Just in time for Halloween I managed to wrangle costume designer Lydia Dawson into giving me a quick tutorial for the zombie makeup she did for her zombie themed birthday party I threw for her two summers ago. It’s actually the second of three zombie themed parties I’ve thrown for her. Can you tell we like zombies here?
Her makeup was amazing, which isn’t surprising considering she spends all day, everyday designing and actioning costumes. She is currently working as a graduate student at the University of Indiana.
So with no further ado, let me introduce you to Ms. Lydia Dawson, Costume Ninja and Part-time Zombie.
(Edit to add: I don’t know why Lydia looks green in this picture. She wasn’t green. Some of the mossy, mildewy bits were green, but her skin wasn’t. Weird. But check out the gross skin peeling bits! Awesome!)
Making yourself a zombie is by far the easiest makeup job you can do and on short notice, too. If you have professional makeup, like Ben Nye, then you probably already know what you’re doing. If you’re just a normal person and don’t keep theatrical makeup around, I’ll tell you how to do it with whats sitting in your bathroom cabinet.
Zombies are dead and when you’re dead, you start to shrink. Your face starts to sink into your skull and your skin begins to rot. Keep the shape of your skull in mind as you begin. Forcing your eyesockets back and digging out the hollows of your cheeks is the quickest way to make yourself look dead. (And gross. The pictures don’t do it justice, but I’m telling you, it was hard to eat cake with her that night. – Sommer)
The quickest way to make yourself dead is to deaden your eyes. You can do this several different ways. Sweep black or brown eyeshadow (nothing with sparkles!) over your eyelid and up to your eyebrows and then sweep it under your eye, reflecting what you did on top. You are trying to sink your eyes back into your head and by darkening around your eye, it gives the illusion of shadow. Make sure you blend (always blend!) so that you don’t have weird raccoon eyes. Now take a red lip liner and outline your eye to give yourself a bloodshot look.
Once you’re done with your eyes, sweep some baby powder or talc powder over your face to pale your skin out. Don’t go too overboard as you don’t want to look like a clown zombie, unless that is your goal and then I’d be seriously scared of you. You also want to sink in your cheekbones as you’re really pushing for a skeletal outline. Take that same eyeshadow that you used on your eyes and brush it on the hallows of your cheeks. Be careful to blend downwards and not upwards or you’ll darken your cheekbones and then you’ll have ruined the effect.
You can also paint some latex on your cheeks and temples and forehead before you start. Once it is dry, gently pick at it so that it looks scabby. It’s a pretty gross effect and fairly simple to do. Also, if you have some Rice Crispies or Kellogs Corn Flakes, crush them up and mix them in with the latex. You’ll get some really interesting textures and it’ll look like you’ve come down with the plague.
Don’t forget the blood but don’t go overboard! Remember, you have to live in this for a night.
I dressed up like a survivor (Zoey from Left4Dead) and Lydia did my dirty makeup as well
though you cannot see it very well in this picture.
Proof that her makeup was scary: she’s holding my cat McKenzie who loves her but was so upset he tried to attack her.
There were others at the party, including several zombies and Bill and Louis from Left4Dead. I wish I had gotten permission in time for this post to show you another girl’s zombie costume because it was pretty awesome. When someone shows up at your house wearing only one shoe and red bloodshot contact lenses, you know they mean zombie business.
Any zombies this Halloween? Send me your pictures and I’ll post them here during my Halloween wrap-up!