Halloween Costume Tutorial: The Golden Girls

Thank you for being a friend.
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Trista
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Thank you for being a friend.

There are certain television theme songs that short-circuit my brain with a Pavlovian pleasure. It's a mix of excitement and comfort that reaches deep into my person. The Golden Girls theme song, "Thank You For Being A Friend," triggers me every time.

I first started watching Golden Girls when I was about 9 years old. It came on around 3 am and marathoned until about 6 am, which, as an tiny little insomniac, was a block of time I needed to fill. Back then I saw the girls as kind, silly, sassy, and smart, but now I see how revolutionary the show actually was. An ensembel show about older female characters? And no one is getting catfished or left on a desert island? Clearly it was before its time.

golden girls still

I’ve always fantasized about what kind of old lady I’ll be--wise, brassy, lots of makeup. I’ll wear windbreaker suits and giant earrings and swear like a sailor. Hopefully I'd fit right in with Blanche and the gang--the perfect mix of glamour and crass.

golden girls gif

Here's how I created my own Golden Girls character costume for Halloween. I’m not going to lie, though. This is some next-level ish and it can be tricky.

Supplies 

  • Wig
  • Liquid latex
  • Foundation
  • Highlighter
  • Your regular makeup kit 

The wig is probably the most important part. If it looks cheap, so will you. Cruise some thrift stores; cropped styles are usually easy to come by on the cheap. I found mine on Amazon for $15, which was only about $5 more than a crappy one from the local costume shop.

Latex Dos And Don'ts 

liquid latex

This goop.

● Always, always do a patch test when working with latex. It can cause "latent irritation" (read: painful, angry red blotches that crop up hours after use) even in non-sensitive skin.  

● Swipe some unscented lip balm around your hairline and in your brows to keep it from getting in your hair.  

● The vapors can be pretty strong, so keep it away from your eyes as well. Apply it about as close as you would a face mask.

● If you DO get it in your brows or hair, gently massage it with either alcohol (vodka works!) or oil and then brush it out with a comb.

Applying The Latex 

Prep skin with a toner and, if you have dry skin, a light moisturizer. Any oil will affect the wear time of the latex. Start off oily and you'll look very Death Becomes Her in just a few hours.        

makeup free skin

Zero makeup. 

Working in small areas with a brush or sponge, apply the latex in thin layers, rinsing the applicator after each layer. (A rube mistake is getting little latex boogies all over your face, caused by dry bits of latex on the applicator.) Two to three layers should be all that you need. 

applying liquid latex to face

It puts the lotion on its skin

Before the latex dries in each area (you have about 4 to 6 minutes), try to stretch or expand that section of your face. This helps to create realistic wrinkles when the latex dries. Fair warning: when you’re all done, it will feel VERY weird.

liquid latex applied to face

Next you’ll want to apply a medium to heavy foundation over the latex. I went with Wet N Wild’s Coverall Cream Foundation because it's non-greasy and it stands up to anything after it sets. Avoid foundations with natural oils because they’ll melt the latex!

foundation applied over liquid latex

Don’t worry about the color variation, we’ll cover that!


To get a realistic look, we’re going to do some contouring. Using a matte light brown shadow and tiny art brush, fill in the shadows inside deep wrinkles around your eyes, forehead, and nasolabial folds. Don’t go crazy on your forehead or it’ll look ridiculous. Then dot on a bit of highlighter on your forehead, high on your cheekbones, and under your brows. I adore NYX’s Born to Glow in Sunbeam.

contoured wrinkles

Color 

I love the style of makeup that the Girl’s typically wear: heavy blush, colorful shadows, and bright lips, never together, obviously. I went with a bright, pearly blush, blue-to-pink eye shadow, a mauve-y red lip, and no brow definition. It's somewhere between Lady Di and Tammy Faye Baker.

makeup swatches on arm

NYX Born to Glow in Sunbeam, Sleek Shadow Night Sky, Pink Jewel and Nubuck, Wet N Wild MegaShield Lip Color in That's Berry Beautiful, Wet n’ Wild Coverall in 818

Wig-Wearing Wisdom

● If your hair is unruly or thick, stash it under a wig cap. Just remember to pin the wig to the cap at your temples and forehead.

● Pulling your hair back and spraying it with a firm-hold hairspray will give the wig and pins something to grip.

● Pull out your ears! Don’t wear the wig like a hat. Pull it behind your ears and fix the hair around your temples for a more natural look.

old woman halloween makeup

Latex Removal 

When it comes time to take off the latex, peel it off using some oil or makeup remover if it sticks. 

peeling off liquid latex

Stings like bees.

Lastly, The Golden Girls are incredibly glamorous, so tease your wig and accessorize with the biggest earrings, pearls, and Peter Pan collars you can afford. Giant prescription glasses are easy to score second hand, and a lot of them are just reading glasses, so you don’t have to pop the lenses out.

old woman halloween makeup

Now you’re free to hit the town and scandalize the gullible and near-sighted.

Who's brave enough to work with latex and dress older than their age this Halloween? Are you as bored with overtly sexy costumes as I am? I mean, except sexy presidents. That seems legit.