DIY Makeup for Home Funeral

Tips on doing the deceased’s makeup for a home funeral

Last Updated on September 15, 2021

If you’re choosing to do a home funeral, you will want to make the deceased look as natural as possible. Here, we detail the basics on how to apply makeup to a dead person, then provide a range of tips doing the deceased’s makeup for a home funeral.

Home funerals are not the norm in the United States. However, home-based death care and family-directed funerals are still standard in much of the world, and have been the standard practice throughout much of history. Birth and death are the normal, natural bookends of this journey we call life.

There is something of a resurgence in home based funerals and deathcare in recent years, and part of the draw is that it allows the family to experience the death of a loved one in a more intimate way. This in turn leads to more natural death practices (no embalming, simpler burial, etc), and it also allows the family to work through their grief, processing as they take care of their loved one, saying goodbye with a sense of nearness that you just can’t get when limited to a twenty minute visitation in some funeral parlour’s back room.

These are just a few of the considerations for having a home or family-directed funeral. In choosing this option, you will want to make sure the decedent looks as natural as possible for the memorial service. In addition to providing formal clothing, you will need to apply some cosmetics. Applying makeup and cosmetics to a dead person is somewhat different from your usual makeup routine, so here are some instructions and tips.

Let’s get started.

How to apply makeup to the deceased

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Here are some things you’ll need:

  • The deceased’s own makeup
  • Foundation base – airbrush is probably best
  • Strong concealer
  • Blush
  • Blot powder
  • Eye shadow
  • Eyebrow pencil
  • Nuetral lip liner and/or lipstick
  • Makeup brushes
  • Fingernail clippers
  • Tweezers


Check the fingernails, and clip if needed. Use tweezers to pluck unwanted hair and perhaps to touch up the eyebrows. Go for a clean, natural look. Also, unless the decedent is a man who always wore a beard, shave their face. This applie to both men and women. A shaved face gives a very smooth, clean appearance. Always ask the family first – some men maintain a light stubble or a 5-o’clock-shadow that the family will prefer to retain.


Start with a strong concealer and cover any blemishes on the face, neck, or hands.


Choose a thick foundation base if using a brush. Airbrush foundation can be easier to work with. For the face, begin at the forehead and work your way down, evenly sweeping through the cheecks and to the nose. As you work down towards the neck, lighten up the application and try not to get to close to the collar or clothing line. This will ensure that the makeup does not stain the clothing.


Use a natural color and try not to overdo it. A light application is all you need to add some color.


If using a lip liner, apply that first and then the lipstick. For women, use their everyday lipstick shade. For men, use a neutral color that compliments their natural coloration. To seal in the color, first use a napkin to cover the lips and then apply blot powder using a brush over the napkin. This will help the lip coloration to last longer.


The eyebrow pencil can help fill in the brows with a light application. Shade in some natural color onto the eyelids using a brush.


Finally, apply the blotting powder evenly across the face, neck, and hands. Also, any area that will be visible during the funeral should be touched up.

Tips on doing the deceased’s makeup for a home funeral

Tips on doing the deceased's makeup for a home funeral


Now is not the time to create a unique look, or the make the deceased look like they are heading to a party. Aim for an everyday look, use their makeup and own choice of colors if possible, and show restraint.


The deceased’s skin tone will be different after death. Count on the need to darken, lighten, or apply more color in order to achieve the desired appearance.


Begin each step with the hands, or on a “test area” that will be covered up by clothing. This will allow you to see what works and how to do it best. Then move on to the more prominent and visible areas.


You don’t want cosmetics to rub off onto the deceased’s clothing. Find out what they will wearin
g first, and shape your makeup application to avoid stains while retaining a natural look.


Since the person is laying down, the inside of the nose will be much more prominently visible. Pluck a few nose hairs in order to keep this from being a distraction.


The deceased person’s skin will be much more firm, and this will make foundation application much more difficult. Use a heavy foundation. Also consider using airbrush products, as they will apply more evenly.


Most cosmetics will blend well on the living because of the inherent body heat. However, with a deceased person, there is no heat so you will find that blening makeup doesn’t work particularly well. One tip is to hold the makeup in the palm of your hand prior to application to warm it a bit. Additional options include setting the cosmetics in direct sunlight on a warm summer day, keeping it near a heat source such as a vent or space heater, or setting it on a heated bean bag prior to use. Also be sure to use your common sense and be careful not to melt the makeup.


We’ll let reddit user sarahornejewett take this one. As a funeral director, this user is commenting on makeup done at a funeral home after the embalming. But there are still some good tips:

Mascara on the deceased is usually a Bad Series of Events. Mascara is great for length on living lashes, but once the body has died, there are a lot of things that an embalmer has to do in order to make sure that the lashes don’t get tucked into the eye (this happens during a process called minimal preparation, where we set the eyes/mouth/features).

Depending on how they close her eyes, you are going to want to be careful with how you to the eye makeup. Most places will use an eye cap (it looks like a contact lens) which holds the eyelid down and in place. Cosmetics over the eye cap don’t look bad, but be careful with any eyeshadows (they tend to crease up). If your funeral home is one that still glues the eyes together to shut them, you will have to be incredibly careful if you’re applying anything to the eyes, or you could pull and damage the lid’s skin.


A person laying down with have shadow effects that are different from how they look standing upright. You may need to add some shadows to create a more natural look.


A Mortician’s Beauty Secrets – NYMag

How to Apply Makeup to a Deceased Person – eHow

Morticians: What’s your go-to makeup? – Reddit

Mortuary Cosmetics – Derma-Pro

4 thoughts on “Tips on doing the deceased’s makeup for a home funeral”

  1. My friend died and I went to her funeral last week. She was Caucasian but her skin color was a ghastly shade of gray at the viewing. I was appalled. Couldn’t the funeral home have done a better job of lightening up her skin color ?!!! She died of sepsis and liver disease.

  2. Yes, from what I’ve researched online in short time, tonight, there are various “dyes” or color tints, if you will, that an experienced mortician can add to the embalming fluid, to help influence/enhance the color of the skins’ appearance, i.e., a pink hue to compensate for the typical ashen color resukting from the removal of body’s blood in exchange for embalming/preservation fluid.

    I’m saddened to read your friend wasnt presented for viewing in a better aesthetic condition. Of course we want to remember them as they were. My take-away is that preparing the deceased for viewing is a form of artistry; each mortician having different preferences of makeup, etc. There may have been issues with skin color due to the liver, sepsis condition that were difficult to correct, possibly. Heavier makeups are typically used also to color correct, even air brushing methods too. So sorry for your loss. Be sure to keep great photos of yr friend around to remember her as she was.

  3. My daughter passed this month. She was peaceful looking until the funeral home got their hands on her. The embalming has made her look awful and feel leather like. She is coming home Tuesday and I have to try and put right my beautiful daughter. It’s the hardest thing I’ve had to contemplate doing and am scared of getting it terribly wrong.

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