How To Make a DIY Zombie Costume

child dressed like a zombie

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The classic zombie costume is a Halloween staple, one that both adults and kids can pull off. And if you own any goth-style clothing, or even a white or black t-shirt, the ensemble is pretty easy to make. Adult zombies can sport a scary disguise that will frighten even the bravest trick-or-treater. And kid zombies can choose to be either be scary or funny, depending on the makeup job and added accessories. Zombies make a great group costume, too. A zombie family, complete with a zombie dog or pet, is sure to be the hit of any Halloween party.

The Makeup

The most important part of an authentic-looking zombie costume is the makeup job. All you need is some black eyeliner and mascara, white and red costume makeup, rubbery wounds, and spirit gum.

Start by making a head-turning white complexion that portrays the look of the "undead." This is easily achieved with white costume paint, a little water, and a makeup sponge. Apply the paint to your whole face with the sponge, evening out patches that are too heavy with a little water and applying more where it's too light. The trick is to make your base look semi-translucent.

Next comes the dark eyes, which can be achieved by applying eyeliner and black makeup in and around the eye area, extending it above the eye to the eyebrow and below to just above the cheekbone. Again, use a sponge to soften the lines and blend. Then, top it off with black mascara.

Rubbery wounds can be applied to the cheeks and forehead with spirit gum, and then blended into place with red, blood-like makeup to round out the look.

The Blood

Put simply: You're going to need some blood. And not just on your face. Red paint works well for doctoring up clothing and scabs can be made from a cocoa powder mixture that produces a thick, fleshy look. Dab some dripping blood onto your face with a paintbrush and add a rubber fleshy cut to your forearm for an added effect.

The Outfit

Before you decide on an outfit, figure out what kind of zombie you want to be. The classic "undead" zombie is easily achievable with plain clothes, but adding a theme to your getup is fun, too. You can be a zombie bride, a zombie tourist, or a zombie businessman with thrift store finds suited just so.

Adding rips to your clothing makes the outfit more realistic. Create rips by cutting a notch with scissors, and then ripping with your hands. For an authentic look, cover your hands in a thin application of fake blood before you go at it to make it look like you were a victim of another night predator. You can also apply ashes to your clothing to make them look dirty (and as if you've spent weeks trolling the streets for brains). Close your eyes and have a friend chuck ashes onto your outfit before you head out the door. You can also paint one hand in blood, and then smear it across your shirt, or fleck fake blood onto your shirt with a paintbrush.

Distressing your clothing is an act in itself. Lay your clothes onto the driveway and then drive over them with a car, grounding them into the cement. This is only recommended for thick canvas items, however, as thin cotton clothing will surely be destroyed beyond the ability to wear it.

The Hair

Zombie hair should look beyond messy and you can easily achieve this by adding hairspray and using a teasing comb. For a housewife zombie, wear curlers in your hair. Or, for a disheveled look, create a topsy-turvy hairdo by putting your hair up in pigtails, with one pigtail flopping over and hair sticking out. Clip hair into a business up-do and pluck out lots of loose strands. Men can spike their do in an erratic pattern, and then smear blood on select strands or make a bloody patch to recreate a head wound.