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Face Demise in Style: Makeup Essentials for the Apocalypse

Alisha Adkins is an author of horror and speculative fiction. A self-described "aging goth," she has a strong interest in creative makeup.

Makeup for the Apocalypse


Makeup Essentials for the Apocalypse

Okay, let's be real. In a zombie apocalypse, personal hygiene is probably not going to be most people's first order of business. I mean, who will even be left for them to worry about impressing?

For this reason, most female survivors will likely embrace the "grunge" look, sporting stringy, unwashed hair, no make up, and unshaven legs and ampits.

But, should you choose to buck the trend and instead adopt a fearless, Mad Max-esque zombie-killing warrior-woman persona, here's a guide to what cosmetics you'll want to have in your makeup bag in order to complete your post-apocalyptic look.

True Match


Setting the Stage: Primer, Foundation, & Setting Powder

In the unsanitary conditions of a zombie apocalypse, one can expect a prevelance of acne breakouts, so skin care will be all the more important. When you can find skin care products, use them. Exfoliate when you can, moisturize, and prime your face with your standard skin primer (Maybelline's Baby Skin is a popular drugstore choice) before applying foundation.

Stick with your regular pre-apocalypse foundation, at least until your complexion changes (either from being in the sun due to your new nomadic lifestyle or from losing pigmentation due to holing up somewhere in darkness) or until you develop skin lesions from unhygenic living conditions. If you're looking for some commonly available face makeup while on one of your looting runs, you may want to try getting Maybelline's Fit Me! Concealer for some of those lesions. L'Oreal's True Match Lumi Healthy Luminous Makeup is a well-regarded drugstore foundation that would be worth snagging, and Rimmel's Stay Matte Pressed Powder pairs well with it.

An alternate option, if you would rather go for a ghostly appearance than a natural one, is to seek out a mall with relatively few undead milling about inside and stock up on Manic Panic's Dreamtone Flawless Foundation and Goth White Powder at the Hot Topic there. These products will allow you to build a pure white canvas on which to create a frightening masterpiece in makeup warpaint. However, while this look will score bonus points for its intimidation factor, it is not without its drawbacks -- be aware that, from a distance, other humans may assume you're one of the walking dead because of your pallor and try to use you for target practice.

Kat Von D's Shade & Light Contouring Palette


Lena Lednicka: Goth Contouring

Contouring & Blush

For your contouring needs, try to pick up Kat Von D's Shade & Light Contouring Palette. Designed to shape and define facial features, it features three shades for contouring and three shades for highlighting.

Kat Von D's products are only available through Sephora, which unfortunately could be a tall order to find during the zombie apocalypse, so if you find a ransacked Sephora in a defunct nearby mall, e.l.f. offers a simple drugstore option with its Studio Contour Palette - or, in a pinch, you can always just use a taupey eyeshadow.

As for blush, use it, if you must. Blush seems a bit contrary to the warrior image, but it's a matter of personal preference, so apply your favorite shade as you see fit. If you are in the market for one, the Balm's blushes are always well-regarded, as is Milani's Baked Blush.

24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil


Eyeliner & Mascara

While drugstore raids may keep you in foundation, the sad truth is that you won't find eyeliners there of the quality needed for long-wearing warpaint. For that, you're going to need to arrange a department store campaign.

When it comes to eyeliner, a woman needs options. She needs a gel, pencil, and liquid eyeliner. Here's what she will need to make it through the apocalypse in style:

Inglot makes the best long-wearing gel eyeliner; you'll want it for applying the finer strokes around your eyes. Inglot's AMC Eyeliner Gel is highly pigmented, smudge proof, crease proof, hypo-allergenic, waterproof, and available in 32 different colors, making it the perfect eyeliner warpaint.

Urban Decay's 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencils are extremely long-wearing, highly pigmented, and waterproof, staying put regardless of what you're doing. The liner goes on soft and creamy for blending (for about 30 seconds), then dries down to a long-lasting finish that WILL NOT budge. These are the perfect eyeliner to wear while in the heat of battle, whether with the living or the dead, and are available in 40 colors.

Kat Von D's Tattoo Liner is a high-pigment, waterproof liquid eyeliner with a brush tip for precise application. This is a great implement to have in your makeup arsenal -- it's perfect for drawing in the finer details, flourishes, or kill counts to your warpaint.

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As for mascara, post-apocalypse recommendations for adding volume, definition, and length to your eyelashes include Urban Decay's Subversion lash primer followed by Perversion mascara, Tarte Cosmetics' Lights, Camera, Flashes Statement Mascara, Too Faced's Better Than Sex mascara or, if you're raiding a drugstore, Revlon's Photoready 3D Volume Mascara.

Autogoy: Gothic Eyebrows


You have two choices when it comes to eyebrows.

