This isn’t the first time I’ve painted my face for Halloween — last year, I dressed up as a member of The Baseball Furies from the thriller classic, The Warriors. I did the white-and-black face paint myself, and it was harder than I thought, even though I actually went to art school.
I’ve always been obsessed with skulls — I’ve been sketching and drawing them since high school. No two skulls are alike: You can play with different textures and variations of shade and lighting, and when you get tired of drawing human skulls, there are millions of animal skulls to try your hand at! This obsession freaked my mom out, of course. This year, when MAC Cosmetics’ senior artist Regan Rebanal offered to do my makeup, I took advantage of the opportunity to become the skeleton of your nightmares. Rebanal has painted a variety of skeleton faces in his career, from Day of the Dead skulls to Dead Presidents. I paired my look with a simple black-and-white Supreme shirt — the full skeleton look would take too much time. Here’s how to take the perennial Halloween skull to the next level:
The skull base
Men should shave their beards and moustaches before starting the makeup application, but in the case of eyebrows and lingering bits of stubble, Rebenal recommends using hair gel to plaster the hair down smoothly. “Elmer’s Glue Sticks also work more intensely, and they wash off with water,” he says.
Cover the face with the lightest foundation possible, such as MAC Pro Longwear Nourishing Waterproof Foundation in NC15 ($33), or the lightest MAC Studio Fix Fluid ($27) you can get. Then, set with MAC Eye Shadow in Gesso ($16), a matte white, using MAC Softpoint Sponge Applicator ($19).
Contouring for bones
Draw out the lines and shape of the skull with a pale shade pencil, like MAC Lip Pencil in Stone ($17). Add contour, texture, and cracks to the skull with the same pencil and with MAC Eye Shadows in Charcoal Brown and Scene ($16). If you’ve been watching YouTube tutorials for contouring techniques this year, you’re in luck — your skills will come in handy for drawing a skull on your face! “Contouring techniques overlap,” Rebanal explains. “For example, if you’re trying to get gradation on the cheeks, instead of contouring brown and then highlighting with a shimmer, use the purest white shade you can find, and then the grayest brown you have.” You can add more depth with a MAC Cosmetics 210 Precise Eye Liner Brush ($20) and MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack ($17).
How do you create the illusion of empty sockets on a human being who is alive? Rebanal hollowed out the eyes, nose, and cheeks with MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack ($17) and MAC 252 Larger Shader Brush ($32). The teeth are drawn directly onto the lips — skeletons don’t have lips, remember. Rebanal used MAC 210 Precise Eye Liner Brush ($20), which has an extra-fine tip for etching in each individual rounded tooth. He then used the Charcoal Brown and Scene Eye Shadows to fill in the shadows and gradations. Finally, set the heavy face paint with a bit of MAC Prep + Prime Transparent Finishing Powder ($26). Skeletons don’t have pores — but you do.
If you were really committed to this costume, you’d shave your head and paint your scalp, too. But I like my hair and am currently growing it out. Consequently, Nate Rosenkranz of Honey Artists slicked it back with Alterna Weightless Whipped Mousse ($22), giving me a clean look that didn’t distract from my face.