Whether you’re turning yourself into a terrifying clown, a cartoon character that’s come to life or a stunningly glamorous vampire, nailing your Halloween makeup look is an essential part of the transformation that makes the spooky holiday so much fun.
“It’s the perfect time to experiment with makeup,” shares makeup artist and content creator Annie Thomas. “Because it’s the one time of year that it’s acceptable — and appreciated — to go to the extreme.” While makeup is always meant to be fun, Halloween also serves as the perfect opportunity to test out new products or techniques or try to replicate looks that you love. “The more creative you are the better,” Thomas adds.
Stuck on where to start? Using what you already own is always an option, explains content creator and makeup artist Camila Bravo. “Use the colors you’ve been too scared to use from eye shadow palettes,” she suggests. Or explore the more unusual eyeliner or lipstick shades in your collection, and figure out how you can get creative with them.
Ahead, we’ve consulted professional SFX makeup artists, celebrity makeup artists and content creators on the best makeup products for achieving countless different Halloween looks — from spooky to sexy and everything in between. We’ve also dropped in some of our favorite holiday-appropriate celebrity makeup looks, just to make sure you’re armed with all the ideas and inspiration you’ll need this October.
“Mehron does the best adhesives for special effects makeup — they last all day!” says makeup artist and content creator Brooke Ellis
. Special effects makeup artist and educator Elly Supalo
agrees. “Depending on what you’re wanting to achieve, Spirit Gum is great for small prosthetics such as a horn or a witch nose.” Thomas says this is “the most user-friendly adhesive to apply anything from jewels and devil horns to facial hair.”
Celebrity makeup artist Neil Scibelli
is a fan of this multi-use cream palette, “which is already in cream form and is easy to work with.” Celebrity makeup artist Jamie Greenberg
agrees, adding that it’s a great option “if you need a lot of colors and super-pigmented, thick coverage.”
“If you’re trying to achieve a base that’s not a natural skin tone, these body paints are amazing,” shares celebrity makeup artist Melissa Hernandez
. “It’s affordable, comes in a variety of different colors and it’s super easy to use.”
If you prefer a ready-made product that doesn’t require mixing, Fiona Taylor, lead artist and owner of Faces by Fiona
, recommends Ben Nye. “These colors can be used to create detailed effects without the worry of dripping,” she explains. Greenberg agrees, adding that this palette is perfect for any Halloween looks.
If you’re dipping your toe into the world of SFX makeup, celebrity makeup artist and Haus Labs global artistry director Sarah Tanno
recommends playing around with these pigment paints. “Their expansive ranges of colors give so many options to create,” she explains. “Plus, they are infused with skin care ingredients, so you can pack them on and not worry about damaging your skin.”
“I always use Ben Nye Stage Blood. [It] doesn’t stain clothing and is also mouth-safe,” says Supalo, and according to Thomas, it’s “great for realistic coloring and dries in place better.”
According to Supalo, this “liquid latex could also be used as an adhesive for small things such as rhinestones or jewels.” It’s described as a strong but flexible hold, formulated to create textured effects like aged or peeling skin.
$15.50 $13.95 at Walmart or $16.46 $14 at Amazon
“To attach prosthetics or any pieces to your face, I would recommend Pros-Aide,” shares award-winning SFX makeup artist Evilise Quijano
. “It’s a high-quality adhesive and will help any product stay on for a long time.” It’s also a great adhesive option for face gems or stones, which “can achieve a fun yet upscale look,” Quijano adds. While most people will opt for eyelash glue, Pros-Aide will last all day, she explains.
Celebrity makeup artist Courtney Hart
calls this balm her current favorite when it comes to a flawless canvas. “It gives a beautiful soft matte coverage and does an amazing job at absorbing excess oil and sweat,” she explains.
When it comes to Halloween makeup, Bravo recommends “a base that is full coverage and has a matte finish.” This affordable option is one of her favorites. “I love it because it effortlessly melts into the skin, leaving behind a silky-smooth texture with a hint of dewiness," adds Hernandez.
A bronzer can be a versatile product for creating shadows and dimension in your look. For her last-minute Halloween
scarecrow makeup, Bobbi Brown national pro-makeup artist Carly Meghan
showed us how to use it on the face and eyes to create a sun-kissed effect.
