Introduction: Burn Makeup

About: Professional MUA, educator, and Benefit Beauty Artist working in Sacramento & the Bay Area. I specialize in film, print, editorial, glamour, & special FX. FB: In…

For today's burn makeup, you will need:

  • Dermashield
  • Liquid latex
  • Skin Illustrator alcohol-activated palettes in Skintone & FX (alternately, a variety of cream paints will work)
  • Tuplast or WM Creations Scar Material
  • Glycerin, KY, or transparent jelly (not petroleum-- it will compromise the texture of your application)
  • Cotton balls
  • Tissues
  • Ben Nye Charcoal powder or a matte black eyeshadow
  • Orange sponge
  • Black sponge
  • Latex-free white sponge

Before beginning a burn makeup, ask yourself: What caused the burn? Fire, chemicals, steam, or sun? Where was the object that caused the burn in relation to the person that has been burned? How long has it been since the burn? Was it a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree burn?

First degree burns are the least severe, usually appearing as just redness and shine. This can be achieved by stippling different shades of red paint onto the area and topping it with glycerin, KY, or transparent jelly.

Second degree burns start off as first degree burns, with the addition of blisters. Blisters are created using either Tuplast or WM Creations Scar Material.

Third degree burns are the most severe, with a total destruction of the skin marked by charring and surrounded by first and second degree burns. Today I will be demonstrating a very severe third degree burn.

Step 1: Base Coat

Before applying anything to your skin, apply a thin layer of Dermashield. This will protect your skin from the harsh effects of the FX makeup and will make removal easier. Be sure to not put too much, however, as this will prevent your makeup from adhering.

Begin with a wash of bright red from your alcohol or cream palette all over the affected area. I'm using a very watered-down prime red from the Skin Illustrator FX palette on a torn-up orange sponge, which I rotated as I stippled over the area to prevent a pattern from forming. The key to injury simulation is to keep it messy and asymmetrical, as too much neatness and symmetry will make it look fake.

Also remember your placement here-- where was the burning object in relation to the person? My camera malfunctioned and didn't record half of my first application, which I had radiating out from the center of my cheek (maybe I was burned by a torch-wielding villager), so I applied another burn just above it for the purposes of this tutorial. If I were applying this burn for a photoshoot or a movie, I would have to go full Sandor Clegane and extend the burn to my ear, my scalp (which would entail applying a bald cap and laying hair), and down my neck and shoulder. For the time being, let's ignore my placement and just look at the technique.

Step 2: Apply Flesh

Now, unroll a cotton ball so it is a long strip of cotton. Stretch and pull it so that it is a wide, flat, haphazardly-shaped sheet the size of your burned area. Using a torn-up (remember, asymmetry!) non-latex white sponge, stipple a layer of latex all over the burned area. Apply the sheet of cotton to the face, then stipple a layer of latex over the cotton, completely saturating (but not soaking!) the cotton.

Let the first layer of cotton and latex dry completely before repeating the steps above. You can use a hairdryer on the "cool" setting (it's the air and not the heat that dries latex) to speed up the drying process. You can also use 1-ply tissues instead of the cotton, or layers of latex alone.

Step 3: Texturize Flesh

Using a pair of pointy-tipped tweezers VERY CAREFULLY, create jagged holes and rips in the cotton latex "flesh".

Step 4: Paint Job Part 1

Now apply a sheer wash of flesh toned paint all over the area. Choose something close to your flesh tone. I highly recommend alcohol paints for this part as it is much easier to create sheered-out color by simply adding more alcohol to the paint than trying to sheer out cream paints. I use a flat powder brush for this step instead of a foundation brush or paintbrush to create a more random, textured pattern. Sometimes I even paint in between layers of cotton/tissue/latex to give more depth to the paint job.

Step 5: Paint Job Part 2

Alternating between my orange and black sponges, I added layers of prime red, bruise tone, aged blood, and cedar brown from my Skin Illustrator FX and Fleshtone palettes.

Step 6: Add Blisters

Using your WM Creations Scar Material or Tuplast, squeeze a small bulb of product out and apply it in the holes in your cotton latex. Work quickly, as this stuff dries fast, and twist the tip against your skin to remove the product from the tube and adhere it to your skin. You can also apply this stuff before you paint, but I've found that sometimes the alcohol paint can remove it.

Step 7: Add Charcoal Powder

Using a small eyeshadow brush, I applied Ben Nye's charcoal powder to the protruding parts of "flesh" to simulate charring of the skin, then smudged it a bit with my fingers. You can use any matte black eyeshadow for this effect.

Step 8: Apply Shine

Burned skin is shiny, so you will need to apply something to mimic that effect. Glycerin in a spray bottle works exceptionally well. I didn't have any on hand so I poured a little translucent jelly (sometimes called sweat effect) from Kryolan onto my fingers and dabbed it all over my burned area. KY Jelly, which every FX artist has in their kit, can be used for this also.

Step 9: Final Look

Your makeup is complete! However, remember to complete the look by surrounding your third-degree burn with first- and second-degree burns; accessorizing correctly; and finally, acting the part. I've included unedited photos of my final product which, except for the placement, is a pretty gnarly third-degree burn.

Hope you enjoyed today's tutorial! Subscribe for new tutorials uploaded every Wednesday and Friday, and follow me on Instagram (@alexyourface), Twitter (@alexcassiemua), Facebook (, or on my website,