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Halloween make-up at the London Dungeon
© David Tett

Halloween make-up tips at The London Dungeon

We asked a horror make-up expert at the London Dungeon to take four young boys and ghouls in for a Halloween 'beauty' session – the results were truly spooktacular!

By Laura Lee Davies

Natalie Cartwright, make-up artist and displays assistant at The London Dungeon is adding the finishing touches to our young bubonic plague victim. Eleanor, sitting in the make-up chair has, in the space of 25 minutes, gone from fresh-faced 12-year-old to blotchy, scab-encrusted London peasant circa 1665. Does she look good? Put it this way, she wouldn't make it to Christmas.

As children all over London prepare for Halloween night, we thought we'd get some advice from the experts. So we've turned up at The London Dungeon after closing time with four Year Eights hoping for looks so horrid that even their own parents will board up the doors on Trick-or-Treat night.

With 18 live-action walk-through sets and a wicked sense of humour, the South Bank ís home for truly horrible histories scares the pants off thousands of visitors every year. Along with painstakingly researched set design and special effects that often literally spring from the darkened walkways, the team of actors at The London Dungeon creates an evocative fiction from the facts of London's most gruesome historic moments.

Happily for them, their official make-up partners, M-A-C, don't just specialise in making faces look pretty. As Natalie opened up her box of tricks (with a few extra potions sourced from Charles H Fox theatrical make-up store in Covent Garden, one of London's best fancy dress shops) our four young models were clearly ready to pick up tips which might come in handy to secure the odd sick day off school, too...

Four kids, four ghoulish makeovers

halloween make-up, london dungeon
© David Tett

The plague sufferer

Eleanor sports a whole new look for the spotty teen, complete with buboes and bloody orifices. Quite the in-thing before the Fire of London.

1. Over a pallid foundation, make the face look more skull-like by accentuating the forehead, cheekbones and eye sockets using brown shades, blended in with a sponge.

2. To make plague scabs, add a thick yellowy cream around the sweaty areas of the face (this is where they would have appeared) - the nose and the chin. Soften these out with the sponge.

3. To make the scabs look sore, add a dark red dot in the middle and soften the edges. Use a bit just under the nostril too, as a plague victim would have probably had a bleeding nose.

4. To make the buboes, squeeze a little latex on to the back of your hand and use the wrong end of your make-up brush to blob this on your face.It it will set yellowy. Make up stores will stock tubes of latex, or you can use eyelash glue.

5. Use a costume jelly (referred to simply as 'sweat'), and a pot of yellow 'pus' to look really ill.

halloween make-up, london dungeon
© David Tett

The ghostly medium

For Halloween, the Dungeon's 'Séance!' show is about a medium called Florence Cook who terrified clients in Victorian London. Sabine is our unholy spirit.

1. Start with the light foundation, perhaps a little heavier on this one but still not completely white.

2. Again use blended brown shading around the hairline to create a bony forehead, sunken eyes and cheekbones. Darken each side of the nose, too. This makes the pale elements of the face really stand out.

3. Scrunch up your face to see where your deepest lines are. Follow these natural lines of the face and use the thinner end of the sponge to colour them brown before softening the effect with the other side of the sponge. This will help to age your looks.

4.  Add a pale lipstick on your lips and a little redness with eyeliner under the eyes.

5. To accentuate the cheekbones and other lines, add a thin line of white above the colour already there, then soften it in with your fingertips.

halloween make-up, london dungeon
© David Tett

The beheaded traitor

It's nearly Guy Fawkes Night, so our look for Jack suggests he's spent ten days on the rack before being hanged, drawn and quartered. Oh and beheaded. Let's not go easy on him.

1. On top of a light foundation, go over the face with a green powder to add a grey, dead-skin look. Use a sponge to even this out.

2. Take the greenish colour down to the neck (as far as your costume) and make the lips grey.

3. Make the neck look red and sore around where the head would be cut off. Use a dark red or purple cream and the edge of a sponge, criss-crossing for a rougher look, then dabbing it to soften the finish.

4. To make a fresh cut, stipple bits of fake blood into the wound. Put some blood on the back of your hand, then apply it with the wrong end of the make-up brush so it doesn't run down your neck.

5. Add a bit of navy blue in the corners of the eyes and blend this into the grey-green make-up for a really sinister look, and red eyeliner under the eyes for an authentically lifeless stare.

halloween make-up, london dungeon
© David Tett

The torture victim

The London Dungeon could have obliged Thea's request to appear tortured, with its ugly collection of hooks and prongs, but happily, Natalie's make-up box came to the rescue.

1. This time use a tired, greyish foundation to show this person's been really suffering.

2. Again, add some redness under the eyes (it makes anyone look ill) and dark lines following the natural lines of the face so that the hollowed eye effect will move with your expression.

3. To make a fresh wound, get a make-up 'black eye' colour wheel with beige, green and purples. This is ideal for bruises and injuries.

4. Build up the colour so you get a good gouged effect. Start with a dulled, jagged line then work into the middle with more intense colour to look like dried blood. Dab similar colours with a sponge for a bruise on the forehead.

5. Add a little fake blood from the nose  she has been tortured, after all  and a light dusting of translucent powder to set it all. Add blusher for a flushed effect, and a bit of dirt and 'sweat'.

Natalie's horror make-up tips

halloween make-up
halloween make-up
© David Tett

1. Before you start, remove contact lenses.

2. You can use face paints, but powders and creams allow the look to move more with your face.

3. Adding a dusting of translucent powder at the end helps the look to set, so it will last longer at a party.

4. To make raised scabs or wounds, use a tube of latex. Eyelash glue is a great, easy alternative. To make a scarred or injured skin effect, pull at it as it dries, or put some Rice Krispies under it and let it set on top.

5. If you can’t get ‘sweat’ (a costume make-up shop will stock pots of synthetic mucus, sweat and pus), you could use a light coating of Vaseline in patches on your face and neck where you’d usually sweat most.

6. If you want to draw in age lines where they’d look most natural on you, look in the mirror then slightly dip your head. Accentuate the lines between your eyebrows, the sides of your nose and around your mouth.

7. When making the eyes look sunken and dark, follow the natural lines of the face to avoid panda circles.

8. Most sickly and beaten peasants would be grubby, so use a brown M-A-C paint stick or eye shadow for patches of dirt.

9. Add bruise colours as foundation before creating the wound. Apply fake blood with the wrong end of your brush then blend with your fingertips.

10. Tooth enamel is good for making teeth look rotten or missing. (It comes in a little pot like nail varnish and it cleans off when you brush.)

Find more kids' Halloween events

Visit London Dungeon

© The London Dungeon

The London Dungeon

Attractions South Bank

A jokey celebration of torture, death and disease, visitors to The London Dungeon can journey back in time to the capital's plague-ridden streets (rotting corpses, rats, vile boils and projectile vomiting all come as standard) and meet some of the city's unsavoury characters, from Guy Fawkes to demon barber Sweeney Todd.


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