How to Perfect Zombie Makeup With a Deliciously Decaying Look

Make yourself delightfully undead with these zombie makeup tutorials.

Published September 22, 2023
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zombie makeup

Since they broke onto the screen in the 1960s, zombies have been getting made over time and time again. Whether you’re an original ghoul stan or you live for the vicious and diverse walkers, there’s no better way to embrace the Halloween spirit than turning yourself into one. From easy to gory looks and some fun accents in-between, we’ve got all the tips you need to do a perfect zombie makeup.

Simple Night of the Living Dead-Style Zombie Makeup

You don’t have to be so good at SFX that you’d be a perfect Face Off contestant to bang out Halloween-ready zombie makeup. Everyone has to start somewhere, and it’s easier to conquer a zombie look that’s all about shadows than it is about gore and prosthetics. Take some inspiration from low-key zombie looks like those in the movie that brought zombies to the big screen, Night of the Living Dead.

If you want to be able to pull out a zombie look using only the makeup you’ve already got in your everyday kit, TikToker muriamua’s zombie tutorial is the way to go.

@murimua Zombie Halloween look HAPPY HALLOWEEN #halloween2022 #easyhalloweenmakeup #easyhalloweencostume #easyhalloweenlook #zombie #zombiemakeup #zombielook #happyhalloween #halloweenmakeup Made You Look - Meghan Trainor

Materials You’ll Need

  • Black eyeshadow
  • Green eyeshadow
  • Purple eyeshadow
  • Red eyeshadow
  • Shadow makeup brush
  • Foundation makeup brush
  • Black lip liner


  1. Cover the eyelid with black, purple, and green eyeshadows. Layer these on top of one another to create dimension.
  2. Using the black shadow, draw a line from the pocket of the bridge of your nose along the edge of the malar mound, stopping before you go farther than the pupil. Do so on both sides.
  3. Add a little green or purple for depth.
  4. Using a big kabuki-style brush, blend out the shadows across the face and down the nose. Precision isn’t important here, since you’re going for a messy, undead look.
  5. Smudge a little black lip liner on the lips and black shadow at one corner edge of your mouth.
  6. Add a little red eyeshadow (or deep red blush) to the stain for a slight ‘just eaten brains’ effect.
Quick Tip

For a really dead look, start with a face full of powder or greasepaint a few shades lighter than your skin. It’ll help give you the pale, white-cast look of someone who’s been dead a little while.

Perfect That Decayed Look With This Method

If you really want to be unrecognizable at your Halloween haunt this year, try Youtuber Karolina Maria’s method for creating the perfect decaying zombie skin.

Materials You’ll Need


  1. Apply a layer of liquid latex to whatever part of the face you want to look bloody and rotting with a face sponge.
  2. Pack dry oatmeal onto the liquid latex and let it dry.
  3. Apply a layer of liquid latex over the oatmeal. Let dry.
  4. Add another layer of liquid latex around the edges of wherever your rotting skin is.
  5. Tear pieces of tissues and stick them around the skin’s edge. This will serve as the barrier between the rest of your skin and the rotting part.
  6. Apply liquid latex over the tissue.
  7. Using nail scissors, cut open the latex on the edges. Pack oatmeal and latex in the open flap, leaving the outermost edges slightly pulled back.
  8. Once dry, stipple on green face paint and then brown face paint over the oatmeal. You’re going for rotting flesh after all.
  9. Dab on some Ben Nye Fresh Scab onto the oatmeal section to look coagulated.
  10. Even out the skin around the edges with concealer.
  11. Liberally apply fake blood with a sponge all over the wound area, packing it into the edge of the flaps.
Quick Tip

Don’t want to buy fake blood? Make your own at home using corn syrup, cornstarch, water, and red & green food coloring.

You can even combine the simple zombie makeup with this rotting flesh method if you want!

Add Old Wounds to Your Zombie Makeup Base

Once you understand the basics of putting together a zombie look, you can start adding other elements to it. Things like wounds, decaying or bloated skin, and bites are accents that’ll sell the makeup story even more. If you want to make gashes or bites on your skin, all you need is the right materials and know-how.

@mooncreationsofficial How to create quick realistic SFX wounds this Halloween #31daysofhalloween #mua #halloweenmakeupinspo #halloween #tutorial #sfx original sound - EX7STENCE™

Materials You’ll Need

  • Spirit gum
  • FX wax
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Shaping tool
  • Fake blood
  • Thin makeup or paint brush
  • Face powder
  • Foundation brush


TikToker mooncreationsofficial has a super simple tutorial for bringing fake wounds to life.

  1. Use spirit gum to outline where you want the wounds to be. Pat until tacky.
  2. Build up layers of FX wax on the spirit gum to the width and height of the wounds you want.
  3. Blend out the edges with a little petroleum jelly.
  4. Carve into the wax the bites, scratches, or slices you want to fill with blood.
  5. Use a makeup brush to lightly apply some powder to even out the color with your skin tone.
  6. Then apply fake blood to the holes and draw it out with a thin brush.

Don’t Forget the Hands & Arms!

If you’ve got bare arms and hands, you’ll pull people out of the zombie makeup fantasy you’re serving. Instead, use TikToker theartge’s zombie vein tutorial to pull your look together.

@theartge Zombie Veins sfx makeup tutorial. A simple and easy tutorial for those who are learning sfx makeup. #makeupartist #sfxmakeup #sfxmakeuptutorial #learnontiktok #artskills cantina band ~ star wars lofi - Closed on Sunday

Materials You’ll Need


  1. Pump your fists to accentuate the veins on your arm.
  2. Trace your veins using the blue or green body paint, extending out with extra branches from each line you draw. Let some of the lines be more transparent than others for a real zombie look.
  3. In the empty space, draw in some extra very light red or pinkish-red lines. This is to make your vascular system look more visible.

Tips to Help Your Zombie Makeup Stand Out

zombie family

Take your zombie makeup to the next level with these helpful tips.

  • Invest in some sclera lenses. Sclera lenses are completely white-out lenses that will help take away the ‘living’ effect. The eyes are the windows to the soul, so cover those peepers up.
  • Accentuate the natural shadows in your face. Corpses need to look gaunt and dead, so use shadows or paints to pack in the natural shadows on your face. If you’re holding a flashlight up to your face and move around, put some dark colors anywhere you see shadows being cast to create depth.
  • Choose a base color a few shades lighter than your skin tone. You want to get a pale, white-cast look, and you might not be able to do that with pure white.
  • Add some bruises with a few layered colors. To create a bruise, just stipple on some brown, green, yellow, and purple greasepaint or shadows on the skin.
  • Use grease paints for a makeup that’ll last all night long. Kryolan and Mehron make great theatrical grease paints you can use instead of powders and store-bought Halloween kits. Since they’re made for the stage, they’ve got better staying power.

Win Every Costume Contest With These Zombie Makeups

There’s nothing better about celebrating the spirit of Halloween than dressing up in costume. And while some people love the chance to look like their favorite pop culture icon, others want to stretch their SFX skills. If you’re one of the latter, any of these zombie makeups will make you look like you just crawled out of the grave in search of some sweet human flesh.

How to Perfect Zombie Makeup With a Deliciously Decaying Look