Introduction: How to Make Zombie Makeup

Picture of How to Make Zombie Makeup
Hey everyone,

If you've made indie films, you've probably though about making (or made) a zombie movie. I don't know why, but zombies are an irresistible gem in the lexicon of potential movie subjects (not to mention Halloween costumes).

Watch our video to see in action the steps to make Zombie makeup. And if you enjoy it, subscribe to our itunes and visit our site.

As always we invite viewers to improve our design and send us video clips of your projects. All you have to do is upload, and you could be featured in our monthly user submitted podcast.

Well first things first. Here's the shopping list:

1. Liquid Latex (flesh tone).
(You should be able to buy this at any decent costume shop, or you can get it online at places like )

2. Toilet Paper.
(Or "Bathroom Tissue" for all you people who are afraid to say "toilet".)

3. A Basic, multi-color make-up kit.
(I used a 5 color "aging kit" that I bought at a costume shop, but you could use any make-up as long as it has some flesh tones, reds, and maybe some greens. It all depends on how "dead" you want your zombie to look.)

4. White face cream.
(This is going to be the base of almost any movie make-up you'll do. It's like primer for your effect. You can get this at ANY costume shop.)

A few warnings...

First things first, when working with liquid latex you need to make sure your actor/actress is not allergic. Apply a small patch to the under side of their forearm and wait at least 15 minutes to see if it gets red and swollen. Most people are not allergic, but you don't want a pissed off actor with a red and puffy face in your life...believe me! Now that you know your subject is allergy free, have them wash there face, then put their hair back with something. Also men (or women I guess) should shave all excess hair off their face. Eyebrows are OK, but a beard or some stubble is really going to be painful when you try and remove the latex. Latex in your hair is a very bad thing. Heed these few warnings and your zombie make-up will go much smoother.

Step 1: The Base Layer

Picture of The Base Layer

First thing you do is apply a thin, but even layer of liquid latex to the subjects face. This will be our base layer. Wait 15 minute for it to dry. You'll notice that as liquid latex dries it turns mostly clear.

Step 2: The TP Stage

Picture of The TP Stage

Next comes the toilet paper or "TP". What is so amazing is that you can make a lot of different skin effects with just TP and liquid latex. For this particular zombie I made the cheeks look all wrinkly and dead, and (as you'll see below) an open gash on his forehead. But you can do a lot more by just playing with these two elements. The more you add to you subjects face the more you have to play with and make gross looking.

For the gross looking cheeks I put a single layer of TP on each cheek, then using a liberal amount of liquid latex I sealed them to my actor's face. Allow to dry.

Step 3: Blending the Layers

Picture of Blending the Layers

So now you have some gross looking white skin on your actor's face and you need to blend everything together. Start with a base layer of white cream make-up. Don't worry when you actor starts looking like a mime with leprosy, the white make-up just acts like a primer to build the rest of the color.

Step 4: The Gash

Picture of The Gash

Now go and rip open that extra "flesh" we built up on the forehead. You might have to get the tear started with something sharp, so please be very careful. Open up the gash in an irregular pattern and fold back the extra flesh to reveal your actors real skin. Then fill in the inside of the wound with really dark make-up. I just mixed red and black. This should create a really cool looking wound.

Step 5: Darken the Eyes

Picture of Darken the Eyes

The next thing I would do is darken around the eyes and mouth like so...

Step 6: Blending...

Picture of Blending...

We're almost done. The last few layers of make-up are all about blending until it looks right. I started with a base color that was slightly more red then regular flesh tone, but really I feel zombies come in all shapes, sizes and colors. After the base color I started gradually adding more colors until it "looked gross". A good rule (which I break here) is to start with the lightest color and move darker. Take a look at the photos to get an idea of what I did.

