Monster Makeover: The Making of the Zombie Mask

Expanding on an article published in the October issue of The Express, senior Sydney Walls demonstrates her passion for costume makeup by disguising junior Miles Bredehoeft.

From the Magazine: Monster Makeover

Hunched zombies limp and stumble, bloody gashes covering their faces and bones protruding from their limbs. Except these zombies are fully alive, and their blood is just chocolate syrup. As Halloween nears, senior Sydney Walls is busy using makeup to transform her friends into gory zombies and creatures out of movies.

Walls loves taking her fear of scary movies and turning it into walking, talking art. She does zombie makeup on herself and her friends, turning them into all kinds of gruesome monsters and aliens, with a particular fondness for zombies.

“I think zombies are just awesome,” Walls said. “They defy physics; after they’ve died they just come back up. They don’t do anything–just eat.”

Walls said she has been watching scary movies with her mom ever since she was a little girl, even though she used to cry constantly. Now, she uses these films, and her fear, as inspiration for her hobby of doing special-effect zombie makeup.

I’m actually afraid of zombies…I just started doing zombie makeup to make my fear a reality.

— Senior Sydney Walls

“My mom just likes to scare the crap out of me by making me watch these films,” Walls said. “I’m actually afraid of zombies.”

She gets practice mainly by trying different looks on herself and her little brother. It takes her about forty minutes to do a completed body, with bones protruding from rotten flesh, and about fifteen minutes to do a bloody, half-dead zombie face. Walls said she has done zombie makeup on only the few friends that are occasionally willing to be covered in latex.

“It is harder to do [zombie makeup] on other people because I’ve done it so many times on myself. It’s just the whole hand-eye [coordination] kind of thing that I’ve gotten good at,” Walls said. “But doing it on other people, I feel like I could hurt them easily and I have to take time to make sure I don’t injure them.”

Junior Jordan Gonzales and two of Walls’ other friends were of the few that offered to become zombies and be a part of Walls’ senior pictures. After getting their makeup done by Walls, they posed for a photo shoot in a grass field in the middle of a hot, sunny day. Gonzales said getting her makeup done and posing for the shoot was a new experience for her, saying she felt like she was in a movie.

“It was kind of weird because it felt like she was drawing on my face, and [because]  she would put glue and cotton balls on my face and my neck and legs,” Gonzales said.

To create the zombie effect, Walls shops at hardware stores for materials which she said are a lot cheaper than everyday makeup. She uses three different types of latex which function as glue, cotton balls to make wounds and gashes, and chocolate syrup mixed with red food coloring and corn syrup for fake blood.

Most people think of art as something you put on a wall or something you’d make a sculpture of, but no one actually realizes that what girls put on their face is a work of art.

— Senior Sydney Walls

“I feel like people don’t realize what stuff is on their face whenever this makeup is done,” Walls said. “I think people don’t realize how much time [and thought] is put into it.”

Gonzales said the reason Walls has a hard time recruiting friends to transform into zombies is because taking off the makeup hurts, especially peeling off the dried latex. Even though she had a hard time taking her zombie makeup off, Gonzales said she would definitely do it again because the outcome was worth it.

“I thought it was a really cool effect,” Gonzales said. “It just describes Sydney Walls for you.”

Walls enjoys not only doing scary special-effect makeup, but also daily makeup to get ready for the day. She said zombie makeup and everyday makeup are very different, but for whatever look she is going for, she likes using makeup in different ways.

“I like makeup as a whole because most people think of art as something you put on a wall or something you’d make a sculpture of, but no one actually realizes that what girls put on their face is a work of art,” Walls said.

The difference between zombie makeup and everyday makeup is that girls take their daily makeup more seriously, Walls said. She likes that she can have more fun with zombie makeup without trying too hard to look good.

“I try to look pretty with my daily makeup, but I feel like with zombie makeup, even though it looks like a total mess, [it requires] more attention to detail because you can hurt your face if you don’t put on the latex right,” Walls said. “With daily makeup, you don’t branch out as crazily because you’re afraid of how you look.”

Walls said that she does not have any intention to do special-effect makeup as a career. Right now, she likes helping her friends complete their looks for Halloween, and it is just something she has enjoyed doing for fun.

“I just started doing zombie makeup to make my fear a reality,” Walls said.