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5 Hideous DIY Monster Make-Ups for Halloween

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We here at mental_floss have long established that the older the costume-making technique, the more fantastically horrifying the results will be. Now, instead of just showing the end results, we’d like to share a few tips for making your own ghastly, homemade nightmares. The book Make-up Monsters and Creature Costumes provides instruction for creating terror using stuff Mom already has around the house—granted, Mom as she lived in the late '70s, so some special trips to the dollar store still may be needed in case you’re low on white eye shadow or cake eyeliner (you’re going to really need the cake eyeliner. It’s in every project). It will be worth the trip.

1. Skull Face

Special Materials:

White eye shadow
Black cake eyeliner
Small Paintbrush
Lotion

With hair held back, rub the lotion all over your face. Using a makeup brush, powder your face white except around the eyes. The cake eyeliner (water activated eyeliner in its own pot) should then be used like watercolor with the paintbrush to paint circles around the eyes, and a U-shape around your nose that you then fill in. De-flesh your face by drawing a curving line from ear to ear—as in the photo—and filling it in. Your jaws and teeth are just three lines: below the nose, across the lips, and above the chin, then two rows of teeth on either side of your mouth line. A few thin wavy lines placed as in the picture makes your skull extra creepy.

2. Scar Face

Special Materials:

1 box plain gelatin
Red food coloring
Popsicle sticks
Cake eye liner
Small paintbrush

The trick to Scarface is getting your gelatin to be properly sticky and lumpy and disgusting. You accomplish this by putting one teaspoon of gelatin in a little bowl or cup with one drop of red food coloring and just one teaspoon of hot water. Mix it till it gets coolish and sticky, and smear it on your face with the Popsicle stick. Repeat the process with a new cup or bowl each time, until you’ve sufficiently deformed your face to your liking. Use the black eyeliner to make dark circles around the eyes. The book claims it will all just peel right off when you’re done, but I’d be prepared to look a little flushed from the red dye for a day or two.

3. Vampira

Special Materials:

White powdered eye shadow
Black cake eye liner
Gray cake eye liner

Vampira is similar to Skullface, except using a bit of feminine flair. Start by lotioning and powdering the whole face with white eye shadow. The circles around the eyes are made by rubbing your finger in gray cake eye liner. Now you use the black eye shadow with a paintbrush. This part calls for either a steady hand or the loan of a female hand that has been performing a similar feat on her own face every morning for years. First, over-paint your eyebrows. Then close your eye and draw a line right above your eyelashes that extends to the hairline. Do the same under your bottom eyelashes. For sunken cheeks, use a finger in the grey eye shadow to draw a line from near your nostril to your ear, then fill it in with the powder. Then paint on your black eyeliner lips, making sure they are thinner than your natural ones.

4. Werewolf

Special Materials:

Lambs wool foot padding (still available at some drugstores and online)  
Cake eyeliner to match your hair 
½ cup corn syrup

Take the eyeliner and paint your face (as instructed above), leaving some nice stripes of plain skin. It’s onto this plain skin you will attach strands of the lambs wool, using the corn syrup as glue. Small fibers go on the chin and eyebrow area. Use clumps of wool about 4 inches long for your cheeks, and 16 inches long on your forehead, so you can comb it against your own hair. 

5. Reptile Man

Special Materials:

3 cups flour
6 Tsp light corn syrup
One roll heavy duty white paper towels
Green food coloring
Empty Styrofoam egg carton
Cording or soft rope
Black cake eye liner

Reptile man is certainly the most labor intensive, but it’s worth it. First, you have to make your Paper Towel Make-up (PTMU). You'll need 3 cups flour, 2.5 cups water, 3 tablespoons corn syrup, plus green food dye for this project. Lay paper towels one by one over the mixture, soak it, scrunch it, squeeze the excess, and lay one of them across your forehead. The cord should keep it out of your eyes. Dry each towel with a hairdryer. Stick another line of cording from ear to ear across the bridge of your nose. Lay another PTMU between that cording and the last, connecting them between the eyes. Put cording above and below your lips, appropriate sized PTMU in the gaps, plus one more PTMU to cover your chin. Black eye liner painted in the folds makes them appear deep and craggy. Cut out two Styrofoam egg cradles for the eyes, remembering to cut out circles to see with. There! You’re hideous! 

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10 Regional Twists on Trick-or-Treating
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Walk around any given American neighborhood on the night of October 31, and you’ll likely hear choruses of "trick-or-treat" chiming through the area. The sing-songy phrase is synonymous with Halloween in some parts of the world, but it's not the only way kids get sweets from their neighbors this time of year. From the Philippines to the American Midwest, here are some regional door-to-door traditions you may not have heard of.

