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The two weeks leading up to Halloween are pretty much guaranteed costume parties. All of this fun doesn’t come easy when the pressure to look your best is so high.
Transforming into your desired fictional look doesn’t have to be so hellish and, despite what you may think, you don’t need an overhaul of expensive department store makeup. (Although you should opt for a really good primer.)
From fallen angel to Wicked Witch of the West, these makeup products will help you look scary all night without giving you sticker shock.
You don’t apply paint without priming first. The same rule applies with makeup. Whether you’re keeping with a natural skin tone or going for a more extraterrestrial appearance, if you don’t start with primer, your Halloween makeup will melt or sweat off a few hours later. The Smashbox photo-finish primer water is free of silicone, oil, and alcohol, so it won’t dry out your skin, cause acne or feel heavy and tight. It also contains electrolytes to revitalize your skin.
Major perk: Since the photo-finish primer is super lightweight, there are multiple ways to use it. You can spray it on before you apply, set your finished look with a final spritz, or just use it throughout the day to rehydrate and refresh skin.
Like paint brushes, makeup brushes differ in purpose and higher quality brushes do a better job, but that doesn’t mean you have to splurge for the MAC brushes. EcoTools makes brushes that work just as well, for a quarter of the price. This five piece brush set has everything you need to transform you from beautiful, makeup-less, human to soul-less zombie in minutes.
Major perk: EcoTools is earth-conscious. So their products are made from recycled materials, rolled cotton, hemp and sustainable bamboo.
The NYX butter gloss line comes in a ton of colors, both theatrical tones and pigments you can rock every day. You can layer these lip glosses with each other, or other makeup products to create bruises, bloody lips, fake scars, and more. The lip gloss lasts through hours of eating and drinking too. The entire line is just over $5.
Major perk: You’ll use this well past Halloween. Seriously, my lips have never felt smoother nor softer than they do when I use this lipgloss.
This stuff is a fantastic base for long-lasting, vivid, eyeshadow color, which is great for dimly lit costume parties. The line has a variety of colors that you might not wear outside of Halloween. And at under $5 a piece, you won’t break the bank for it. The cream shadow can be worn on its own, or with eyeshadow layered on top.
The Mehron foundation grease or cream blend stick is the easiest way to take yourself to the intergalactic level and transform yourself into a blue Smurf or green alien. Mehron’s products are durable and provide outstanding, concentrated color.
Major perk: You won’t find the same high-quality pigment and professional coverage without the professional price.
Your spooky witch costume isn’t complete without extra long lashes, everyone knows that. Honestly, you could glam up any costume with a set of false lashes…glam ghost, glam Frankenstein, you get the picture. Ardell false eyelashes come in different styles, so you can choose how dramatic you want to be. All false lashes can be a bit tricky to apply, but these come with an applicator that makes the job easier.
Major perk: The Ardell eyelashes come with glue strong enough to last all night, and even come with a bonus curler for the perfect finish.
For less maintenance, colored mascara is the fun, flirty, way to add some pop to your eyes. NYX developed a line with big color, for little price. Choose from hot pink, lime green, purple and other variations of your favorite pigments.
Major perk: Colored mascara is the simple and easy alternative to false lashes.
Highlighters are awesome for two very important reasons: they accentuate your already pretty face and are incredibly versatile. You can use ’em on your cheeks, eyelids, lips, chest, the list goes on. And IBY’s 25k Magic highlighter adds a subtle bronze flush to your face to warm up your look.
Glitter is fun all year round, there’s no doubt about it. But when it comes to Halloween, glitter takes on its own role. After all, is any look really complete if you haven’t been brushed with a bit of fairy dust? The answer is no. And with Lime Crime’s Diamond Crushers line, you can bedazzle your lips (or eyelids) with glitter that goes on wet and dries in seconds so it stays smooth and shiny all day long!
Major perk: Lime Crime sells sets of three Diamond Crushers minis for just $5 more than the full-size lip glosses. And since these are highly pigmented lip colors, they last a very long time (trust me, I own a few!). So when it’s all said and done you’re getting three lip colors for just over $8 a pop–which is around the same price as the stuff you can get at the drugstore, just way higher quality.
As aforementioned, primers are responsible for getting your makeup to go on smoothly and stay in place all day. And even though you can use your regular facial primer to line your lids, if you’re using dark shadows it’s best you start on a dark base. Otherwise, you may end up looking “patchy,” as the lighter shade of your lid peeks through the concentrated color. PEEK makes a great black primer that goes on grayish, but if applied in layers could be used on its own as a black shadow.
Major perk: Pucker up–this makes a great base for black lipstick too!
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Marisa Losciale specializes in NSFW culture, audio gear, and photography. A former editorial and photo director for Spoon University at SUNY New Paltz, her work has been featured in the Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies, Post-Trash, the New Paltz Oracle, and the Legislative Gazette.