My least favorite holiday is Halloween — I mean, if you already dress up 364 other days of the year, what makes October 31 so special? In college, I began to dread it even more because all of a sudden, everyone started wearing skimpy clothes in almost-freezing temperatures. After freshman year, I ducked into the library every Halloween, snuggling up with my art history class readings instead. I wish I had realized this sooner: with the proper face paint, you don’t have to worry about the rest of your costume. You can even wear a boring black windbreaker and avoid catching pneumonia!
Crying Girl, 1963 lithograph. (Source: Roy Lichtenstein)
It sounded like an ideal situation for someone who loves makeup and hates being cold, so I enlisted MAC Cosmetics Senior Artist Fatima Thomas — who paints in her free time — to make a pop art painting out of me. We used Roy Lichtenstein’s famous Crying Girl lithograph as inspiration, while letting Thomas’ improvise based on my purple hair and facial features. “The hardest thing about painting on faces instead of on canvases is that I can’t just tip your face over to make painting easier,” she told me. “Well, I guess I could, but…”
A paper canvas doesn’t have any hair — but you do. Thomas plastered down my eyebrows with a pencil box stick of Elmer’s Glue. Use as much glue as you need to seal down your brows: it’s water-soluble for messy elementary school students, so it comes right off when you rinse your face. Thomas prepped my skin with MAC Prep + Prime Skin ($31) but avoided using moisturizer because the heavy paint would melt off my face.
Thomas is an artist, but if you, like me, have questionable drawing skills, you can pre-plan your face by sketching the outlines with a white eye liner pencil, like the MAC Eye Kohl in Fascinating ($17). Thomas used the pencil to section out the different parts of my face that would be painted different colors. You can, essentially, turn your face into a paint-by-numbers sketch to make things easier.
Thomas used MAC Paint Stick in Pure White ($22) — an opaque white stick of pigment — on the left side of my face. It doesn’t leave any grease residue and dries quickly, which is ideal for face paint. On the right side of my face, she painted using a lavender mixture of MAC Chromaline in Rich Purple and Pure White ($20), which is a waterproof gel-cream that’s safe for use around your eyes, too. In order to paint the bold graphic-print lines, she actually left thin spaces of bare skin where the lines would be, painting them over with a slight bit of overlap with MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack ($17). My comic book-red lips were painted with MAC Chromaline in Basic Red ($20) and my faux-watering eyes were painted with MAC Chromaline in Hi-Def Cyan ($20). Thomas added a trompe-l'œil to my face by using MAC Chromaline in Pure White ($20) to throw some highlights on my lips and eyes. For the finishing touch, she used the back of a mechanical pen’s eraser — remember to check that it’s flat! — to stamp yellow dots of a mixture of MAC Chromaline in Genuine Orange and Pure White ($20) on my face. “Remember to carefully line up the dots and to take your time,” Thomas advises. “That way, you can capture the mechanical prints of pop art.” As with all the pigments you mix, make sure you mix enough for your whole face.
Finally, Thomas dusted some Prep + Prime Finishing Powder ($26) on my face paint. It helps to set the makeup without ruining or smudging the work underneath.
Lichtenstein’s Crying Girl has long mustard yellow hair. I, on the other hand, have long purple hair. Nate Rosenkranz at Honey Artists clipped my hair to the side and curled the ends to give it more volume, so that the bright purple stands out better. Retro waves can frame your face without distracting too much from all the colors and prints.