That's basically it. If you want the total zombie experience go to your local thrift store, buy some old dress clothes and ruin them! Rip them, wrinkle them, rub them in the dirt. Your gross zombie make-up and fresh from the grave clothes will make a great addition to the league of the living dead.


chanceoc (author)2008-10-30

These instructions really helped! I went on a Halloween cruise and have no make-up experience. For the costume party, I went as a Zombie Tourist and everyone was super impressed that I did the make-up myself. I've included a pic, but the camera flash doesn't really do the look justice. Thanks!

frenzy (author)chanceoc2010-07-26

This posting has won today's "I Made It" Challenge. For winning you will receive a 3 month pro membership!

Thanks for using instructables!

davidbarcomb (author)2014-12-03

Very nice tutorial. I would try this next holloween

bobs cycle shop (author)2012-10-14

simple, yet effective, a perfect 'refresher course' if you will!
it'll come in handy tonight! :-D

posraweitak (author)2012-08-25

im doing an awesome halloween party this year and i know just about every thing there is on haunting. very cool.

superman.r.83 (author)2012-02-28

yeah the video sucked, but when it comes down to it... just do what you love. Check this out!

Chipmunk (author)2007-08-27

Cool tutorial. I'm trying to find some liquid latex, but I'm not sure where too look? I have a fancy dress party on friday. And I'm going as a zombie. XD I dont want to get some online though.

flyingpuppy (author)Chipmunk2012-01-31

Here's a cheap latex-like replacement you can make yourself:

SnuffyDaPenguin (author)Chipmunk2007-10-30

I bought some at our local Party City, it was only like $2 for a decent amount.

Amerika Wastid (author)Chipmunk2007-10-26

It seems like chain costume stores in malls don’t carry liquid latex. You’ll need to visit a professional costume store that caters to theater folk and the like. Check your local yellow pages. Or ask a drama club kid.

Lanvi (author)2011-11-02

Awesome! I got so much info about how to do this to myself tomorrow for our schools halloween party!
Thanks for making this!

PoppaCritter (author)2011-10-31

My Wife and I used the techniques here for a Halloween party, and it came out great! (The crowd loved the make-up). Just wanted to say 'Thanks!!!' for the awesome instructions!

krei (author)2011-09-07

I didn't really look at the instructables. I just do my face make up like a zombie very often for pictures. Tell me what you guys think and if I should make an instructable myself.

vaguilar1 (author)krei2011-10-26

how did you do this?! thinking of being a hot zombie for holloween, hard to look pretty and gross at the same time

LeahWasHere (author)krei2011-10-23

Your zombie makeup is AMAZING!!!!!!!

monetbreeding12 (author)krei2011-09-18

OMG!!! i LOVE your make up! i've been looking for good ways to do zombie make up but so far the instructions i found were very low quality. i have really dark skin so im not sure how well the toilet paper thing would work on me and im sure you know how hard it is being a girl and looking for good make up tips on how to be a zombie...but i would LOVE IT if you could make an instructable about how you did this. the gash on your face and the bullet wound have been the best looking that i've found yet!

LeahWasHere (author)2011-10-23

Mixing coffee and fake blood really works well

rbrooks7 (author)2011-10-16

Great how-to! I'm going to use this on a local TV segment I'm doing on zombie-related websites for Halloween. I'll post the link when they put it on their site.

I'm also going to include a site on surviving the (inevitable) zombie apocalypse and Zombie Ipsum, the lorem ipsum alternative for the undead.

mumblessinclair (author)2010-08-07

awesome tutorial. I used this when I submitted my zombie photo to

hopefully I win this shirt from them :D

thanks again!

thats a stereo typ zombies eat flesh not brains >:(

fmondaca (author)2010-10-30

Great Instructable, I mixed this one with the fake blood instructable, using Hershey's Chocolate and red food coloring, worked really good, everyone wanted to take pictures with me =)

nmiller14 (author)fmondaca2011-09-18

asome looks like a zombie in dead island

ddahl (author)2011-05-11

Latex contains ammonia. That's the rank smell. You get used to it though. :) P.S. It's also what "eyelash glue" is, so anyone applying false eyelashes, skip the $7 .5oz tube at the drugstore and get a 3oz bottle for $2.50. ;)

camp6ell (author)2010-10-07

what did you use on your ears to get them to stick out like that?

dtillis08 (author)camp6ell2010-10-13


courtchaosx (author)2010-09-17

this is sweet. if I can dress up as a zombie for halloween at work, I will be doing this. Heck even if not, I'm going to be doing this!

