UCF sophomore Katherine Polgar dedicates most of her days (and nights) to makeup artistry. With a theatre BFA in design and technology and a focus in costume design, Polgar has always been interested in using her artistry to create and become characters beyond herself. Now, with 76K followers on TikTok and 3.8 million likes, she gets to share her skills with a bigger audience than ever before. Polgar’s current project is a 31 days of Halloween makeup series. Every day, she posts a new Halloween makeup look, usually complete with wigs, body paint and prosthetics that she creates herself.
“I pride myself on making everything myself. It’s a lot of using wire, clay and newspaper to create shapes. For more advanced stuff, I watch videos to learn new skills. A lot of it is teaching myself and hoping it works,” Polgar said.
At the age of 12, Polgar first started getting involved in theatre. Ever since then, she’s been surrounded by the theatre world. Her nights, weekends and holidays have been spent behind the stage, applying her artistry in any way possible. She sometimes even shows up to rehearsals in half-done makeup looks and colored contacts, because her call times come a little too soon. It was through her high school theatre class that she learned the SFX basics. Every day, she builds on those skills by creating her own prosthetics and masks that she wears in her makeup looks.
Polgar expresses how much she loves the actual process of applying makeup, calling it “peaceful.” A typical day in her life during this series is sitting down at midnight (she likes doing makeup at night), pulling up inspiration photos, beginning TikToks, doing the makeup, going to her garage to take pictures, and immediately taking it off — usually taking off some of her own hair when removing the prosthetics. “I won’t have sideburns by November,” Polgar jokes.
Every second of time Polgar has outside of classes and assignments, she spends doing makeup looks, creating prosthetics, styling wigs, editing photos and making TikToks. This is her third year doing the 31 days of Halloween makeup series, but she says this one has been the biggest so far because of the complexity of every look and the dedication she’s put into creating TikTok content.
The series has done a lot for Polgar, such as growing her following and teaching her new skills, but it has also compromised her sleep schedule. “Time does not exist, I don’t sleep when you’re supposed to sleep,” Polgar said, pointing to the dozens of empty RedBull cans on her dresser. “Sometimes I finish makeup looks three or four hours before class, and that’s when I get to sleep.”
Typically, the makeup looks take Polgar anywhere between six and 12 hours to execute, however, some of the more complex makeup looks have taken her 15 hours. Those hours also don’t include the time it takes to create the prosthetics from scratch. In her bedroom, Polgar has several semi-completed projects for future makeup looks. One that caught my eye was the cast of a face with creepy eyes and a large head; Polgar explained that it’s for a future “pumpkin look,” and that whenever she has a few minutes of free time she adds a layer of latex and waits for it to dry. That one project alone has been worked on daily for the last month.
Polgar first experimented with makeup as a joke, when she turned herself into a friend’s dead fish as a “memorial” with some face paint in her bathroom mirror. After that, she wanted to keep learning more, and now she’s creating makeup content daily. Polgar didn’t start documenting her makeup looks on social media until her junior year of high school when she realized that if she wanted to have makeup as something to fall back on, she’d need a portfolio of her own work. She knew that if it was something she’d want to take seriously, she’d have to have something to show for it, so she created an Instagram page and started putting her looks there.
“There’s a lot of pressure with makeup to do it yourself,” Polgar says. “My future is only up to me, if I want something I have to do it. With other jobs you go to college and you know you don’t have to get a real job until you graduate and have your degree, but with makeup there are younger people than us doing it, so I knew I had to start now.”
Although it sometimes feels stressful to come up with and execute 31 different makeup looks in a row, Polgar finds the process rewarding because it challenges her and allows her to maintain her creativity. Make sure to keep up with her 31 days of Halloween makeup series and to follow her on TikTok and Instagram, @katherinepolgarr on both platforms!