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How To Make a Zombie Costume

Updated on October 4, 2012
Zombies Ahead!
Zombies Ahead! | Source

Let’s face it, zombies are cool. Zombie movies, zombie books, zombie comics, zombie television series, zombie walks, zombie runs, zombie pub crawls, zombie merchandise. You can’t avoid zombies.

And you shouldn’t!

Especially when it comes time to dress up as a zombie. It doesn’t matter if you want to be an extra in a friend’s movie or if you just want a rocking Halloween costume. You have a lot of options and can go as simple or as complex as you want, as gory or as tame, as expensive or as cheap.

Full selection of zombie make-up
Full selection of zombie make-up | Source
Options for blood (in large quantities!)
Options for blood (in large quantities!) | Source

Make-Up for Zombie Costumes

There is plenty of make-up out there, but you don’t have to spend a fortune on it. Some specialty costume shops, and even Wal-Mart and Target at Halloween, offer all levels of make-up for zombies. Honestly, though, you can go just about anywhere and get “normal” make-up for most of what you’ll want to do. The main items you’ll need are matte eye shadows in colors that will make affect the darkening of your skin. Yellow, blue, and burgundy are great for adding shadows to your face and give you that ashy dead appearance. You can also use light colored foundation if you prefer to just give yourself that pale glow. Or you may choose to use eyebrow pencils and lipliner in order to create darker lines, and you can even use something as simple as corn syrup mixed with red food coloring for blood. (Do note that the red food coloring may not come off easily, so don’t put it somewhere that needs to be “clean” the next day!)

Wounds for Zombie Costumes

Zombies became zombies because they died. So how did you die? It’s up to you! You can make a simple wound with any of the kits you find at the costume shop or stores at Halloween, or you can go with something even simpler. Just add some fake blood to your clothes, shred them up a little, and the wound is “hidden.” With some make up, and maybe a fake body part to carry around and “gnaw” on, you’re all set.

Check out the video to see how my friend, a professional make-up artist, changed her daughter from an average teenager to a b-movie zombie!

Campy Zombie! How to Be a B-Movie Zombie

Clothes for Zombie Costumes

Your clothes should be dirty, ragged, and maybe even ripped up. If you have some clothes that were about to get tossed out, hang on to them and use them. If not, try going to the local Goodwill or other thrift store. You can often find great deals on clothing that is on clearance. You can get wedding dresses to be a zombie bride, business suits to be a zombie business man, or even pajamas if you want to be a zombie who was attacked while sleeping! Thrift shops often have it all, and at reasonable prices. You don’t have to break the bank to break a skull open and eat some brains!

Zombie "Head Wound"
Zombie "Head Wound" | Source
Zombie Sheer Mask
Zombie Sheer Mask | Source

Being a Lazy Zombie

Just because you want to be a zombie doesn’t mean that you have to go through all the hassle of dressing up. You can buy a full costume that requires no effort on your part. Check out Halloween Superstores and Party City. If you want to be lazy but you don’t have that much cash to part with, look at some of the little bits you can throw together to make a costume. You can buy “wound sleeves” and “sheer masks” or even “wound tattoos” at many dollar stores. You can also find a zombie “head wound” headband to toss on if you don’t want to do any other work. Just know that some of the better adorned zombies may make fun of you. Of course, you can point out that you’re much better camouflaged for those late-night brain runs when you get hungry.

Going Crazy Like a Zombie

You can spend a lot of time and a lot of money on your costume. You can hire a professional make-up artist or buy full kits of latex or other materials that will allow you to build all your own wounds. You can buy a new outfit and shred it up and rub it in the dirt (or fake dirt if you’re not into getting grubby for real). Putting on full make-up can take up to an hour – or more – depending on how many wounds you want to use and where. If you’re really creative, you can even use a pump (hidden in your clothes) to spray blood on others from your “wounds.”

Warnings about Zombie Costumes

  • Remember that if you cover up an eye, you will lose depth perception and driving will be dangerous. Don’t do it if you are going to drive or need to go anyway. Remove any make-up that covers your eye before you get behind the wheel of a car!
  • Allergies happen. To make sure that you aren’t allergic to one of the components of the make-up or latex you’re using, test out the product somewhere else on your body. Doing a quick swab on the inside of the elbow one to two days before dressing up can help make sure you don’t wind up with a potentially dangerous adverse reaction if you are allergic to latex or another product.


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    • KatSanger profile image

      Katherine Sanger 5 years ago from Texas

      A sleeping dead zombie? Good question!

      Sorry this is after the fact - we were busy making our own zombies over here! - but I would have to suggest taking a nightgown for a girl or pjs for a boy, ripping them up, smudging them with "dirt" (which can be as simple as some eyeshadow).

      Depending on the level of gore, you can follow the instructions in the video or simply buy some fake blood and wounds. To do it on the cheap, you can even just use make-up from the dollar store; use black to make the wound, then red to edge it and give it more "body."

      Be sure to buy some foundation a tone or two "cooler" (lighter) than the person, and then apply liberally to the face. Use more of the eyeliner under the eye and rub it around to give those good circles.

      Beyond that, it's up to your imagination! You can even buy fake brains at the dollar store (at least, I did!), and then your zombie can carry a "snack." :)

    • profile image

      softball88 5 years ago

      my name isnt cool girl it softball88 but thats my question above...Please awnsewr my questoin fast!!Halloween is tommro and I need it done tonight!!!

    • profile image

      cool girl 5 years ago

      how do I make a sleeping dead zombie in 1 day for halloween??For a 11 year old to wear???

    • maewlaay profile image

      maewlaay 5 years ago

      awesome !

      i also found many cool idea for walking dead costumes in here