I recently made a post about how to get into makeup, but in it I only talked about traditional, “pretty” makeup. I didn’t address the creepier side of it at all. I’ve heard a LOT of people say that they think SFX makeup is really interesting and that they would love to start experimenting with it, but they have no idea what products to buy or how to use them. I’ll warn you now – FX products are not cheap, and some of them can be a little intimidating the first time you use them, but once you get used to working with them, it’s really fun! With this kind of makeup, you can really transform yourself; the only limit is your imagination. I’ve only been into SFX for the last year or so, so I’m still learning and building up experience, but I think I’ve more or less mastered the basics. I feel like this kind of makeup is really more of an art form than traditional makeup, and (as with any other kind of art) you can really see yourself progress as an artist over time.
like with traditional makeup, there’s a few basic products that I recommend starting your collection with:
liquid latex (This is probably the product you’ll use the most in your projects. It’s easy to use, easy to remove, and not too expensive. Latex is most commonly used to create “fake skin” for fake wounds.)
face paint (Unfortunately, I can’t link you to the palette I use, because it came as part of a makeup kit. There are three common formulas: water-activated paints, alcohol-activated paints, and cream paints/grease paints. I recommend starting out with cream paints, because they’re the safest, easiest to use, and most forgiving of the three.)
a bruise wheel (These are special paints with a creamy, easy-to-blend formula, used to create realistic-looking bruises. If you don’t want to buy one, you can get the same effect with a combination of very dark red lipstick and black eyeshadow. I do recommend the bruise wheel though, because the yellow and green colors are really good for making your skin look sick or infected.)
coagulated blood (There are two types of fake blood. This one is the thick, clotted, nauseating kind. It doesn’t smear or run as easily as the more liquid-y blood does, and it adds an extra layer of icky texture to wounds.)
squirt blood/fresh blood/standard fake blood (This stuff looks like fresh blood. Different brands market it under different names, but they’re all the same: runny, deep red, and a complete mess. It’s super fun to work with, but you WILL ruin whatever clothes you’re wearing.)
Those products cover the basics, and it’s a good idea to master them before you move on to less forgiving SFX products. If you need ideas/examples, try one of these tutorials: xx They’re both pretty easy, so they’re good “first attempt” looks to help you get used to the products.
Here are some other commonly-used FX products that you might run into:
rigid collodion (This is one of the scariest FX products to use, so I definitely DO NOT recommend experimenting with it until you’ve mastered the basics. This product puckers your skin in a way that creates very realistic fake scars, but if you don’t remove it properly, or apply it in the same place several days in a row, or put it on your lips or eyes, you could seriously damage your skin. I HAVE used it before and I was fine, so you don’t need to be afraid of it, but if you’re going to use it, be careful and make sure you know what you’re doing.)
scar wax (This is literally just modelling wax for your face. I’ve seen it used with rigid collodion or alone to create scars or wounds, and used on its own to make prosthetic noses and brows. I have some, but haven’t used it yet, but my understanding is that it’s very easy to use.)
spirit gum (This is an adhesive, used for gluing prosthetics to your face. I’m pretty sure you need a special removal liquid to get it off, but I haven’t used it yet so I am by no means an expert. On the rare occasion that I do have prosthetics, I just glue them on with a little liquid latex.)
tooth fx (It’s paint for your teeth. You have to make sure your teeth are completely dry before you can put it on, and you have to make sure the paint is dry before you can close your mouth, but it looks really cool. It comes in lots of colors, from black to blood red to nicotine yellow.)
Honestly, if you’re serious about getting into SFX, I recommend getting a stage makeup kit. It’s the easiest way to get all the basic products at once, and it’s actually cheaper than buying them all individually (like I said, FX products aren’t cheap). I got the Mehron Special FX Kit (which has all of the products I mentioned in this post in it) for my birthday last year, and it’s been a really great introduction. While some of the products aren’t the best quality, they’re good for learning and starting out. As you run out of things, you can replace them with better quality products.
