Getting into character with an OTT costume and makeup is one of the most exciting parts of Halloween—but no one wants that scary look to stick around come November 1st in the form of blemishes. "Halloween makeup is tough on the skin,” says Jessica Krant, M.D., dermatologist and RealSelf contributor. "The intense colors and glow-in-the-dark features require harsher chemicals that may cause serious irritation.” But you can still go all-out without breaking out, says Dr. Krant—just follow these four, easy-on-your-face guidelines:
1. Steer clear of costume makeup
If it’s sold in the same aisle as the Donald Trump wig, you don’t want it. Instead, find what you need from a brand you already know and trust—a number of drugstore and prestige companies make products in a rainbow of hues. “These brands have a lot riding on their reputation and have been used and tested by the general public for years,” says Dr. Krant. Feeling witchy? Try Kat Von D’s Studded Kiss Lipstick in Slayer ($21, sephora.com). Channeling The Walking Dead? Go full zombie-chic with Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Creme Colour Concentrate in CTHULHU ($23, occmakeup.com).
2. Ask yourself WWMD (what would Meryl do)?
If you’re going in a more dramatic direction, like full werewolf status, Dr. Krant suggests trying true theater makeup. “Since actors have to wear it daily and still protect their skin, these brands may tend to be less irritating than cheaper Halloween brands,” she says. Seek out stage makeup brands with a professional reputation that promise hypoallergenic products, like Stage and Theater Makeup.
3. Build a barrier around your face
To mitigate potential damage, Dr. Krant says to slather a light layer of moisturizer, like Avene Hydrance Optimale ($30, drugstore.com), onto freshly-cleansed skin before applying the spooky stuff; it acts as a buffer between you and your makeup.
4. Handle removal with care
Tempted to rip off your tutu and crash at the end of the night? You might as well beg for blemishes. “Take your time washing your face. Do not scrub or pick,” says Dr. Krant, who suggests doing a double-cleanse by first using a soothing cleanser like Pond’s Cold Cream ($8, target.com), following it with a gentle, glycerin-based bar soap like Neutrogena's original Facial Cleansing Bar ($3, neutrogena.com). Once you’re washed up, put on another layer of your pre-party moisturizer and—yes—you can finally hit the pillow.