How to Do Scary Makeup for Halloween

While a Halloween costume establishes a character, makeup sets the mood for the night. A clown transitions from happy to horrific with a smear of white paint and a smudged red grin. Stitches become grotesque with a little eyeliner, red eyeshadow, and fake blood.  At Field of Screams Maryland, our actors take their looks to the next level each night to produce a truly terrifying experience for all who dare to cross their path. We’re sharing a few tips and tricks from our expert team that you can use to do your own scary Halloween makeup at home. 

Frightening Faces

Consider your face a blank canvas for your Halloween look. While your eyes and mouth will attract the most attention—more on those later—your face makeup ties the whole masterpiece together. Before you start applying any makeup, be sure that you keep your makeup brushes separate or use single-use brushes if you’re getting ready with others to avoid transmission of COVID-19.  

Most eerie looks start with a pale, ashen foundation, to evoke a dead or haunted feeling. You can create this by using white face paint, cream, or your choice of light-tinted foundation. Be sure to select paints and foundations that won’t irritate your skin and won’t crack or sweat off (here are a few good options to try). 

After you’ve created your base, ratchet up the fear and gore factor by adding gashes, rotting flesh, or stitches. To create realistic-looking flesh wounds, you’ll need liquid latex, tissue paper, foundation, fake blood, and an eyeshadow palette with various shades of red, purple, green, and yellow. 

  • To start, spread the latex over the area you’d like to have your wound, then rip small strips of tissue paper to layer over the latex. Cover the paper and the latex with foundation. 
  • Then carefully cut out the “infected area” with scissors (be sure to cut the latex, not your skin—role-playing has its limits). 
  • Blot the openings with dark purple and red eyeshadow, to create the look of infected and decaying skin, then drip on fake blood to finish (you can watch a tutorial of this here and here). 

For stitches, draw a line with liquid eyeliner, then add branches to create the stitches (you can watch a tutorial of this here) . The more curved and crooked the lines, the better—this is a botched job, after all. Highlight the stitches with white eyeliner, which makes them appear more pinched and raised on the skin. Lastly, outline the stitches with deep purple and red eyeshadow to give it an infected look.  

Freaky Eyes  

Haunted eyes can add serious oomph to your fright night costume. And since many people will be wearing face masks this year due to COVID-19 precautions (including our guests), there has never been a better time to make your eyes do the scary lifting for you. 

Whether you’re aiming for the sunken-in eyes of an asylum patient or you’re seeking the horrifying whited-out eyes of someone possessed, the right makeup can get you there. For dead, sunken-in eyes, follow these steps:

  • Start with a base layer of pale foundation and powder all around your face; this will make your eyes really pop in contrast. 
  • Then brush on grey eyeshadow on your upper and lower eyelids and alongside of the bridge of your nose. 
  • Add on a thick line of eyeliner on your lower eyelids, then finish it off with a smudge of red eyeshadow around your eyes to create a raw, irritated appearance (for a tutorial of this look, check this video out).

Another simple, but no less scary, trick for terrifying eyes is to wear colored contacts. Retailers such as Sclera Lenses sell a wide variety of lenses, from creepy blank eyes to white- and red-pupiled demon eyes, to complete your look.  

Gruesome Mouths

Mouths can be the ultimate centerpiece for a range of costumes, from clowns to vampires to tortured souls. The more rotten and bloody the mouth, the higher the shock value. Just make sure to use non-toxic makeup and avoid ingesting anything that’s not edible. (Tip: chocolate syrup can make for very convincing fake blood in a pinch.)

For those aiming to truly terrify, go big with a creepy “mouth nailed shut” look, which involves latex, a water-based adhesive like Pros-Aide, metal nails, and lots of fake blood (watch the full tutorial here). 

If you’re going as a killer clown, perfecting a manic, bloody grin is key. To create a “sliced open” mouth look—think the Joker from Batman—create two gashes running from either corner of your mouth with the same latex-and-tissue paper method described above, then fill in the gashes and your lips with dark lipstick and fake blood (get the step-by-step directions here). 

Finally, for a lower-lift mouth makeover that’s still scary, try painting your teeth a sickly greenish-gold with non-toxic “rotten” tooth paint, or go full-on freaky with black tooth paint. Make sure to stock up on edible fake blood, like these non-toxic blood capsules, to pop into your mouth and scare your friends at just the right time.

Let Out Your Inner Monster

Once you’ve finished your scary Halloween makeup at home, it’s boo time. Come join us for a night of spine-tingling fun in the deep, dark woods of Field of Screams Maryland, where you and your friends can venture through the Haunted Trail or Trail of Terror. Each of these 30-minute walks includes 13 terrifying sites; on the Haunted Trail, you’ll wind through a maze of sinister campground stations, while the Trail of Terror takes you through haunted houses, zombie sites, and more. Order your tickets online here.