15 Classic Halloween Makeup Tutorials With a Special Effects Twist

15 Classic Halloween Makeup Tutorials With a Special Effects Twist

There are quite a few classic Halloween costume ideas that you’re going to see out there every year, regardless of what’s going on in the world, what’s in style, or what decade it is. Halloween just wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t see these classics wandering around out there, year after year. These classics aren’t going anywhere but if you’re a little bored of these typical looks there are a few special effects makeup tricks you can try to give them a bit of a twist. 

I’ve put together a list of tutorials from some fantastic special effects makeup artists in order to help spread some classic Halloween costume makeup inspiration. I’ve listed the items needed to complete these looks but the artist may list different items or include more detail about the beauty makeup they’ve used. The lists I’ve included are the most basic products needed to create these looks as you may not have all the same products the artist has or you may have different brands or types of a product. These tutorials are great to either follow step or step or to be used as a vague inspiration for your own style.


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Vampire makeups can be as simple as a pair of fake fangs or as jazzed up as a full face of monsterfied prosthetics. What I like about this tutorial is that the artist, Mykie, doesn’t use any fancy products or complicated techniques but the end result is ridiculously creepy. If you don’t want to shave your eyebrows off for this, which is quite the commitment to your makeup, a simple blocking out of the brows will do the trick. There are a few different tricks people use to cover them completely but the basic technique is to coat them with glue, let them dry, pat them with some powder, repeat a few times, and then coat them with concealer or liquid foundation. The missing eyebrows really adds a good dose of creepy to this makeup.


There are about as many zombie tutorials out there as there are corpses in graves. There are definitely way more complicated tutorials to follow depending on your skill level but I liked this one for its simplicity. You can pull this off with with most basic beauty makeup products and a splash of fake blood. As simple as it is, the perfectly shadowed eyes and bruises give this look some gorgeous zombie chic.


So many witch makeups have the warts, green skin, and long, hooked nose prosthetic. If you want to avoid the typical witch makeup or don’t want to use any facial prosthetics (aside from a dab of nose putty) you can try this cracked and pale creeper of a witch. The blue contacts make for some startling eyes but the makeup is vile enough that the lenses really aren’t needed.


This makeup tutorial can be done with just face paints but works as a fantastic twist on the plain old ghost makeup. Some makeup ideas involve a pasty white face with heavily shadowed eyes but this one has some extra oomph with the nearly decapitated head illusion. No cutting up of any old white bed sheets required for this costume.


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The Mummy is one of the greatest classic costumes because you get to shuffle around with dirty, trailing bandages and the whole outfit has a really unsettling visual effect. The downside to this costume is that most Halloween mummies wrap some bandages around their heads and call it done. The liquid latex and tissue paper rotten skin idea adds about 5000 extra Halloween points to this costume idea. You can just splash a little paint on the fake flesh in any combination of decaying flesh tones and call it a wrap.


This makeup tutorial is slightly more complicated than the others I’ve listed but the ElliMacs team always does such a great job of breaking things down step by step that harder tutorials are much more easily tackled with their expert guidance. The bony prosthetics and woolen veins create such a convincing flayed skull that this makeup is definitely the best twist on a plain old skeleton makeup I’ve ever seen. I’d love to see the looks on the kids faces when this horror pops out of the house with a big bowl of candy.


This makeup is basically just a pumpkin face paint… but no tutorial from MadeYewLook is ever really “just a face paint”. Her face painting skills are so incredible you’d think it would be impossible to follow along but she gives great tips that actually make her tutorials quite doable. This pumpkin face paint gets extra points because she has made the eyebrows and facial expression look so wickedly angry. I absolutely adore the idea of having pumpkin slime and seeds around the mouth. She uses 3rd degree silicone for the slime but I would think a homemade batch of FX gelatin would do the trick.


Doing your own style of Frankenstein’s monster can be a ton of fun but if you want to go for that classic Boris Karloff look then this Pinkstylist tutorial is perfect. He creates a fabricated cardboard head and paints the head and face into a bright green, flat headed abomination of science. He does stick some fake hair to the top of the head but that could easily be painted on if you don’t have any fake black hair on hand.


ElliMacs is one of the best channels to check out for anything involving fabrication. This tutorial uses tinfoil and polymorph plastic to form a vicious werewolf mouth. Elli applies the tinfoil prosthetic with liquid latex, paints it all up with some wolfy brown tones, and sticks on some fake hair for a nice, wooly coat of fur. I’ve created my own werewolf makeup using gelatin prosthetics but I am really loving that tinfoil idea! Any crepe wool or cheap hair extensions can be used for the fur.


This tutorial is a little more complicated than some of the others but that huge, gaping mouth looks like it would be worth the extra time you’d need to spend on the fabrication process. Mykie uses air drying clay in the video but if you happen to have polymorph plastic, those would definitely make some wonderful and extra sharp looking evil clown teeth. Big gaping mouth and deadly teeth is an automatic victory on Halloween.


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Pirates are another costume you see out there on Halloween night with nothing more than some eyeliner smudged on one eye and an eyepatch slapped over the other. With Pirates of the Caribbean being such a popular franchise the SFX makeup options are literally as endless as the sea but the tutorial I’ve included here is much more simple than a full beard of tentacles or a barnacled scalp. I really like the idea of adding these scars because they’re not difficult to do but they add a ton of character to your pirate costume. This artist uses two different types of scars with different methods so either or both types of scar can be done depending on the products you have available. 


The majority of angel costumes you’ll see on Halloween will include some glitter, a set of angel wings, and possibly, on occasion, a thin layer of white face paint. Jordan Hanz steps this costume up a few levels by creating a super opaque white base, decking herself out in a ton of glittery jewels, and painting a ring of heavenly feathers around her neck. Finish this look off with a white wig and a lacy white gown and you’ll look simply divine.


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Halloween is the perfect excuse to make any animal, occupation, or inanimate object into a cute and sexy little costume. On the other hand, maybe you want to take that cute and sexy costume idea and turn it into something gruesome. If you’re one of the latter then you need to check out this slashed up Belle makeup idea. Shonagh Scott has a bunch of other mangled princess makeups and if you need even more twisted princess ideas you can check out the crazy makeups Glam & Gore has done with all our favourite Disney gals.


Mermaids are another costume that are typically super glammed up and overly pretty but can so easily be transformed into something bloody or sinister. This makeup tutorial uses 3rd degree silicone but you can substitute that for some homemade FX gelatin made with basic supermarket ingredients. Any combination of paints and glitters could be used depending on your merfolk color preferences.

Every trick or treat filled street, every party, every night club… there is going to be a significant number of women with cat ear headbands and painted on whiskers. If you want to add a little more to your cat costume then you should definitely consider using a cat mouth prosthetic to add a little realism to your kitty face. I especially like this tutorial because the artist goes even one step further and paints her entire face gold to become the Egyptian goddess Bastet. This makeup is seriously best idea I’ve seen if you’re set on dressing up like a cat for Halloween.

With all the great SFX makeup ideas out there you can easily step up your Halloween costume ideas without needing any super fancy SFX products or a ton of SFX makeup experience. Some products, like fake blood and FX gelatin, can be made at home with very cheap and basic kitchen supplies. Spicing up your costume doesn’t have to be difficult when there is so much inspiration, tips, and tricks floating around out there on the interwebs.

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