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Total creep factor! Clowns, Dolls and Dummies for Halloween inspiration

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Horror Clown Photo by Alycia M.

When it comes to Halloween makeup inspiration, the Beautylish community always hits it out of the park. These three costume ideas below can be created simply or with a lot of detail. They’re all characters that have a strong psychological twist to them: clowns, dolls and dummies. Clowns wear a mask of makeup concealing the true nature of the face beneath, doll faces are a facade and dummies are lifeless beings that come to life, which give them all a pretty high creep factor.

From a makeup perspective, these looks mix traditional beauty techniques (blush, eyeliner, contouring) with elements of face painting. Practice your look before your Halloween event. You may get ideas as you go or find that certain elements take a little practice.

Saw Ventriloquist dummy by Aley L.
Doll by Natálie M.

Ventrioloquist Dummies

Level: Easy-Intermediate | Time: 60

Ventriloquists and their dummies have been performing on vaudeville stages and in sideshows since the mid-1800’s and have always walked the line between good-natured entertainment and something a little more unsettling: an inanimate object that could come to life at any moment. Creepy!

Ventriloquism was known to the Greeks as gastromancy (literally translated: belly prophecy), and it's thought that the Oracle of Delphi used ventriloquism to convey prophecies. In the middle-ages, ventriloquism was often thought to be associated with witchcraft. It wasn't until the 16th century that ventriloquism was used more for entertainment than as a mystical tool. The ventriloquist's dummy first appeared in the UK and later traveled to the U.S. as a regular part of circus sideshow performances. The history of ventriloquism, combined with the blank stare of the dummy and the suggestion of a lifeless being who has come to life through supernatural forces, makes the dummy a perfect costume.

Quick Tip: Ventriloquist dummies have a moveable piece of wood for a jaw to give the illusion of speaking. This can be drawn on simply with lines or you can paint on a new mouth that distorts the proportions of the face.

Broken Doll by Katie A.
Enough Creepy? by Aurora Makeup A.
Cracked Mask Makeup by Alize D.

Broken Dolls

Level: Easy-Intermediate | Time: 60+

The doll face uses exaggerated (but still fairly traditional) beauty techniques to make the doll-like effect, so all your day-to-day makeup skills have a chance to shine. The look is a classic go-to for Halloween inspiration, but you can take it a step further by adding cracks to create a psychological twist. The nightmare factor lies in the illusion of something sinister lurking behind the surface of the face. You can play with this effect in a subtle way by showing a small crack, or in a more dramatic way by revealing skin, bone or something else beneath. You can also play with the type of doll, either going with the classic American style or working with doll features from other cultures.

Quick Tip: Experiment with a few crack styles and practice your crack rendering to see what looks best. A thin brush like Billy B’s Paint Brush 10 and a gel liner like Inglot Cosmetic’s AMC Eyeliner Gel in 77 or face paint will give the control you need.

Ruffles the Clown by Alexys F.

Scary Clowns

Level: Intermediate-Advanced | Time: 90+

Can’t sleep, clowns will eat me! American Horror Story Freakshow has reminded us of how scary clowns can be (as if we needed any help). The classic clown face is fertile ground for distortion and deconstruction. Features can be emphasized and exaggerated to create a variety of effects. You can also combine elements that give a normal face a higher creep factor: red-rimmed eyes, uneven brows and distorted mouth. If you're willing to wear color contacts, you can turn up the psycho level several notches. The possibilities are limitless, these are just a few ideas to get your mind going.

Quick Tip: Learn the tropes of classic clown makeup so you can use that as a basis for your distortion. Determine what type of clown you want to be (more funhouse clown? more psycho killer?) and then decide what features you want to emphasize to push the look further.