Goth makeup is considered one of the key elements of any gothic look. It’s a chance to really add some drama to your look and take it to the next level. In our gothic makeup guide, we’ll cover how to do goth makeup, covering classic gothic makeup tricks, how to do goth makeup for dark skin, how to do makeup variations such as emo, pastel goth and cyberpunk, how to do goth makeup for guys, and even how to be goth without makeup! So whether you’re a beginner, getting adventurous with your look, or want to know how to avoid makeup entirely in your look, we’ve got you covered here at Attitude Clothing.
The fun part about goth makeup, much like the rest of the alternative scene, is that there are no hard and fast rules. Goth culture has always been a safe space for self-expression in the way people dress and do their makeup. If you’re not sure where to start though, we do have some tips:
1) Create a flawless foundation base. The smooth porcelain skin look was a must-have for the gothic look back in the 80s & 90s with icons such as Siouxie Sioux and Morticia Addams to look up to, but whatever your skin tone you can create the same effect by making sure your skin looks as smooth and doll-like as possible
2) Choose an eyeshadow palette with dark shades. You’ll need a spectrum of colours, but weighting your choices towards dark colours will create a more gothic effect
3) Find an eyeliner you’re comfortable with, whether it’s a pencil, liquid eyeliner or a pen. Black works every time, but there’s no reason why you can’t experiment with another dark eyeliner colour!
4) Find a black mascara that adds volume to your lashes if you want to go big with your look but hate wearing false eyelashes
5) Choose any lipstick colour you prefer, but choose a dark tone
Gothic foundation and lipstick are both fairly self-explanatory as the only thing that differs from the mainstream is the choice of colour! Gothic eye makeup, however, can need a little more direction. Here are some of our best tips for applying goth eye makeup:
1) Prepare your eyes with concealer as a base (this will help the powder stick)
2) Take four shades of eyeshadow: a highlight colour for under the brow bone, a lighter colour for the inner third of your eye, a medium-dark colour for the centre third of your eye, and a dark colour for the outer third of your eye, the crease, and under the eye. Make sure that each of these shades blend into each other for a seamless look
3) Be careful not to circle your eyes with eyeliner, try to keep it on the outer three-quarters of your lash line to avoid making your eyes appear smaller
4) Get creative with your eyeliner flick – if you’re not confident with a simple cat eye then stay there, but you can create all kinds of gothic designs that flick out from the outer corner of your eye
5) Apply the rest of your makeup as normal! Why not try choosing a lipstick that complements one of the eyeshadow colours you've used to tie the look together?
Wearing goth makeup isn’t the same as simply applying it! You’ve got to make sure that your goth makeup enhances your look – so make sure that you don’t go too dramatic if you’re wearing your goth makeup with a casual daytime look, and similarly, try not to go too pedestrian with your makeup if you’re wearing it with a statement gothic outfit! Make sure that you balance your goth makeup look with your outfit and occasion, otherwise you might find your goth makeup wearing you!
As we’ve said, it used to be that gothic foundation had to be porcelain white, like many of the gothic icons back in the 80s and 90s. We don’t believe that anyone should have to change their natural skin tone to ‘fit in’ with a subculture. Anita Bhagwandas (beauty director at Stylist magazine) spoke about this at length in her article “How I found my beauty identity as a goth of colour” and there are plenty of excellent tutorials on how to do goth makeup for dark skin to be found online if you want expert advice.
So how does emo makeup differ from goth makeup? Emo makeup took the principles of goth makeup and dialled then up to eleven. Eyeliner and cat eyes, in particular, became huge, exaggerated versions of gothic eyeliner, accented by highlighter bright eyeshadow instead of dark. Neon pink eyeshadow was a particular favourite in the heyday of emo culture, but instead of dark lipstick, pale lip shades were favoured to further emphasise the over the top eye makeup which was often framed by a swept over or blunt cut fringe.
If you want to go really extra with your alternative makeup look, Cybergoth might be the alternative style for you. Aside from big, dreadlocked hair and a futuristic sense of style, Cybergoth is most notable for two things: swapping dark makeup for neon, and experimenting with alternative eyebrow shapes and styles.
Instead of choosing black and other dark tones for their makeup, cyber goths use neon and UV colours such as yellow, green and pink to create stunning makeup looks that can even glow in the dark.
What’s most noticeable about a cyber goth look, however, is the eyebrows. Some cyber goths opt to shave off their eyebrows in order to draw entirely new ones on, some block their brows and draw over the top of them (much like drag eyebrows), or some simply embellish and frame their existing eyebrows with neon dots. It’s a very unique makeup look that’s often reserved for club nights!
- Neon & UV colours replace dark tones
- Eyebrows replaced or embellished
Is black on black on black not really your thing? No problem!
Moving almost completely away from the darker tones of alternative makeup, pastel goth makeup is created using a much lighter and softer palette.
The pastel goth look is mainly derived from pastel hair colouring which can then be paired either with traditionally gothic makeup, or a softer makeup look that sparingly uses pastel colours to complement the hair dye.
Choose colours such as lilac and soft pink then contrast it with black makeup such as eyeliner or black lipstick for a big impact.
- Pastel shades such as lilac or soft pink
- Classic goth makeup for contrast
This pastel fantasy makes the pastel goth makeup look perfect for fans of kawaii fashion too, so if you're a kawaii princess looking for an alternative makeup look that'll complement your Harajuku fashion, why not try pastel goth makeup?
To push it into true kawaii territory rather than pastel goth, swap out the classic goth makeup for even more sugary sweet pastel colours!
Guys looking to apply gothic makeup need only look at the same tips and tricks we provided above! The alternative scene has always been an inclusive space for anyone of any gender identification to play around with their look and express themselves. So guy, gal, or anything in between – you can enjoy experimenting with goth makeup! It's easy to scale the look up and down to suit what kind of makeup you’re going for; some may start with a simple touch of eyeliner while others might go all out with a full face of goth makeup – there’s really no rules or restrictions as long as you’re having fun and love your final look!
Of course, not everyone likes makeup! Whether you suffer from skin conditions that make wearing makeup difficult, or you simply don’t like spending time applying it, there’s no rule anywhere that says you have to wear makeup to be goth. There are plenty of ways to make sure that you’re giving off that goth vibe without makeup from hair colour to facial piercings and more. Why not complement your gothic outfit with gothic hair accessories to balance the look out and make sure the gothic theme carries from head to toe instead? The makeup-free possibilities are endless!
Mainstream makeup brands offer a wide spectrum of colours and shades, which means that you can find gothic tones to use in almost any makeup brand’s collection. However, you may find yourself having to buy a lot of palettes or individual colours from different brands in order to get the gothic makeup collection you want. Instead, you could shop with us in our gothic makeup collection which gathers gothic makeup from alternative makeup brands that have designed their palettes and shades specifically with you in mind. You’ll not only support alternative makeup brands and creators, but you’ll also have quick access to the exact kinds of makeup you need to create a gothic makeup look.