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Quick and easy tips to get spookified this Halloween
Follow this makeup advice for maximum effect
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Brenau University professor Pamela Workman touches up her burn makeup on Friday, Oct. 25, while demonstrating how to make special effect makeup ahead of Halloween. - photo by Nick Bowman

Getting ready for Halloween doesn’t need to be hard, but it’s likely to get a little bloody. 

This Halloween, bump up your costume game with a few tips from the experts at Brenau University’s theater program. Instructors Pamela Workman and Aimee Johnson have a few pointers to make your bruises more agonizing, your burns more grotesque and your blood drip in that special way.

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Brenau University instructors Pamela Workman, left, and Aimee Johnson work on Halloween makeup demonstrations at the costume shop on Friday, Oct. 25, in Gainesville. - photo by Nick Bowman

Workman, the university’s costume production director, and Johnson, the costume shop supervisor, both teach makeup and costuming classes at Brenau. Their instruction runs the gamut from helping students recreate Belle’s gown from “Beauty And The Beast” to teaching them how to mimic the effects of leprosy on the skin.

As a result, it’s safe to say they know a thing or two about preparing for Halloween.

In the spirit of the spooky season, The Times has asked Johnson and Workman to share their basic knowledge of theater makeup. 

To simplify things, we’ve broken down the steps for creating a bruise and burn wound. All of the materials can be found at The Engineer Guy in Atlanta, The Party Shop Emporium off of Pearl Nix Parkway in Gainesville or online from Amazon. 

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Pamela Workman dabs liquid latex onto her forearm to begin the process of mimicking a bad burn. Workman and fellow Brenau University instructor Aimee Johnson gave a few quick tips to make your Halloween makeup look much more convincing this year. - photo by Nick Bowman
Johnson and Workman’s protips for bruise, burn wounds and other Halloween injuries:
  • Have a reference photo handy. 

  • Start with a foundation that matches your skin color, and always dab, never brush, when applying different colored foundations.

  • Don’t overthink it. If you analyze it too much, that’s when it ends up looking like a painting and not the real thing. 

  • The more colors the better. Bruises aren’t just purple (think yellows, reds and oranges) and burns aren’t just red (think blacks, pinks). 

  • Make enhancements based off of your environment. If you plan on showing off your makeup in the dark, try bolder colors and sharper lines. 

Liquid latex warning:

Do not apply liquid latex around the eyes or on hair, Workman said, unless you’re looking to lose that hair. It’s not water-soluble. If you’re allergic to latex, you can mix one packet of unflavored gelatin with 1 tablespoon of water and 1 tablespoon of glycerin. 

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If you’re looking to simulate a bruise this Halloween, Aimee Johnson makes the point that more colors are better. Bruises aren’t just purple or black, they’re a mix of yellow, red, black and purple. - photo by Nick Bowman
Bruise makeup

Estimated time: Five minutes


  • Bruise wheel by Ben Nye

  • Makeup wedge

  • Small eyeshadow brush 

  • Stipple sponge


  1. Make a yellow layer by dabbing the color onto your skin with a makeup wedge

  2. Add a smaller circle of red to the center of the yellow using the same dabbing technique.

  3. Apply small splotches of purple around the red circle.  

  4. Dab a little bit of green with a small eyeshadow brush around the edges of the bruise.

  5. Take a stipple sponge and lightly dab over the bruise to break up the colors and create pores. This gives it a more realistic look, making it look like skin rather than paint

  6. Boom. You have a beautiful bruise. 

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Pamela Workman puts the finishing touches on the makeup mimicking a bad burn. - photo by Nick Bowman
Burn wound makeup

Estimated time: 20 minutes


  • Clear liquid latex by Kryolan

  • Makeup wedge

  • Makeup brush

  • Kleenex tissue

  • Cotton balls

  • Ben Nye creme foundation in different shades of red and brown

  • Foundation that matches skin tone

  • Hairdryer


  1. Start off by applying a base layer of liquid latex with a makeup wedge. Cover your skin in the shape and size of your desired burn wound.

  2. Set with a hairdryer until it goes clear. 

  3. Add one more layer of liquid latex.

  4. While latex sits, rip apart small chunks of tissue, making sure to separate the layers and create jagged edges.

  5. Tear small chunks of cotton. The tissue and the cotton will be used to make the burnt flesh.

  6. The liquid latex on your arm should be tacky by now and slightly wet. One by one, take pieces of the tissue and place them on your desired burn spot. To bring some texture to the burn, add pieces of cotton. The latex will act as a glue to hold the materials in place. Depending on how brutal you want the burn to be, you can apply more tissue and cotton. The more roughage, the nastier the burn. 

  7. Take more liquid latex and dab it on top of the tissue and cotton with your makeup wedge, covering the spot completely. 

  8. Dry the liquid latex with a hairdryer.

  9. Dab a foundation that matches your skin tone on top of the burn. If you want to zombify your look, use greenish and grey colored creme foundation. 

  10. Using a small eye shadow brush, create depth in your burn by painting dark brown or black in the creases closest to your actual skin. Blend out the lines, so they look smooth like shadows cast by scarred flesh.

  11. To make the burn look fresh, dab on three different shades of red to the raised latex.

  12. Finish off your burn by dabbing brown creme makeup over the burn with a stipple sponge. 

  13. To enhance your look, cut open the latex with scissors. Color your exposed flesh with bright red makeup. Add a couple of drops of mineral oil to the red to give it a bloody sheen. Cut off the tips of a Q-tip and place it inside the torn area, so it touches your skin. The Q-tip will look like as if a ligament is peeking out of your arm. You’re welcome. 

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