Frightening Face-Off: 10 Halloween Makeup Tutorials

Promise Tamang via YouTube
Promise Tamang via YouTube / Promise Tamang via YouTube

Determined to win first prize at your local Halloween costume contest? You'll probably really have to get into character, complete with special effects makeup. But before you get started on your head-to-toe transformation, take a few cues from these pros who have already proven they know how to put on an impressive front.


Kat Sketch set out to mimic what she calls a "creepy" shark face that she spotted in a painting. In the video above, she uses face moisturizer, face makeup primer, makeup setting spray, Halloween makeup, and more to create a detailed look.

And if you'd rather not dive into an ocean-themed transformation, Sketch's other special effects makeup tutorials teach viewers how to turn themselves into Disney characters, horror movie villains, celebrities, and dismembered ghouls.


Swedish duo ellimacs sfx—makeup artist Ellinor Rosander and photographer Macs Moser—created this recreation of the Demorgorgon monster from the Netflix series Stranger Things. Beware: This project isn't for beginners. It takes over 2 hours to prepare and another 30 to 40 minutes to apply. See more of elliemacs sfx special effects tutorials on their website.


In the video above, Chicago makeup artist Alex Faction transforms himself into a fearsome skull with only the power of makeup. You’ll see many variations of the skull at Faction’s Instagram page, and more of his Halloween makeup tutorials on YouTube.


Promise Tamang can make herself into a number of characters, whether they are captured in CGI, live action, or stop-motion. One of her top tutorials: Sally from the 1993 film The Nightmare Before Christmas (seen above), which pulled in over 14 million views! Tamang is also known for taking on other Tim Burton characters, including Edward Scissorhands and The Corpse Bride as well as tutorials for all the Disney Princesses.


British artist Emma Pickles is best-known for this look, inspired by Roy Lichtenstein’s comic book pop art. Check out Pickles’ portfolio of other special effects makeup art.


Sarah Coy of Coy Makeup took on the challenge of recreating Venom, a villain from the Spider-Man comics with a huge mouth, enormous sharp teeth, and a long tongue. The trick, according to Coy, is to use the entire chin and neck for Venom’s mouth. The eyes must also be enormous for balance.


Los Angeles-based special effects artist Angie Davis started working her recreation of Valak, a demon nun from the 2016 movie The Conjuring 2, almost immediately after seeing the film. If you would rather create your own original character, Starling also has a number of tutorials that explain how to create bloody body wounds.


DeviantART member Katie Alves works her Halloween magic with the help of UV blacklight paints. One example: this alien recreation, which also features glitter and a glow-in-the-dark wig. See more of Alves' makeup masterpieces in her gallery.


Greg Nicotero and Andy Schoneberg create the zombies on the TV show The Walking Dead. At their day job, they have 30 sculptors, mold-makers, painters, and makeup artists producing prosthetics for thousands of stunt actors and extras. Some zombies and death scenes require special rigs to spew blood or even complete latex doubles to endure dismemberment. But in this makeup tutorial, they only use materials you can find at a Halloween shop or grocery store to help you become one of the undead for Halloween.


Body paint artist Bethany Geek (YouTube user Geekup) treats skin as a canvas in order to turn herself into Night King, the leader of the White Walkers, the army of the undead in the Game of Thrones. She also takes on a number of comic book, video game, and movie characters in other tutorials.