“…just give them blood, blood, gallons of the stuff…”
My Chemical Romance was sure onto something with this hidden track, and I am one of those makeup artists who gleefully hums this tune every single time I am tasked to make/use effects blood. Most of us are aware of the sticky mess that is Karo Syrup and food coloring, but sometimes you want a ready-to-spill option…of which there are many! Depending on what the use is, you may want to mix, dilute, or otherwise alter the consistency of the pre-made stuff…I find that customizing something for each project not only appeals to my artistic side, but also keeps my department in demand. On the retail side of things, there are many companies out there with awesome products, and it is a field worth exploring. I’ll be discussing my two go-to brands, and what they offer.
The thing about the old Karo standby is the limitation of finding liquid food coloring. Gel is now more common, and while liquid can still be found, it is just enough of an obstacle to find that it makes all the gooey mess of cleaning seem extremely not worth it…trust me, I remember…we once made a huge bucket and dumped it all over our zombie selves before prancing our beautifully horrific princess-zombie-bride through the neighborhood. Needless to say, I was washing that stuff off for days after, and the staining on the skin was brutal. This staining is called “ghosting”, and refers to the red hue left behind on clothes and skin.
My favorite brand for variety of texture and tone is Ben Nye, and I mostly use their Dark Blood as a starting point to what I’ll be making. Most recently, I diluted this blood with glycerin and had a nicely colored blood for a pooling effect. I also enjoy the use of their Dry Blood for scabs and scarring, to add a texture to liquid blood, as well as being a great medium to build onto aging wounds. There is some ghosting with their products, and it definitely gets sticky, but the look is spot on for stage and film! Just have warm soapy water handy, and you’ll be fine!
My newest favorite all purpose brand is Red Drum, a water-based, easy clean up, mostly non-ghosting formula. It comes in different tones, depending on the intended use, and does not feel sticky upon contact. The consistency is great, and clean up is done with mostly water. I literally pooled it on plywood, wiped the puddle up, and diluted what was left with water…no stains! I also enjoy that they make a non-toxic product…so, it is entirely safe for bloody nose effects and those that require talent to have prop blood in their mouth. The taste is not minty, like most effects bloods that are safe for use in the mouth…I’d say there is more of a bland taste, which is nice for those times where it is going to be there for a while.
Of course, there is always appeal in this DIY generation to prepare your own blood, but for cost and time, I like to leave it to the professionals. I mean, these people make vats of blood each month, and if the cost is right, the look is guaranteed! So, add a splash of crimson to your Halloween; worry less about getting the mix right, and more about the scares you’ll be causing!