By Julianne Carell. Photos by: Katie Friedman.
Halloween: It's coming. And unless you've been living under a rock (or, ahem, the sea), you've probably noticed mermaid makeup splashed all over your Instagram and Pinterest feeds. (It's one of the highest searched Halloween costumes for 2016!) But here's where it gets tricky: Half the stuff out there looks like you need Kim Kardashian's entire glam squad to pull it off. While it's definitely a makeup look that requires some skill in the contouring and smoky eye department, it is 100 percent possible to do in your bathroom at home.
We tapped Make Up For Ever Director of Education and Artistry Lijha Stewart (also known as the "Queen of Halloween," no joke) to demonstrate exactly how to create mermaid makeup, step-by-step. Let's get started.
Level of difficulty: We won't sugarcoat it: on a scale of 1 to 5, this is a 4. It's intricate, messy (we spilled an entire jar of glitter during the process, oops), and takes some patience. We recommend practicing the mermaid scales a day or two before you do the whole thing.
Amount of time required: Plan to set aside around two hours if you're aiming to get every tiny detail just so. (And that's only the makeup. Dinglehoppering not included.)
And away we go...
In order to get the best outcome possible (read: to make sure your makeup doesn't look cakey), complexion prep is a must. The key is to start with a lightweight foundation, like Make Up For Ever Water Blend Foundation, that'll provide a smooth base for layering. Apply it with a damp makeup sponge so it's soft and airy, then set your base with a fluffy brush and light dusting of translucent powder, making sure to powder under your eyes to eliminate creasing. Next (and this step is very important) add as much highlighter as possible. "Put it all over," says Stewart. With another fluffy brush (we used the Make Up For Ever 122 Blending Brush) focus it on areas she called "points of intensity," in other words: your cheekbones, down the bridge of your nose, your cupid's bow, shoulders, and clavicle. After that, style your brows as you prefer to wear them; they won't be touched past this point.
No mermaid is complete without her mermaid eyes. We used two different purple tones here, but feel free to use whatever colors you want (pinks or blues would be dreamy here, too!). To make sure it lasts all night, apply a cream eyeshadow (like Make Up For Ever Aqua Cream) with your fingers first and layer a matching powder shade on top, focusing the darker color in the outer corners. For that super smoky effect, use a fluffy eyeshadow brush to blend the colors outward toward your temples. If you blend too much, you can always go back in with the darker color. (See here and here for two more basic—but still gorgeous—smoky eye techniques if you need them.)
Our favorite purple eyeshadows: Make Up For Ever Artist Shadow in Electric Purple, $21; NYX Cosmetics Eyeshadow in Harlequin, $4.98; L'Oréal Paris Infallible Eyeshadow in Perpetual Purple, $5.96
The key to making winged liner look more mermaid and less cat? Opt for a vibrant white liquid liner on top. "It won't work unless it's liquid," says Stewart, noting that a pigmented, non-streaky option is crucial. Next, apply a regular white pencil eyeliner on your bottom waterline to open up your eyes. Warning: If you're not used to wearing anything there, it might feel odd for a few minutes, but that'll pass! Fake lashes are obviously optional, but if you want to get fancy, here's our handy guide for doing it yourself. We used Make Up For Ever Lash Show Creative Impact False Lashes, $18. Otherwise, finish things off with a generous helping of your favorite volumizing mascara.
If there's any time to give the ombré lip trend a go, it's Halloween. All you need are two colors—we used blue and white—but pink would also be cute here. Start by applying the darker shade in the outer corners of your lips and blending it inward. Then, take the lighter shade and dab it in the center. Blend it out with your fingers and top it off with some highlighter in the middle.
A trio we like: NYX Macaron Lippies in Earl Gray, $16; Maybelline The Loaded Bolds Lip Color in Wickedly White, $5.22; Make Up For Ever Star Powder #944, $20.
Now for the fun part! For life-like mermaid-looking skin, dust a light layer of teal eyeshadow with a small powder brush in the places you would normally contour; so, the hollows of your cheeks, along your hairline, and underneath your jawline. And don't be afraid to get creative with it. Add some color underneath your eyes, your nose, or your neck and shoulders.
This step is optional, but really makes the mermaid feel come to life. Take a clean fluffy brush and dust it on top or adjacent to the teal shadow you put on before. Don't have pink eyeshadow handy? Blush works just fine.
And finally, the part we warned you about: the scales. This step requires some patience and (likely) a friend. Take fishnet stockings and stretch them out to your desired scale size. Have a friend hold them in place while you pat on your desired color (here we used white eyeshadow) with a damp makeup sponge or a dense brush. To really make it pop, choose a cream formula. Let it dry for about five minutes, but after, lock it in with a translucent powder.
Now go on with your mermaid self.
This story originally appeared on Glamour.
More from Glamour: