When I was a kid, I lived for Halloween. It seemed like pure magic: For an entire month, the whole world turned into an amusement park full of pumpkins and baked goods and spooky movies. It all lead up to a night when everyone on earth somehow agreed to live in this alternate universe where kids got to dress up, knock on strangers' doors, and take home a pillowcase full of free candy. You have to admit, Halloween is pretty special.
That is, until you grow up and realize Halloween is just another social function that forces you to spend way too much money on a junk you'll never use or wear again. Don't get me wrong—I still love to dress up and eat half my weight in Skittles. I just don't love the inconvenience of having to figure out and pay for a costume every year. (For example, last Halloween I spent $45 to dress up as a slice of pizza, and I feel stupid every time I think about it too hard.)
So this year, I thought it was time to try something different. What if there were a way to preserve the larger-than-life fantasy of Halloween without having to stress (and spend half your paycheck) to do it?
As it turns out, this is totally possible. I did a little experimenting and came up with three completely awesome Halloween costume ideas that are freakishly easy to execute and—wait for it—require nothing but drugstore makeup. These pop culture-relevant looks are guaranteed to yield all-night compliments. But the best part is that they are insanely simple (and cheap!) to do by yourself.
Pay tribute to the boundary-busting music legend with this three-product look. Ziggy Stardust has everything I love in a Halloween costume: It's simple, flattering, and universally recognizable (so you don't have to spend the whole night explaining who you are). Not to mention it honors a hero.
To execute this look, all you'll need is some scotch tape, a red lip crayon, a stick of black eyeliner, and a stick of turquoise eyeliner. The scotch tape will help keep your lines nice and straight. I placed strips of tape on my face one by one as I went along, which gave me more freedom than placing all four on my face at once.
To make this as easy as possible, I recommend choosing a chubby lip crayon for the red lightning bolt, which makes drawing and filling in your lines quick and easy. I used NYX's Simply Red Lip Cream in Russian Roulette ($5). For the black stripe, I used the pointed end of Rimmel's Magnify'eyes Double Ended Shadow + Liner in Back to Blacks ($14), and for the blue, NYX's Slide On Eye Pencil ($8) in Azure. (Optional: If you're planning to stay out late, I recommend gently setting the makeup with a powder, like Rimmel's Stay Matte Pressed Powder ($4), so it doesn't smear.)
To complete the look, I teased my hair in homage to Ziggy. I paired it all with a fun metallic top (a fur coat or velvet dress would also work great).
The Snapchat Dog
Looking for something a little cheekier? Everyone's favorite filter takes a little more effort and a few more products, but the good news is that if I can do it, I promise you can too. Plus, you probably already own most of the makeup required.
To create the cute puppy snout, you'll need four shades of eyeliner (light brown, dark brown, black, and white), as well as three shades of powder eye shadow (light brown, dark brown, and a nude or off-white color). For the white and brown liners, I recommend Rimmel's ScandalEyes Eyeshadow Sticks ($9), because they are the perfect size and creamy consistency for shading.
Start by using your light brown shadow stick or liner to create the jowls; then, draw on your nose with dark brown. Use a small black eyeliner pencil to color around your nostrils, making them look larger. Then, shade in the nose with your dark brown eyeshadow, and shade in the jowls with your lighter powders. Highlight the tip of the nose with your white eye shadow and liner. And finally, draw a few black dots on either jowl.
To watch a video tutorial of this look, head over to YouTube, where makeup guru Jessica Harlow breaks it down SO easy.
I matched my snout with some copper eye shadow, plus the Rimmel liner from David Bowie. A brown lip and some DIY dog ears completed the look. (If you're curious, one of my coworkers Macgyver'd them out of a strip of leather and some cat ears from the craft store… genius.)
Have your phone at the ready—your fellow Halloween party guests will want to take all the snaps with you.
Eleven from Stranger Things
If all else fails, go with the ultimate pop culture Halloween look: Eleven from Stranger Things. She may be just a kid, but Eleven has already become a beauty icon in her own right (and is singlehandedly bringing back the lady buzzcut).
This look is awesome because it requires neither patience nor skill. To channel Eleven, start by slicking your hair back into a bun and forgoing concealer so your eye bags look as pronounced as possible. Emphasize the sunken-in look by lining your upper and lower lash lines with a purply-brown eye shadow or blush, like L'Oréal's True Match Super Blendable Blush ($12) in Spiced Plum.
Next, splatter brunette brow pomade all over your face with your fingers until you look dirty and neglected (you could even blend it a little with the blush for a bruise-like appearance). Then, use a dark red liquid lip product, like Maybelline's LipStudio Color Jolt Intense Lip Paint ($10) for Eleven's bloody nose and ear. (I dabbed some of Maybelline's Shine Shot Lip Topcoat ($6) over the "blood" to make it glisten even more.)
Layer a pink dress over a white button-down, throw on a blue bomber jacket, and prepare to get fangirled over all night long. For bonus points, bring along a box of Eggos ($3).