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How fast can you pull together a great, authentic-looking zombie costume? Quicker than you can say “one, two, brains!”
Zombie costumes are fun – and they’re SO easy. Why? Because one of the hallmarks of a “realistic” zombie is that it’s very, very imperfect. Everything is falling apart, falling off, torn, rugged, ragged.
This means you have plenty of room (and then some!) for creativity with your zombie costume – and it also means you don’t have to shell out the big bucks to get a “realistic” look.
Ready to stagger into that Halloween party and blow the entire room away with your creativity? Here’s how to get zombified!
Step 1: Homework
Watch the following (or Google or Bing for images) for zombie costume inspiration:
- The Walking Dead backseasons
- Cesar Romero’s Night of the Living Dead series (and the remakes)
- Zombieland: Double Tap
- World War Z
- 28 Days Later (and 28 Weeks Later)
- Resident Evil
- Shaun of the Dead
- I Am Legend
- Dead Snow
- Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” Video
- The Crazies
- Dead Alive
Step 2: The Clothes
- In most zombie movies, books and TV series, people are pulled from their normal lives into zombiehood as a complete (very unwanted) surprise. That means you can take any outfit and zombify it. Businessman, cheerleader, mom in her bathrobe, prom dress: get creative and decide how you want to have “turned” and when and base your outfit accordingly.
- For the ultimate in economy, visit a thrift store or the Goodwill for fantastic finds (or simply use old clothing of your own). Cut and tear holes and jagged pieces into your clothing. The more torn up and stressed, the better. Fray sweaters; cut off a cuff three-quarters of the way; stretch out a boat neck. You want to look as if you were putting up a terrified struggle just before succumbing.
- Now take paint (paint is better than makeup, which can smear off onto furniture, your car and other places you just don’t want it) and streak and dot “blood” marks onto your clothing. Acrylic paint is perfect, as it will give a stark, bold color and will dry quickly, but fabric paints will work, too.
- Spatter red paint for blood spots and smears onto the clothing. Add some brownish-red or dark brown spots for dried blood as well.
- Can’t get enough gore? Paint green and greenish-yellow onto your duds (brains, anyone?).
Step 3: The Hair
Muss it, mess it, half-pull it out of a ponytail, pommade it sideways – your hair, like your clothing, should show evidence of a pre-zombification struggle and, afterward, a life on the run…or, well, on the stagger.
Get some wacked-out (and walked-out) texture into the hair by adding mousse or by overusing dry shampoo and finger-arranging it to stand up, out or at angles (or all three!). For a great effect, add little bits of lint, string and even faux leaves to look as if you’ve been sleeping outdoors and charging through the forest in search of prey.
Add some fun to your top. A bloody bridal veil, a hat, or a good old-fashioned hatchet through the head are all perfect touches for your horror look.
Step 4: The Makeup
- Greasepaint is the typical, and traditional, makeup to use for Halloween. (It’s also the type of makeup used, in the old days, by stage actors.) Greasepaint works well because it covers so heavily. However, it is just what its name implies: greasy. For that reason, you may want to go with standard drugstore or department store makeup. If you don’t have sensitive skin, shop the dollar bin, your local dollar store or the cheapest brands you can find, since this will (presumably) only be a once-a-year occurrence.
- Make your base very light. You should look semi-bloodless and paler than your normal complexion. A very, very light foundation is what you’re looking for. However, if you’d like to go as bone-white as possible, you can take even the lightest foundation up a shade in color by adding white liquid eyeshadow base and mixing well. Now dab a tiny bit of gray liquid eyeliner into your foundation and blend well for a grayish cast.
- Smear gray or black liquid or gel eyeshadow under your eyes for a sunken look.
- For a truly AMAZING zombie look, add dark red eyeliner to the waterline (inside “shelf” line around your eyes). This is the ultimate in a bloodshot/burst blood vessel zombie look.
- Now go for the deepest blood-red lipstick (or red liquid eyeliner or eyeshadow) for blood spots. Add some dark brown as well for dried/crusted blood.
- You can “pale out” your lips using foundation with a touch of gray, or make them blood-red (and add more makeup dripping down your chin…but you knew we were going to say that).
- Make sure to paint some “scars” in various strategic areas for a total fear factor!
That’s it! You’ve been zombified – and are sure to horrify. If you’d like to really get into things and don’t mind spending a few dollars more, check out zombie makeup kits with ready-made gory prosthetics (artificial skin/blood/flesh pieces). These generally glue on; try out the adhesive on the inside of your arm 24 hours in advance to make sure you don’t have a reaction to it.
Have fun and be creative with this creepy and fab costume!
Bonus! Watch This “Exposed Bone” Hand Makeup Video Tutorial
We LOVED this tutorial. IMPORTANT NOTE: The technique shown in this video includes the use of latex. Latex is a material that some individuals have an allergic and potentially life-threatening reaction to. If you have or suspect a latex allergy, utilize an alternative material. Enjoy – this look is SO cool!