You can either go natural, perhaps just lightly plucking for shape occasionally, or you can go all out and shave your eyebrows completely off, instead opting to draw fearsome ones on for dramatic effect.

The choice is yours.

BiohazardousBeauty: Neon and Bright Eyeshadows 101

The Zombie Girl Collection



You're going to want ultra-pigmented, vibrant eyeshadows that can be seen from great distances.

Begin by using a primer. Urban Decay's Eyeshadow Primer Potion or, especially for bright colors, a white base such as NYX's Jumbo Eye Pencil Shadow Liner in the shade 604 Milk, will work as a base under your eyeshadow.

First, Urban Decay's Electric Palette will be a must-have in your post-apocalyptic makeup essentials bag.

Sugarpill's Burning Heart, Heart Breaker, and Sweetheart palettes are a staple in creative makeup enthusiasts' bags everywhere. Don't expect that to change just because the dead have started walking the earth.

Kat Von D 's Metal Crush single eyeshadows are intensely pigmented metallic shadows that pack a wallop of color. Keep a few in your go bag so you'll always be ready.

Finally, Concrete Minerals offers highly pigmented loose powder eyeshadows. If you happen to run across these in your travels, you'll want to snap them up -- especially if you happen to find their Zombie Girl Collection, which is a set of six vibrant mineral eyeshadows packaged in a collectible zombie tin!

Liquid Lipsticks

Vampira Everlasting Liquid Lipstick

Vampira Everlasting Liquid Lipstick

Unicorn Blood

Unicorn Blood

Deadly Nightshade

Deadly Nightshade

Makeup Monsters packaging

Makeup Monsters packaging

Technopagan Lip Tar / RTW

Technopagan Lip Tar / RTW


Feminist Lippie Stix

Feminist Lippie Stix

Vamp It Up MegaLast Lip Color

Vamp It Up MegaLast Lip Color

Lip Products

There's no point in subtlety in a world in which you're in constant danger of being eaten. So forget nudes and demure pink lip shades. It's time to go bold.

Liquid Lipsticks -

A liquid lipstick is ideal for the zombie-killing girl on the go. Each liquid lipstick product is typically packaged in a lipgloss-like tube with an easy-to-use doe foot applicator. One application is all you should need for your lipstick to remain solidly in place, with no transfer or fading, for at least 6 to 8 hours -- without any need for touch-up.

Recommended blood red liquid lipsticks include Kat Von D's Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in the shades "Nosferatu"and "Vampira", Limecrime's "Wicked" Velvetine, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics' "Black Metal Dahlia" Lip Tar / RTW, Jeffree Star Cosmetics' "Unicorn Blood" Velour Liquid Lipstick, LASplash Cosmetics' "Spellbound" and "Raven" Smitten Liptint Mousse, and Makeup Monsters Cosmetics' "Blackened Heart" Matte Liquid Lipstick.

Recommended dark purple and black liquid lipsticks include Kat Von D's Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in the shade "Damned" (dark black cherry) and "Witches" (pitch black), Limecrime's "Jinx" Velvetine (witchberry purple) and "Black Velvet" Velvetine (black), Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics' "Pagan" Lip Tar / RTW (blackened purple), Jeffree Star Cosmetics' "I'm Royalty" (royal purple) and "Weirdo" (black), Pretty Zombie Cosmetics' "Transylvania" (dark purple), "3 Witches" (deep purple), and "Black Cat" (black), LASplash Cosmetics' "Bella Donna" Smitten Liptint Mousse (dark purple) and "Phantom" Lip Couture (purple), Dose of Color's "Purple Rain" matte liquid lipstick (purple), and Makeup Monsters Cosmetics' "Darkness Prevails" Matte Liquid Lipstick (black).

Recommended grey and blue liquid lipsticks include Kat Von D's Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in the shade "Echo" (satin navy blue), Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics' "Technopagan" Lip Tar / RTW (blackened purple with blue metallic pearl), Jeffree Star Cosmetics' "Blue Velvet"(deep blue) and "Abused" (navy blue), Pretty Zombie Cosmetics' "Sea Witch" (blue), NYX Suede Cream Lipstick in "Stone Fox" (deep grey with blue undertone), LASplash Cosmetics' "Deadly Nightshade" (deep blue) Smitten Liptint Mousse and "Vindictive" Lip Couture (blue grey), and Makeup Monsters Cosmetics' "Heavy Artillery" (dark gun metal gray), "Dusk" (true gray), and "Wipe Out" (cerulean blue) Matte Liquid Lipsticks.

Lipsticks -

If you prefer to wear a lipstick, begin by priming your lips with Urban Decay's Ultimate Ozone multipurpose primer pencil. This will increase wear time and prevent feathering.