DarkLotusChylde (author)2010-06-17

Be careful when applying facial make-up. If it is a hot day you can easily over heat using a method like this. I know from experience. A little spirit gum will save you from using latex on the whole face. TP gives a great effect ! I love using it. If you tug on the dried "skin" to make a cavity you can make a small hole and inject stage blood under the skin. Looks ahsum and it actually weeps blood!

ScubaSteve (author)2009-10-27

My bottle of liquid latex really SMELLS! Is this normal?

multisync (author)ScubaSteve2009-10-29

Yes, I think so =P
mine does as well...

Plazman (author)2008-05-15

I don't know about a bandana zombie. I think zombies should have matted hair that looks like they were lying in the dirt for a while. I would be less scared of a bandana zombie than a messy hair zombie. Make no mistake though, I will kill them both in a heartbeat.

bowmaster (author)Plazman2008-10-20

Go for a head shot. Kills all types off zombies.

kyeguy13 (author)bowmaster2009-10-29


watermelonhead (author)Plazman2009-08-29

The bandana's to keep the hair out of the way.

Jawatech (author)2007-08-25

Thats pretty cool! However, if i see anything that even looks like a zombie im killing it. no questions asked. So be careful wearing that. :D im serious.

theo316 (author)Jawatech2009-10-19

Settle down..Jawatech..It's halloween! lets not take things to seriously...ugh

unknown24 (author)2009-04-05

ooh. scary...

eischool (author)2009-02-12

gr8 art for SFX and Zombie

o have found a cool link for latex, zombie, haloween mask

please check out interested Latex Masks.

grillslinger (author)2008-09-10

Great job! It's amazing what can be done with toilet paper! Great instructable, too! Here is a zombie using the latex and toilet paper method. I threw some cotton in as well.

Hey look! Your new profile pic! ;)

ac1D (author)2007-06-06

nice effect, but try to directly do step 6 when your done with step 2. this will avoid the tp to "crack"

mg0930mg (author)ac1D2008-10-09

but the cracking makes it more realistic. :D

thisxisxstephanie (author)2008-04-17

Great job! I'm going to a Zombie Prom, so this is helpful. The flaky skin looks good. But I think I would have done his ears, too. They're just too pink for him to be undead.

andyclone501 (author)2008-02-19

sweet! I'm gonna have to try this. Thanks!!

norml (author)2007-11-01

Hey, thanks for the tips. Zombies rock.

skulkingghost (author)2007-07-05

That is a great tutorial, another cool trick is to use bits of a screen door and paint over them for a cool looking "burnt texture." I usually use because their prices are a bit better.

Always remember to shave before applying this stuff. It can be painful!

John Smith (author)skulkingghost2007-07-15

I heard that you can put petroleum jelly on your facial hair, and the latex won't stick. Haven't tried it, though.

skulkingghost (author)John Smith2007-07-15

Yes you can, just make sure you heavily coat your hair. I know a girl who uses baby oil and says that that works pretty well for her too.

Pull and Twist (author)2007-07-15

Not bad... I used much the same technique for my wound affect. See my instructable about it.

nemitor (author)2007-06-06

Indymogul has some awesome stuff. Never thought about using the toilet paper... very smart.

canida (author)2007-06-06

The toilet paper trick is pretty sweet!

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Bio: Indy Mogul is the network dedicated to DIY filmmakers and film lovers alike. Our first show, Backyard FX, is a creative and funny 'how-to' guide ... More »
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