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The Truth About What Your Halloween Costume Makeup Does to Your Skin

What’s the best Halloween makeup for sensitive skin? We’ve got answers.

Halloween is upon us! It’s the time of year when you find that excuse to break out those crazy impulse makeup purchases, like glitter eye shadow and double decker lashes. But you should think twice before slathering on that costume makeup kit.

Here are all the best tips and tricks to make sure your holiday is all about fun and not about your skin freaking out.

The truth about Halloween store makeup kits:

Everyone knows those makeup kits at the Halloween store: They typically include primary colors and a foam applicator that doesn’t have a prayer lasting for the entire application for anything more complex than whiskers or a Dalmatian eye spot. The coverage is spotty at best and usually has a cake-like, thick texture.

As a person with sensitive skin, I’ve always disliked the leftover greasy feeling when using these kits. So I went to Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital’s Department of Dermatology, to find out what is the deal with these kits and who should be using them.

He emphasizes: “Unlike the high-quality, well-formulated makeup that you can get at high-end retailers, many Halloween makeup products contain ingredients that can cause breakouts or skin irritation. I caution my patients with acne and sensitive skin against using this to avoid potential problems afterwards.”

Well, yeah. A lot of us could have guessed that, but can we really lump all of these kits into one big category? And what about special effects makeup that sort of necessitates non-typical makeup ingredients? Halloween is only one day a year, so where can we still have a bit of fun with our  look?

“Glow-in-the-dark make up contains Luminescent Zinc Sulphide,” says Zeichner. “Cosmetics use this ingredient and it is regulated by the FDA and generally considered to be safe. Heavy oils, however, may be used in Halloween makeup to achieve the full coverage effect. This can make the makeup feel heavy on the skin and may lead acne breakouts. Additionally, Halloween makeup may contain potentially irritating preservatives and fragrances. Some contain heavy metals that help achieve bright colors, but at the same time can lead to skin inflammation.”

If you still want to use costume makeup, rest assured that it probably won’t totally destroy your skin. But also make sure to keep your skin protected before applying the makeup. My skin is super sensitive so I have to be extra careful. In preparation for any heavy makeup, or even just being out in the cold weather, I try to used a good moisturizer that seals my skin without being too greasy. My go-to is the Goodal Houttuynia Cordata Calming Moisture Cream.

Also, the way you remove your Halloween makeup is just as important as the way you put it on. “Because costume makeup is very heavy, you may require a double cleanse to fully remove it,” says Zeichner. “Start out with an oil based cleanser to dissolve make up. Follow it with a foaming cleanser to remove any residual dirt. Make sure to apply a moisturizer afterwards to help maintain a healthy skin barrier!” Find out more about how to double cleanse here

For optimal Halloween double cleansing, we recommend Then I Met You’s Living Cleansing Balm and Soothing Tea Cleansing Gel, which work together to deep clean!

Bonus! How to create an awesome Halloween makeup look with makeup you already have:

If you’re acne-prone or have sensitive don’t worry, there are still a ton of fun hacks that you can do with makeup in your arsenal to get in the Halloween spirit. For example, you can get a quick and easy vampire or zombie look with the help of a lip tint, like the Colourpop Sonic Blooms Glossy Lip Stain. It’s the perfect consistency for a little fake blood without the goop, stickiness, and mystery ingredients of store-bought fake blood.

Just apply the tint as you normally would on your lips. Then for the drips, take the applicator and twist it around in the bottle to load it up with a lot of product. Once you have a good excess amount, bring it to the corner of your lip and drag it down to create a drip line, leaving an extra bit of product at the end for the “drip”:

And voila! Easy zombie Klog writer costume in five minutes. You can also try using this on other parts of your body, just be sure to use a double cleanse when you take it off since lip stains are in fact, well, stains.

Bottom line:

The makeup kits in Halloween stores won’t kill you for a night, but proceed with caution. If you have reactive skin try using makeup your face is already used to. If your skin holds up a bit better, then be sure to use good application methods and thorough-yet-gentle cleansing routines.

+ What are your Halloween makeup tips for sensitive skin? Share below in the comments!

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