Recommended blood red lipsticks include Urban Decay's "Gash" Revolution lipstick (it's an online exclusive, so you'll just have to hope to snatch it from the vanity of some deserted house you happen to raid) and "Bad Blood" Matte Revolution lipstick, Kat Von D's "Vampira" Studded Kiss lipstick, ColourPop's "Dalia" and "Blood" Lippie Stix, and NYX's High Voltage Lipstick in "Burlesque."

Recommended dark purple and black lipsticks include Urban Decay's "Blackmail" Matte Revolution lipstick and "Apocalypse" Super-Saturated High-Gloss Lip Color chubby pencil, Kat Von D's "Slayer" Studded Kiss lipstick (black), ColourPop's "Feminist" (matte black purple), "Leather" (blackened violet), "Nevermind" (deep blackened violet), and "Bull Chic" (black) Lippie Stix, NYX's High Voltage Lipstick in "Feline" (red plum), "Dahlia" (black purple), and "Betrayal" Wicked Lippie (deep vamp purple with pearl), Wet n Wild's "Sugar Plum Fairy"(deep plum) and "Vamp It Up" (blackened purple) MegaLast Lip Color, and Revlon's "Shameless" ColorBurst Matte Balm (dark purple).

Recommended grey and blue lipsticks include ColourPop's "Wet" Lippie Stix (cool pearlized gunmetal), Medusa's Makeup Lipstick in "Undead" (greyish purple), Kat Von D's "Poe" (shimmer navy) Studded Kiss lipstick, and NYX's "Cold Hearted" Wicked Lippie (metallic granite).

*Please note: this list is based upon American availability. Those of you in Europe, be sure to loot Illamasqua lipsticks as well.

Nibbles Official: Jungle Warrior

Choosing Your Look

Now that you've gathered the materials, it's time for you to decide on your look.

After all, you don't have to worry so much about psyching out the undead -- but you'll want to intimidate the bejesus out of the living.

So, what makeup style will you choose to wear proudly into the zombie apocalypse?

Mad Max?

Will you go for a Mad-Max style distopian savage look?

And, if so, will it be the classic 1979 style or an updated Fury Road inspired look?

Or perhaps some hybrid between the two?

UnicOrnPies: Gothic Speckled Eye Makeup Tutorial


Maybe Mad Max was never your cup of tea, or you just can't stomach Mel Gibson. No matter. How about a goth look then? Maybe you will choose to sport a darkly sexy goth inspired facade?

Again, there are so many possiblities within this option - the tone of your goth look can mimic traditional goth, psychobilly, cyber-goth, romantic goth, fetish goth, deathrock, pastel goth, lolita goth, or one of a number of other variations.


Tribal warpaint is always a suitable choice for inspiring fear in the hearts of your enemies.

After all, you can never go wrong with a good barbarian.

LounaTutorials: Skyrim Inspired Look

Fantasy RPG?

If you're intrigued by the tribal look but would like to give it a bit of a twist (and your tastes run a bit more toward cosplay), you could always take inspiration from a favorite fantasy-RPG game such as Skyrim or World of Warcraft.

Minxy Moo: Warrior Princess Makeup Tutorial

Warrior Princess?

If you would like to have a bit more refinement to your look, you can always dress it up a little by adding a touch of nobility to your savagery.

The warrior princess look is sure to make an impression.

Mirela Constantin: Banshee Makeup


Or maybe you'd rather not mess around with all these niceties.

You could get right down to the nitty-gritty of scaring the tar out of your foes by doing yourself up like a banshee from the depths of hell.

"Get Ready with Me" - Preparing for the Apocalypse

Jungle warrior, distopian savage, gothy vamp, tribal warrior, fantasy-RPG inspired barbarian, warrior princess, or banshee -- it's up to you.

Ultimately, though, these are just idle suggestions. Your choices are truly limitless -- what you do is entirely up to you.

If none of these options appeal to you, just be creative and create your own fierce battle warpaint designs!

The most important result of your makeup ritual is that you end up feeling fearsome, powerful, and ready to smite your foes.

Britt Lee Betterman: Vikings Inspired Hair & Makeup

Go for the Dreads

AmberKatelynBeale: Double Hair Buns Tutorial

Finishing the Look: Hair

You'll probably want a hairstyle that provides minimal fuss and can be kept relatively free of gore and gristle.

The Viking Warrior Look -

It's not a bad idea to consider taking a page from the Vikings who, after all, perfected the wearable warrior look.. Braids keep hair out of your face, and thus blood out of your hair. Plus, they look cool, especially when paired with warpaint.

You can find many tutorials on YouTube for emulating hairstyles similar to those of characters in the television series Vikings.

Dreads -

Or, if you prefer, dreads are always an option. As a hairstyle, you'll find that this one ranks fairly high on the intimidation scale with your living peers.

