How To Protect Your Skin Under Halloween Makeup

Thanks to YouTube tutorials, creating a Halloween costume using only makeup has never been easier. Not only do you not have to spend a zillion dollars on an outfit you'll wear once, but people will constantly be coming up to you to ask, "How did you do that?!" which is a pretty awesome feeling, especially when you're dressed as an IRL Harley Quinn. But as cool as this kind of intense makeup can look, it can also wreak absolute havoc on your face after the fact. So how can you protect your skin under Halloween makeup?

Unlike regular makeup, Halloween makeup is usually highly pigmented and formulated to provide heavy coverage, which means it may have different effects on your skin. Ingredients can be harsh and potentially irritating, and the makeup may have heavy oils that to stick to your skin and can cause rashes. Obviously, this can potentially make for a very painful morning come Nov. 1. According to Dr. Jessie Cheung, Director of Jessie Cheung MD Dermatology & Laser Center, there are certain precautions you can take both before and after applying Halloween makeup to keep your skin looking and feeling healthy.

Whether you’re turning yourself into a full-blown creepy skeleton or an adorable Snapchat puppy filter, here are nine things you can do to make sure you don’t wake up looking like an actual zombie once all of the Halloween festivities are over.

1. Prep Your Skin

Like with all makeup, it's important to treat your skin the right way before you apply makeup so it goes on smoothly and doesn't cause any long-term damage. Dr. Cheung suggests applying a primer or a rich moisturizer before putting on your Halloween makeup to create a barrier so there is no direct contact with your face or neck.

2. Look Very Closely At Ingredients

Before you order any crazy-looking makeup online, make sure you read the ingredients all the way through... it will help you avoid any drama later on. "The scariest thing about Halloween could be the toxic chemicals in face paint," says Dr. Cheung. "Lead is the worst, and unhealthy levels of nickel, cobalt, and chromium." Also avoid red pigment (which can cause rashes) and keep fluorescent dyes far away from your eyes. If you are looking for a luminescent dye, zinc sulfide is the only one that is approved for cosmetic use.

3. Beware Of Allergies

Nothing quite ruins Halloween plans like breaking out into hives and a rash before you even get out the door, which can happen if you're not careful. A few days before dressing up, test your makeup on the skin of your arm to make sure you won't have any kind of adverse reaction to it. "Be careful with different glues," says Dr. Cheung. "You may not realize that you have a glue sensitivity until it's too late. Fake skin is also usually made of latex, which can be very dangerous if you don't realize you have an allergy.

4. DIY Whatever You Can

When you make your own makeup, you know exactly what's going into it and can avoid the whole "scary chemicals" thing altogether. For example, you can make your own fake blood with red food coloring, flour, and corn syrup, which won't put you at risk for any unnatural dyes.

5. Skip Out On Contact Lenses

Unless they've been prescribed by an eye doctor, colored costume lenses can do serious, permanent damage to your eyes. Don't go for the cheap contact lenses that may cause irritation and scratch your cornea, says Dr. Cheung. In fact, unless you've gotten it cleared by an ophthalmologist, you should plan to steer very clear of putting anything in your eyeballs.

6. Take Your Makeup Off Immediately After

This should be pretty obvious, but make sure to remove the makeup as soon as the party is over — don't fall asleep and risk clogging your pores (or risk waking up to find a terrifyingly hungover-looking clown staring back at you in the mirror).

7. Read. The. Directions.

Believe it or not, Halloween makeup comes with directions for not only how to put it on, but how to tie it off, too. Don't ignore them. "You can really irritate your skin by trying to scrub off heavy makeup incorrectly," says Dr. Cheung.

8. Use The Right Removal Products

Do yourself a favor and think about this before you get home from the Halloween party and exhaustedly need to take your makeup off. Remember that "like dissolves like," so have an oil-based makeup remover handy. If you're using glue, make sure you have the proper remover since some formulas won't dissolve with regular soap.

9. Choose The Best Kind Of Makeup

While all of these things are important, if you're really serious about avoiding skin irritation it's important to pick the right kind of makeup from the beginning. Dr. Cheung suggests spending the few extra dollars on theatrical makeup (rather than the cheap stuff from the Halloween Warehouse) which is made with higher quality ingredients and less likely to have harmful effects.