Home > Uncategorized > It’s not easy being desaturated.

It’s not easy being desaturated.

September 27, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Photo by Ben Zero. Thanks, Ben!

Every year around Halloween, I get several emails asking for costume advice on a Desaturated Something-or-Other. I’m lazy and I like to share ideas, so here’s a comprehensive blog with more information.


  • You have to think in shades of gray, not black & white. And all your grays need to complement each other, which is freaking HARD. There’s blue-grays, red-grays, etc. Find neutral ones, use mainly those and accent with black & white. (Wearing all black & white is not the same as looking desaturated).
  • Once you’ve matched all your grays for your outfit, you then need to match a skin-tone gray body paint. By ‘skin tone’ I mean it looks like your particular shade of skin tone, but gray. I recommend only Kryolan brand aquacolor* body paint, they have lots of shades and coverage is amazing. Match colors in person (take your outfit with you) if you’re lucky enough to have a vendor near you. I wouldn’t chance it looking at shades online, honestly.
  • Line your eyes top and bottom with dark gray eyeliner BEFORE you paint your face & exposed skinparts. Then shade back in your eyebrows so you don’t look like Amanda Palmer before she breaks out the eyebrow Sharpie.


My advice to you would be….don’t do it. Desaturated Santa costume only works when there are lots of other red Santas for contrast. Otherwise you just look sort of weird and sickly due to the gray body paint, and it’s not immediately obvious what you’re up to. It also doesn’t look as striking at night under artificial light, even with other Santas around.

Desaturated Santa is for daytime SantaCon, in my opinion. It’s way too much time, money and energy to put into without having a lot of other Santas for visual contrast.


  • This is hard. It’s a costume type that requires perfect color matching and 100% attention to detail, or it’ll look like shit and you’ve just wasted your time and will probably just confuse people or incite pity that you couldn’t quite pull it off. Go big or go shopping at the Halloween MegaUltraGiantStore for an off-the-rack costume.
  • Yes, it’s a grey wig.
  • Unless you have ABSOLUTELY JET BLACK EYES, you must wear gray contact lenses or it’ll break the illusion to have color sitting there in the middle of your face. They’re available online without a prescription if you look hard enough.

Gray contacts, 2 shades of gray body paint, 2 shades of gray eyeliner, sponge for body paint, fixative spray for body paint.

Ok, if I haven’t scared you off and you’re willing to put in the time, energy, effort and money required to do a Desaturated costume, send me a photo when you’re done! brody at brodyqat dot com is the best place to reach me. Good luck!

*Please note, I don’t get any kickbacks or free product from Kryolan. I just really like their stuff. Mike Woolson first introduced me to it, he’s an amazing body painter + photographer.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. September 28, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    I did a “Pleasantville” type of costume for Otakon. I got a lot of interesting looks! It’s at the bottom of this post: http://thereshesews.blogspot.com/2011/08/otakon-2011-back-to-reality.html

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