1. PANGANGALULUWA // THE PHILIPPINES

Rice cakes wrapped in leaves.
Suman

The earliest form of trick-or-treating on Halloween can be traced back to Europe in the Middle Ages. Kids would don costumes and go door-to-door offering prayers for dead relatives in exchange for snacks called "soul cakes." When the cake was eaten, tradition held that a soul was ferried from purgatory into heaven. Souling has disappeared from Ireland and the UK, but a version of it lives on halfway across the world in the Philippines. During All Saints Day on November 1, Filipino children taking part in Pangangaluluwa will visit local houses and sing hymns for alms. The songs often relate to souls in purgatory, and carolers will play the part of the souls by asking for prayers. Kids are sometimes given rice cakes called suman, a callback to the soul cakes from centuries past.

2. PÃO-POR-DEUS // PORTUGAL

Raw dough.
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Instead of trick-or-treating, kids in Portugal go door-to-door saying pão-por-deus ("bread for god") in exchange for goodies on All Saints Day. Some homeowners give out money or candy, while others offer actual baked goods.

3. HALLOWEEN APPLES // WESTERN CANADA

Kids trick-or-treating.
iStock

If they're not calling out "trick-or-treat" on their neighbors’ doorsteps on Halloween night, you may hear children in western Canada saying "Halloween apples!" The phrase is left over from a time when apples were a common Halloween treat and giving out loose items on the holiday wasn't considered taboo.

4. ST. MARTIN'S DAY // THE NETHERLANDS

The Dutch wait several days after Halloween to do their own take on trick-or-treating. On the night of November 11, St. Martin's Day, children in the Netherlands take to the streets with their homemade lanterns in hand. These lanterns were traditionally carved from beets or turnips, but today they’re most commonly made from paper. And the kids who partake don’t get away with shouting a few words at each home they visit—they’re expected to sing songs to receive their sugary rewards.

5. A PENNY FOR THE GUY // THE UK

Guy Fawkes Night celebration.

Peter Trimming, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

Guy Fawkes Night is seen by some as the English Protestants’ answer to the Catholic holidays associated with Halloween, so it makes sense that it has its own spin on trick-or-treating. November 5 marks the day of Guy Fawkes’s failed assassination attempt on King James as part of the Gunpowder Plot. To celebrate the occasion, children will tour the neighborhood asking for "a penny for the guy." Sometimes they’ll carry pictures of the would-be-assassin which are burned in the bonfires lit later at night.

6. TRICKS FOR TREATS // ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI

Kids knocking on a door in costume.
iStock

If kids in the St. Louis area hope to go home with a full bag of candy on Halloween, they must be willing to tickle some funny bones. Saying "tricks-for-treats" followed by a joke replaces the classic trick-or-treat mantra in this Midwestern city. There’s no criteria for the quality or the subject of the joke, but spooky material (What’s a skeleton’s favorite instrument? The trombone!) earns brownie points.

7. ME DA PARA MI CALAVERITA // MEXICO

Sugar skulls with decoration.
iStock

While Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is completely separate from Halloween, the two holidays share a few things in common. Mexicans celebrate the day by dressing up, eating sweet treats, and in some parts of the country, going house-to-house. Children knocking on doors will say "me da para mi calaverita" or "give me money for my little skull," a reference to the decorated sugar skulls sold in markets at this time of year.

8. HALLOWEEN! // QUEBEC, CANADA

Kids dressed up for Halloween.
iStock

Trick-or-treaters like to keep things simple in the Canadian province of Quebec. In place of the alliterative exclamation, they shout “Halloween!” at each home they visit. Adults local to the area might remember saying "la charité s’il-vous-plaît "(French for “charity, please”) when going door-to-door on Halloween, but this saying has largely fallen out of fashion.

9. SWEET OR SOUR // GERMANY

Little girl trick-or-treating.
iStock

Halloween is only just beginning to gain popularity in Germany. Where it is celebrated, the holiday looks a lot like it does in America, but Germans have managed to inject some local character into their version of trick-or-treat. In exchange for candy, kids sometimes sing out "süß oder saures"—or "sweet and sour" in English.

10. TRIQUI, TRIQUI HALLOWEEN // COLOMBIA

Kids dressed up for Halloween.
Rubí Flórez, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Kids in Colombia anticipate dressing up and prowling the streets on Halloween just as much as kids do in the States. There are a few significant variations on the annual tradition: Instead of visiting private residencies, they're more likely to ask for candy from store owners and the security guards of apartment buildings. And instead of saying trick-or-treat, they recite this Spanish rhyme:

Triqui triqui Halloween
Quiero dulces para mí
Si no hay dulces para mí
Se le crece la naríz

In short, it means that if the grownups don't give the kids the candy they're asking for, their noses will grow. Tricky, tricky indeed

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10 Regional Twists on Trick-or-Treating
Original image
iStock

Walk around any given American neighborhood on the night of October 31, and you’ll likely hear choruses of "trick-or-treat" chiming through the area. The sing-songy phrase is synonymous with Halloween in some parts of the world, but it's not the only way kids get sweets from their neighbors this time of year. From the Philippines to the American Midwest, here are some regional door-to-door traditions you may not have heard of.

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