When we think of makeup, we often think about things we want to hide or enhance: hide those zits, enhance those eyes, conceal those dark circles, amplify those lips, disguise that double chin, and highlight those cheekbones. With social media and YouTube tutorials and inspiration giving us insider looks at what makeup looks are trending and how to do them ourselves, more and more people are honing their skills when it comes to contouring, smoky eyes, and luscious lips.
Then we have the artists who deal in SFX makeup or special effects makeup. These are the creative minds behind complete transformations, not just streamlining a nose or popping out some cheekbones. These artists and their imaginations change themselves entirely to become different people or different species altogether!
Often involved in the stuff of horror films, SFX artists usually only get their chance to shine during the Halloween season when we crave all things scary. But should their talents really be ignored for the other 11 months of the year? We invite you to take a look at these 21 incredible SFX makeup artists you have to follow ASAP to see what makeup – and a skilled hand – can really do.
20 Alien Inspo From @luvekat
As an expert in both body paint and SFX, @luvekat has a wide-ranging variety of makeup looks that’ll make your jaw drop. From this very realistic-looking – and spooky – mermaid picture to space aliens to broken dolls, this California-based artist has run the gamut of edgy looks! Seriously, get some incredible Halloween or costume party inspo from her account!
Occasionally interspersing her more creative and outrageous endeavors with some high-glam everyday looks, @luvekat uses the makeup and body paint at her disposal as well as wigs, colored contacts (likes these scary black ones), latex, and more to create her insane looks.
19 SFX Industry Queen @ellimacssfx
Arguably the queen of makeup SFX, @ellimacssfx (real name: Ellinor Rosander) has over 260 Halloween makeup tutorials on her YouTube channel and 324,000 followers on Instagram! After one look at her feed, it’s easy to see why!
A woman and artist who isn’t afraid to get a little bloody when it comes to her outrageous makeup looks, Rosander has also tackled some intense cinematic creations recently, most notably the Merman from the recent Academy Award-winning film The Shape of Water! Not into a lot of latex and fake blood? She’s also done a very realistic Annabelle and a quirky take on Pikachu!
18 Spooky Childhood Recreations With @ellycatt
Based out on Minnesota, Elly Goodroad is a little bit spooky, a little bit fantastical, and all around awesome! There’s certainly a fair amount of fake blood and optical illusions on her feed, and we love it. But there are also just creepy interpretations of some of your childhood memories, like this grinning Cruella de Vil, a scary cover of a Blink-182 album, a Grinch that we wouldn’t want to be around during the holidays, and an Yzma from The Emperor’s New Groove — that’s the stuff of nightmares!
The creativity and precision that go into each creation definitely make @ellycatt one to check out ASAP!
17 Dizzying Optical Illusions By @designdain
Not exactly scary and arguably not special effects in the traditional sense, @designdain is an artist from South Korea whose specialty seems to be messing with our heads when she creates her optical illusions using only her body, face, and expertly applied makeup. We’d say that’s pretty special!
Dain Yoon’s Instagram feed will have you turning away from your screen with a headache, wondering just how in the heck she managed to do that! Her face-painting abilities are unparalleled and clearly require a lot of time and effort in order to perfect them to the point they’re at, but we wouldn’t have it any other way!
16 Shapeshifter @natzbuzz Becomes Anyone
A face and body painter from Ireland, Natalie is also an SFX artist who has managed to completely transform herself into a variety of recognizable and pop culture figures.
Using her expert skills and an extensive collection of makeup, Natalie can become almost anyone.
In addition to this Khal Drogo look, @natzbuzz has also disguised herself as The Beast from Beauty and the Beast, Harry Potter, the Evil Queen from Snow White (the 1930s cartoon version), David Bowie in Labyrinth, Sylvester Stallone, and Drake, among many, many others! Not so much Halloween makeup inspiration, @natzbuzz certainly knows how to look at your face as a blank canvas.
15 Fake Wounds Only Per @evagore_
Jodie Elizabeth Evans, a makeup and SFX artist from the United Kingdom, had to actually put a disclaimer in her Instagram bio in capital letters, letting people know that all her work wasn’t real, it’s just makeup – that’s how lifelike they are!
An artist who doesn’t shy away from the buckets of fake blood and way-too-intense wounds, @evagore_ offers up close and personal looks at some of her more stomach-churning creations.
