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If you’re like me, you take Halloween seriously.

By the end of September, I have my costume picked out. By early October, I’ve picked my pumpkin, prepped my plans and, most importantly, accessorized.

With so many amazing makeup artists on YouTube, it’s getting easier and more accessible to learn how to create unique and professional looks.

From turning yourself into a pop art painting to creating a look that would scare Pennywise the Clown, Halloween makeup is an essential part of getting into the spooky spirit.

But what impact do stage makeup and fake blood have on your skin?

To find out, I sat down with Melissa Wood, the medical director of Skin Emporium, and Claudia Fallah of Claudia Fallah Cosmeceuticals.

According to Wood, “Stage makeup is typically very thick and unforgiving and can lead to blocked pores and breakouts. It’s best to avoid wearing it for long periods of time, and to make sure to cleanse thoroughly to remove every last trace!”

Here are Wood and Fallah’s top tips for keeping your skin breakout-free.

Don’t reuse last year’s makeup

When you’ve only used it once, it can be really tempting to recycle your makeup from last year.

However, bacteria grow quickly on unused products.

Makeup also has an expiration date.

“Like food, expired makeup can become a breeding ground for bacteria, which can lead to infections,” Fallah says.

“The risks are multiplied when these products are shared among friends. If a product separates, changes color or texture, or smells off, odds are it’s well past its expiration date,” she says.

Do a patch test

Halloween makeup can contain a lot of chemicals. Your skin may not be used to some of them.

It’s smart to try a small patch test, like you would with new hair dye.

How to do a patch test

  1. Test a small amount of product on the skin of a less-sensitive area, like the inside of your wrist.
  2. Observe how your skin reacts for 24 hours before putting the same product on your face.
Healthline

Read the label

While we often scan skin care ingredients, we don’t always do the same with stage makeup.

Even though you’re only wearing it for one night, stage makeup can contain allergens. It’s worth taking the time to check what ingredients a product includes to prevent irritation or allergic reactions.

According to Fallah, stage makeup isn’t designed for people who have sensitive or acne-prone skin.

Fallah says to avoid products with the following ingredients when buying stage makeup:

  • artificial fragrance
  • diethanolamine
  • formaldehyde
  • oxybenzone
  • parabens
  • parfum
  • phthalates
  • polyethylene glycols (PEGs)
  • toluene
  • triclosan

Ask a professional

After a particularly complicated look, or one that involves contact lenses? Then it’s worth investing in a professional.

Plenty of dermatologists and makeup artists offer virtual consultations, and Instagram is full of makeup artists who have specific experience in stage makeup.

On your call, you can share your skin type and any preexisting conditions so your expert can recommend products that are appropriate for you.

Use a primer

While you might use a primer as part of your day-to-day routine, they’re also worth using on Halloween.

A primer puts a barrier between your skin and makeup. If you’re using particularly thick makeup, find a barrier cream to block out potentially risky ingredients.

Shop for primer and barrier cream online.

Rinse, rinse, and repeat

The best way to protect your skin from Halloween makeup? Take it off.

This means using a cleanser, toner, and potentially an exfoliator. If the products are particularly thick, there are special cleansers you can use to help you remove all traces of product from your skin.

It’s also important to use clean makeup brushes or sponges.

Shop for heavy makeup cleanser online.

Invest in adhesive remover

Planning on using prosthetics? Whether you’ve added a nasty-looking wound or even a unicorn horn, prosthetics often involve glue to secure them.

Unfortunately, they don’t always come with an adhesive remover, which easily dilutes the glue to protect your skin while removing the product.

“Being exposed to high temperatures can cause problems wearing skin prosthetics. The higher temperatures can cause sweating, which can cause itching and a reaction with the glue or silicone on the face,” Fallah says.

She suggests avoiding stage makeup made with hazardous ingredients that can affect the skin.

Wood has more suggestions when planning your Halloween makeup routine, like cleansing twice.

“I recommend a double cleanse, first with an oil-based cleanser to effectively remove stage makeup. Then follow up with a salicylic acid-based cleanser to deep clean the pores of any excess oil and dead skin cells,” she suggests.

A multifunction face brush can help get every last bit of makeup off. Finishing up with a facial mask can replenish lost moisture.

Whatever kind of skin you have, there are ways to protect yourself from the harshness of stage makeup.

Oily skin

You’ll want to take a good, hard look at your ingredients. Unlike cosmetics designed for daily use, costume makeup isn’t designed with skin care in mind.

It can contain harsh ingredients, preservatives, and fragrances that can cause allergic reactions or irritations, and clogged pores that can lead to skin congestion.

“Look out for makeup that is labeled noncomedogenic, meaning it won’t block pores if you are worried about breakouts,” Wood says.

Shop for noncomedogenic makeup online.

Sensitive skin

“[People with] sensitive skin should also be a little cautious when it comes to stage makeup,” Wood advises. “I recommend sticking to allergy-tested and mineral makeup where possible to avoid any adverse reactions.”

Be sure to read all the ingredients listed on the makeup to avoid allergens.

Shop for hypoallergenic costume makeup online.

Dry skin

To prevent dry patches, it’s important to moisturize before you apply any products, and consider using a primer to protect your skin. Afterward, use a hydrating cleanser to remove makeup.

Shop for hydrating cleanser online.

Halloween is a great opportunity to experiment with stage makeup.

If you want to wake up on November 1 with your skin feeling great, then it’s worth taking the time to pick the right products and cleanse your skin thoroughly.

Use these tips to get your ghoul on with confidence.


Charlotte Moore is a freelance writer and assistant editor of Restless Magazine. She’s based in Manchester, England.