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Halloween Hair and Makeup Must-Haves for That Last-Minute Party

a bunch of people dressed in Halloween costumes dancing at a party
gpointstudio/Shutterstock

Happenin’ haunts and pop-up Halloween parties rule October. If you don’t want to get caught without your fangs, we’ve got some gory goodies you’d be wise to keep in your coffin.

From last-minute office parties to impromptu zombie walks, you never know what chicanery might appear in October. If you wait too long to plan your costume, the least popular Disney princesses (and a ton of Shreks) will be the only things left at the shops.

However, if you keep a stash of macabre necessities in your lair, you can transform anytime and with a quickness—even if it’s not a full moon.

All of the items on our list were available at the time of writing, but if they happen to be out of stock, use them as inspiration!

Hair-Raising Hairdos

A saucy wig or some hair dye is the quickest way to turn yourself into someone (or something) else. If you keep some of these creepy coifs around your haunted mansion, you can pair one with some of our other suggestions and be off on your broomstick:

  • Black gothic wig: Whether it’s Dracula or Morticia, everyone has at least one Halloween they celebrate as a Dark Lord or Mistress of the Night—or Cher.
  • Clown wig: Yes, even if you go as the circus-variety buffoon, most people will still be creeped out. Of course, if you want to be more obvious about your mayhem, you can go as the creepiest one of all.
  • Mullet wig: You might just win the costume contest with this beauty! It instantly transforms you into the trailer park landlord of your dreams or a member of just about any band, circa 1982. Pair this with a torn, stained tank top and some ripped jeans, and you’re ready for the kegger (let’s get real—you’re bringing the keg).
  • Crimping ironIn the ’80s, looking like you lost a fight with a waffle iron was totally rad! Now, you too can get that coveted “my kitchen appliances are possessed” look. This style is making a comeback, though, so you might find this iron useful even after you rock the Halloween shindig as your favorite Go-Go.
  • Wayne and GarthIt’s party time, it’s excellent! These are variations on the mullet theme, but why quit a good thing? The Wayne wig includes the hat, so just add a sprinkle of black t-shirt, a dash of denim, and one fresh Garth, and you can spend Halloween in Wayne’s World. You’ll have your fellow partygoers crying, “We’re not worthy!” in no time.
  • Wig with curlersEver wondered why you see tons of zombie grandmas on Halloween? Because it’s an easy-peasy costume! You have PJ’s, a robe, and some bunny slippers, right? Just snag this wig and some zombie face (more on that later), and you’re ready to meet your fellow Walkers at the Senior Center for some Apocalypse Bingo.
  • Black temporary dye: If you’d rather not wear a sweaty, itchy wig, you can go the temporary spray-in dye route. This black aerosol from High Beams doesn’t make your hair stiff like hairspray, but it does smear. Be sure to drape a towel over your costume before you use it, and spray it on outside—unless you want to paint your walls and the cat, too.

Frightening Faces

woman putting on special effects makeup to look like her face is injured
Creativa Images/Shutterstock

Now that you’ve got your harrowing hair figured out, it’s time to make that face horrific. Even if you haven’t a clue what you want to be for Halloween, a few decent makeup palettes can open up a dark, endless world of creativity.

Here are some of our essential makeup and special effects kits for guys and ghouls:

  • Smokey eye palette and Black eyelinerWhether you’re morphing into a goth icon or the Starchild from KISS, you have to smoke up those eyes. This eyeshadow palette from BYS has everything you need to shade and layer your way to Mistress of the Night. Then, you’ve got to go all-in on the drama with a good liquid liner. We like the waterproof pen from Docolor.
  • 80s eyeshadow paletteIf you’d prefer to be Mistress of the Dancefloor rather than Darkness, you’ll be needing some electric blue (or pink, or purple) eyeshadow to go with that side-ponytail you’re rockin’. This Spectrum palette has every color Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, or any Bangle in-between could possibly want.
  • Clown makeup kitReady to unleash your version of Pennywise or Bozo on your unsuspecting friends? Just pair this palette with one of the clown wigs we shared above. This versatile kit isn’t just for Killer Klowns from Outer Space, though. With the white cream base and variety of detail colors, you can create zombies, werewolves, phantoms, or the rest of the members of KISS.
  • White pressed powder: You’re looking a little pale this evening. Well, you will be, anyway, with this offering from Bloody Mary Makeup. If you want to look just-bitten and sickly, but not supernaturally-dead-for-centuries, this powder makes the perfect base. And the handy compact means you can pause for touchups between victims.
  • Blues rocker beard: If you don’t want to mess with makeup but still want a shot at winning that Target Gift Card in the costume contest, slip on this ZZ Top beard and your southern rocker ‘tude. This beauty comes with the ‘stache, but don’t forget to “go get yourself some cheap sunglasses.”
  • Trauma kits: Whether it’s gunshot wounds, various and sundry scars, or something more office-specific, it doesn’t matter what you wear when you look like a resurrected CSI victim. Don’t discriminate: gross out friends and strangers alike!
  • Zombie makeup kit: Grab some old clothes from the thrift store, cut them up, roll them in some dirt, and let this Fun World kit do the rest. Or, you can snatch up that wig with curlers we covered earlier and unleash Zombie Gran!

Miscellaneous Mischief

woman dressed up a as a witch carrying a lantern and pumpkin
4PM Production/Shutterstock

Now that you have several possible guises to strut at the morbid masquerade, you might want to pick up some stalwart props.

If you keep these ominous odds and ends around, you’ll be ready to head to Scaretown before anyone can say “Bloody Mary” three times:

  • Witch’s hat: The witch costume remains a time-honored Halloween tradition for many reasons—it’s easy, creepy, and black is slimming. Did we mention it’s easy? If you need to hop on your broomstick at a moment’s notice to find some eye of newt, you can’t forget your hat! Whether you’re glam, disco, grunge, or classic crone, your perfect topper is only a click away.
  • Blood: When you go gory, you need blood. Not the real kind! Step away from the Blood Bank, please. Finding decent fake blood can be a challenge. Sure, you can make your own, but if you don’t have that kind of time, you can nab some pretty realistic formulas on Amazon. Of course, keep in mind, all fake blood stains clothing and your skin. You might be a bit pinker the first few days of November than you were in October.
  • Fangs: If you want to throw on your black cape and make some music with the Children of the Night, you’re going need some neck chompers—and a good set is hard to find. This kit includes multiple sets of fangs so you can pick just the right size for your teeth. You attach these with the included adhesive, and, hopefully, you don’t plan to eat…food.
  • Trauma headbands: Grab a bottle of that fake blood we mentioned above and become an instant horror movie victim with the Weapon headband set. It includes four appalling head wounds, which means you’ll be all set for four straight Halloweens!

As the invitations to those Halloween hootenannies start rolling in, save yourself some hassle! If you score even a few of these grisly gems, you can conjure the costume of your nightmares faster than anyone can say “witching hour.”

Amanda Gambill Amanda Gambill
Amanda is the Staff Copy Editor and a contributing writer for How-To Geek, and its sister sites, Review Geek, and LifeSavvy. She’s been writing and editing professionally since 2004. In her spare time, Amanda reads stuff no one else does (classics and historical bios), watches documentaries that put others to sleep (ancient cookware archaeologists found under a McDonalds), and writes stories about things that go bump in the night. Read Full Bio »

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