Her resume includes a severed toe, split finger, and broken nose. Even her rabbit look, which we have here, is more creepy than cuddly! We recommend you take a look at her account to be amazed, but you’re likely to be pretty disgusted, too!
14 Psych Student @cedoviste Psyches Us All
Another lady who sees her entire body as the object to be molded and painted into something new and awe-inspiring, @cedoviste is a 24-year-old psychology student whose real name is Ana.
Clearly, her psych background has allowed her to excel as an SFX artist, as she calls upon some of our biggest fears, worries, and insecurities to create imaginative and unnerving looks.
If you’re more into looks that aren’t optical illusions, @cedoviste has you covered there, too! She’s completely transformed herself into a gingerbread man, a reindeer, and an ice cream cone topped unicorn! With a whole lot of creativity and weirdness, @cedoviste is one you can’t miss!
13 Eye-catching Illusions On @amazing_jiro
Jiro, a Tokyo-based makeup artist, body painter, and SFX artist, has a wide range of talents when it comes to her looks. From Halloween faves like spooky dolls, aliens, and skeletons to more mind-bending looks that really put the “artist” in “makeup artist," Jiro is one to check out because her stuff will have you wondering just how she managed to do that! (She also has extensive looks showing her ability to age even the youngest and prettiest of models!)
This look in particular almost gives us a headache — it’s an optical illusion, but her Instagram feed is filled with looks that challenge your perceptions.
12 From Fake Gore To Glam Thanks To @embergrim
Elen Mardzhera isn’t afraid to douse her creepy looks in buckets of fake blood, and incorporates her self-admitted fear of dentists into much of her work.
Her makeup spans looks that are gory and incredible.
An SFX artist who isn’t afraid to incorporate prosthetics into her looks, she’s done such nightmare fuel as a stitch-faced Santa Claus, a multi-fanged “Octopus Queen” with tentacles for hair, and a ballerina whose face brings new meaning to the phrase “all teeth." If scary stuff isn’t your bag, @embergrim also has a ton of fluorescent-colored and gorgeous makeup looks that are a little more amped up than your everyday style.
11 Horror Enthusiast @casslloydfx
A makeup artist and body painter based in Toronto, Ontario, Cass Lloyd describes herself as a “horror enthusiast” in her Instagram bio, which clearly influences the looks she tackles.
Using her whole body as the costume, Lloyd has transformed herself into a zombie, Pinocchio, and another AHS personality: a woman with a beehive for her brain, as featured on the series’ promotional posters for the last season. A big fan of color as well as realism, @casslloydfx is definitely worth a look for anyone who considers themselves a fan of scary movies or makeup in general.
10 Pop Art Perfectionist @annalingis
A professional makeup artist whose work is just as likely to be featured in magazine spreads as it is in your nightmares, @annalingis (real name: Anna Zavros) gives us major makeup envy when it comes to her skills. Like the other artists featured on this list, it would take a lot of prep and practice to be able to emulate a look like this for Halloween.
We’ve seen pop art costumes before, but Anna looks identical to a comic book Pocahontas.
An artist who doesn’t trade in fake blood as much as some others on this list, Zavros instead favors Disney characters, animals, mythical creatures, and the occasional evil spin on a beloved character, like her literally Frozen Elsa!
9 The Stuff Of Nightmares On @eva.lamorte
If you’re prone to nightmares or just have an aversion to all things scary, you might want to avoid clicking the above link to @eva.lamorte’s Instagram page. The California-based makeup artist isn’t afraid to turn herself into someone completely ugly and unrecognizable thanks to her extensive SFX skills and the help of some prosthetics like a pig snout, a bunny nose, and some fake ears!
While much of her feed is dedicated to creepy looks, like this unfortunate woman caught in the middle of a demonic possession, @eva.lamorte also has plenty of kid-friendly looks, like a pink troll and Princess Fiona from Shrek, mid-transformation.
8 Appendage Aesthetics Over At @raniratt
The Instagram feed of @raniratt is so gory and grotesque that this was the only image we could use that showed some of her incredible SFX work without making you lose your lunch!
At just 18 years old, @raniratt has more than earned her 228,000 followers with her horror-focused work.
While many of the other artists in this article do full faces or body painting, @raniratt instead chooses to distill her horror aesthetic into a few key pieces that look shockingly realistic: puzzle pieces cut into a leg, a carved foot, and more than a few images that’ll definitely trigger your trypophobia. If you think you can handle it, click the link above, but consider yourself warned.
