Deciding on a Halloween costume is hard effing work, because your options are literally endless. With so many alternatives at your disposal, it's easy to push deciding on a costume off until the last minute. Then, you're left scrambling until you end up just deciding to slip a garbage bag over your head and be trash for Halloween (true story). If this sounds like you, know that I feel you on the most personal, spiritual level I've ever felt anything. Also know that I come bearing this easy skeleton makeup tutorial as a solution to our procrastination.
I was lucky enough to sit down with KVD Vegan Beauty Artistry Collective Makeup Artist Steffanie Strazzere, who showed me how to do the easiest skull makeup tutorial I think I've ever come cross. Even better, pretty much everything Strazzere used was, at one time, available in one big bundle — the Skeleton Queen Halloween Bundle. Sadly, the bundle is no longer in stock, but you can still purchase everything, from the super light base color to the liner needed for fine lines and details, on the KVD Vegan Beauty website individually. Lucky for me, Strazzere put all these products to the test to show me a skeleton makeup look I could do in my sleep if I tried hard enough.
Step 1: Start with a super light foundation all over as a base.
Starting with a clean base, Strazzere applied KVD Vegan Beauty's Lock It Foundation in shade 41 Light ($37, KVD Vegan Beauty) all over my face with a foundation brush. While the shade isn't exactly white, it's light enough to fit the bill for a skeleton look, without being so stark that you have to layer it a million times to get just the right look.
Of course, because this is the brand's cult-favorite Lock It formula, designed to last for up to 24 hours without the need for touchups, Strazzere said I didn't need to worry about this look going anywhere for a while — even the products atop the foundation. "Anything that you put on top of [the foundation] is also 24-hour wear, so this is a bulletproof makeup," she says. "You could eat, you could drink, you could cry — you're still gonna be a skeleton at the end of the night."
Step 2: Shade the eye, nose, and just under your cheekbones with gray.
The thing about getting a look to go on evenly, look fierce, and stay like that for a while is that you always, always, always need to layer. Therefore, Strazzere started the layering process by reaching for the Shade + Light Crème Contour Palette Refillable Pan in "Grayscale" ($16, KVD Vegan Beauty). While you might want to hop right in with a black shadow or eyeliner, starting with gray will allow you to have a lighter guide for where you want the black to go. This way, you won't dive in, realize you've made a mistake, and be stuck with a huge black smudge somewhere.
Obviously, when you think of a skull, you know the hollow parts are the eye sockets, the nose, and just under the cheekbones mainly. So Strazzere packed Grayscale in those areas with a shadow brush, all around where the black shade would eventually be.
Step 3: Layer super pigmented black eyeshadow on top of the gray in your eye area and on your nose.
Here's where you can finally see the look coming together. Strazzere used the black shade "Rubber" from the Fetish eyeshadow palette and packed in the pigment with an eyeshadow brush over the gray shadow around my eyes and on my nose, layering it until there was enough pigment to give the effect of a hollowed out area.
When it came to my nose, rather than just drawing a triangle out of eyeshadow, Strazzere extended the two upper sides of the black shade up the sides of my nose, leaving a small sliver of skin in the middle. This gave the appearance of a real hollowed nose socket.
Step 4: Connect the cheekbone shading to the mouth area and draw lines along your lips in grey to outline teeth.
Next, Strazzere began to construct the mouth area of the skull look using gray as a base once again. Using a small eyeshadow brush, she connected the gray area on my cheekbones to a more defined line on each of the outer corners of my mouth. She also drew gray lines up and down atop my lips to create the appearance of teeth on a skeleton.
Step 5: Trace over teeth lines with black eyeliner, smudge black eyeshadow along your inner lips, and refine other details.
Of course, the delight is always in the details. Using KVD Vegan Beauty's Dagger Tattoo Liner ($21, KVD Vegan Beauty), Strazzere drew over the gray teeth marks, creating a thinner black line toward the ends of the teeth lines and making it thicker as she moved to the center of my lips.
"When you're doing the mouth and the nose, [don't] try to do it in one big swoop. I like to use the Dagger Tattoo liner and almost sketch it out first. Then, once you have the exact placement, go back and do your hard lines. That way, it still looks delicate and you still have thin lines," Strazzere says. "With this guy, because it has that little tapered end, it makes it so easy. So instead of going and trying to do one big line ... if you do all these little tiny ones, it makes it so much easier to go back over."
She then packed black shadow on the inner parts of my lips to make the overall look creepier. It worked. I looked like I died eight years ago.
Using the Dagger Tattoo Liner once again, Strazzere added some tinier detail lines around the nose socket and near my eyebrows. She then used KVD Vegan Beauty's Lash Liner ($20, KVD Vegan Beauty) to fill my bottom waterline with black pigment (as if my face wasn't creepy enough at that point). Just like that, the whole look was done in well under 30 minutes, which is shorter than I've spent even brainstorming about what my costume should be this year.
Finally, she spritzed a bit of the Lock-It Makeup Setting Mist ($29, KVD Vegan Beauty) all over my face, essentially to make sure no part of my new skeleton persona could leave me this day. "It has cucumber extract in it and it hydrates your skin through the makeup, so you'll never look cakey," she says. "It gives your skin the moisture it needs and then helps the foundation to look more like skin."
Step 6: Scare the hell out of everyone.
Naturally, for the rest of the day, I proceeded to walk around my office and scare the living sh*t out of all of my co-workers more easily than ever. Seriously, I just had to take one look at my boss and she fell right out of her seat. The best part, though, was that everyone was supremely impressed with this overall look — and I could tell them that they could do it themselves and they could do it fast.
All too often, you think a skeleton makeup tutorial is easy, only to find that you don't have the time, the tools, or the patience necessary to recreate all the extravagant skull looks out there, with their super harsh lines, detailed teeth, and intricate cracks. However, a pared down tutorial like this one from Strazzere proved that you don't need five hours, every special effects makeup product in the world, and a super duper steady hand to make a stellar look. @ all Halloween procrastinators like me out there who aren't professional makeup artists, trust me when I say this easy peezy tutorial has us written all over it.
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