Cosplay is a huge, creative hobby, and cosplay makeup is something I’m really passionate about! Recently I’ve been able to dabble with some more interesting makeup, and figuring out how to style it for different characters is one of my favourite parts of putting a costume together.
I encourage everyone within the cosplay community to learn the basics of makeup – so here’s a short introduction about how it works and why it’s important to use it! All you need is a bit of patience, some basic products and the want to learn!
Cosplay makeup is as important as any other part of a costume; we all spend so much time and effort on our costumes, the last thing you want to let you down is your face! Put as much effort into how your face looks as everything else and you will be much happier with the result.
When you put your costume together, you don’t want blotchy skin or spots to let you down. People are naturally drawn to look at your face first – a quick bit of makeup will make your whole costume look better!
Don’t blend in
Wearing wigs and costumes washes people out – especially with unnatural colours! If you add a bit of makeup and some colour to your skin you will stand out against your costume and it will look much more flattering.
Cameras don’t lie, but makeup does! Cameras pick up imperfections and redness in skin easily, but wearing makeup covers that up.
A little bit of effort goes a long way! It makes you look better and it shows dedication to all aspects of your costume, not just what they’re physically wearing!
Pictures aren’t people
Most of the time you’re cosplaying from drawn artwork – so chances are, you’re not going to look exactly like the character you’re doing. Thankfully with makeup you can change how you look to match your character! Practice with different colours, contouring and eyeliner to change the shape of your features.
Seeing bad photos of yourself can really bring down your confidence. Having a nice face of makeup will disguise how tired you might be after all nighters before the con! It’s a great confidence booster, whether it’s in the mirror or in pictures – it’s also nice to be complimented on how great you look!
- False Eyelashes
- Lip colour
Each of the products listed above have different purposes. Some of them might not be necessary for your costumes, but most of them will come in handy one way or another so it’s worth investing in what you can. Makeup can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to break the bank – a lot of cheaper brands are still great quality, and most of them offer testers you can try first. For a full makeup bag with all of the products listed above, you should expect to pay roughly £20-£30 using budget brands.
Don’t rush out and grab the first thing you find, though – take some time and do a little research to see what each product does. If you’re unfamiliar with makeup, it will help to take some time to ask questions, do some googling or watch some videos on YouTube to understand what does what and how you can use it!
I highly recommend investing in a set of brushes or sponges to apply your makeup, too. Using your hands might be easier but you get a better finish with brushes or sponges than with fingers, and a good set of brushes will last you a long time! They’re also a lot more versatile and precise than a clumsy finger! Make sure you clean your brushes and sponges regularly for the best possible application!
Makeup Tips & Tricks
Finally, I want to give some basic advice on cosplay makeup. It’s slightly different from regular makeup, and needs to be applied in different ways! If you’re getting started, here are some things to consider;
Learn how to use your face
This sounds dumb, but check yourself in a mirror a lot, move your cheeks, mouth, etc and see where you need to apply your makeup. If you’re not sure what shape your face or eyes are, google it and find out. When pulling different expressions, see how your face moves and what you want to emphasise – experiment first!
Make it flattering
Find something that is suitable and flattering for your character. Make sure you consider your character’s look and personality; what works for one might not work for another. Some characters have rosier cheeks, some have wide eyes – play around with the products you have and see what works!
Use a primer
Your makeup will go on smoother and last much longer! It makes a noticeable difference when you do or don’t wear it, and if you’re attending an event in a big, hot hall, you don’t want to have your makeup melting off early. You can also use a setting spray to fix your makeup in place.
Make your face look plain with foundation and concealers first, then build on top of that. I recommend using a medium-full coverage foundation to make things nice and smooth first. Once your face looks totally blank, you can add colour to it!
Use blush & bronzer to add colour, contour and definition
This will help make your face softer for girls, and more angular for men. There are some excellent contouring tutorials available online – experiment with them and see what works for you! Familiarise yourself with what works and what doesn’t. It is also worth mentioning that different colours work with different skin tones and hair colours; try to compliment your wig as much as possible so it will look more natural.
Colour your lips
Lipsticks come in all shapes, sizes, colours and finishes! No matter who your character is, you will be able to find something to compliment their look. If your character has plain lips, invest in a nice natural nude colour rather than actually leaving your lips plain.
Do lots of makeup tests
Always try to do a makeup test with your wig first! It’s the best way to see what works and what doesn’t, and it will also teach you what you need to improve. If you’re stuck, have a look at how others do their makeup for the same character; flicking through character and cosplay tags on Instagram might give you the inspiration you need!
Take photos with different light conditions to see how your makeup looks indoors, outdoors, with flash, etc. Ask friends for advice on how it looks and see what works! If you’re happy with your makeup, it’s worth taking photos of the products and colours you have used for each look for when you wear them again too!
The great thing about makeup is that there are no limits to it. There is no right or wrong, there are no rules. If you’re curious, give it a try and see what you create!
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