How To: Zombie Make-Up (WARNING: Totally gross pictures)

A few years ago a lifelong dream of mine was fulfilled……I participated in a zombie walk!!! A very generous friend walked with me and we decided to be….wait for it…..zombie rights activists! Yeah, it was as great as you’re imagining. And to prove it, check out this picture.

My t-shirt said “Zombies just want hugs” and the other side of the sign read “Brains not bombs”.  CAUTION: If you have a sign that reads “Brains not bombs” REAL weird hippie “Food not bombs” activists might talk to you A LOT, mistaking your cleverness for shared interests. On a funny side note, a friend who didn’t participate but watched from across the street eavesdropped on an amusing conversation.

Passerby #1 (watching the zombies walk by): What’s going on?!?!
Passerby #2 (as I walk by): I dunno, protesting somethin’.

Anyway, I got TONS of compliments on my makeup that day from fellow zombie enthusiasts and also, to my shame/delight, scared the shit out of passers by and had numerous people stop to ask if I was ok. So, I thought I’d share my makeup tips. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of the process so I’ll have to use my vivid prose to paint the picture for you.

1. The base coat. Many people buy the white make up from the drug store and smear it in a thick coat all over their face when trying to look like a zombie. This is their first mistake. It looks way too fake! I didn’t actually use any “costume” make up for my look, I just used what was already in my make up bag. For my base coat I used that green cover up that is meant to correct red spots, but I’m sure a really pale concealer would work just as well.

2. The dark circles.The second mistake people make is taking that same cheap costume make up kit, and smearing black in big circles around their eyes. I just took my black and brown eye shadow kits. I worked the colors into the inner corners of my eyes, extending onto the lids and below the eyes. A nice “rotting” touch is to add the same kind of make up below your nostrils, the outer corners of your eyes and to the corners of your mouth.

3. Looking gaunt. Next, you need to imagine everywhere your skin would stretch over your bones if you were a rotting corpse. Take the brown/black make up and use it to define your cheek bones, your neck, your temples and your collar bones. This pre-blood picture shows some of the areas that I worked on.

4. The little things. My friend had the fantastic idea to rim our eyes with red lip liner. I can’t stress how much difference this made to our overall look! I also used green eyeliner to draw some veins at my temples, though I think they’d worn off by the time this photo was taken.

5. The “bits”. Let’s face it. Zombies are gross. They walk around with food hanging out of their mouths (as you can see in the pic above) and bits of skin falling off their faces. This is the part of the make up that I got all the compliments on. My secret? I made my own gore instead of relying on the fake-looking store bought ones. I bought liquid latex from the local craft store then painted it, in very thin layers, onto waxed paper. I let each layer dry then added another, for a total of 3 or 4 layers. By keeping the latex thin, it is easier to blend into your skin when you’re trying to apply the wound. Then I carefully peeled the latex off the waxed paper and kinda just went with it. As it peels off the paper, the latex is really sticky and will stick to itself a bit and make some strange shapes. For instance, I ended up with this really cool piece that looked like a torn off earlobe.

I also wanted to try to make some gore that looked like my jugular had been exposed. I took a bit of tubing from the lab and inserted it into a piece of latex that I’d made. When each bit was to my liking, I painted it up with normal latex craft paints and left them to dry. I found it hard to cover the latex with make up and have it look convincingly like skin, so I painted to the edge of the latex. I attached them by applying a bit of the liquid latex to my skin and a bit to the gore. Here’s a good view of my neck gore.

6. The blood. And now, my friends, you’re ready for the blood. After reading much ridiculousness online about fake blood recipes containing ketchup or tomato sauce, I tested a bunch and settled on the oldie but goodie; corn starch and red food coloring. I don’t remember the exact ratio but just play with it until you get a consistency you like. Damn, that stuff is sticky though.

So that’s it. Go forth and eat brains!




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