The Zombie Ball is quickly approaching (October 4th, 2014, for those of you who are not up-to-date), and there is a strong emphasis on arriving in your undead-best so will you fit in splendidly with the rest of us.  However, we’re going to guess that some of you may be totally drawing a blank on what to wear. We can help with that!


We get swarmed with messages from some of you guys, asking for help with makeup for the Zombie Ball. While we personally like to use Ben Nye products, these products can be very pricey. You can achieve similar results with inexpensive products and cosmetics.

Makeup Basics:

  • A white or very pale base foundation (costume/Halloween stores have a range of them, or you can go to any drugstore and find a light colored foundation)
  • Setting powder (unscented baby power / talc / inexpensive cosmetic powder)
  • Bruise-colored eyeshadows or blushes (Again, you can go to stores like Dollar Tree, 99 Cent Only and find some cheapo eyeshadows in purples, blues, greens, yellows and reds. While these may not be the best for doing glamorous makeup, they will work excellently for bruises. Other cheap brands that you can find at any drugstore are Wet & Wild and NYC, for just a couple of bucks.)
  • Eyeliner Pencils (these are cheap and are good for drawing on stitches, or drawing veins)

Step 1: A happy zombie always starts out with a clean face, so be sure to wash your face before applying any makeup. This removes oils and dirt that has accumulated on your face throughout the day, from living in the Central Valley. Thoroughly dry your face before moving to Step 2.

Step 2: Apply your base foundation. Now…this is 100% optional, but there are two reasons we recommend doing this step:

a) it gives you a deathly pallor, and,

b) it is a base for any other makeup you apply, making it blend easier, and prolonging the wear of it.

It is totally up to you if you choose a cream or liquid foundation – both work fine. If you’re looking to spend a little more money, Billy’s Costumes in Visalia has a cream base foundation by Ben Nye titled “Death Flesh” thats great. We prefer to use a combination of a sponge and a brush to apply it. Just make sure you apply it evenly for a nice, deathly complexion.

Step 3: Powder your face. A very, very light coating of baby powder will set things up and help to absorb oils throughout the night. If you have a powder or blush brush on hand, use that after you powder your face to remove excess powder from crevices in your face, like under your eyes and the corners of your nose. If you don’t have any face powder or baby powder, plain old cornstarch can be used in a pinch.

Step 4: You have to experiment here. Theres no right or wrong way to look dead! We recommend adding some darkening to beneath the eyes and in the hollows of your cheeks. Eyeshadow works great for this if you don’t have anything else to work with. As mentioned above, you can find a range of colors for very cheap. You just have to look. Go to Dollar Tree or 99 Cent Only, or look at the Wet & Wild and NYC cosmetics (Target, Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS, etc).

Different shades of browns always work great for shadowing. Start out light! Remember: you can ALWAYS add more later. But it’s really hard to take off color if you have it too dark, without messing up the rest of your makeup. So start out light, and work your way to the darkness you desire.

Use your brushes to apply the brown beneath your eyes, in the hollows of your cheeks, and anywhere else you would like to emphasize depth. For bruising, use yellow and greens on the outer edges, purple closer in to the middle, and reds in the very center of the bruise. You can use your fingers or brushes to blend things all together, and don’t forget, you can always add more later.

If you are using cream shadows or cream makeup for this step, we highly recommend using a translucent powder or a very light coating of baby powder to set it up when you’re finished. Add stitches with eyeliner, and any other finishing touches you feel necessary at this point.

Step 5: BLOOD. Zombies should always appear to be well-fed, even though their hunger for human flesh and/or brains never dies. You can buy theatrical fake blood at Billy’s Costumes….OR… can make your own tasty, edible blood right in your own kitchen from things you probably already have on hand. You can either drip some from your scalp (like another zombie took a juicy chomp right out of your brain!) or drip it from your mouth. If you’re going to have it dripping, try to avoid touching it until it sets up. It’s a good idea to keep a little vial of it with you for touchups throughout the night.


The next few questions might be exactly what you need to figure out what awesome zombie costume you’ll come up with.

1.) Who were you in your previous life? All zombies come with a haunting past.

What was your profession in your previous life? If you think back to your favorite zombie flick, you’ll notice many of the zombies are proudly in uniform. Either this is because there was an abundance of recycled costumes available, OR…if you think about it, a zombie cop or clown is just too-cool-for-school, right? As much as the actual clothing pieces and makeup are to a costume, props are also key.

Here are some examples that you can draw some inspiration (or totally rip off, for that matter):

  • Doctor
  • Cop
  • Fireman
  • Bride/Groom
  • Clown
  • Sports Player

2.) How did you die? Not all of us ‘go in our sleep’.

  • Does it relate to your profession? (i.e. a mad scientist using himself as a guinea pig for his own experiements; a fatal gunshot wound during the line of duty; a fatal hockey injury, etc.)
  • Are you freshly-deceased, or a long-dead putrid pile of maggots? Self-explanatory
  • Were you killed by another zombie? You could have been one of the lucky few that spread the horrible zombie epidemic amongst your community…OR…you could have been biten by a zombie. A bite to the throat is always good, or you could have half of your face chewed off from an episode of zombie romance (is there such a thing?!) gone horribly wrong.


3.) What made the dead walk amongst the living? It varies from movie to movie.

Some plots from movies:

  • Radiation – for the ooey-gooey zombies with a never-ending appetite for human flesh and/or brains.
  • Voodoo – for those into the historical aspects, the ‘original’ zombie was a product of Haitian voodoo.
  • Virus – The possibilities are endless with this one. You could be a babbling, confused zombie from Romero’s early days…OR…you could be one of the newer marathon-runner zombies. Have lots of pustules and pus oozing from your wounds if you’re going to take this route.
  • Toxic Waste – When skinny-dipping goes wrong. Or maybe you were messing around with stuff you had no business touching. Or maybe you ingested it at a frat party. Any way you slice it, there are some nasty, nasty oozey things out there, and people always seem to flock to them like it’s going out of style. You have great potential for adding lots of slime to your costume, and even more so if you can get glow or blacklight reactive slime.