As someone who is teaching herself SFX, I spend a lot of time on YouTube trying to absorb everything I can. You can learn all the basic techniques, discover new tricks you’d have never thought of, and get insight into products you haven’t tried yet. I’ve basically enrolled in the the University of YouTube and signed up for a full course load with some of the best professors from around the world.
I’m quite new to SFX makeup so a lot of the techniques I come across are new to me and I just have to absorb everything like a fake-blood-thirsty sponge. However, even if you’re already familiar with a specific technique, there is a lot to be gained by seeing how another artist might approach a certain makeup effect. I also find that watching these artists gives me endless ideas and inspiration to put back into my own SFX makeups.
1. ELLIMACS SFX MAKEUP
Ellimacs is a team of two individuals, makeup artist Ellinor Rosander and producer Macs Moser. They put together some really amazing videos that provide easy to follow instructions and require very basic SFX products or stuff you can find around your house. At the beginning of their videos they give a breakdown of what to expect in terms of cost, experience level, and time spent for each makeup. They also do a lot of prop and accessory fabricating which is always inspiring and just plain ol’ fun to watch.
This is one of my favorite channels because their videos are so well made, they’re always fun and silly, and the tutorials are some of the most helpful pieces of information I’ve come across while trying to teach myself SFX makeup.
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MadeYewLook (AKA Lex) is another one of my absolute favorite channels to turn on and just let play from one video to the next. She posts new videos pretty frequently so there’s always more Lex to be enjoyed on a regular basis. Her face and body painting skills are next level amazing.
Her tutorials are often pretty advanced but she makes her steps easy to follow, explaining what she does in that odd, wonderful voice she has. She also has a segment where she recreates her subscribers art as a makeup and it’s always really cool to see what she comes up with.
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Freakmo (AKA Kiana) is an Australian artist who does some of the most realistic SFX makeup. She pay so much attention to detail that when I watch her she acts as a constant reminder to pay close attention to what real flesh and wounds should look like and to try to copy it exactly.
She is a great SFX teacher for both newbies and pros because her videos range from easy with basic supplies to quite complicated with advance SFX products. Her channel is perfect for someone wanting to learn their way up to advanced, professional level SFX makeup.
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4. GLAM AND GORE
Glam and Gore (AKA Mykie) is another super fun and wickedly funny SFX makeup artist. She does silly videos like transforming herself into her dog and using Tinder suggestions to create a beauty makeup look. She has also does some beauty/horror (or Glam/Gore, if you will) tutorials where she'll do a full Disney princess makeup or some other beauty look and then add a gory, nightmarish twist to it to the completed beauty makeup.
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PinkStylist (AKA Charlie) does a lots of very creepy, cool horror makeup tutorials. He’s definitely got a knack for creating oversized mouths full of teeth. While he’s great at transforming himself into wicked ghouls, he’s got a fun personality and a huge smile that makes him delightful to watch. You also does a segment where he goes on Omegle and chats with strangers while done up in a full SFX makeup look. Horror and humor, oozing out all over the place with this guy.
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Dope2111 (AKA Promise) has been on YouTube for over 9 years and she still uploads videos on a regular basis. She does a ton of transformation makeups into popular characters and celebrities and they are all stunning. She does makeups that swap genders or change ethnicities and they’re all completely convincing. She is truly a transformation genius.
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7. ALEXA POLETTI
Alexa’s channel is the cutest place on earth to go for makeup tutorials. While she doesn’t do strictly SFX makeup tutorials, I had to add her to the list because she is just an adorable YouTuber while a lot of great tips. She does a lot of character makeup tutorial videos as well as cosplay tips, costume creations, prop fabrication, and wig how-tos. She’s a great resource for all things face painting and cosplay.
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8. BONNIE CORBAN
Bonnie Corban does a wide range of face painting and SFX makeup tutorials. In more recent videos she has been doing a lot of masks and prosthetic pieces using liquid latex and her end results look fantastic. She’s a great YouTuber to follow for unique makeups using the basic SFX makeup supplies like liquid latex, face paint, and polymorph plastic. Her channel has a good mix of creepy and cute makeups so there’s a little something for whatever mood you might be in.
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9. SYDNEY NICOLE
Sydney Nicole’s channel is the place to go for gorgeous beauty makeup that meets with dark shadows from underneath your bed. Every makeup she does has a sexy twist with seductive eye makeup and sultry lips while still capturing just the right amount of horror. She posts weekly videos of mostly SFX makeup tutorials and a dash of product reviews and beauty makeup tips.
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10. COURTNEY LITTLE MAKEUP
Courtney Little posts about once a month lately and her tutorials tend towards creepier makeups. She is fantastic at using face paint alone to create convincing illusions of depth, crevices, and highlights. She does a bit of costume body painting in her videos as well. She focuses mainly on the makeup aspect of her costume but does touch a bit on cosplay tips like costume/prop/accessory fabrication.
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11. JESSICA PARKER
Jessica Parker’s channel is absolutely wonderful for learning how to create SFX masks and prosthetics with liquid latex and latex paste. She uses gelatin, hot glue, tinfoil, and various other household odds and ends to complete her makeups and fabrications. Her tutorials are always easy to follow and her final products are startlingly realistic.
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Powdah (AKA Marc) hasn’t been active on YouTube for about 4 months but I absolutely had to add him in this list because he’s an FX wax master. If you need to learn anything about using nose and scar wax, you need to watch his videos. While he likely won't be adding anything new to his channel, there is so much to be learned from the videos that are already there. He uses pale yellow wax for bones, brighter yellow wax for fatty tissue, red tinted wax for muscle, and red wool to create capillaries. He accomplishes 100% realism by using his masterful sculpting skills and always using anatomical references for his work.
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13. JORDAN HANZ
Jordan Haz in another YouTuber who hasn’t been active on the YouTuber platform but still has a ton of videos that are great to learn from. Her videos always involve a lot of face painting and she’ll occasionally use basic SFX products like gelatin and liquid latex. She covers everything from beauty makeup to SFX tips to body painting. There are useful tips and tutorials on her channel for all SFX makeup levels.
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Goldiestarling (AKA Angie) also hasn’t been active for quite some time but again, all her videos live happily out there on the interwebs, just waiting to be consumed by all the SFX makeup lovers of the world. Goldiestarling is impressively well-rounded in the makeups she creates and the tips and tricks she shares with her viewers. Her channel is a great place to learn how to use all different kinds of SFX products and pick up a lot of helpful tricks and techniques.
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15. BEAUTIFUL YOU TV
BeautifulYouTV (AKA Karina) is one more artist who hasn’t posted anything for a long time but she has a library of over 500 videos posted over the span of almost 10 years laying out step-by-step instructions on how to create basic special effects. Her videos are usually very short and super easy to follow. Most of her videos are simple techniques that could be applied to a full SFX makeup but she does have some full makeup tutorials on her channel as well.
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Now, Head to YouTube and Learn How to Create SFX Makeups!
YouTube is hardly the only place to go when you are teaching yourself SFX makeup but I love it because you can find an artist you like, load up a playlist, and soak up all their wisdom and experience. A lot of them are pretty funny so it’s usually a very amusing class. I do also like Pinterest, Google images, and Instagram for quick inspiration bursts but I always find YouTube is the best place to go to to fully watch and learn any specific technique.