How to Create SFX Makeup Looks on a Budget

How to Create SFX Makeup Looks on a Budget

Whether you're a beginner or an expert, your SFX makeup kit should include everything an artist needs to successfully execute different SFX makeup looks. 

However, some products and tools can be costly, especially for beginners. 

If you’ve been searching for a budget-friendly way to create SFX makeup looks, you’re in the right place! 

In this blog post, I’ll share tips and tricks to create SFX makeup looks without breaking the bank. What are we waiting for? Let’s get started. 

To make this easier to follow, I’ll break up the blog post into different sections, each dedicated to a specific SFX look you can create using budget-friendly products. 

A short explanation: SFX makeup is how movies and TV series show realistic werewolves, fake gunshot wounds, aging, etc. If you'd like to know more about SFX makeup and how to become an SFX artist, check out my blog post: A Complete Guide to Becoming An SFX Makeup Artist.

Inexpensive SFX Makeup Looks

1. Fake Blood

Did you know you can make fake blood at home instead of purchasing it from the store? That’s right!

All you’ll need is flour, red food coloring, corn syrup, and a drop of blue food coloring to darken the color of the fake blood and make it look more realistic. That’s it!

You can substitute the corn syrup with just water. Don't overmix it, or you'll end up with a lumpy mess you don't want. 

Here is a quick recipe you can play with. Try it out and play with the recipe. This is not the end-all mix ratio.

  • 3/4 cup corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon red food coloring
  • 5 drops of blue food coloring
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch 

2. Scars / Wounds

If you're creating SFX looks for school projects, e.g., theatre, making the scar wax yourself is the way to go. 

It's surprisingly easy on the pocket too. You'll need Vaseline and either flour or a loose powder (ensure it's not fine-grained). For better results, I recommend using Talcum powder - even baby powder will work just as well. 

Mix them and get to a consistency where it’s not too dry or runny. Now, just like we’d work around with clay, mold the mixture and give it the desired shape.

NOTE 1: A starting ratio is 1 part Vaseline to 2 parts powder. The ratio will depend on the type of consistency you want. Add more flour, and it becomes flakier and harder. Play with it, and you'll learn. 

NOTE 2: Vaseline is typically used, but you can use other things, such as oil. The main thing is to play with recipes. 

Burn Scars 

Another inexpensive way to create scars, especially burn scars, is to take an old mascara you were about to discard, some gelatin or liquid latex (depending on your preference), warm water, and red lipstick.

Mix the gelatin with warm water and apply it to your skin. After it's dried up, take the old mascara wand and go back and forth across the area where the gelatin's been applied to create a scarred surface. 

Repeat this process with the red lipstick until the surface looks gory enough. 

An alternative to gelatin is liquid latex. Start by applying a layer of Vaseline to prevent the liquid latex from sticking to you forever (jokes!). 

Spread the liquid latex around the area you want to fake-burn with the help of a popsicle stick, similar to what we use to apply wax for hair removal. 

Add a couple of coats and shredded pieces of tissue paper. Do it before it dries, or the tissues won't stick well!

Tear away the excess tissue, hide the white surface with a color that matches your skin or your client's, and apply a little red color on the area to make it look like a natural burn. 

Caution: Some people are allergic to liquid latex, and before use, it should be tested on a small patch of skin to see if there are any reactions. 

Gunshot Wounds

As this is one of the most popular SFX looks, I had to mention it separately. 

Take the scar wax you've made with the abovementioned ingredients for this. Use Pros-Aide adhesive to ensure the wax doesn't come off.

Once it’s stuck on the area where you want to create a bullet wound, carve out the wax using any sharp tool but be very careful with it. 

To hide any imperfections in the design, add in fake blood to seal the deal. 

3. Bruises 

One important thing to note is that regular makeup can also create SFX looks!

Cream-based makeup works best for this one. Or, if you can't get your hands on it, cream eyeshadows in yellow, red, green and blue, purple, and black. 

All you need is a Bruise Wheel makeup kit. 

How To Build A Budget-Friendly Makeup Kit

That's not all! Let me also tell you how to build a professional SFX makeup kit using budget-friendly products that work well. 

  • Cream-based makeup paints 
  • Water-activated makeup paints
  • Adhesive– Pros-Aide Original Adhesive
  • Liquid latex
  • Baby powder as an affordable setting powder
  • DIY fake blood

Final Thoughts

See how easy it is to create SFX looks without breaking the bank? It’s not necessary to spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on products; start small, especially if you’ve just started dabbling in SFX makeup. 

Practice and improve your skills before investing in pricier products. Start by reading my blog post, SFX Makeup for Beginners - 5 Tips to Start for valuable tips on SFX makeup for beginners!

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