Do-It-Yourself Blood, Guts and Gore

October is the best time of year for a makeup artist, and also for faces that like to be painted. Whether it’s enjoying the myriad of Instagram tutorials on ghoul and goblin faces, or preparing your favorite characters for immersive Halloween productions, this is the month theatrical makeup thrives.

But, if you’re new to the world of special effects, here’s the perfect introduction to DIY latex prosthetics that are so easy you can do them at home. Yes, these are great for Halloween – but they are also ideal for your next production of Titus Andronicus or Martin McDonagh’s Lieutenant of Inishmore.

IMG_7452What you’ll need:

Liquid Latex (available online, or at your local Halloween store)

Tissue—Kleenex or napkin, not toilet paper

Liquid or Cream Foundation

Red Cream Makeup—Multiple colors are best, a lipstick you don’t mind getting dirty will work.

Purple Cream Makeup—Again lipstick could get the job done.

Fake Blood (available online, or at your local Halloween store)


Check out this video for a step-by-step tutorial to take your look from average to absolutely grotesque.

For those less interested in visuals, here’s a step-by-step tutorial:

  1. Make sure tissue is only one layer thick. Rip the edges to soften. Crumple, dip in liquid latex, covering all the tissue.
  2. Mush latex paper onto face. Shape as if you were shaping Play-Doh
  3. Let dry. Don’t use a blow dryer at home, it’s not the safest remedy.
  4. Cover with foundation. If you don’t get full coverage, don’t worry, a little discoloration will make it look real.
  5. Apply red to any bloody areas, like the center of wounds.
  6. Add purple bruising with a stipple sponge, or dabbing with finger in organic patterns.
  7. Add blood. If blood isn’t thick enough, thicken with cornstarch.
  8. Finish the rest of your face, and you’re ready for a scare.


If you’re afraid of sweating off your new prosthetic, consider adding a spray sealant, available online.

This is only your first step into the world of special effects makeup, but consider all the ways the tissue latex method could provide excellent character makeup: wether you’ve lost your hands while playing Lavinia or had your throat slit in the barber’s chair on Fleet Street, blood and gore plays a big role in the theatre world. It never hurts to get your hands a little dirty with some special effects practice, no matter the season.

The following two tabs change content below.
Amy is the Associate Costume Director and Hair and Makeup Supervisor at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. A licensed cosmetologist, she spends her off hours writing about beauty and theatre on the internet at

3 thoughts on “Do-It-Yourself Blood, Guts and Gore”

  1. I adore special effects makeup but am allergic to latex. 😢 Do you have any suggestions on what I might use for effects that wouldn’t cause an allergic reaction? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hey Melissa, you’ll want to opt for a silicone product instead. Search for “two part silicone” at either Kryolan or Frend’s Beauty, or if you’re trying the DIY tissue paper method, you can substitute white Elmer’s glue for the latex, and color it with liquid makeup. The Elmer’s will take a white to dry, so less is more, and be patient! Good luck!

Leave a Reply

News, thoughts, opinions and advice for the performing arts community.