Horror zombies are rotting undead corpses come to life to feed on the living, so this makeup is grisly, messy and fun. Latex is popular for a filmic look but many people are allergic to it, so it is not always a good choice. This is even more important for non-professionals because improper use of latex can cause severe reactions and even blindness. But if you’ve been inspired by the Zombie Walk or films like Shaun of the Dead and 28 Days Later, you can get a few supplies from a professional makeup or party shop, then create a range of zombie looks without latex.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Greasepaint or face paint set to include a sickly flesh colour, black, dark brown, green, red and yellow
- Wedge shaped makeup sponges
- Fine brush
- Medium sized brush
- Morticians wax from a makeup store
- Small palette knife
- Tooth enamel in zombie rot or black
- Translucent loose setting powder
- Velour powder puff
- Spirit gum (optional)
- Tuplast or skin plastic (optional)
- Edible fake blood (optional)
Slick a thin layer of wax over brows using the palette knife. This means that you can smooth face paint over the blocked out brows and give any face a ghoulish look.
Make zombified scars and lesions with the wax by smearing a little on the skin, then using a blunt side of the palette knife to draw a gash shape in the middle. These look extremely effective when painted.
Make blisters and pustules with skin plastic, if using it. You can apply little bubbles of this straight on to the skin in clusters. They set within a minute or two and look like a ghastly disease. Push them around as they set to get a different texture.
Paint the whole face a sickly flesh colour, mixing in a little green or red to taste. Be careful not to dislodge the wax and pustules, so smooth the face paint on carefully using a makeup sponge or medium sized brush. Leave the top of the pustules without paint and they will look more like puss filled blisters.
Contour features to give a gaunt look. Be guided by natural facial features. Blend a little black or dark brown where you want bones to stand out, such as under cheekbones and at the sides of the nose. Use gentle strokes in one direction to get a three dimensional effect. Also darken eye sockets.
Paint on detail with a fine brush. The only limit is your imagination. You could paint red inside the gashes or smooth a little red and yellow around the top of the pustules. Rimming the eyes with red also looks effective. Or paint teeth with rotten looking tooth enamel.
Set the makeup by working loose powder into a puff then rolling it over the skin. This also takes the shine off. When makeup is set you can add fake blood or a little extra ooze.
Tips and warnings
- Start with clean, dry skin for the best look and to help makeup last longer.
- If you have very oily skin, are prone to perspiring or are just having problems getting the wax to stick, secure it on with a little spirit gum. This is a glue available from professional makeup stores and used for stage makeup. You usually need to buy a separate remover for it, and only use it on areas free from hair.
- If you do not want to use wax, practice contouring because it is a very effective traditional way to create a three dimensional effect.
- Don’t forget to make up hands, ears or any areas of skin on show. You could also add props like a set of scary teeth, false nails or glowing contact lenses.
- Always patch test makeup products before using, especially if unused to wearing stage makeup. Spirit gum, skin plastic and bright colours are fine for most people but they do contain chemicals that could make your skin react if you are sensitive.
- Never use professional or adult makeup products on children. Instead buy a zombie kit or face paint set from a toy shop.
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