Here are some tips and tricks to remember when you’re working with these new products:
ALWAYS DO AN ALLERGY TEST BEFORE USING A PRODUCT ON YOUR FACE. Testing products is really easy: I just apply them to the back of my non-dominant hand and leave them on for a couple of hours to see if I have a reaction. The only time I’ve used rigid collodion was when I recreated the Outsider’s brand from Dishonored, which doubled as my allergy test for the product. (And it did break me out, so I don’t use collodion anymore.) I really cannot stress how important allergy tests are – this is definitely a “better safe than sorry” kind of thing.
YOU CAN’T USE LIQUID LATEX IN PLACES WHERE YOU HAVE HAIR. TRUST ME. IT WILL PULL OUT YOUR BABY HAIRS. PLEASE DO NOT ACCIDENTALLY RIP OUT YOUR EYEBROWS OR BEARDS REMOVING A PROSTHETIC. You can block your eyebrows out to protect them from the latex, but I prefer to just avoid it altogether.
You can use spirit gum near (but not on) your hair, as long as you have the proper removal liquid to get it off. This makes spirit gum the ideal adhesive for attaching things like elf ears, horns, ect.
With the bruise wheel, a little product and a lot of blending goes a long way.
Like with pretty makeup, I recommend buying a set of professional makeup brushes for this. DO NOT USE YOUR REGULAR BRUSHES FOR FX MAKEUP. YOU WILL RUIN THEM. (The Mehron kit I have came with several brushes, and you could also use normal paintbrushes as long as they’re soft and made from material you aren’t allergic to.)
You can create realistic-looking fake skin by layering liquid latex with very thin strips of tissue paper. Warning: doing this takes forever, because you have to wait for each layer to dry completely before adding the next one.
Don’t worry if your makeup doesn’t end up looking exactly like it did in your head, or exactly like your reference picture. SFX looks are very forgiving, because they don’t have to be neat, or pretty, or symmetrical. In fact, for most horror makeup, messier is better.
Contouring the hollows of your cheeks and your temples with a black or dark grey eyeshadow is a great way to instantly look more sunken in and skeletal (especially if you already have a white or grey foundation on).
You can make your own foundation shades for whatever monster you’re creating by mixing face paint (or matte eyeshadow pigments) with your normal foundation. Foundation + white face paint = vampire. Foundation + grey (and maybe a tiny bit of green) paint = rotting corpse/zombie. And mixing your own colors is really fun!
Don’t be afraid to try new things, and don’t expect all of your SFX looks to turn out the way you wanted them to, especially at first. No one starts out as an expert. Remember the first time you tried to use liquid eyeliner? Be patient with yourself, and take on new challenges as you master basic skills.
I hope at least a few of you found this helpful. If you have any additional questions, feedback, or product recommendations, or
if you’re an old SFX pro who has advice/constructive criticism for me, please message me! I love hearing from you guys! I’m also open to take requests for tutorials (horror makeup or traditional makeup), if there’s something specific you want to know how to do (or at least see my take on it).
So a friend of mine asked me for some advice on how to do Nathan’s “loser” wound from Resident Evil 7, so I decided, well why not whip up a little tutorial while I’m at it, pictures and describtions follow bellow the cut, and with pictures I mean a lot of them, I’m trying to be explainatory here stay with me
If you’re allergic to latex this is not a good idea by the way, and if you’re not sure if you’re allergic do a small patch test before you start smearing huge amount of it on your skin, we good? Good, here we go
Part 4 and the final part to the Snake Of Wall Street. This is when we left Wall Street and went to Times Square. People freaked out I loved watching the reactions from people. This is an SFX makeup I did to my brother. A lot of people thought he looked a little like Voldemort so we decided to name him Shmoldemort since he is Voldemort’s more successful cousin.
Makeup by me: Rose Ripley (Instagram: roseripleymakeup)