5 Household Items you can use for Makeup Effects

makeup effects

Image by ktbdesign.net / Makeup by Lexi Stewart

Often, it can be the simplest things that give the most effect. With multitudes of brands out there in the fx industry today, we sometimes forget that the tools and products we need may be right in front of our noses. A variety of household items can not only be great for makeup artists in a pinch, but also be cheaper alternatives for filmmakers on a budget. Here’s a few of our favourites that you might not have thought of:


Toothbrushes often play an integral part in makeup effects, and while there are plenty of fx brushes in the market, nothing beats the efficiency and accessibility of a household toothbrush. They provide an amazing shape with which to splatter layers and can really help to add dimension and layers. Furthermore, they are also great for splattering blood and dirt washes. Even some of the best artists have ordinary toothbrushes in their kit.

Bath Sponges

Textures and patterns can really elevate a makeup to a new level. Stipple sponges are a staple in most artist’s kits, however interesting textures can also be acquired from various sponges used for cleaning or shower reasons. Buy cheap sponges in bulk and tear them into unnatural shapes to use in your projects, whether it be glue, latex or paints. We especially love the funky texture of sea sponges, which you can find in most stores with a bath and cosmetic section.

Golden Syrup

It’s an Australian classic and in a pinch also a great ingredient to add to your bowl when making your own edible blood. Having a caramel colour and sheen works well as a base to help it keep from being unrealistically red. It also works well to mix into some cheap slime, especially great for zombies. It’s a perfect solution when you don’t have the budget to buy industry standard brands.

Coffee Grounds

Keep those coffee grounds from your morning brews as they are great for imitating texture in wounds and blood. Adding it to your blood recipe can help to give it a thicker clotted consistency. Ground coffee can be used to add dimension to grazes or scabs and also works great for dirt makeups.

Plastic Bags

We wanted to give this one a mention as a nod to the groundbreaking innovation Steve Johnson and Bill Bryan came up with in 1995. For Lord of Illusions, they were required to create ‘an organic-looking creature with skin that could pulse, move, and morph’ naturally, hence their unique approach which resulted in employing plastic bags. A webcourse of their technique is available at the Stan Winston School of Character Arts if you’re interested in learning more.