How to Save Your Skin From Halloween Face Paint and Makeup

Michelle Trachtenberg - H 2015
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

A couple beauty experts share the must-dos so you don't ruin your face.

There’s no doubt that elaborate makeup finishes off any Halloween costume, from your basic black cat to a much more elaborate Mexican-inspired sugar skull (seen in the upcoming Bond film, Spectre), where the face paint really is the costume. But as models and actresses know, cosmetics are rough on the complexion.

"Halloween makeup can be really damaging, so it’s great that we only wear this once a year," says celebrity makeup artist Kirin Bhatty, who works with Florence Welch, Freida Pinto and Kiernan Shipka. "The pigments can be intense, which can lead to temporary skin staining, and face makeup can be either really drying or really oily depending on which way you go." 

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Bottom line: We all need some pre- and post-October 31 TLC. Dermatologist Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi recommends doing a spot test to make sure you’re not allergic to the product before putting it all over your face, and avoiding those with red dye as it stains the worst.

Bhatty stresses the importance of prepping the skin with moisturizer, especially the under-eye area, and with a primer like the classic one by Smashbox. "The primer won’t only help your makeup last longer, but it will also give your skin an extra layer of protection."

As for after the big bash, "Don’t go to bed without washing your face, no matter how much fun you’ve had!" says Venice-based facialist Alexandra Wagner, who adds that it’s important to not leave any makeup or paint behind. "Use toner before bed — EmerginC Lavender Toner ($31) for dry sensitive skin and Deglazing Toner ($30) for oily skin — to remove any leftover residue and help balance your skin’s pH."

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Both Wagner and Bhatty recommend exfoliating the next day. "It’ll help with any staining and also prime you for maximum hydration," says the latter.

The final step, they agree, is a mask — or maybe two. Wagner advises using a hydrating, calming mask like EmerginC's Vitality Mask ($50) for dry or sensitive skin, or for more oily skin, Jurlique's Intense Recovery Mask ($76) or Purifying Mask ($66), followed by your favorite moisturizer. And Bhatty is a fan of the Lactic Peel Pads ($52) and Age Arrest Mask ($75) by Kate Somerville, which she says "pack a punch to get your skin to a place where you look like you stayed in on Halloween and got a facial instead." Mission accomplished.