Sugar Skull Hair and Makeup – Day of the Dead

Published: 1:38 PM, Wednesday 23rd October 2013

Sugar Skull Hair and Makeup

The Mexican holiday ‘Day of the Dead’ is most famous for the decorative Sugar Skulls. The celebration takes place on November 1 and 2, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. The holiday is a day for honouring their deceased loved ones. Sugar Skulls are colourful, vibrant part of the festivities and represents the past ancestors of Mexico. They are used to decorate altars and can also be eaten. The iconic design uses bright colours and flower patterns. The meaning of Sugar Skulls is not only to remember the dead, but also to overcome the fear of death and celebrate life.

People in Mexico also wear traditional skull masks, and the tradition of painting faces to look like a skull has grown up as a variation to this. The wearing of masks has been a powerful symbol throughout traditional cultures, of the ability of humans to get in touch with their darker, chaotic side.

The iconic Sugar Skull design has in more recent years been picked up in popular culture, with the trend of Sugar Skull tattoo designs and in fashion with floral skull print designs. Artists reinventions of the vibrant designs have added more intricate details and modern elements. Its has also become a popular halloween (All Saints’ Eve) costume, as a ‘beautiful’ skeleton alternative.

This is my interpretation: Sugar Skull hair and makeup, with colours to suggest the cold of death and the warmth of life.


The colours I used for the Sugar Skull hair were Manic Panic Atomic Turquoise and Affinage Colour Grenades Manic Magenta. The hair was teased and sprayed with Hairspray Addict – Color Brightening & Shine Hairspray then pinned to intermix the colours, add texture and create a feel of chaos.


I kept to a simpler Sugar Skull makeup design, using corresponding colours to the hair in the iconic floral eyes. The mouth had a touch of Tim Burton influence. I used Stargazer “Eye Dust”- 22 for the outer blue shade and then for the inner purple colour I used Bella Pierre mineral makeup colour pigments. I have the 9 shades stack called “Iris” and I mixed the bright pink and the dark purple in this colour stack to create this more magenta shade you see here. All the black was done with a mix of liquid and pencil eye-liner.


With bright hair I like to use black backgrounds to make the colours pop, but in this case it was also a great way to remove the neck and shoulders by covering them with black fabric. Then in editing it was easy to clean up and make the head appear to be a floating isolated skull, adding the final touch of eeriness to the look.