Animal makeup is popular for Halloween and costume parties as an alternative to wearing masks, which are cumbersome and uncomfortable. It’s easy to learn how to use makeup to transform yourself into all kinds of animals such as a dog, cat, rabbit, mouse, zebra, tiger, seal or lion. With a few extra touches like fur ears and a tail, you can be any animal you want.
Things You'll Need
Look at pictures of animals to help you decide which animal is best for your personality and face shape.
Refer to books for ideas and illustrated techniques, such as “The Usborne Book of Face Painting” by Caudron and Childs and “Face Painting” by Klutz Press, which also includes face paints.
Use water-based face paints or water-based makeup such as Kryolan, which you can find in most toy and department stores. To order Kryolan, call (800) 866-1329. Supplies and a support forum are available at websites such as Silly Farm Supplies.
Test the face paint first to avoid an allergic reaction. Apply a dab to the inside of your wrist and leave it on your skin for a half hour. If there’s no itching or irritation, wash it off.
Start with a clean, dry face. Drape yourself with a cloth to protect your clothes from paint stains due or wear an old shirt. Pull your hair back or use a headband to keep your hair out of your face and out of the paint.
Choose a well-lighted room with a mirror or use a light up makeup mirror if you are going to makeup your own face. To apply makeup to another person, sit in chairs facing each other. Allow plenty of time, especially if you’re a beginner.
Apply the Base Coat
Start with a base coat that represents the animal’s color. Use a tan base coat for a dog or lion, pink for a bunny or mouse and yellow for a cat or tiger. A white base coat works best for a zebra or seal.
Wet a sponge, squeeze out the excess and rub the sponge gently in a circle over the paint. Dab the sponge over the entire face, being careful to cover the ears and back and front of the neck.
Check the entire base coat to make sure it’s smooth and even. Fix any bare patches or marks with a gentle dab of additional base paint.
Allow the base coat to dry completely before moving on to the next step.
Use Technique for Detail
Grasp the brush just above the bristles, the same way as you would hold a pencil, for better brush control.
Wet the brush thoroughly in water. Apply the paint to your brush. Roll the bristles as you wipe the brush against the face paint.
Hold the paint brush at a right angle to the surface of the skin and paint lightly with the tip of the brush to make fine lines. Press down on the bristles to lay them flat as you paint to make thick lines.
Use a cotton swab to erase mistakes and blot runny paint.
Add a large spot or ring around one eye and a spiky eyebrow around the other eye to create a dog.
Paint a line along the eyebrow, following the natural upward curve of the brow bone and lift the brush up and off at the end to make a point. Repeat this process a few times to make wispy eyebrow whiskers for a cat or lion.
Circle the entire eye area in white and line the top with gray, brown or pink for the eyebrow for a mouse or rabbit. Create a gray circle around the eyes for a seal.
Omit eye detail if your animal character has a completely striped face, such as a zebra or striped tiger.
Make the Nose and Mouth
Paint the end of your nose and make a line from under the nose to the middle of your upper lip to create the split lip of an animal.
Use the same color paint for your upper lip. Use black or brown paint for a dog, zebra, seal, lion and mouse. Use pink paint for a rabbit and yellow or tan for cats and tigers.
Substitute lipstick in the same shade for the face paint on your upper lip if you plan to eat or drink because it lasts longer.
Add whiskers or whisker spots with your brush.
Paint stripes down your chin, across your cheeks and on your forehead for a tiger or cat. Start from the center of your face and travel outward and upward.
Add black stripes in long, continuous strokes for a zebra. Start from the chin and paint upward to the hairline. Make the stripes curve slightly as they travel across your temples and cheeks.
Keep the stripes on both sides of your face symmetrical. The left side of your face should be identical to the right. Follow the natural contours of your face.
Finish Your Look
Finish the look with a wig, ears and tail.
Paint your hands with the base color and stripes to make the look even more realistic.
Add a costume or clothes in the same color as the animal.
References and ResourcesVisit the Kryolan website for water-based makeup.
Buy the book
Purchase face paint
Find face paint at Silly Farm Supplies.