Glam Up Your Día de los Muertos with These Five Catrina Makeup Tips
Between November 1 and November 2, people across the Americas celebrate Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and Día de los Difuntos (Day of the Deceased). With traditions that vary from country to country, the holiday serves as an occasion to remember those who passed away. In Mexico, where Día de los Muertos is celebrated on a large scale, a popular tradition is dressing up as La Catrina — a skeleton figure first introduced as social critique. Here’s what you need to know to nail the Catrina glam.
La Catrina is generally portrayed as a grand dame in elegant attire, from fancy dresses to traditional Mexican clothing. The outfits are accessorized with flower crowns, headpieces, and statement jewelry. However, the focal point of any Catrina look is the skull-inspired makeup.
But first things first, Catrina glam is not your standard skull makeup, nor is it supposed to be bloody scarily like a Halloween costume. Día de los Muertos is a celebration that merges cultural and religious aspects, serving as an opportunity to honor those who passed away and as a reminder of the cycles of life. Accordingly, Catrina makeup leans more on the celebratory side, with bright colors, floral motifs, and a wide variety of embellishments.
First, work on your pale base
While the look will depend on your own interpretation of La Catrina and the beauty products you have at hand, traditionally, people start off by applying a pale base. Many opt for white face paint evenly distributed all over the face, but if you don’t want to go too bold, there are easy-to-recreate looks that skip the paint altogether.
Take a page from the book of makeup aficionado Abi Neri, whose Catrina glam tutorials are all over social media, and go for a matte foundation instead. To find a middle ground and prep the skin for the following steps, you can choose a shade lighter than your skin tone.
Pronounced eye makeup is next. Following the shape of your eye socket (use your orbit bones as a reference), apply the pigmented eyeshadow of your choice. For classic Catrina beauty, makeup enthusiasts select black, but you can match the color to your look and go as bold as you prefer. Popular colors include red, turquoise, and purple.
For a more glamorous take, favor regular eye makeup or a smoky eye in any color spectrum. To complement and add drama, go for shimmery eyeshadow, winged eyeliner, and voluminous eyelashes — apply faux lashes if needed.
The next step will be countoring your cheeks to bestow the look with a skeleton quality. Contour following the line of your cheekbone and then connect with the corners of the mouth. Create this effect using the same eyeshadow you applied on the eyes and then accentuate it with black liner.
You can skip the color contouring and instead contour with bronzer as you would on a typical day. Then, directly draw shapes such as swirls or dots along the cheekbone with a graphic liner of matching colors. Black and white are safe options, but you can experiment with practically any shade. Just make sure that the color creates harmony with the rest of the look.
Finally, draw a shape similar to a drop on the tip of the nose and add contrast with highlighter, shimmery powder, or eyeshadow.
Creating a stitched mouth is a must for Catrina makeup. After applying your favorite lip product with your preferred technique — Latinas are fond of red shades or bronzed lips — use a liner to draw vertical lines along the mouth. For an additional touch of glam, you can replace the graphic liner with embellishments like gems.
Some people also recreate teeth by filling the spaces between the lines with white paint, pigmented white powder, or eyeshadow.
As the final step, add adornments of any kind. You can either give scalloped edges to the eye socket with graphic liner or put on gems, stickers, or pearls at your heart’s content around both eyes. To add a dash of color, many beauty artists also draw figures such as flowers, dots, swirls, or hearts on the forehead and chin.
Though there’s no fixed formula to achieve the perfect Catrina look, you can follow these tips for your Día de los Muertos look. Remember to let your creativity flow and embrace the spirit of the celebration — remember your loved ones and pay tribute to life.