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How to Create Easy(ish) and Realistic Burn Makeup

I've been an online freelance writer for over nine years. My articles often focus on makeup, art, and design.


Burn Makeup

This tutorial will demonstrate how you can create burned skin effects for stage, film, or for Halloween. The effect will look realistic even from up close. (I'd like to thank my model, Scott, for being such a good guinea pig.) Let's get started!

List of "Ingredients" and Tools

This is what I use to create this effect. I listed the brands of makeup but you can use whatever brand you prefer.

You will need:

  1. A hair dryer to quicken the drying time
  2. Black acrylic paint
  3. Cinema Secrets Blood Gel
  4. Ben Nye Fresh Scab
  5. Cinema Secrets Injury Stack
  6. Ben Nye Creme Shadow: Dark Brown and Dark Purple
  7. Fake Blood and small shallow dish
  8. Liquid Latex and small shallow dish
  9. Makeup Brush
  10. 2-3 Sheets of Toilet Tissue, separated if 2-ply
  11. Makeup Sponges, torn up at the end to create a blotchy pattern
  12. Large Paint Brush, preferably worn out

Step 1: Start with a clean shaven face

Start with a clean face (and shaven if a male). Make sure you and your model/actor are wearing clothes you don't mind ruining or something to protect your clothes since liquid latex does not come out and the blood may stain.


Step 2: Pour a little liquid latex into a small shallow dish

Begin by pouring a little of the liquid latex into a small shallow dish. Dip the jagged edge of the makeup sponge into the latex and dab on the face around the areas where the burn will be applied being careful not to get it in the hair or eyebrows.


Step 3: Apply the toilet tissue to the still wet latex

Working quickly, apply the toilet tissue to the still-wet latex, covering it all in one layer. It's okay if you get a few wrinkles in the tissue, it will add to the effect.


Step 4: Tear the edges off the tissue

Now tear the edges off the tissue so there are no more straight edges. Blow dry until dry.


Step 5: Apply another layer of liquid latex

Apply another layer of liquid latex over the tissue with the sponge and around the tissue blending outward. Use the blow dryer to dry it again.


Step 6: Begin carefully pulling up the latex

Once dry begin carefully pulling up the latex and opening a few holes in the surface with your fingernails or a toothpick, being extra careful not to pinch or poke the skin.


Step 7: Blot the Corpse Yellow makeup into the openings

Next blot the Corpse Yellow makeup from the Injury Stack, or a yellowish color, into the openings. If your actor/model has darker skin, mix a pale skin color with the yellow.


Step 8: Apply a little more liquid latex

Apply a little more liquid latex over the makeup in the holes to keep in place and protect the makeup.


Step 9: Paint red on the eyelids, then shadow the eyes with the purple and brown

Get out the Bruised Red from the injury stack and the brown and purple shadow makeup. Paint red on the eyelids, then shadow the eyes with purple and brown using more around the burned eye.


Step 10: Dab around where the burn is

Using the makeup brush and the Blood Gel dab randomly around where the burn is, not getting into the openings in the makeup.


Step 11: Brush fake blood over all the latex

With the paintbrush, brush some of the fake blood over all the latex making sure to get into all the wrinkles and nooks while blending the blood gel a little bit. Then pour some of the blood into the dish and dip another torn makeup sponge into the blood and fade the blood as you move away from the burn area.


Step 12: Blow dry the blood for a minute

Blow dry the blood for a minute—it won't dry but it will become tacky. Next, take the black acrylic paint and the paintbrush and with a little bit on the brush paint lightly over the burn area in blotches, fading away as you move outward.


Step 13: Clean the blood and black paint out of the openings

Finally, with a clean and wet makeup brush or wet q-tip clean out the blood and black paint out of the openings, exposing the pale yellowed skin underneath.


Now you are finished! The makeup stays on for a while and peels off easily. Good luck with your burn. If you attempt this tutorial I'd love to see the outcome; go ahead and comment with a link with your results! If you have any other questions and suggestions please let me know.

I would like to thank Scott again for being such a good test subject.



Kennely MUA on October 05, 2018:

THANK YOU for this, the pictures and the text is SO clear and easy and makes for a super effect. I will be using it for inspiration for a theater show special effect. Thank you again!!!

melindathemartian on July 04, 2010:


I just tried this out. I didn't have liquid latex and don't have time to do a test with the actor to make sure he isn't allergic. It turns out, simple craft glue is a descent substitute. I wouldn't recommend it for areas that flex a lot (fingers, elbows, knees), but it stayed on for almost 2 hours and started peeling of my index finger a bit. But, this could be touched up throughout the day if needed.

Thanks! This was the best tutorial I found!

Wayne Tully from Hull City United Kingdom on June 07, 2010:

That's a great tutorial and the burnt make up looks really effective!, I remember as a kid having a monster make up set that I added allsorts of stuff to to add to the monster effects, rice krispies and cornflakes were a great addition.

Cheers now!