Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

Halloween costume and makeup tips to put the fright (or fun) into your night

A great costume require planning and more than a few tricks

Are you sporting a spooky style this Halloween? A ghoulish get-up? An eerie ensemble?

Samantha Marcellin (Radio and Television ’16) says she never stops thinking about Halloween. After working in makeup and costume departments at the Citadel Theatre and several indie and feature films, she knows how to put together the perfect costume. Before moving to Vancouver to work on film and theatre projects, she was in charge of makeup and costumes for the Deadmonton Haunted House.

Marcellin has picked up some tricks (and treats!) in her time backstage and on set. Whether you’re going for something gruesome with fake blood and prosthetics, or glamorous with a homemade outfit and elaborate makeup, she has advice for creating the perfect Halloween costume.

Makeup

halloween makeup

Makeup running down your sweaty face on the dance floor is downright ghastly. To avoid this unglamorous display, you’ll want to use makeup that is alcohol-based, Marcellin says. She recommends checking out a specialty costume store like Theatre Garage in Edmonton for the best options.

“They stay on very, very well,” Marcellin says of alcohol makeup. When it’s time to take off your mask, alcohol also helps remove the makeup. Afterward she recommends moisturizing your skin to counteract alcohol’s effects.

If you’re wearing Halloween makeup to work or school, where you’re unlikely to sweat off your face, use any kind of makeup and set it with cornstarch or arrowroot powder. Just lightly dust it on top of your makeup with a makeup brush and it will set it the makeup in place, Marcellin says

If want to mix your own face paint to create effects such as l fake blood (often made with cocoa powder and red food dye), be careful. Too much food dye will stain your skin and that’s not a great look — “unless you’re really committed,” she says.

Prosthetics

halloween klingon

Adding prosthetic scabs, guts, horns or scars can complete a truly terrifying look. Marcellin says you’ll need to make sure your skin is clean before attaching them to your body.

“Use an alcohol swab just before you apply it,” she says. “Make sure you've got no moisturizers – no oils, nothing on your skin.”

Marcellin says most prosthetic kits available will come with a skin adhesive, often called spirit gum. If you closely follow the instructions, you should be fine.

Costumes

halloween superhero

Repurposing your clothes into a Halloween costume is a great idea, Marcellin says. You can save money and make the costume look exactly how you want. But measure twice, cut once.

“You can always make something smaller but it's a lot harder to make something bigger.”

Can’t sew? So what! One of the best tricks Marcellin’s learned during her career is to use super glue.

“There's lots of times on set where I just use super glue to alter a piece and it's really effective,” she says. “It's really quick and cheap.”

It’s important to consider the environment you’re going to be in while planning  your costume. If you’re going to be inside, stay away from materials like velvet, denim or leather. You’ll probably get too warm, Marcellin says. Cotton and polyester are much more breathable.

Bring a friend

halloween couple

Not only can getting dressed up with a friend be fun, they can be very helpful when it’s time to get take it all off.

“You don't want to take anything off really quickly,” she says. When removing prosthetics, try using baby oil and have a friend slowly peel it off. “Be really gentle, because skin adhesive can be quite strong. You don't want to remove hair or injure yourself.”

If you’re sharing your Halloween makeup with a friend, disinfect brushes between uses, Marcellin advises, and never share anything that’s been in another person’s eye.


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