It is easy to look very dead with common household 'makeup'. Follow these steps to look like you were just exhumed.
All you need is:
Tissue paper (the gift wrap kind)
Light corn syrup (aka Karo Syrup)
Possibly some 'normal' powder makeup/eyeshadow and a grease pencil
Spray temporary hair coloring
Thrift Store Clothes
Miscellaneous Spray Paint
Step 1: Start Fresh
Start with a clean dry face wearing clothes that you can throw away.
Step 2: Hair Color
Use temporary hair color spray sold at Halloween time. It's inexpensive and is generally easy to remove. Use hair spray and gel to provide some 'body'. Don't forget your eyebrows.
Step 3: Wrinkles and Rot
Apply a thin coat of Karo (or other brand) of light corn syrup to your skin and then apply tissue paper (the kind used for gifts). Some additional corn syrup may have to be applied on top of the tissue paper to tack it down.
Make sure to create folds and lots of 3D relief. Accentuate areas where wrinkles would occur, especially under the chin and on the neck.
Step 4: Blow Dry to Set
Blow dry during application to help set to your skin. It will still remain tacky but it should now feel more firmly attached to your skin. It can also be helpful to do some blow drying as you go, particularly if you are going to build up an area to be very thick: Apply a layer and blow dry, repeat.
Step 5: Add Color
Color your creation with powdered rouge, eyeliner, etc. and other 'regular' powdered makeup. You can also consider non-traditional powders found in your home such as cocoa powder used for baking and chocolate milk powder. If there are areas where the powder will not stick, lightly apply some additional corn syrup then reapply the powder. Note that powders may become contaminated with corn syrup and residue so consider that any makeup being used may be ruined for other uses.
Example makeup was done with chocolate milk and cocoa powders with very little traditional makeup. Chocolate works well but beware that those you meet may want to take a bite out of you.
Lips were done with a cheap 'halloween' grease pencil.
Step 6: Clothes Make the Man (or Woman)
Visit the local thrift store (before applying makeup) and select some clothes. Then have fun ripping, staining, and generally destroying them. A wood rasp works great for abrasions and tears. A heavy table salt solution can provide some white 'stains'. And spray paint works well. Make sure to do all your distressing and painting while the clothes are off of you :-). It is also possible to add burns with a propane torch (done outside please), but the burnt smell tends to linger so do so at your own peril (If you smell like a burn victim not even the chocolate will get people to stand next to you).
When the party is over the make up comes off surprisingly quickly as the corn syrup dissolves easily with water.
Finalist in the
Halloween Easy Costumes Contest