Blood, gore and hairy warts; a DIY Halloween makeup guide.

By Paul Michael on 29 October 2008 4 comments

It looks like we’ve got a little Halloween fever here at Wise Bread. Following on from Andrea’s great story on homemade costumes, I thought I’d add some flavor with homemade Halloween makeup effects. Get ready to learn the secrets of peeling skin, oozing blood, big bad bruises, open sores and creepy cuts.

As we all know, Halloween is big business. I heard that we’ll be spending $5.4 billion on the holiday this year. In retail sales, it is second only to Christmas. And when you see the prices charged for some of the most simple items, well, it’s easy to see where the money comes from.

I first had to make my own blood for a photoshoot a few years ago, and since then I’ve never looked back. So here are a few simple recipes, tips and tricks that I’ve been collecting. I hope they can help you turn Halloween into something both frightening and frugal. (Oh, and be careful of a real menace out there this year - Sherwood brand Pirates Gold Milk Chocolate coins recall. They are dangerous, check out your kids’ candy collection before they tuck in. Here’s a Snopes link with all of the info.) Have a safe and scary Halloween.


The Joker’s White Face

Heath Ledger’s stunning Joker will be roaming the streets everywhere this Halloween. If you’d like to make your own white base, here’s how to do it.

2 tsp white shortening
5 tsp corn starch
1 tsp white all purpose flour
3-4 drops glycerin

Mix together the shortening, corn starch and flour. For easier application, add 3 to 4 drops of glycerin. Lipstick and black eye shadow completes the eerie look.


Fake blood

You can go simple or more complex, depending on how realistic you want it. To be honest, the simple method has always worked well for me, but you decide. Fake blood can stain, so be aware of this before you throw it all over a rental costume or your wedding dress.

Simple blood

16oz corn syrup
Red food coloring (as desired)
Milk (optional)
Blue food coloring (optional)

Just mix them together. The more red food coloring, the better. If you want, a tiny touch of blue can give it a darker, more sinister look, but be careful…too much and you’re bleeding purple alien blood. You can also add a small drop of milk instead of the blue food coloring, which will make it thicker and darker.

Realistic blood

2/3 c. Corn Syrup
1/3 c. Warm Water
5 Tbsp Corn Starch
4-6 tsp red food coloring
1 Tbsp Powdered Cocoa
2 drops of green or yellow food coloring (optional)

Mix the corn starch and water in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the corn syrup and cocoa. Add the food coloring slowly, checking for color.


Thick and goopy Blood

Plain Flour
Red Food Coloring
1 tsp. of instant Coffee

Boil the water on the stove, then sieve in the flour (as much as you want depending on how thick you like your blood), making sure you get all of the lumps out. Once you have the flour mixed into the water it should look thick and runny. Next, add the red food coloring. At this point, it will be very red, but adding the coffee brings it back to a great bloody color. Make sure it’s hot when you add the coffee. Now, let it cool and apply liberally.



Eye shadows: Deep blue; Smoky gray; Blue; Shiny olive green.
Complexion powder.

Want to look beaten? Use this simple, classic bruise effect. And yes guys, this works for you too. Don’t be afraid of a little eye shadow. Start with a blot of deep blue eye shadow, applied with a wet brush. Use your fingertips to add daubs of smoky gray and blue shadows. Next, finish the edges with shiny olive green. Smudge the bruise and dust with an amber frost (try gold for jaundiced highlights). Finally, blend it all in with a small brush and dust lightly using a regular complexion powder.

Here’s a demonstration video from Expert Village that uses similar techniques.

link: How To Make Fake Bruises [Expert Village]


Fake cuts and gashes

Following on from the last video, here’s how to apply a fake cut or gash. Remember, a little of the fake blood you made earlier could add some extra oomph.

link: How To Make Fake Cuts and Gashes [Expert Village]


And if you want to go even further, and be uber-professional, here’s how to make a fake cut throat! However, you’ll need to pick up some PlatSil Gel-10, which is a latex-based skin-colored theatrical makeup. You can find it online here but it’s a bit late for shipping now. Maybe next year?

link: Cut throat make-up [5min]


Gruesome lacerations

I love Instructables. Here, you can see, step by step, how to create effective and creep lacerations. Have fun.

link: Theater Effects: Lacerations [Instructables]


Big hairy warts

Whole peppercorns white or black
Corn syrup or eyelash glue
Hair bristles from a paintbrush or out of your hair brush
(Optional) Non-toxic watercolors (the kind you use in grade school)

Glue peppercorns to your hands or face using the corn syrup or eyelash glue. You may have to hold them in place until the glue or syrup is dry. And REMEMBER TO KEEP PEPPERCORNS AWAY FROM YOUR EYES! Ouch. Dip one end of the hairs in the glue or syrup and attach to the peppercorn, giving them that hairy look. Finally, use paints to color them creepy, like green for witches.


Open sores

Expert Village to the rescue again. Here’s how to make a nasty open sore, great for a zombie or rotting corpse. Our expert is using liquid latex, you can find that at most craft or hobby stores.

link: How To Make A Fake Wound [Expert Village]


The full-on zombie look

OK, so I got addicted to Expert Village. Hey, it’s a great source for this kind of stuff. Anyway, using liquid latex the guys show you how to do a complete zombie makeover. Eat your heart out George A. Romero (hmm, maybe an apt choice of words for the zombie king).

link: How to Use Liquid Latex for Zombie Makeup [Expert Village]


Finally, the more beautiful side of Halloween

Now everyone wants to dress up as something horrific from an open grave or sweaty nightmare. So, the makeup experts from M.A.C. cosmetics have put together some looks that are truly stunning. From a robot, to an amphibian, or even a floral face, there’s plenty of inspiration here. There are 10 different looks to play with.

Additional photo credits: Yuhui, Joe Logon
Average: 5 (2 votes)
Your rating: None

Disclaimer: The links and mentions on this site may be affiliate links. But they do not affect the actual opinions and recommendations of the authors.

Wise Bread is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Linsey Knerl's picture

I'll skip the Halloween application, but I could see this as a part of a evil/neato April Fool's trick... Waaahaaahaaahaaaa!


Andrea Karim's picture

Oh, man, those open sores are giving me the willies! I suppose that's the point, though.

Myscha Theriault's picture

Nice post, Paul. I'm thinking these would be nifty for student film projects as well.

Guest's picture

You guy always are always a great resource, I visit daily.

I also have some good halloween ideas to add @