By day, they apply lipstick, rouge and powder to create that vibrant, flawless look.
But by night they use their skills to paint a picture of death, punctuated with scars, bloody gashes and deformities.
For makeup artists,
But the holiday can mean long hours, with Halloween events stretching from the early-afternoon to the early-morning hours.
On a recent Friday afternoon, makeup artist Andria Farrell toiled behind the scenes at Universal Studios Hollywood's "
Farrell carefully glued fake nails onto the actress' cheeks and forehead.
"It's definitely a different mind-set from my day job," she said, referring to her position at the Sephora makeup counter in the Westfield Fashion Square mall in Sherman Oaks.
The life of a makeup artist is not always pretty. Artists who work in beauty salons or stores typically earn only about $30,000 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those who work in the entertainment industry might get as much as $83,000 annually, but the work is often sporadic.
So makeup artists look forward to the surge in demand when haunted attractions and theme parks launch into their annual Halloween events, many of which run the entire month of October.
"I consider Halloween the national holiday for makeup artists," said Susan Cabral-Ebert, president of the Make-up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild, Local 706. "They do have to scramble for jobs all year round, but this is when our artistic skills come into demand."
Those skills are needed to create the killer misfits and rabid monsters who roam Six Flags Magic Mountain's "
But Universal Studios' Halloween event has a reputation for having the best special effects, thanks partly to Larry Bones. His special effects company, Boneyard Effects Inc., hires the artists for the theme park. They've also produced many of the effects in movies such as "Shallow Hal" and "Dr. Doolittle 2."
The theme park employs 41 artists to work on the 500 or so actors who haunt six mazes and five "scare zones." "Halloween Horror Nights" runs on select nights from Sept. 20 to Nov. 2.
Universal converts an empty parking structure into its "Scare Base," where actors begin to line up about 2:45 p.m. to don costumes and take turns in the makeup chairs.
"It's basically a giant assembly line of gore," said the event's creative director, John Murdy.
Speed is crucial, he said, because the ghouls and demonic creatures need to be in place when "Horror Nights" opens at 7 p.m.
On a recent afternoon, the makeup artists worked at rows of tables with lighted mirrors while zombies, demons and deranged clowns shuffled by. Mutants and bloody prison guards waited outside, smoking cigarettes. Along a wall, hundreds of foam masks lined a shelf, each marked with a number assigned to a character.
In Hollywood horror movies, makeup artists might spend four hours or more completing a complicated character. But for theme park monsters, the artists have a maximum of 45 minutes.
"There are certain things you can speed up and other things you can't," said Murdy, who helped dream up each of the park's characters with the help of Bones and Chris Williams, the art director for "Halloween Horror Nights."
Once the artists at Universal are finished with makeup, they ride vans to locations throughout the park, where they wait to touch up makeup over the course of the evening. They wrap up when the park closes at 2 a.m.
The makeup process became more time-consuming this year because Universal Studios began adding colored contact lenses to the costumes of actors portraying possessed characters from the movie "Evil Dead."
"I love this stuff," makeup artist Rachel Dubin said as she applied a pale layer of powder to a zombie character. "It's so much more challenging than what I do during the day."
When she isn't creating monsters and zombies, Dubin is working in La Cañada on an independent movie about a bank heist, making actresses look vibrant and alluring.
"At night, I do the opposite," she said.