How to Make a Zombie Costume

In the movies, zombies often seem unstoppable as they lumber about, constantly seeking to satiate their hunger for human flesh. But they also make for eye-catching Halloween costumes. What’s more, creating your own zombie costume can be an inexpensive way to showcase your affinity for the undead.

Things You'll Need

  • Beat-Up Shoes
  • Leaves And/Or Dirt
  • White And Black Face Paint Or Makeup
  • Old And Well-Worn Clothing
  • Scissors And/Or Razor Blade
  • Brown Or Red Paint

Begin by selecting old, well-worn and beat-up clothing. Search local thrift stores and surplus stores to find old shirts and pants for your zombie costume or use clothing of your own that you don't mind destroying to make your costume. Choose over-sized clothing that can be torn and tattered. You may want to make your zombie costume more unique by choosing a specific zombie persona such as a nun or cheerleader. Don't spend too much on these costumes as you will be destroying them to make them appear fresh from the grave.

Tatter the clothing you have selected for your zombie costume. Use scissors or a razor blade to fray shirt cuffs and edges and to tear holes in pant legs and sleeves.

Wet some dirt to create a muddy consistency. Rub the mud and some grass on the tattered clothing pieces to make them appear that they have come from a grave. Wait for the stains to dry. Tuck a few leaves into pant and shirt pockets for added effect.

Splatter the clothing with brown or red paint to give the effect of bloodstains. Pay special attention to the shirt cuffs and collar, as these will be the most gore-spattered during most zombie activities. Add these details after you have completed all other alterations on your clothing since they will need to be laid out to dry after applying paint.

Add any desired touches to the shoes you have selected. Smear them with dirt and add more spatters of brown or red paint to make them appear as worn as the rest of your outfit.

Mix a small amount of black face paint into a larger amount of white face paint a little at a time until it has a uniform grayish tone. Apply to all areas of your face, neck and hands that will be visible.

Accent the gray skin tone on your face and hands with small dabs and streaks of white paint to make the skin appear more mottled and deathlike. Add these splotches with a cotton swab or paper towel to give the paint texture.

Apply a ring of black makeup under each eye to give the eyes a sunken, hollowed look. Use a small amount at first and experiment until you achieve the desired zombie look.

Finish your look by mussing and ratting your hair until it is as scary as the rest of your costume. Use heavy hair pomade to give hair a stiff, unwashed look. Consider adding a few clumps of dirt or some leaves too.


  • Perfect your zombie walk by tilting your head at a 45 degree angle, letting your hands hang limp, and dragging one of your legs as if it doesn't work.

    For a gorier look, fill your mouth with fake blood made from corn syrup and food dye. Let it slowly dribble out as if you just finished a tasty human meal.

    Zombies could have been anybody before they were turned. You can wear a dirtied cheerleader outfit, police uniform or business suit with your zombie make-up for a more original look.

    You can also make your clothes look dirty by rubbing coffee grounds on them. Or for darker clothes, use something light like flour.