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SFX Makeup Ideas For Beginners

Feeling a little intimidated by the endless possibilities of practical effects? Don’t fret; every pro artist felt the same way at some point! Even if you’re adept at bringing realism to your artistry, the unfamiliar techniques and tools of the trade can be a little overwhelming to newcomers. So today, we’re gonna share a few basic tutorials on how to create convincing effects with nothing but beauty makeup!

How To Create Old Age Effects

Wrinkles, veins, and liver spots are often right at the front of any SFX curriculum. Why? Because it’s essentially the inverse of natural beauty makeup, where you conceal imperfections and sculpt the bone structure to make it appear more youthful. Here, you take all the same principles of highlight and contour and use them to make someone look older! For this, you’ll just need a cheek brush, a fine point brush, a crease brush, and a contouring palette (note: contour can’t be substituted with bronzer.)


  • Standing directly underneath a light source, identify the natural highlights and contours of your face in a mirror. Scrunch up your face and look closely for shadows falling into your temples, eye sockets, and nasolabial folds; or your “smile lines”.
  • Take your cheek brush and apply highlight to the highest point of your forehead, blending outward from there. Then, using the crease brush, repeat this process for the bridge of the nose, chin, cheekbones, and brow bone.
  • Still using the cheek brush, take your contour and apply to the slopes of the frontal bone, further accentuating the forehead. Then apply the contour to the deepest part of your temples, blending it out towards the hairline. Lastly, contour the hollows of your cheeks. If you have round or well defined cheeks, suck them in and make a fish face- you’ll see what we mean!
  • Using the crease brush, you’ll use this same contouring technique to accentuate your eye sockets, eye bags, frown lines, and smile lines. Remember to blend, blend, blend!
  • Now, using your fine point brush, use the contour to accentuate the lines around your eyes and mouth. A magnifying mirror is usually helpful for this step.
  • Optionally, you can use a teal-colored eyeliner pencil to accentuate any visible veins and a deep brown pencil to create liver spots.

How To Create Scars and Cuts Effects

Now we’re getting to the fun stuff! Since not all cuts are created equal, this tutorial will help you replicate minor abrasions like cat scratches. For this, you’ll need a fine angled liner brush, a brightening concealer, contour powder, and a blood-red lipstick.


  • Using the angled liner brush, apply a very thin line of brightening concealer to the skin. Then, blend out only one side of the line with a slight sweeping motion. This creates the illusion of a raised layer of skin.
  • If you are creating a scar, take your contour and create another, slightly thinner line up against the edge of the concealer. Blend the contour out in the other direction, and you have a scar just like that!
  • If you’re creating a cut, apply liquid lipstick to the angled brush and create a thin line up against the unblended concealer. Flick the ends of the lipstick line out into sharp points; as though you were doing winged eyeliner. Once you have your “cut”, apply another thin line of concealer to the other side of the lipstick and blend out the outer edge.

How To Create Bruises

Believe it or not, bruises are probably the trickiest of the bunch. They constantly change in color, size, and shape, and some folks barely bruise at all! Here, we’ll teach you how to do a moderately severe bruise that’s about two days old, using only eyeshadow and a crease brush. The shades you need will vary depending on your skin tone, so we’ll use the chart below to give you a general idea for now. (Note: cream eyeshadow actually works best for this, if you have it!)

For this tutorial, shade #1 will be the lightest/left-most color.


  • Using shade #1, create a small cloudy shape on the skin with your crease brush. Make sure the coverage is sheer, and that the shape isn’t too round.
  • Using shade number #2, create a few uneven blotches in a crescent shape within the confines of your “cloud”. Usually, the darkest part of a bruise is the part closest to the ground when you’re standing upright.
  • Add a few dabs of shade #3 to the inner circumference of shade #2. It’s ok if they overlap a bit, just remember to keep the coverage patchy!
  • You should now have a shape resembling a ring. Add a light wash of shade #4 to the inside of the ring, then use shades #4 and #5 to create a slight halo around the darker tones.

And There You Have It!

You’re ready to create some minor contusions for your next costume or project!

If you’re feeling inspired (or just need to re-up on products), check out Abracadabra’s newest arrivals in makeup! Or, if you need something more elaborate, book a service with us!