After spending last Halloween in lockdown, we’re gearing up for a proper celebration this year. Whether it’s your house you want to decorate or you’re going all out with fancy dress and make-up, we’ve rounded up the best products from your local shops to see you through the spookiest of seasons.
Halloween is your annual opportunity to unleash your inner witch/freak/Kim Kardashian at the Met Gala. If going the elegant route, you can’t go wrong with Dealz, where sequin half-face masks (€2) and lace masquerade masks (€1.50) are a snip.
Adults can buy ready-made costumes from Aldi that include the characters of Black Widow, Spider-Man, Batgirl or Batman (sizes S-L, €18.99). If you want to go quirky, Mr Price has a Shimmering Glitz and Glitter Crayola crayon costume dress for adults for €9.99. Or there’s a unisex “Marmite” costume for €9.99, which like the product itself, you will either love or hate.
For children, Tesco has a pretty little witch costume for €19 and a colorful rainbow witch outfit for €10. Aldi’s witch costumes are €4.99, and its budget range also includes pumpkins, skeletons, clowns, werewolves or cats.
Film characters are always popular choices among kids, who can choose from Hermione or Harry Potter, a Ghostbuster, The Joker, Spider-Man, Batman or Harley Quinn (Aldi, €11.99).
Tesco has the cutest velour pumpkin sleepsuit outfit for little ones for €10, while its skeleton T-shirts (€6) and joggers (€9) will please the cool kids. Unicorns are still beloved by many small children and Woodie’s has an adorable inflatable unicorn costume for €40 that will make many little ones’ hearts beat faster. Your little monsters will also be taken by its blue dinosaur inflatable costume, which also retails for €40.
Make-up and face paint
Around this time of year, shops are packed with cheap face paints and palettes, but Debbie McQuillan, Director of VanityX Makeup Academy, warns that it can be hard to get good coverage as the colours can be weak and difficult to work with. “Look out for colour pay off — there are some great cheap alternatives, however sometimes the colours are not very realistic, so they can hinder your overall look,” she says.
“At the Academy, we would use a lot of Kryolan products — they are reliable and geared towards the professional market.”
Her favourite is the 24-colour Supra Palette (€82, kryolan.com) of greasepaint cream and body paint, which is similar to foundation in its silky consistency. “It’s such a versatile product, you can create so many different looks with just this,” she says.
On a lower budget, the brand offers a six-shade Primary Colours Palette, which promises the same high pigment and opacity for simpler looks (€20.50, DublinBodyPaint.com).
“A cheap alternative for that one night of the year you might be using face paints is Snazaroo,” Debbie adds. The paints can be bought as individual colours (€4.99 each, ArtnHobby.ie) or you can get the Ultimate Party Pack, which includes 12 shades of water-based paint, two glitter gels, two brushes and four sponges (€14.70, Tesco).
“Snazaroo is a great face paint for people with allergies and younger kids as the paints have been formulated for sensitive skin,” says Dublin-based make-up artits Patrick Blue, noting that cheap greasepaints tend to make his skin break out. He advises reading the label carefully and opting for water-activated paints, which are more gentle on the skin than greasepaints.
“My favourite face and body paints are definitely the Smiffys Aqua FX Face Paints,” he says. The paints are priced €3.23 each (dollfacehouseofmakeup.com) and suitable for use on children and adults. “Once activated with some water or setting spray, they can be built up in coverage or you can apply a thin layer and then set with eyeshadow to add more depth. They’re also very affordable and last for a long time.”
If it’s your first time doing SFX make-up, pay attention to detail to get the most frightening effect.
“Don’t just buy any type of blood,” says Debbie. “Research the type of wound you are going for: is it fresh, old? The colour of blood you go with will depend on the type of wound. And if you are going full-on gore remember, the messier the better.”
For a professional look, she likes the range of FX bloods from Kyrolan (from €9.84, sunaura.ie), which dry down to a smudge-proof finish on the skin while still looking fresh and moist thanks to the shiny texture.
Patrick and Debbie also recommend the brand’s clear Liquid Latex (€11.07, sanaura.ie). “It’s excellent for creating fake wounds and cuts,” says Patrick. “Do a patch test on your skin first to make sure you’re not allergic and be careful not to get this product into your hair as it can be very difficult to remove.”
If you just want a quick SFX look with minimal fuss, Megan suggests Fun World’s pint of blood (€12.50, Amazon).
“You can’t go wrong with it. That lasts a long time and it’s a staple you always have to fall back on if you need to make something look a little bit creepier,” she says.
When it comes to Halloween decorations, this is the only time of year where you can go all out and make your house deliciously terrifying and tack-tastic.
Woodie’s DIY, Home and Garden (Woodies.ie) has a great selection to help you ward off any unwanted spirits coming up the path, including an Animated Shaking Witch (€34.99) a Skull Stack with LED lights (€8.50) and, scariest of all, a petrifying Hanging Clown with LED lights (€25).
Aldi has a 1.68m standing pumpkin that will freak visitors out for €59.99, and strings of decorative skulls, eyeballs, pumpkin heads or spider web lights for €4.49.
If you want to turn your nice semi-d into your neighbours’ worst nightmare, the Premier LED Light Projector in your garden from Party City (PartyCity.ie) will do the job. It comes complete with four ghostly images to project on the wall (€46.49).
If you favour a more restrained approach, Woodie’s has a pretty orange and black wreath for €17.50 that will look great on the door, and Aldi has a remote-controlled, colour-changing pumpkin light for €4.49.
We are all striving for sustainability these days, so if you would prefer to avoid the plastic, disposable approach to your Halloween decor, Anouk O’Connell and Frederique van Buuren of small Irish business, Olannmor (Olannmor.com), have a more sustainable option.
Their wool wreaths are hand-knitted from soft merino wool in Wicklow and can be used year after year (€45).