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Day of the Dead Sugar Skull Costume

Updated on March 3, 2020

Easy DIY Sugar Skull Costume

Creating the Sugar Skull

A central part of any Day of the Dead costume is the "sugar skull." It is an artistically decorated skeleton inspired by Mexican tradition. These sugar skulls are depicted with wide stitched smiles and bright decoration. Some people where masks, decorative skeleton face tattoos or make up to showcase this costume element.

Sugar Skulls Depicted in Tradition

During the colonial 18th century Mexico had an abundance of sugar and struggled economically. These two factors influenced how the dead were remembered in Mexico. Religious places were decorated with sugar skull confectionaries. The name of the dead was written across the forehead of the skull. This is a specific detail that help your costume more authentic.

Face Tattoo or Make Up

If you opted not to wear a sugar skull mask you will need to recreate the skull using a face paint or a temporary face tattoo. The face paint option allows you to create you own unique design and allows you to determine what motifs you use in your skull design. If you are not gifted artistically and would have it done for your a great inexpensive option is the sugar skull face tattoo. If you go this route I would suggest you pick up two of the temporary tattoos so that you can try to work out any application problems ahead.

Sugar Skull Face Paint Design

Painted Sugar Skull

Common elements of the sugar skull face shown here: The wide stitched smile, vibrant color orange, decorations around the eyes (possibly a marigold motif).

Sugar Skull Makeover or Costume Mask

Will you apply make-up or a mask to get the sugar skull face look?

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Embrace Dia De Los Muertos

The three woman show off their beautiful Day of the Dead face paint. Each applying a white base, wide stitched smile, the darkened tip of the nose, and brightly colored eye sockets with a floral motif.

Day of Dead Make Up Tutorial

Face paint ideas for you costume include a white base for the skeleton color on top of which you can apply the sugar skull decoration for you costume. Typical ideas include a black circle on the nose to represent the missing nose as skeletons do not have noses. The eye sockets can also be represented with black to make they eye sockets appear larger. The mouth is usually shown with a dark horizontal line that spans larger than the persons natural lips. They are usually decorated with vertical lines across the main line.

Marigolds, a popular symbol, in the Day of the Dead celebration can be used in the decoration of the face. This decoration is often seen around the eye sockets.

For those skilled and wanting to try their own hand at a unique Sugar Skull design check out the video below which combines vibrant make up colors with common Day of the Dead symbols.

Marigolds are used in the celebration of Dia de los Muertos. They have been incorporated into Sugar Skull face painting.

Ready to Play Skeleton Dress Up

One of the key elements that is missing in this black and white sugar skull is the use of bright color in the design. A little color would give a more celebratory appearance as Day of the Dead is a day to celebrate the lives of your lost loved ones.

Day of Dead Costume Clothing

The Clothes Make the Skeleton

It's time to finish off your Day of the Dead costume with some costume clothing. You can combine a skeleton themed outfit with some Mexican inspired clothing to get a more traditional Sugar Skull costume look.

Women and girls will look chic by adding a flower to their hair; perhaps, a rose or maybe a marigold. This will give a more feminine aspect to your Dia de los Muertos costume. Your costume dress will give you a chance to add some additional color to you costume. Add bright layers or longs skirts to give your Day of Dead Costume a more festive look.

Men can take a more elegant approach with their Day of the Dead ensemble. Pair your Sugar Skull mask with a groom skeleton outfit to get a slightly creepy skeleton look.

Image Credit: Happy Halloween Skeletons under public domain license via

Have you dressed up in a Sugar Skull costume? If so, share your costume advice and tips for creating a spooky Dia de lost Muetros Costume.

Day of the Dead Costume Feedback - Thanks for Visiting!

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    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 

      7 years ago

      I love your lens, I was just commenting on how I enjoyed the Day of the Dead so much and you have given me lots of great info.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great ideas! Sugar Skull Costumes are cool!

    • Teapixie LM profile image

      Tea Pixie 

      7 years ago

      This is fantastic. I was wondering how to create this type of mask and you have provided access to excellent instructions. Thank you for doing the research!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for sharing these Day of the Dead Sugar Skull Costumes. Really nice designs!

    • Mr-Panda LM profile image

      Mr-Panda LM 

      7 years ago

      Love the mask! Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for bring us the idea. Love masks the most as no make up required ;-) Hope to find a scary comfortable ones!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      nice lens

    • RavenRunner profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for this lens!

    • Sitabodang LM profile image

      Sitabodang LM 

      7 years ago

      Cool lens, I'm going to forward it to my friends!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I love the tradition of Day of the Dead much more than I love Halloween. Day of the Dead San Francisco artist, Martha Rodriguez, allowed me to use her art on my first book, Some Rivers End on the Day of the Dead. Great pics of all the possibilities here.

    • albinozebra lm profile image

      albinozebra lm 

      7 years ago

      very cool sugar skull images. good job on the lens!

    • davew00d lm profile image

      davew00d lm 

      7 years ago

      Love this blog. Eye-catching images.

      See what you think about my Day of the Dead write-up:

    • lewisgirl profile image


      7 years ago

      Spectacular lens! Love it! Never heard of Sugar Skull.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I love the makeup applicatons! So much you can do with sugar-skull imagery -- I'm sure tattooists would love to tackle a face!

    • Madonaa profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice costumes you got.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      7 years ago

      Boo-lessed ... Happy Halloween 2012!


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