Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
For San Francisco, Halloween is the Oscars of wigs, the Met Gala of makeup, and the Super Bowl of costume parties. You can't just recycle something out of your costume trunk for the biggest dress-up occasion of the year; this is the time to go big or go home.
Locals tend to make some daring choices for the day. You know there's going to be at least one Leloo bandage costume at any given party, and probably a Mystique bodysuit, too. But before you decide that full-on body paint is the way to go, keep this in mind: It takes three makeup artists 8-10 hours to complete a head-to-toe, paint-only look. That tidbit comes from MAC Senior Artist Louise Zizzo, who hosted a two-hour body painting master class at the new Union Square MAC store —more officially known as MAC Pro Powell Street— Sunday night. And while that information may dash your full-on paint dreams, Louise had plenty of tips for anyone incorporating makeup into a costume.
First, you need clean, shaven skin if you're working with actual body paint. Thinking about a Zoe Saldana/Gamora look? Or a Zoe Saldana/Neytiri look? If you have any hair on your arms or legs, it will show through body paint. Next, remember that you should not moisturize; paint adheres much better to dry skin. If you've already moisturized, and you don't want to shower again, use your facial toner to remove excess oil from your skin.
For first timers playing with body paint, the Louise recommends MAC's chromacake body paint because it's water-based and more like "painting with water colors." (Bonus: If you mess up, it's super easy to wipe off.) She also suggests thinking outside the box and inside your makeup bag. "Look at what you have in front of you, and think of it as art. Just say 'I'm going to paint with this.'" To that end, eyeshadows and lipsticks are pigments that can be used for more than just eyes and lips. "You could use an eyeshadow to create a dry lip. Or if you have a black eyeshadow, you could contour with it."
When using eyeshadow sticks or anything emollient-based as paint, you may notice that your makeup doesn't set very well. Consider using a primer or toner before applying makeup as body paint, and dusting translucent powder to set your makeup. For serious face paint, you could even add a base layer before your design. "At MAC, we make something called a paint pot, which is a cream that dries. So using that as a base, and putting an emollient product on the top will help [your paint] stay on a lot longer," according to Louise.
Whether it's your first time playing with body paint or you're a seasoned pro, Louise has a few tips. "No matter what you're doing, work light to dark. Go with your light colors first, add your dark colors last. Really look at what it is you're wanting to do, and break it down into shapes versus trying to get into the details. Keep it simple; simple can be really effective. You don't have to do intricate designs to create something that's going to be amazing to look at."
And if you're still considering head-to-paint, bribe a couple of friends to paint you both for Halloween and a pre-holiday trial run to figure out what techniques (and products) will work for your costume. For upper body and face, Louise says you'll need at least three hours of painting time.
· Get Your Wig Did for Halloween at Gypsy Rosalie [Racked]
· 3 Halloween Looks Straight Out of Your Own Makeup Bag [Racked]