What originally started as a way to mock European beauty standards, painting our faces on Día de Muertos soon became a way to honor late family members. The tradition — not to be confused with Halloween makeup — is steeped in history and meaning for many Mexican people.

Today, there are many ways anybody can create their own unique calavera makeup. Black and white looks are the most common we see, but incorporating more colors can add a more layered meaning.

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Inspiration is everywhere on social media, but tutorials for men are few and far between. We’ve gathered looks ranging from traditional, affordable, and glam depending on the occasion. But first, a note on cultural usage.

Is it offensive to dress up as Día de Muertos?

Dressing up for Día de los Muertos, a Latin American cultural celebration honoring the deceased mostly observed in Mexico, can be seen as offensive or respectful depending on one’s intentions and actions.

It’s essential to approach such costumes with sensitivity and cultural awareness. If done with respect, understanding, and an appreciation for the traditions and symbolism associated with Día de Muertos, it can be a way to share and celebrate the culture.

However, if it involves cultural appropriation, caricature, or disrespect, it can be deeply offensive, as it can trivialize a sacred tradition and perpetuate stereotypes. It is crucial to educate oneself about the significance of the holiday and engage in thoughtful and respectful costume choices if one decides to participate.

Now, let’s jump into the makeup.

What does half skull half face mean?

If you don’t want to commit to a full face, a half-skull look is a popular option that represents life and death. Since you don’t have to worry about everything looking symmetrical, you can truly let your inner artist out with a bold design. Recreate it with a white base, a makeup sponge, and a black base to add those skull details.

A last-minute, affordable option

For those on a budget (or planning something last minute), everything you need is available at the drugstore. A couple of eye pencils, a colorful eyeshadow palette, and some glitter can get you a stunning look.

A simple, yet effective option

If you want to go without the traditional white base, you can still create an impressive catrin look with black skull details. Blend out some dark eyeshadow around your eyes, all the way past your eyebrows. Add some contouring to create the shadows from hollow cheekbones, a few more artistic details, and you’re done!

For those who want graphic and glam

A blended eye look to complement white calavera features will undoubtedly slay. It’s an artistic take on traditional makeup, while bringing in vibrant color.

Go all out with face gems

@mualesandro

This look took me TEN HOURS but it was worth every minute😭 I felt like a baddie back from the dead💀 #coco #movie #makeup #diademuertos

♬ El latido de mi corazón _ COCO – May_pyradt

If you want to stand out in the crowd, and you have the time (approximately 10 hours, according to this creator), create a sparkly calavera. Gather black, silver, amber, and red face gems of different sizes to create a definition on your face. All you’ll need to adhere them is some eyelash glue, and then you’re bejeweled!

A hyperrealistic calavera

For an edgier rendition of the makeup look, try graphic accents on the hollow parts of the skull. Outline your design to make sure it’s perfect before filling it in, before sponging on the white base.

Cempasúchil-inspired

Why not incorporate the flowers used on ofrendas into your look for a botanical vibe? The cempasúchil, or marigolds, are displayed in memory of our lost loved ones. While it’s common for floral motifs to be painted around the eyes, you can add real petals instead using eyelash glue for a pop of yellow.

Done in less than five minutes

Time crunches are real, and if you’re in a rush, try this look. All you need are some warm brown tones from either a contouring palette, or creamy eyeliners to create the hollow bone structure. Add some face gems for symmetry and extra sparkle to complete the look.

Classic and monochromatic

Tie your makeup to your outfit by doing a monochromatic look. This creator used the color purple to create the skull details and graphic embellishments. Of course, the colors you use in your makeup look can signify different meanings related to Día de Muertos. For example, blue can be worn to represent water, purity and cleansing.