When it comes to changing up the shape of your face or defining certain features, contouring is a key step. “Contouring is creating the illusion of a shadow,” explains Hart, “therefore you want to find something cool-toned" — stay away from warm-toned products. She recommends this product, which has an “amazing shade range to create dramatic or subtle contours in the face or body.”
“To intensify the contour for those dramatic Halloween looks, I like to layer cream with powder contour products,” explains celebrity makeup artist and Nyx Professional Makeup x Cirque Du Soleil partner Mimi Cho
i. She recommends this cream contour product, which serves as the perfect base for carving your face into any shape you desire.
$45 $31.50 at Amazon
“Any makeup with darker brown tones can make for a good contour," explains Quijano, who recommends this palette. “The darker the color, the deeper the contour. My one tip would be to blend, blend, blend — it’ll go a long way,” she shares.
$39.99 $22.99 at Amazon
An all-around favorite for setting cream products, this colorless powder was recommended by Taylor, Hart and professional makeup artist Jaime Gruber.
“If you press it into the skin with a puff,” instructs Gruber, “your makeup will last a long time.”
Scibelli swears by this translucent powder, which absorbs excess oil and sets makeup with a rice protein complex. “It's useful for both everyday makeup looks as well as to set a long-wearing Halloween pigment,” he explains. “I also love using this one to touch up midday.”
“I don’t like using lotions to prep my face for Halloween makeup because they make water-activated paint less pigmented, and it makes cream paint slide around on the skin,” explains Thomas. She recommends this toner from Mehron instead, which “really locks on your makeup and prevents oil production.”
“Smudging with Halloween makeup looks can become a nightmare,” explains Taylor. “Cream-based makeup should be heavily set and the finished result should be fixed with a waterproof setting spray.” She recommends this option, which will prevent any dreaded transfer, running or smudging.
Eyes and cheek makeup
“These liquid blushes are amazing,” shares Bravo. They have a great color payoff, she explains, adding that you can build up the product for a bold, dramatic look or apply less for a natural wash of color. Hernandez agrees, adding that they’re “creamy, easy to blend and insanely pigmented,” so be sure to use a light hand.
“Nars has an amazing variety of blush colors ranging from soft pinks to bold reds,” shares Hernandez. “One of my favorite shades is Exhibit A, a matte red that looks beautiful on all skin tones and is perfect for Halloween.” Greenberg agrees, noting that the bold color is perfect for more dramatic looks.
According to Quijano, you can’t go wrong with any eye shadow palette from Pat McGrath. Her pro tip for when applying the shadows? “Use any eye shadow primer to make the eye shadow more pigmented,” she explains. It’s a great way to ensure your look stays in place throughout the day, and you’ll end up with a bolder look.
$13.49 $9.98 at Amazon
If you’re not looking to splurge on a luxe palette for Halloween, Hernandez recommends these shadow blocks from Maybelline. “They’re super compact and pack a major punch when it comes to pigment,” she explains.
“I’ve been loving HipDot's Eyecon collection, which features high-pigment glitter pigments in the shape of Care Bears, which is super cute for both kids and adults,” shares Scibelli. “You can get creative with these pastel pigments ranging from the eyes to even highlights in character makeup.” Greenberg agrees, adding that the brand carries several fun palettes with gorgeous color variety. “Any palette that has a variety of mattes and shimmers is perfect if you’re creating a dynamic, bold look,” she explains.
Colorful eyeliners aren’t just a great way to switch up a simple eye look — they’re also great for creating designs around your eye area and elsewhere on your face. “I just stumbled upon these and oh my gosh what a joy,” raves Quijano. “These are by far the best, most pigmented liners I’ve come across thus far.”
Bravo recommends these multipurpose pigments when it comes to “fun, colorful, graphic eyeliner looks.” If you’re going for a monochromatic look (like a devil or a fairy) you can use this one product as a liner, shadow, lipstick and blush.
$17 $15.88 at Amazon
A gel eyeliner is a great option for those newer to eyeliner since it can be a bit easier to control. You can also smudge it out for dramatic looks. Bravo shares that this option from Inglot “works amazing for a strong, bold, fierce eyeliner look.”
