We here at mental_floss have long established that the older the costume-making technique, the more fantastically horrifying the results will be. Now, instead of just showing the end results, we’d like to share a few tips for making your own ghastly, homemade nightmares. The book Make-up Monsters and Creature Costumes provides instruction for creating terror using stuff Mom already has around the house—granted, Mom as she lived in the late '70s, so some special trips to the dollar store still may be needed in case you’re low on white eye shadow or cake eyeliner (you’re going to really need the cake eyeliner. It’s in every project). It will be worth the trip.
1. Skull Face
White eye shadow Black cake eyeliner Small Paintbrush Lotion
With hair held back, rub the lotion all over your face. Using a makeup brush, powder your face white except around the eyes. The cake eyeliner (water activated eyeliner in its own pot) should then be used like watercolor with the paintbrush to paint circles around the eyes, and a U-shape around your nose that you then fill in. De-flesh your face by drawing a curving line from ear to ear—as in the photo—and filling it in. Your jaws and teeth are just three lines: below the nose, across the lips, and above the chin, then two rows of teeth on either side of your mouth line. A few thin wavy lines placed as in the picture makes your skull extra creepy.
2. Scar Face
1 box plain gelatin Red food coloring Popsicle sticks Cake eye liner Small paintbrush
The trick to Scarface is getting your gelatin to be properly sticky and lumpy and disgusting. You accomplish this by putting one teaspoon of gelatin in a little bowl or cup with one drop of red food coloring and just one teaspoon of hot water. Mix it till it gets coolish and sticky, and smear it on your face with the Popsicle stick. Repeat the process with a new cup or bowl each time, until you’ve sufficiently deformed your face to your liking. Use the black eyeliner to make dark circles around the eyes. The book claims it will all just peel right off when you’re done, but I’d be prepared to look a little flushed from the red dye for a day or two.
White powdered eye shadow Black cake eye liner Gray cake eye liner
Vampira is similar to Skullface, except using a bit of feminine flair. Start by lotioning and powdering the whole face with white eye shadow. The circles around the eyes are made by rubbing your finger in gray cake eye liner. Now you use the black eye shadow with a paintbrush. This part calls for either a steady hand or the loan of a female hand that has been performing a similar feat on her own face every morning for years. First, over-paint your eyebrows. Then close your eye and draw a line right above your eyelashes that extends to the hairline. Do the same under your bottom eyelashes. For sunken cheeks, use a finger in the grey eye shadow to draw a line from near your nostril to your ear, then fill it in with the powder. Then paint on your black eyeliner lips, making sure they are thinner than your natural ones.
Lambs wool foot padding (still available at some drugstores and online) Cake eyeliner to match your hair ½ cup corn syrup
Take the eyeliner and paint your face (as instructed above), leaving some nice stripes of plain skin. It’s onto this plain skin you will attach strands of the lambs wool, using the corn syrup as glue. Small fibers go on the chin and eyebrow area. Use clumps of wool about 4 inches long for your cheeks, and 16 inches long on your forehead, so you can comb it against your own hair.
5. Reptile Man
3 cups flour 6 Tsp light corn syrup One roll heavy duty white paper towels Green food coloring Empty Styrofoam egg carton Cording or soft rope Black cake eye liner
Reptile man is certainly the most labor intensive, but it’s worth it. First, you have to make your Paper Towel Make-up (PTMU). You'll need 3 cups flour, 2.5 cups water, 3 tablespoons corn syrup, plus green food dye for this project. Lay paper towels one by one over the mixture, soak it, scrunch it, squeeze the excess, and lay one of them across your forehead. The cord should keep it out of your eyes. Dry each towel with a hairdryer. Stick another line of cording from ear to ear across the bridge of your nose. Lay another PTMU between that cording and the last, connecting them between the eyes. Put cording above and below your lips, appropriate sized PTMU in the gaps, plus one more PTMU to cover your chin. Black eye liner painted in the folds makes them appear deep and craggy. Cut out two Styrofoam egg cradles for the eyes, remembering to cut out circles to see with. There! You’re hideous!