Shironuri Makeup Tutorial

In our recent photoshoot starring model Vamp we created a fearsome Shironuri style look!


Shironuri is a fairly uncommon subculture style which originated from Japan. Shironuri literally translates to “white painted face”. Perhaps harkening to historical roots in traditional Kabuki makeup (Keshō)- primarily the whiting out of the performer’s face and then the addition of sharp lines and shading to create fearsome or dramatic expressions to each character almost like masks. Though most Shironuri styles do not follow the traditional lines or colors of Kabuki makeup, or the associations of certain colors with different personality traits/qualities.

Kabuki performer makeup.

Japan’s not alone in the use of whitened skin in traditional or subculture styles. In the Western-originated Gothic subculture we have seen a long trend of whiting out skin with makeup (and even a similar trend of ornate finials and decorations done near the eyes afterwards). It’s not an uncommon theme in many cultures’ traditional performances either- think of mimes and Pierrot. In historical eras a whitened visage has appeared all over- such as the Elizabethan courts and their powdered pallor.

Shironuri is a blend of the white painted face with subculture fashion styles (Japanese or otherwise) for a show-stopping result. This allows for a wide range of amazing looks. In our research most we found most Shironuri styled folks had a cohesive theme or concept to their attire- whether they were monstrous, ephemeral, Gothic, peculiar, or sweet. You can clearly see why this creative style so inspired us!

Our take on Shironuri was a darker character. We transformed Vamp into an eerie black clad witch with disembodied teeth as an underlying theme.


Here’s a brief step by step on how we created the makeup look in our shoot. This tutorial will help as a starting point to anyone interested in creating their own Shironuri style look or just an over the top style for any occasion. We hope it inspires you!

Tools and Products Needed:

Kryolan aquacolor makeup in white (needs to be matte, not shimmer). Alternately any opaque white face paint (think quality stage makeup, not those Halloween tubes that come with the cheap seasonal kits which are usually wretched for your skin).

-Kryolan aquacolor makeup in grey and black (those are the colors we used but you could incorporate any colors you like as accents to the white face). You could use any water-based blendable colored face paint or makeup for this. We love Kryolan (we even used to sell their products).

-White setting powder. Any translucent (not skin colored) powder can be used for this. We used a white antishine one from Kryolan- but you could also use white matte eyeshadow in a pinch.

-Fake Eyelashes! Almost all Shironuri styles use large fake eyelashes- the bigger the better. We custom made our own for that ideal witchy look (here’s a link to our DIY fake eyelashes tutorial). And you’ll need lash glue (DUO is the best).

-Brushes/Tools- We used a flat foundation brush, fluffy foundation powder brush, 2 pointed fine tip brushes, and a couple of makeup sponges to create this exact look. Q-tips are also useful to have on hand for blending the water-based Kryolan or for removing unwanted smudges.

Step One:

Start with a bare face, no primer is needed with the aquacolor. Wet your foundation brush and swish it around onto your Kryolan aquacolor to mix it, it needs to be the consistency of thick cream or milk. Paint the opaque white base onto the entire face, including your eyelids. If you have eyebrows (our model did not) paint over them with the white face paint. You can carry the white down onto the neck as we did, though we have seen some Shironuri style looks that did not (which gives it a more mask-like appearance). Even white out the lips. White, white everywhere!

shironuri makeup tutorial

Step Two:

Once the face has been completely painted white (this may take a couple of coats for perfectly even coverage) set it! Use your fluffy powder brush to lightly apply white eyeshadow or setting powder over the entire whitened area to lock it in place. Be careful not to smear it with the brush by dragging the bristles on the skin at all.

Step Three:

We lined the upper lid with a thin black sweep of aquacolor so the lashes would appear more “natural”, and blended that line into the eyelid a bit.

Then we began the myriad of complex finials shown in the finished photos. We don’t have a step by step on the exact lines we used as it’s an organic process. Try doodling above one eyebrow with swoops and light curly q’s, or make tiny vines with leaves. Vary the weight of the lines for a natural and flowing feel.

We also shaded  below her brow line to create some depth. That can be achieved with a bit of water and the tip of a cosmetic triangle/spongy thing (or even a wet Q-tip) and downward movements on the skin to blend the grey aquacolor downwards fading it out as you go (darkest by the brow line and then lighter as you descend).

We echoed the finials above her left eye with some on her right cheek in the same sort of organic flourishes.

shironuri makeup

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Step Four:

Apply the eyelashes! Begin with the top lashes (a custom set I made earlier in the week) and applied them against the roots of the natural lashes. We also added a row of lower lashes with large spiked single lashes added in afterwards for detail. Customize this step to your own Shironuri dream- big lashes, multi-colored ones, fanned or pointed, etc!

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Step Five:

Lips! Most Shironuri looks we have seen utilized unnatural lip colors- greens, greys, blacks, and blues were common but you could do just about anything you like! We used a darker shade of the grey that appears in the makeup to create the lips of our character. Keep the lines of the lips sharp and smaller than the natural lip to achieve the look we did. We finished our look with circle lenses for an extra-eerie look.

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Put this makeup together with your creative Shironuri outfit! It’s an easy and striking style sure to captivate wherever you take it.

If you try out this tutorial please send us a photo of the results, we’d love to see it! 🙂 As usual, if you’ve got questions please ask! 🙂


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