Pass through any shopping centre or supermarket throughout October and it’s clear to see from the window displays and aisles packed full of costumes and decorations that the UK has been bitten hard by the Halloween bug – and its popularity is growing year on year.
Whilst celebrating Halloween in the UK is nothing new, the scale of the celebrations and our spending habits certainly are. Over recent years the Halloween retail market has grown from a reported £12m in 2001, to an estimated £330m in 2014. That’s a staggering increase, which has largely been attributed to the influence of American films, sitcoms and, in particular, the immense popularity of horror television drama series’ such as American Horror Story and The Walking Dead.
All this hype means that more of us are attending Halloween parties, and getting into the spirit of the celebrations by dressing up in fancy dress costumes and getting creative with our make-up. So, if you’re planning on joining in this year then however subtle or scary your Halloween look might be, I’ve put together some tips to help ensure that it doesn’t leave you with any skin horrors to deal with on November 1st.
My most important tip for anyone using any kind of special effects make-up, fake blood or adhesive products is to test them prior to application for any potential skin reaction. To do this, apply a small amount of the product to the skin on your inner arm and observe it over the next 24 hours looking out for any signs of reaction such as redness, itching, the skin feeling hot or developing bumps, and if any such reaction occurs then the products should not be used. As well as determining if the products are suitable to use, this testing will also give you a chance to discover how best to remove them, and make sure you have the correct type of cleansing products. Be aware that for some products your usual make-up remover or cleanser may not be up to the job, and trust me, it’s better to find out in advance, particularly if you’re planning an elaborate, or extensive make-up that you don’t want to be wearing the remnants of the next day! For quick easy removal I suggest taking a two-step approach. First, remove as much make-up as you can with make-up remover wipes. Next, massage a heavy cold cream type product, or cleansing oil into the remaining make-up (without wetting the skin) to break it down, then wipe it off with a hot cloth, and repeat as necessary.
Know where to save or splurge
Stop your Halloween look from getting frighteningly expensive by shopping smart. Consider investing in one or two professional quality items such as face paint and adhesives, particularly if you have sensitive skin. Although most budget-friendly face paints will be skin safe or hypoallergenic, they may not be non-comedogenic (as they are likely to be oil-based) meaning they can lead to blocked pores and breakouts. Make savings elsewhere by using products you may already have in your make-up bag. For example, deep red lipstick can be used for some blood effects, matte blue and purple eyeshadows for bruises, and greens and whites to create zombie like complexions. Halloween is a great time to use up those colours in your make-up palette that often get overlooked, or go unused in your everyday make-up routine.
Prep for success
With make-up, as with most things in life, preparation is key! So, prior to make-up application make sure that your skin is well moisturised and primed to help your make-up go on as evenly as possible, and prevent it from looking patchy, which can be a problem when applying theatrical make-up or face-paint. I would recommend using a silicone based primer to even out and smooth the texture of the skin, but if you’re planning to wear heavy make-up, glitter or adhesive products consider using a barrier cream, which you can find in the baby care section at the chemist or supermarket. Not only will a barrier cream help to protect your skin, but it will also prevent it from becoming temporarily stained by heavily pigmented colours, or fake blood.
Preserve your handiwork
Once you have created your make-up look you’re going to want to keep it in place, so seal it with a make-up sealer. I like Benefit She-Laq and Mist + Fix by Make Up For Ever, but there are lots of different ones available to suit all budgets.
The morning after
Even with careful preparation, application and removal some special effects make-up products can be quite harsh on the skin, so my final tip would be to treat it to some post party pampering. Perhaps with a deep cleansing, or moisturising mask (depending on your skin type) and make extra effort to drink lots of water to rehydrate your skin, particularly if you had a late night, or indulged in a few sugary Halloween treats!