5 Easy Halloween Make-ups for Beginners

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Many people love Halloween because it offers them two distinct opportunities: 1. To be creative and artistic. 2. To get to pretend to be someone/something else for an evening. The chance to paint one’s face for a night’s festivities is something to be excited about, but it can also be intimidating if you consider yourself a make-up novice. I handpicked the five Halloween make-ups pictured here for people who want the high-impact effect of a creative design without the technical headache.

1. Sugar Skull

It would be hard to talk about Halloween make-up without mentioning the sugar skull. Originally called a calavera, this colorful design comes from the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead (El Día de Los Muertos) which coincides with Halloween, where sugar candies are made to look like human skulls. Today, the sugar skull design is widespread and easily recognizable—and, depending on the level of intricacy of the chosen design, can be easily applied with highly pigmented paints.

2. Hollywood Starlet

If you would rather channel your inner movie star this Halloween, there are a few classic Hollywood make-ups that don’t require much more technical skill than a steady hand with eye liner.

  • Audrey Hepburn: One of Hepburn’s most iconic looks comes from her role as Holly Golightly in the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The heavy, dark lining of the upper lashes and lush brows she donned in the film are still in style today, so chances are you may already have the skills to recreate this make-up.


  • Marilyn Monroe: Who wouldn’t recognize Monroe’s cat eye and red lip? This look is fun to recreate—just make sure to draw crisp lines and clean up the edges of the mouth and eye liner with concealer, if necessary.


Because both of these looks are timeless, costumes and accessories are really important to these designs. Without, for instance, Golightly’s chic black dress and pearls, you might just look like a girl who favors a vintage look any day of the week.


3. Porcelain Doll

There are many variations on this look, so it’s perfectly suited to match you and your experience level. If you want to go for simple, try rounding out the whole eye with soft liner and applying extra-long lashes; freckles and petite, defined lips will finish the look. To make the cute-doll look a little more spooky, try painting in some cracks to give the effect that your porcelain face has been broken. The make-up pictured here is a bit more avant-garde, so there truly are options for everyone with this look.


4. Cute Kitten (or Sexy Cat)

Now, this truly is the lazy girl’s Halloween make-up—just grab your black liner pencil and go! Or, for the more advanced artist, you can practice your painting and shading skills to create a more realistic cat face. Want to add in stripes and spots? Go for it!

The costume and accessories for this look are important, as they will define the type of cat you’ll be: are you going for fun and flirty or sexy and alluring? Choose your ensemble wisely.


5. Ghost

Finally, we’re bringing it back around to a classic Halloween look: the ghost—minus the white sheet and eye holes. This is another look open to interpretation and experimentation. I like the juxtaposition of beautiful and haunting, with well-defined eyes and cheekbones and pasty skin. One Halloween, I did a variation of this make-up on myself, and I applied white cream liner as mascara, with a small fan brush, and swept a bit over my naturally dark eyebrows. I also sprayed a silvery gray hair spray through my hair. Together, the effect was truly ghostly, but many people told me it was beautiful, too, which is what I was aiming for. However, if you’re going for an even scarier look and you’re interested in special make-up effects, you could certainly add in some blood and cuts and zombie flair. Various make-up effects supply companies sell make-up kits for beginners, so it may be easier than you’d think to create the look you want!

What’s your favorite halloween make-up?

Happy haunting!

Chantel Fernow is a writer, editor and make-up artist who resides on the Oregon Coast, USA. She is a former beauty editor of the international trade publication Make-Up Artist magazine (https://makeupmag.com/), where she wrote and edited beauty stories and produced high-fashion make-up pictorials with some of the world’s top make-up artists.

During her time spent as education director of the magazine’s International Make-Up Artist Trade Shows (IMATS), held annually in Los Angeles, New York, London, Vancouver, Sydney and Toronto, she recruited speakers (including Oscar and BAFTA winners), built the class schedules and oversaw the program on site.

She has presented her fiction and literary articles at a national level, and with a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing, English literature and philosophy from Colorado Mesa University, her creative works have appeared in such publications as MiPOesias, Tusk and Portland Review, among others. She continues to contribute copy to Make-Up Artist magazine, where she regularly interviews beauty and film artists from around the world.

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