Face Painting for Day of the Dead
October 24, 2016
Dia de los Muertos, otherwise known as Day of the Dead, originated in Mexico but is celebrated throughout Latin America and parts of the United States. This holiday honors the dead with lively festivals, food, and activities that the deceased would have enjoyed in life. During this celebration, the dead are a part of the community. They are awakened from eternal rests to share the good times with their loved ones. Skeletons and skulls appear everywhere during the holiday, as well as an array of vibrant colors. Learn more about the cultural significance of this holiday from our previous blog post How is Day of the Dead Celebrated?
Sugar skulls are the most popular symbol of Dia de los Muertos. These sugary sweets are sold everywhere in the days leading up to Day of the Dead. Thaneeya McArdle of Art Is Fun gives a great how-to on making your own Sugar Skulls at home. Sugar Skulls are the inspiration for our face painting tips today. Each color has a specific meaning for Day of the Dead, each representative of a loved one’s personality. Read on to learn the meaning of each color and some tips for painting your face for Dia de Los Muertos.
- Red – Blood and life
- Orange – Guidance
- Yellow – Sun and unity
- Purple – mourning, grief, and suffering
- Pink – Happiness and celebration
- White – Spirit, hope, and purity, renewal
- Black – Death and the land of the dead
Face Painting Tips
- Make sure you have all the supplies you need. We recommend makeup sponges, brushes of assorted sizes (make sure to have a few small ones for intricate designs), face paints, face paint crayons/pencils, water (to clean your brushes), gems or glitter if desired.
- Start with white all over, applied evenly with a makeup sponge to act as a base coat.
- Use a black face paint crayon to outline the eyes and any other outlines you like (many people outline teeth along their lips, spiderweb shapes, curlicues, and petal shapes around the eyes.
- Fill in blank spaces with the color of your choice – choose a color above based on its meaning to you and who you want to remember, or just pick your favorite color.
- The marigold is a common object in Day of the Dead history. Participants often use marigold petals as a path leading to an altar, that way spirits have a guide to follow. Think about using a flower in your design.
- Don't feel like you have to cover your entire face! Many examples exist where only half a face is covered.
- Remember that every color doesn't have to be bold. A light dusting of colored makeup powder (eye shadow works great) in contour areas gives an iridescent look.
- If you need more ideas on designs for your face paint, check out Pinterest where you can find tons of inspiration!
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