When it comes to the perfect liner for achieving a quintessential cat-eye or an Amy Winehouse-inspired look, Scibelli calls this option “a favorite in terms of formula and application.” It’s also Underscored’s winner for best liquid eyeliner
, as it's great for creating big, winged eyeliner looks and, as Scibelli says, “the formula stays on all day — like it claims!” Greenberg also recommends this liner from Stila. For a more dramatic and smokier look, she says to first build out your wing with a black eye shadow. “Then go over it with a long-lasting waterproof eyeliner,” she explains.
These lashes are “stackable, lightweight and comfortable,” explains Choi. Part of Nyx’s Cirque Du Soleil-inspired collection, they’re “perfect for adding dramatic length and volume,” she explains.
“I personally love Ardell lashes,” shares Quijano. “They’re inexpensive and lightweight on the eyes — great for beginners.”
Greenberg recommends magnetic lashes, “as they make application so easy and they stay on all day,” she explains. “They’re the perfect length, they don’t budge and they come with extra single lashes, which I love.”
A bold, red lip is a timeless classic — for both Halloween and otherwise. Scibelli calls this option “a universally flattering red with lots of pigment and extremely long wear.” It's also transfer-proof, he explains, “so it's great for a long night.” Quijano agrees, adding that the brand’s gloss is another great product if you’re looking for a shinier effect.
From $8.98 at Amazon or $12.99 at Ulta
One of Bravo's and Hernandez's favorites, this affordable lippie is longwearing and boasts a stunning, shiny finish. “I’ve been the shade Wicked,” shares Hernandez. “It’s a beautiful glossy red that glides effortlessly and stays put for up to 16 hours, so you don’t have to worry about reapplying.”
$9 $8.50 at Amazon or $10 at Nyx
Choi loves these lipsticks, which come "in a variety of shades from traditional soft colors to the boldest, most unique colors.” Her favorite is the Cirque Du Soleil-inspired “Naughty Noir” black lipstick
, which she recommends using for “a dramatic, edgy look for Halloween.”
If you’re looking for lipstick of any kind, Quijano recommends MAC Cosmetics. “Hands down,” she shares. They’re both traditional and bold, fun and high quality, she explains.
Glitter, gems and highlight
Whether you’re going as a fairy or an alien, highlighter is the perfect way to give any Halloween look that extra-special, magical touch. These highlighters “are incredible to give a dramatic glow on the skin,” explains Bravo. She also recommends using a bright, shimmery eye shadow as a face highlighter if you’re in a pinch.
This gel-powder highlighter is “packed with multidimensional pearls and reflective pigments that deliver pure radiance and shine,” shares Tanno. A big bonus, she explains, is that the formulation is infused with fermented arnica and silver vine extract, which works to “brighten skin and promote a smooth complexion.”
Looking for a sparkly, unexpected way to spice up any Halloween look? Celebrity makeup artist James Vincent
recommends this nontoxic, vegan tooth polish that was actually developed by a dentist. Whether you’re adding sparkle to a sexier look or an extra FX element to scarier looks, he explains, “the color selection gives you a way to completely transform with control.”
“My favorite glitter products right now would have to be these chrome flakes,” raves Quijano. “They’re a must — they give a beautiful finish with less mess!”
“My favorite face gems are by Half Magic Beauty,” explains Hart. The brand was founded by award-winning makeup artist Donni Davy, who’s best known for her work on “Euphoria” as lead makeup artist. So if you’re planning to dress up as a character from the show (or in your own “Euphoria”-inspired look), you can’t go wrong with products designed by the show’s MUA!
“Everyone, including myself, has been obsessing over LemonHead LA glitters,” shares Greenberg, “and rightfully so.” She loves how many color options there are, and how sparkly the product is.
$6.50 From $5.99 at Amazon
Scibelli recommends these glitter pigments as a more accessible option that's really fun and packed with sparkle.
“Colourpop has super-cute face gems that stay on all night,” shares Greenberg, “so you can bring all the drama with a sparkly gemstone makeup look.” They’re also a great option if you don’t have any glue on hand, since each jewel has a self-adhesive.