Though they require an initial time investment, once you're saavy about their upkeep, you'll find maintenance not to be too intensive. For information on how to care for dreadlocks, you can check the Dread Shop's Maintenance Guide.

Just be sure to keep a crochet hook in your bag for upkeep so that you can make repairs to your dreads on the fly -- besides, it can always double as a weapon in a pinch!

Kill Them with Cuteness -

Another option is to go for over-the-top cute, in a "pastel goth" sort of way. You could rock some spiky pigtails or try sporting twin knot buns. These super-cute styles keep your hair up out of your face while also granting the added bonus of allowing you to thoroughly demoralize your opponent by rubbing in his face that he "just got his ass kicked by a girl!"

OPI's Midnight in Moscow


Added Touches: Nail Polish

It is not advisable to wear nail polish during an apocalypse. Zombie fighting can place unreasonable demands upon a manicure, causing severe chipping and breakage -- not to mention that it's simply impossible to keep your nails clean.

If you do choose to wear nail polish, you'll want to choose a shade that will hide blood and dirt.

Blood-Tinged Shades -

OPI offers several nail laquers in shades perhaps best described as darkened purple oxblood such as Midnight in Moscow and Every Month Is Octoberfest.

China Glaze has a number of wonderful deep reddish-brown shades of nail polish that greatly resemble dried blood. Any zombie-killing babe that cares to polish her nails during the apocalypse would be proud to have shades like China Glaze's Call of the Wild, Prey Tell, or Free Bear Hugs in her makeup kit.

Black Nail Polishes -

Then, of course, there is always the staple color of black, which is a forgiving choice for hiding road dirt and random scraps of gore. You'll have many brand options, but try to choose a one of the longer wearing ones. Butter London offers a chip resistant formula, so snap up its Union Jack Black should you find it in an abandoned department store. Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics' Inky is another good black nail polish option, and OPI's Black Onyx is a nice glossy enamel.

Price Point (Pre-Apocalyptic Concerns)

Never fear -- while some of the items on your apocalypse makeup essentials wishlist may be expsensive now, in these days before the end times, price point is but a temporary concern. Gathering supplies will be as simple as an occasional department store raid once the dead rise. Of course, then you could be paying for your makeup with your blood...

At any rate, in the meantime, here are the prices you can currently expect to pay for the items discussed in this article (should you choose to stock up before the dead rise):

Current Prices of Other Mentioned Products



Lippie Stix (lipstick)



Gel Eyeliner

$14.00 - $18.00

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics

Lip Tar / RTW (liquid lipstick)



nail laquer



Baby Skin primer

~$6.99 (varies)


Fit Me! concealer



Photoready 3D Volume Mascara

~$7.99 (varies)


ColorBurst Matte Balm



True Match Healthy Luminous Makeup (foundation)



Stay Matte Pressed Powder


Manic Panic

Dreamtone Flawless Foundation



Goth White Powder


Pretty Zombie Cosmetics

liquid lipstick


Wet n Wild

MegaLast Lip Color lipstick


Jeffree Star Cosmetics

Velour Liquid Lipstick


Dose of Color

Mattel Liquid Lipstick


LASplash Cosmetics

Liptint & Lip Couture liquid lipstick


Makeup Monsters Cosmetics

Matte Liquid Lipstick


Too Faced

Better Than Sex Mascara


China Glaze

nail polish


Medusa's Makeup




Studio Contour Palette



Baked Blush


The Balm


$21.00 - $22.00


4 eyeshadow palette


Concrete Minerals

mineral eyeshadow



Velvetine liquid lipcolor



Lights, Camera, Flashes Statement Mascara



Jumbo Eye Pencil



High Voltage Lipstick



Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick



Wicked Lippie (lipstick)


Urban Decay

Electric Palette (eyeshadows)






Ultimate Ozone primer pencil



Perversion Mascara



24/7 Eye Pencil



Eyeshadow Primer Potion



Subversion Lash Primer


Kat Von D

Tattoo Liner



Metal Crush eyeshadow singles



Everlasting Liquid Lipstick



Studded Kiss Lipstick



Shade & Light Contour Palette


The Final Look (or: "I'm a Bad-Ass Zombie-Killing Warrior-Girl, and I'm Not Going to Take It Anymore!")

You've stockpiled your weapons and makeup. You've coiffed your hair. Now you are ready!

As the zombies begin to shamble across the earth, go forth, slay the undead, and strike fear into the hearts of your living enemies!


Ms Penny Pincher on September 23, 2015:

Wow, thanks, I'll be buying the Wet 'n Wild MegaLast Lip Color lipstick for now, and picking up Urban Decay lipstick and eye pencils when the dead rise. Thanks for the preparation tips.

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