Makeup tips for the perfect Halloween in Fairbanks

FAIRBANKS — Halloween is nearing and some Fairbanks locals want to share their tips and tricks on how to create special effects or apply makeup that will enhance your spookiness for the holiday. With any techniques that are applied to the face, first spot test the product on your hand or arm for about 15 minutes to make sure you are not allergic to it.

Advice from nurses on how to moulage

Some of the best special effects artists are nurses, paramedics and health professionals. That’s because they learn how to treat real injuries by practicing on mock ones, but the more realistic the mock injury, the better the training opportunity. The art of applying mock injuries to people or mannequins for training purposes is called moulage, which comes from the French word mouler, meaning to mold.

• Get “real” with a great recipe book

Nurses Lori Gibertoni and Stacy Wright specialize in training medical personnel at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital with clinical simulations and often rely on the book “Chez Moulage.” It has recipes for vomitus, post-partum blood clots, cerebral spinal fluid, and other fluids and excretions that are usually better left unseen.

Want mucus? Mix K-Y Jelly, green and yellow gel food coloring, and a dash of milk. If you want to simulate the liquid draining out of a wound and onto a dressing, then wet a gauze pad with some pea soup or cranberry gelatin. Admittedly, these recipes are better for mannequins than people, but perhaps they can add that realistic touch to some spooky yard zombies.

Laerdal, a company selling medical training supplies, created the book and made it available online at

• Wax on, not off

Fresh lacerations can look red, raised and angry. Gibertoni has mastered this look on mannequins with modeling and scar wax that came out of kits sold at the Interior Region EMS in Fairbanks. She builds up the wax and then blends the edges into the skin with a Popsicle stick. Then she drags a toothpick down the middle of the wax to mimic a laceration and adds fake, thick blood in the cut. She said the moulage kit is for professionals doing simulation training, but that party or Halloween stores would sell similar supplies.

Advice from a paramedic in training

• A bloody good face

Like peanut butter, blood can look smooth or chunky. It all depends on what comes out of the wound with it. Alexandra May, who is training to be a paramedic at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, is donning the chunky style, which is made from fake blood, some spirit gum (face glue) and torn pieces of tissue paper. “You can mix these ingredients until it looks cool and it sticks,” she said.

Makeup tips for the perfect Halloween in Fairbanks

Advice from a horror drag queen

Local performing artist Dahlia Rot said most people don’t want to look ugly once they learn how to look pretty. But Dahlia Rot is able to combine the two into a horror look that is both appealing and grotesque. She said, “Being a drag queen, what I love most about the makeup is the transformation — going from one creature to another creature. For me it’s not about looking like a woman — it’s about looking like a non-human beast.”

• Making some banana flavored pus

As part of transformation process, Dahlia likes to add pus that sometimes looks like acne or oozes from where an eye used to be. To make the pus, she adds about one-fifth of a banana to a small bowl and mashes it with a fork. Then she mixes in honey to make it sticky, flour to give it a pus-like consistency and cornstarch to thicken it. After applying the ooze on the face, Dahlia then sprinkles some grits on her hand and then, and using one finger, delicately applies them to the “pus” on her face.

• How to lose an eye

To make a missing eye, Dahlia Rot uses Swisspers Cotton Rounds and peels one in half, making sure there is a hole in the middle where she can look out. She then applies liquid latex and green tea leaves to one side, giving it texture. The latex holds the tea leaves in place. She then places the cotton side over an eye and frames it with a cotton ball that has been pulled long and is almost string-like. Again, Dahlia applies latex in thin layers to hold the ridge in place. Once the cotton and latex dries, Dahlia can use red, purple and black body paint to paint over the tea leaves to make it look like a bloody eye socket.

Advice from a Costume Designer

• Making burned or decaying skin

We’ve all peeled craft glue off our hands as kids. Amanda Casterline, who has a degree in theater costume design, takes it to the next level with liquid latex to make it look like there are fresh wounds or burns on the arm.

She uses a paintbrush to apply a thin layer of liquid latex on her arm. It can be a small or large patch. She lets the latex air dry and repeats this process until she has five or more layers of liquid latex on top of each other. She very gently grabs different parts of the liquid latex and pulls it up and away from the skin without breaking it. This allows for a dead skin look. She then tears into some parts of the latex to create holes in it and uses red body paint to color and make the wound look irritated. She uses green and yellow body paint to give it a zombie look.

• Other tips

Start with a base: Casterline said the best way to start makeup is with a base because it gives you something to blend into.

Look online: “I found the best way to do any makeup is to find a reference picture online and look at the colors they have. Anything they do online, you can duplicate with other makeups.”

Seal your makeup: Professional makeup artists spray on a sealer that helps keep sweat or water from ruining makeup. Casterline said that you can use a large powder brush to apply a barely-there layer of baby powder to the face, spray a little water on it and very lightly blend it into the makeup. It forms a protective crust over the makeup.

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer who lives in Fairbanks.