Easy Halloween Skull Make-Up Tutorial

I love this time of the year! Halloween is a big festivity in New York City that brings out the most creative ideas from gothamists and visitors. Jack O’ Lanterns, Ghost Tours, Haunted Houses, and terrific parades are just a small piece of what you can do and see in New York City for the next couple of weeks (for some ideas, please visit my article about the Best Halloween 2015 Plans in New York City.)

Because New Yorkers have virtually no free time, I wanted to bring you a quick and easy make-up tutorial to dress up as a skeleton. You will only need a few products that you very likely already own, a good mirror, your creativity, and a good make-up remover. And remember: Work with your mistakes! This make-up has a lot of free-hand drawing, so make the most of your ideas and don’t fret over perfection!

1. Start with a Clean Canvas: Yes, you have to prep your skin first. Clean it with a mild solution to wipe off all dirt and grease that can interfere with the make-up application (I use DHC’s Deep Cleansing Oil, $28. You can read my review here.)

2. Nourish, nourish, nourish. I have very dry skin, so for me it’s very important to start with a nourished but non-greasy base. Acure Organics Day Cream ($16.99) is my choice for a quick hydration boost that lasts a few hours. For your lips, use a non-stick balm, such as Burt’s Bees Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Moisturizing Lip Balm ($2.99).

3. Prep and prime! I bet you’ve heard many times that primer is a must in your make-up bag because it helps with the application of make-up. I usually don’t use them because I like to leave my skin bare, but in this case, and because you’ll very likely sweat during the night, I highly recommend a good primer. My favorite is Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer ($16-$36),  a classic that comes in Original and Light version (for oily, acne-prone, or sensitive skin.) This product evens your skin tone and diffuses the light.

4. (Optional:) Apply a light make-up. If you need to cover your imperfections, or you feel weird going out with a bare skin, use a good long-lasting foundation, like Lancome Miracle Cushion Compact ($46.50). I’d recommend using a lighter skin tone to contribute to the overall effect of the make-up. 

5. Use your strobing skills! We are going for skull-like skin, so take your lighter and apply it sparingly on top of your cheekbones, the tip of your nose, your forehead, and your chin. My favorite highlighter is the one included both in the Smashbox Step-by-Step Contouring Kit ($45) and the Shapematters Palette ($65.) It just has the right texture for dry skin, feels comfortable all day long, and works really well with this make-up.

6. Ready, set… go! You have your blank canvas. Use now your imagination! With a good waterproof  black eye pencil, such as Smashbox Always Sharp Waterproof Kohl Liner in Raven ($20), create the lines around the eyes, the nose, and the top part of the skull (that way, you’ll know where to fill in with black pencil.) Once you are happy with your sketch, start filling the black parts in with a greasy eye pencil (such as NYC New York Color City Proof 24 Hr Waterproof Eyeshadow in New York At Night ($2.99)), and use a Q-tip to blur the lines and create different gradations of black (see the “brain” part of the image as an example.) Continue drawing and blurring until you finish your desired design.

7. Play with light and shadow: It is always effective to use a matte black or dark brown eye-shadow to give different tints to some areas, creating a 3-D illusion. That is what we did in some areas around the mouth. You can use any dark and matte eye or eyebrow shades indistinctly. I personally use Smashbox Shapematters Palette, because it is long-lasting and doesn’t give allergies to my very unique skin. To create areas of light, you can ‘erase’ part of your make-up with a Q-Tip imbibed in a tiny little bit of olive oil. If you feel like being a “girly” skull, you can add some mascara to open up your eyes (like Lancome Grandiose Mascara ($32), which works very well in my lashes and doesn’t clump them together.)

8. If you want to complement your make-up, you can use any of the Halloween nail shades available at major retailers, such as Sally Hansen Miracle Nail Color in Blacky O ($9.99) or NYC Long Wearing Nail Enamel in Black Lace Crème ($.99)

9. Make it last: Although we did a lot of prep and priming, it’s always best to use a fixing solution, such as Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray ($30).

Via Pinterest

And what about the costume? You can very easily recreate Kim Kardashian’s skeleton look seen in Harper’s Bazaar with an inexpensive black cotton T-Shirt (H&M, $5.99), opaque black tights (L’Eggs Energy Tights Collection, $7.99), and an inexpensive chalk marker (such as the Bistro Chalk Marker, $2.99, available at Joann.)

And you are ready to go trick-or-treating!

If you liked this tutorial, or used it to create your own Halloween costume, I’d love to see your creations! Please use the hashtag #newyorkforbeginners so I can find your looks and follow you back, or just leave a comment (it can be anonymous to preserve your privacy.)

Disclosure level 1: This article contains NO affiliation links. The author of the article was NOT compensated to write the tutorial. The author of the article received and tested samples of a FEW of the products mentioned (Smashbox Shapematters Palette, Acure Day Cream, Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation, and DHC Deep Cleansing Oil.) The samples did not affect any of the opinions expressed in this article. For more information about New York For Beginners’ policies on sampling, please visit the “About” tab of the blog. This is an Ad-Free website. All the opinions expressed are the author’s own.


Leave a Reply