Michaela Petro in "The Great God Pan" by WildClaw Theater (Courtesy of Charlie Athanas )
'Tis the season to turn yourself into a zombie, alien or vampire. But how do you whip up a batch of convincing fake blood for your costume without turning your kitchen—or your whole look—into a bloodbath?
First things first, said WildClaw Theatre artistic director and makeup artist Aly Amidei, every plastic container will stain, so choose one you don't care about or go with a glass vessel.
To make a pint of fake blood, makeup artist Murphy Miles of NBC-TV's "Chicago Fire" suggests the following recipe: 16 ounces of corn syrup (such as Karo), one ounce of Dawn dish detergent and one ounce of red food coloring. Then, add chocolate powder or chocolate syrup to deepen the hue and play with adding other hues of food coloring—yellow for brightness, blue for darkening, green for zombies and ghouls—to achieve your desired tone. As an alternative to food coloring, packets of sugar-free Kool-Aid work, too.
If the blood's going to be applied anywhere near your mouth—or anywhere on a kid—remove the dish soap from the equation. The downside? Your skin and clothes will be a lot harder to clean.
Want to enhance the look even further? Amidei advises adding flour or cornstarch to make it opaque. And she also proposes taking a look through your cabinets and fridge for such ingredients as strawberry glaze, cherry pie filling or—to ratchet up the gross factor—oatmeal.
For a forehead gash or other fixed effect where you don't want the "blood" running down into your eyes, Amidei suggests mixing peanut butter with food coloring, which you can thin down with a little water. "If you use chunky peanut butter, it's extra-disgusting," she notes.
And for alien blood, Amidei recommends K-Y Jelly mixed with food coloring. "That makes great snot, too, or if you need slime—or any icky bodily fluids," she said. Bonus: While you shouldn't eat a ton of K-Y, it's not toxic.
But after your night of brain-eating or neck-biting, how do you remove the evidence from your skin? "What gets it off is shaving cream," said Miles. "You lather it on and just really work it in and rinse off with warm water once or twice. And that takes off the stain 100 percent."