harlequin makeup

The Only Harley Quinn Makeup Tutorial You Need for Halloween

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Few Halloween costume ideas are more timeless and easy to put together than Harley Quinn. Not only are her painted pigtails and smudged lipstick ripe for Instagram; they also don’t require the patience or skill needed for most Halloween makeup. Plus, with Joker smashing box office records, going as Gotham’s bad girl this year feels particularly of the moment.

So with that in mind, we teamed up with makeup artist Lijha Stewart (also known as the Queen of Halloween) to break down all the advice you need to nail Harley Quinn’s makeup. Read on for the full step-by-step tutorial.

How to DIY Harley Quinn Makeup

Level of difficulty: Easy. If you can smudge on some makeup and throw your hair into pigtails second-grade-style, you’ll be able to do this no problem.

Amount of time required: One hour, max.

What you’ll need:
-Your favorite matte foundation
-A contour stick
-Matte, loose powder
-A rosy blush
-Your brow product of choice
-Red and blue eyeshadow
-Black and white eyeliner pencils
-Red and blue eye glitter (optional)
-Scotch tape (optional)
-False eyelashes (optional)
-Red lipstick
-Cotton swabs
-Black liquid eyeliner
-Red and blue hair chalk or hair paint

Step 1: Contour and highlight.

Even though Harley’s skin is really pale in the movie, to make it more lifelike and wearable, we contoured in a few key areas. Swipe a sculpting stick down your cheekbones, at your hairline, underneath your lips, and on your collar bones. Blend it out with your fingers or a buffing brush.

In an effort to still capture that angsty, washed-out look, set everything with a matte, loose powder and keep the highlighting to a strategic minimum, placing it only in certain places like underneath your brow bone and in the inner corner of your eyes.

Step 2: Accentuate your brows.

For light or scarce brows, “it’s best to start with a brow wax so that any color you put on after sticks,” says Stewart. With a spoolie brush, apply a light coating of the wax, and brush hairs upward and outward. Then, with an angled brush, apply your desired shade in light strokes.

Step 3: Smudge on eyeshadow.

The trick to getting eyes like Harley Quinn’s isn’t in how you smudge your shadow—it’s about the pigment you use. While regular shadows are great and can sometimes offer intense color payoff, it’s best to opt for a cream here. You can literally smudge it on with your fingers if you’d like, but laying it on with a medium-size eye shadow brush will do just fine. To get that splattered effect, take whatever color is left on your brush from the initial application and drag it outward and downward. Oh, and don’t forget to use two different brushes for your red and blue. Mixing them will make both colors muddy—not the look you’re aiming for here.

When you’re done creating your shape, layer matching eyeshadow over your base to set the look. You might also find it easier to blend any harsh smudges out with your powder shadows.

Step 4: Add dimension to your eyes.

To add some dimension to your eyes, line them with a thin coat of black eyeliner and smoke out the edges to create a sultry effect. Then pick up a tiny amount of black shadow and wiggle a blending brush in the outer corners. To top it off, add white pencil to your waterline for a doll-like effect.

Step 5: Layer on glitter.

Now for the messy but most fun part: glitter! Once you have your blue and red pigments handy, first and foremost, wet a flat shadow brush. You’ll want to do this each time before dipping it into the glitter so there’s minimal fallout. When applying your glitter, take your time and keep wetting your brush. Pat it on gently and follow the shape you already made with your eye shadow—no need to get creative here. Pro tip: If any flecks fall out of place, clean them up by using Scotch tape.

When you’re satisfied with the level of sparkle you’ve achieved, apply mascara and (optional) add lashes. (Our cheat sheet on applying falsies, here.)

Step 6: Apply red lipstick and draw on tattoos.

Almost done! When choosing your red lipstick, opt for a creamy, cherry red that will move around easily. Apply it like normal, then take your finger or a small shadow brush to sweep the color on the lower bottom lip downward. Then blot. Apply another layer of red on top for shine as desired.

Now for the tattoos. Because of its intensity and easy-to-use applicator, a black felt-tipped eyeliner works best when drawing on shapes and words. Draw the outline of a heart underneath your eye, right on the apple of your cheek. Don’t worry if you mess up—just make sure to have a cotton swab and concealer handy to clean up wonky edges.

For the “Rotten” tattoo, we advise having a friend write it on, simply because doing it on yourself in a mirror means it’ll show up backward. (Remember Karen’s rhinestone “K” in Mean Girls? Yeah, that’s what happens when you try to write stuff in a mirror.)

