DIY Gross Halloween Fun (and a booklist)

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Looking for a way to add some gross to your Halloween costume? Or maybe you just want to play a creepy prank on family or friends? Here’s how to make some pretty realistic looking fake infected cuts, using materials you either already have or can easily pick up at the grocery store.

You’ll need: Corn syrup, food coloring, cocoa powder, white school glue, toilet paper, and q-tips. I used paper cups and popsicle sticks for mixing, but you could also use cups and spoons from your cupboards.


materials for fake wounds activity


Let’s start with the most exciting part: The fake pus! We’ll start with corn syrup, the basis for fake pus on nearly all movie sets. Squirt a little bit of corn syrup into a cup, then add green food coloring and cocoa powder until the color of your “pus” is just right. Feel free to experiment with a few drops of yellow and blue food coloring if you feel it’s necessary.

Did you know, in movies they sometimes add non-dairy creamer so the “pus” is more opaque on camera? They’ll also often add a chemical called methylparaben, which is a preservative and keeps the “pus” from spoiling over the course of long shoots. And one more fun fact: Back when movies were black and white, special effects departments used Hershey’s chocolate syrup!

Now let’s create your fake infected cut. First, you’ll need to color your glue to slightly darker than the color of your skin. Use cocoa powder and food coloring, but only add a tiny bit at a time. You can always add more, but once your glue is too dark you can’t take any pigment back out. I used exactly 1 drop of red and 1 drop of yellow with a tiny sprinkle of cocoa.


step 2 for fake wounds activity


Smear some of the glue onto your skin where you’d like your fake infected cut to be. Shred your toilet paper into tiny pieces. Wet it in the glue and shape it into little ridges around the “cut” to hold in the fake “pus” that we’ll add in a few minutes. Use a q-tip to apply more glue, and gently shape the toilet paper how you want your fake infected cut to look. Add enough glue to soak the toilet paper so it looks like skin. This part is a little bit like paper maché. Use the glue to paint lightly around the fake infected cut to help it blend in with the rest of your skin. Give it a few minutes to dry.


photo of prep for fake wounds activity


On movie sets, special effects make-up artists use a wide variety of materials to create fake wounds. Sometimes they shape the wound directly on the actor’s body each day using wax or liquid latex, which is a similar process to what we’re doing (we’re just using materials that are more readily on-hand). Other times they may create a prosthetic wound using silicone, resin, or a 3D printer. These wounds are glued on with special skin-safe adhesive, removed at the end of the day, and reapplied if the actor needs to wear it again.


Finally, it’s time to add the “pus.” Use a q-tip or popsicle stick to fill the “infected” area inside your toilet paper ridges, plus a little extra to drip if you’d like. 


There you have it, a way to make yourself look seriously gross this Halloween. When you’re finished creeping out your friends, scrape the toilet paper off and throw it in the trash, and the dried glue will wash off with soap and water.


If you’re interested in more creepy crafts, DIY costume elements, and other spooky fun, check out some of the books on this booklist!

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