Dental nurse Toni Griggs has kept busy during the coronavirus pandemic by posting pictures of herself as well-known characters thanks to her impressive special effects makeup (SFX) skills.
The 26-year-old has always loved makeup and started to experiment with it when she started Maxwelltown High School. Her passion grew and, combined with her love for Halloween, she began to dabble with SFX makeup. “I’ve always loved the makeup on television shows and films, especially horror because of the SFX makeup with blood, wounds and prosthetics,” Toni said. “My love for Halloween started off my passion for SFX makeup. A couple of years ago I used to apply glam makeup on clients in my spare time when I was starting out, but I decided to stop. “But my real passion was SFX makeup not glam. I would do it every Halloween on myself and would showcase it on my Instagram and Facebook and would get a lot of positive feedback. I first tried SFX makeup properly five years ago but I’ve only started consistently applying it on my face recently during lockdown as I have endless time to do it.”
Since March, Toni has used her time to create a number of different and unique looks, including Little Mermaid villain Ursula, the Mad Hatter from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride. The former Noblehill and Lochside primary pupil admits practice most definitely makes perfect. She said: “Every day you learn something new or a different technique, that’s what makes it fun.
“I’m self taught, I learned from watching YouTube or if I find a photo online, I’ll try to do my own version of it. “Things go wrong all the time and I have to go back and fix the mistake but I always try to keep going rather than starting again, because I never know what the outcome will be and if I’ll like it or not.
“I have days where things just aren’t working though, so I just don’t do makeup that day and rest.” The time it takes to perfect a look depends with what type of look Toni is attempting to achieve. The minimum time it takes is two hours but it can take a couple of days of prep if she decides to do prosthetics.
Toni wants every image shared to look the part so orders costumes and wigs which she admits “makes the world of difference” to the final outcome. Toni uses a basic SFX kit which includes wax, liquid latex, blood, spirit gum, paint, brushes, sponges, isopropyl alcohol and Pros-Aide. “I use Ben Nye nose and scar wax. I would recommend to use Vaseline when using this as it sticks to everything,” Toni explained. “I also use a spatula to flatten the edges of the wax on the desired area. I also use Kryolan clear liquid latex. There’s so many different types of blood depending on what you’re using it for. I have dark and light blood to help imitate external and internal bleeding. But I also have fresh scab and thick blood, which is great for using in wounds and making them look realistic.”
“Always remember to purchase the removers for adhesives. And prep your face properly, especially if you have sensitive skin,” she said. “Also at the moment I use Snazaroo face paints, Mehron Paradise paints, Mehron colour rings and Kryolan supracolor. Any detailed brush will do too and I use face wedges and stipple sponges.”
Being creative and transforming herself has definitely helped Toni through lockdown and kept her sane, she says. She added: “It’s very therapeutic because it’s just like painting but on your face and body. I do a look nearly every day, it just depends when I get inspiration and what time it is.”
Picking her favourite character so far was an impossible task for Toni but her Corpse Bride look has been super popular on TikTok. Not only does Toni look the part with her makeup skills, she also goes the extra mile by creating videos in character and lip-syncs to the characters voice. “I think I have a favourite character and then I do a new look, and that takes over for my new favourite,” she said. “I created a TikTok at the start of lockdown and my Corpse Bride look is the most popular on there. I love creating videos when in character and lip syncing to the character’s voice.”
She added: “I never know what I’m going to create until I wake up and get inspired. For a few of them I’ve planned ahead for but only because I need to order costume pieces, eye contacts, wigs or prosthetics for the final look.”
Toni has received a tremendous response on social media for her character designs and even got recognition from professional makeup artist and online star Jamie Genevieve. She said: “I’m so happy that everyone is liking my creations, I was so nervous to start posting regularly because there is always someone with a negative comment. But, there’s always so many more positive ones, and that’s what I focus on.
“It all feels surreal to me because I am just creating them for fun in my spare time and it makes me content. When people message me with praise and saying they look forward to my looks, it makes me want to cry with happiness and I’m so glad for this opportunity.
“I often ask what kind of looks people want to see on Instagram and request characters.”
She is now aiming for a dream job to work in the SFX industry – either on sets in theatres or in the movies. “I’ve applied to college in Glasgow for makeup artistry to try and help me progress towards that goal but I applied just before the deadline and am on the reserve list,” Toni said. “When it comes to this, because it’s so big and an unrealistic type of job it sometimes scares me to put myself out there, so I always leave applying for things to the last minute. I find that I talk myself out of opportunities but this has given me the confidence to go for it and succeed since it truly makes me euphoric.”
* Find Toni on Instagram and TikTok under griggles_