Step 7: Spray on hair color.

Last but not least: Those classic Harley Quinn pigtails. If you don’t have blond hair, there are tons of Harley Quinn wigs out there you can use. But if you’ve got blond hair already, it’s a cinch to DIY. And there are a few different ways to get the look.

First thing’s first: Put your hair up in pigtails. (Curl them first, if you want them to be extra bouncy.) Then you can either opt for hair color chalk or hair color spray. Warning: All will be messy, but if you spritz hairspray on top, your color should be set for a few hours. Also, it might be a good idea to wear rubber or plastic disposable gloves when applying it.

For hair chalk, rub your strands through it until the color is dark enough for you. You might have to do a few rounds before real pigmentation starts to show. As for the hairspray, definitely do this in your bathroom—standing in the shower is optimal. In order not to get hair paint everywhere, have a piece of white paper nearby to tuck behind your head when spritzing.

Harley Quinn costumes are trending for Halloween, but this is the only Harley Quinn makeup tutorial you need. Read on for our easy how-to steps.

Harlequin Makeup

Harlequin makeup may be romantic, comedic or tragic, depending on which look you’re after. It’s a unique look for costume parties, but if you’re in theater, you probably need to know how to apply your own makeup to transform yourself into this funny clown.

The Harlequin Clown

The harlequin clown, which started out as a jolly trickster, is sometimes seen as a sad little figure, not like the cheery, full-of-smiles circus clowns who do anything for a laugh. Your harlequin makeup look may depend on which type of harlequin you wish to portray.

Hallmarks of harlequin clown makeup include:

  • White face
  • Heart details
  • Triangular details, often upside-down and under the eyes
  • Red, Cupid’s bow lips

In addition, the harlequin outfit is very colorful and full of whimsy. Bright diamond or triangular patterns often define this clown’s outfit.

How to Apply Harlequin Makeup

Regular cosmetics probably won’t be thick or long-lasting enough to produce a great harlequin makeup look, so look for stage makeup to create this funny face.


The traditional harlequin makeup look consists of a red and black face, not the white background so popular today. The original harlequin clowns used a mask, but you can easily recreate this look with makeup.

  1. Lightly outline your face with a pencil that matches your skin tone. Keep the line about 1-inch in from the outer edges of your face and work on creating a circular shape.
  2. Draw a line down the center of your face with the same pencil.
  3. Color in one side of your face with red stage paint, except for an upside-down triangle shape beneath the eye.
  4. Color the other side with black stage paint, leaving an upside-down triangle under the eye clear.
  5. On the red side of your face, color in the triangle black. Repeat this in red for the black half of your face.

This harlequin makeup will best complement a traditional red and black clown outfit.

Other Variations

Today’s harlequin is more often portrayed with a white face. You can be creative when designing this look, but the two ideas below may give you a starting point if you want to create a more complex face.


  1. Color the entire face with white paint. This layer doesn’t need to be especially heavy, but your skin shouldn’t peek through.
  2. With a thin pencil, draw a rounded arch above both eyebrows.
  3. Draw a tear shape in black under the outer corner of one eye. Highlight with a dab of white to add depth.
  4. Color in two red circles on the center of cheeks. Draw the circle in first with a pencil to make sure it’s perfectly round.
  5. In the center of your lips, draw a Cupid’s bow shape. Don’t extend the pencil to the outer corners of your mouth; your entire mouth won’t be painted.
  6. Color in the bow shape with red lipstick or paint.

Moderately Complex

  1. As above, begin with a white background.
  2. Draw a line in black across your brow from temple to temple.
  3. Draw a line parallel to the first line across the middle of the nose, from one ear to the other.
  4. Between the two lines, color in diamond patterns. The easiest way to do this is to draw diagonal lines first in one direction and then criss-cross them in the other direction.
  5. Color in the diamonds in alternating colors of black and white, or use many harlequin colors, such as deep purple, gold, blue, green and red.
  6. Outline the mouth in red. At the corners of the lips, curve the line down slightly.
  7. Color the lips red.

Being a Clown

Once you perfect your harlequin makeup technique, complete the look with the right outfit. This clown ensemble may be red and black, or it may be full of colors. A pointed hat will finish off the look well. Now you’re ready to be Harlequin, that clever and funny jokester who loved nothing more than a good laugh.

Harlequin makeup may be romantic, comedic or tragic, depending on which look you're after. It's a unique look for costume parties, but if you're in theater, … ]]>