The University Record, October 22, 1997

Imagination, household products
can equal unique looks for Halloween

Dylan and Julia Goings raid the kitchen cupboards to find materials to use for Halloween makeup. Photo by D.C. Goings, Photo Services

By Joanne Nesbit
News and Information Services

From products found on the kitchen shelf to those found in mom's makeup supplies and dad's bathroom cabinet, imaginative kids and can find everything needed to create a unique look for Halloween.

Vickie Sadler, a theater technician and adjunct lecturer in the School of Music's Theatre Department, says even the watercolors kids use for school can be used to create an unusual or unique look.

The important thing, Sadler says, is to be alert to the product's ingredients; those with a water, lanolin or lotion base are ideal. Even a wax base will wash off easily, she says, but beware of products with an oil base.

"The oils can become rancid," Sadler says, "and will clog pores in the skin. I never ask anyone to put something on their face I wouldn't put on my face."

Sadler recommends using flour or cornstarch mixed with a little water to form a light paste as a mask or to highlight areas such as the chin or cheek bones. For color Sadler suggests water-based makeup from mom's supply, a theatrical supply store or costume shop. Even the non-toxic water paints kids use in school will work on the face or other body parts. "If it washes off your hands and out of your clothes, it will wash off your face," Sadler says.

A paintbrush moistened in a little water and then dipped into colorful paints is great for accent lines or to color the entire face. Outlining the eyes or mouth can be done with this method. Scars can be added the same way. To set the colors, Sadle r suggests a light dusting of baby powder, flour, cornstarch or mom's makeup powder.

Sadler adds a note of caution about the water-based colors: Since those products wash off with water, they will also run.

She advises using a light application of lotion or cold cream under really dark colors to help in the cleanup. A sponge can be used to apply color or add texture. The amount of texture can change according to the shape and texture of the sponge. Dab bing with a sponge and not wiping is the key to interesting texture.

Most hair products, except spray, can safely be used on the face, Sadler says. Hair gel or mousse will give the face a shiny effect. These products also can be used for their original intent, to slick back or spike the hair. Dad's shaving cream can be used for a similar effect.

Sadler doesn't dress for Halloween any more, but says she is in great demand by her nieces to visit at that time of year. The girls ask her to "just do something to me and I'll figure out a costume to go with it."

Sketching out an idea can be a big help, Sadler says. And using water-based products allows experimentation with color and design before Halloween. After all, it washes away easily. Practice, Sadler says. And don't forget the back of mom's makeup drawer, where samples of wild and wonderful colors may be lurking. But skip the lipstick. It stains the skin and leaves red blotches for days.

If your taste runs to something a little more gory, Sadler suggests making some "blood" by mixing corn syrup and a little red food coloring. Because the coloring may leave some stains, a little blue-colored laundry detergent might be added to darken the color and make cleanup easier.

Another suggestion from theater professionals is to avoid glitter makeup around the eyes. The glitter is made of ground glass and could cause injury.

For a makeup base that's tasty as well as safe and inexpensive, slather corn syrup on the face, let it dry enough to become sticky and then apply pieces of facial tissues or cornmeal or oatmeal for a truly disgusting effect.