7 Character Creations Are Totally @miss_stryx
@Miss_stryx’s looks are impressive on their own, but to learn that she’s self-taught brings them into a whole different realm of awesome. An artist who specializes strictly in character or SFX makeup, her feed is covered with Halloween favorites (a broken doll, an evil clown, a possessed nun) and original creations.
Being that most of her transformations are the stuff of nightmares, there’s plenty of disturbing imagery on her page, with loads of fake blood and gore, but it’s the detail and raw talent that truly awes! Take this look, for example, which was only @miss_stryx’s second time applying and painting foam latex prosthetics.
6 Illusionist Instructor @mariamalone1122
When you’re as talented at makeup transformations as Instagram user @mariamalone1122, it only makes sense to share your knowledge with everyone, which is why her bio identifies her as an “international instructor” – but it’s the “illusionist” part we’re here to discuss.
Malone incorporates her impressive design and paint skills to develop true works of art that challenge your idea of what it means to be a makeup artist.
Her Gram showcases gender-bending film transformations like this Joker getup from Suicide Squad, a shockingly realistic Peter Rabbit interpretation that made use of negative space, and an intense rhinoceros makeup application, among other effect feats.
5 Self-Taught Techniques With @paulie_sfx
One of the few men on our list, Paul David of @paulie_sfx is another self-taught makeup artist who has worked in film, TV, and theatre, but it’s his Instagram feed that has us really blown away. Paul can really hold his own against the ladies on this list!
One of the most impressive transformations David has shared is a four-way look involving four separate Johnny Depp characters, thanks to clever makeup application and accessorizing! Optical illusions are something @paulie_sfx does best, making use of his black photo background and impressive shading skills to give us some jaw-dropping looks that blend pop culture and Halloween in equal measure.
4 Spooky With A Side Of Silly Starring @zoe_artistsharvest
A body painter and makeup artist, @zoe_artistsharvest has been featured on numerous television shows and in a variety of publications for her optical illusions – and we can see why.
While this example might be a scarier one, @zoe_artistsharvest's Instagram account also offers plenty of brightly-colored options for those who don’t consider scary stuff to really be their thing.
Blending pop art with some funny, silly, and occasionally spooky looks, @zoe_artistsharvest offers a little something for everyone, really driving home the idea that makeup is just another thing to be played with (and she plays with it very, very well).
3 Get Creeped With @venomtoyaveins
If you were scared of Ouija boards before, then this look from @venomtoyaveins probably has you hiding under the covers!
Lauren Beckman, the artist behind the account, uses vegan and cruelty-free products whenever possible in her looks.
But that certainly doesn’t diminish the wow factor you get when one is all finished! Mixing up her SFX talents with some brightly-colored (and color-coordinated) looks featuring neon lips and hair in shades of candy, Beckman enjoys doing her versions of real characters, like a slit-mouthed Black Dahlia or a feminized Deadpool – blistered skin and all! Definitely worth a peek for some high-glam everyday looks as well as scary inspiration, @venomtoyaveins won’t disappoint.
2 Put On @sum.makeup And The Canvas Comes Alive
More than just special effect makeup, Instagram user @sum.makeup (real name: Summer) has gone one step further and become a master of optical illusions when it comes to painting her face and body.
Intricate painting and artistry see this SFX artist transform herself into complete scenes — one recent dual makeup look was disguising herself as Dr. Seuss plus showing some of our favorite Seussian characters! Less about gore and scary stuff, @sum.makeup gets playful with her looks, using her body and face as the canvas to recreate album covers, cartoon covers, or eye-boggling optical illusions. A scroll through her feed is sure to have you scratching your head in wonder.
1 Psychedelic Stylings Of @horvattamara
At the age of just 20, Tamara Horvat has been able to create magical makeup looks in psychedelic colors — with wigs to match, naturally — to stranger looks like transforming herself into a childlike version of herself.
By using some clever makeup and blackout techniques to expert shading and painting skills, Tamara makes mystifying looks that look eerily real.
Unlike some others on this list, Horvat isn’t so interested in the gory side of makeup, and in fact, even the looks that are a little off-the-wall don’t have you clutching your stomach. Strange, colorful, and totally creative @horvattamara is definitely worth a second look!
Sources: Instagram, Cosmopolitan, Allure, PopSugar