes to applying prosthetics to the face—such as horns, ears, and more—makeup artist Leilani Sunglao swears by Mehron’s Spirit Gum as a liquid adhesive. “Just apply onto the skin and the appliance separately, wait 20 seconds until tacky, then apply directly to the face.”

Photo courtesy of Camera Ready Cosmetics

Ben Nye, Liquid Latex, $6, available at Camera Ready Cosmetics.

Looking to create some custom, special effects cuts and scars? Sunglao recommends starting with Ben Nye’s Liquid Latex and layering it with toilet paper to create a 3-D effect, drying each layer with a hairdryer. “Do a few layers, and then gently rip open to create the look you want,” she says. “Then, paint accordingly with foundation, fake blood, and makeup to mimic bruising.”