The Best Day of the Dead/Sugar Skull Makeup Tutorial

The Best Day of the Dead/Sugar Skull Makeup Tutorial

It’s no secret that we love our Day of the Dead/Dia de Los Muertos fashion here at Red Devil Clothing. So it should come as no secret that we want to make sure you have the best tutorial for applying your sugar skull makeup perfectly. It’s a gorgeous design that can range from pretty or edgy to dark and twisty—it all depends on what you want to do with it!

Red Devil Clothing brings you the hottest Day of the Dead attire, from men’s and ladies hoodies to tanks or T-shirts. Shop our exclusive designs created and produced entirely by us today!

Here’s how to get the best Dia de Los Muertos makeup.

Start With a Clean Face

Before you start, you need a clean canvas. Cleanse your skin with a gentle face wash, being sure to give it a good rinse after. Skip the moisturizer—it’ll inhibit your makeup’s ability to stay on, and could create odd discolorations. Instead, spritz your face and neck with a high-quality face prep product, such as Mehron’s Barrier Spray to ensure a good, long-lasting application.

It’s also important that you pull your hair away from your face during your makeup application. You don’t want it to get stained, but you also don’t want to see little hair streaks marring your beautiful work!

Choose Your Palette

Having the right makeup is key here. You could use your existing face makeup, but if you’re going out for the day and want something that’s solid, long-lasting, and super colorful, skip the everyday stuff. You need something that’s meant to be worn for several hours and that won’t rub off or fade—no matter how much you have fun while you’re wearing it. We love the Mehron Paradise Makeup AQ Color Palette, which comes in a variety of colors (and allows you to make your own custom kit).

If the kit you order doesn’t come with the essential white, you can buy that separately. We’ve tested this kit over and over, and it’s by far the highest quality one we’ve used and is worth the investment. You will also want black and an assortment of bright colors to complete the look you’re going for.

Paint Your Face White

You need a larger, soft paintbrush to apply the white paint to your face. You can use a blush brush that’s been thoroughly cleaned so you don’t get residual colors. Wet your brush, then absorb excess liquid with a paper towel before you dip it into the paint. Swish the brush over the paint a few times, until it’s nicely loaded. Then, using gentle strokes, cover your face. You will likely need a second coat and possibly a little bit more to touch up spots.

Start With Your Eyes

Your eyes are the best place to start, because where some of you will keep the sockets fairly close to your eyes’ shape and size, others will want to go big. Once you get the shape and size of the eyes mapped out, you’ll be able to create the rest of the design around it.

Black is a great color for the sockets, but you can really use any color you want. The beauty of this look is that you can do anything with it—using pastels, jewel tones, and other types of palettes is perfectly fine! Once the sockets are done and filled in, you can create flower petals around the eyes in a brighter color. Some like to go with rounder petals, but pointier petals, sequins, and swirls are also great—go with your artistic spirit here.

Paint Your Forehead

The classic Day of the Dead look has a spiderweb and flowers on the forehead. That said, you can take some creative license and do feminine swirls, dots, Mendhi-style designs, and whatever else tickles your fancy. Take your time to outline the design first with a small paintbrush and the lightest color possible (yellow works great!) so you can make sure you’re working proportionally.

Once you’re happy with the design, use your filler colors first—if you start with black for your outline, you’re going to end up with a muddy look. Carefully flesh out the design, using one color at a time, then applying accents and highlights. Finally, use black to outline everything and create those essential details.

Paint Your Lips

The lips are another place where your creative license can take over. Where some like to go with lines to indicate a skull’s teeth, others will want fuller, more feminine-looking lips in red, black, purple, or whatever color you love. Once you know what you’re going to go with, paint your lips first. Next, create the jaw teeth by painting a line from the corner of your lips to your mandibles. Paint delicate vertical lines for the teeth. You can create swirls at the end of the jawline, or just end the line.


You might decide that you want to go for a decidedly more skeletal look here, and in that case, you can draw a line to show a hollowed-out cheekbone. Or you can decorate your cheeks with swirls and flowers.


The skull nose can be done a few ways. Perhaps the easiest way is to paint an upside down heart shape that covers your nostrils and septum and comes to a point about 1/3 of the way up the bridge of your nose. Or you can create two points on the bridge of the nose if you want a bit more skeletal look.


The chin can be left alone or decorated. You can paint on a pretty little flower, or you can add swirls, cots, and other artistic elements. Have fun with it!

Apply the Finishing Touches

The finishing touches of your Day of the Dead look are a great way to add some sparkle and other decorative touches. You might find a stunning super fine glitter that you love, or add little sequins. You might even decide to add shading on top of the paint with your eyeshadow. Don’t be afraid to pull out all the stops!

A Few Words of Advice

Here are a few things that will make your makeup work better:

  • Use the least amount of water possible for the paints or you’ll have drips, lots of flaking, and an overall uneven application.
  • Apply Barrier Spray when you’re all finished. Tuck the bottle in your purse for touchups throughout the night.
  • Do a few practice runs! You don’t really want to be figuring this out an hour before you’re supposed to leave home. Take a few practice seshes to nail your style and get the hang of things before the special day.

To get the best Day of the Dead attire, there’s really no other place to shop than Red Devil Clothing. See some of our favorite Dia de Los Muertos shirts, and shop the store now!

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