Cosplay Innovation: Is Cosplay Make-up Necessary?

Cosplay Innovation: Is Cosplay Make-up Necessary?

1 comment 📅20 July 2016, 09:30


There are a lot of times when you have costume completed, your props are finished and your wig is styled to perfection. You finally take a deep sigh of relief and feel you can sit back and begin to relax a little bit – heck, the hard stuff is done, you just need to pack your suitcase and get to the convention. But when you look back at your photoshoots or those quick snaps that fans of your character or close friends have taken of you in your costume, you realise you had forgotten one big thing when checking your final to-do list – your make-up.

Whether you’re cosplaying a human, an elf or some type of creature, there is a high percentage that you are going to wish you had done your make-up for those sneaky photos or those really high definition photoshoots. Of course, if you are wreathing a fursuit, mascot costume or even a cosplay which has a mask and you can’t see your face, then this doesn’t really apply to you.

My Character Isn’t Wearing Make-up.

That may be true, but depending on how much you want to portray your character and how flawless you want your photoshoots to come out, it will really come down to the fact of whether you are wearing make-up or not. Unfortunately when you do go for photoshoots there is a high percentage that the photographer will have an amazing camera – it’s so good that it produces the highest definition of your costume and your face. This then means that every single pore on your face, every stray strand of hair and every flaw that you know about will more than likely show up in that photo.

I’m A Man. Do I Really Need To Wear Make-up?

When you look back at the pictures and realise you’re looking a hot mess, then the answer is definitely a yes. It goes back to the whole point of covering flaws. Not only this, but with some trickery and skill using make-up, you can truly flesh out your own style and that of the character. There is no shame in a man wearing make-up. When you think about it, a lot of actors, singers and celebrities (yes, even big sports personalities) wear make-up on a daily basis before attending promotional activities, photoshoots, TV appearances, and red carpet events. I mean, there is no need to do everything, such as blusher, and all the prep work, but a basic foundation or cover up make-up with powder is enough to transform your skin. Adding mascara or eyeliner will allow your eyes to pop as well, thus bringing attention to the whole of your outfit.

What Is The Best Routine For A Semi Natural Cosplay Makeup Look?

Everybody’s skin is different. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for the other. You need to take your time and test out different make-up brands, try different application techniques and routines until you find one that suits your cosplay lifestyle, skin type and general time allowance. Below is a small tutorial as such for a general outline of what I do as a cosplayer and how I prepare my skin and face ready for a long day of make-up wearing and cosplaying.


Preperation: 1 Week Before Convention
This part is pretty important for me due to my skin type being the combination (dry/greasy) type. About a week before the convention I begin to do a hot flannel steam on my face to open my pores. I then do a deep cleanse, tone and moisturise to get my skin soft, to eliminate any damaged pores and to prepare my skin for a few days of neglect.

The Night/Day Before Convention
Just before I go to bed (I would say I go to bed early, but the excitement has kicked in by this time) I will do my usual flannel steam, but this time I don’t tone or moisturise. A special face mask such as the Snail Slime or a personal favourite, Aloe Vera, Green Tea and Mint, is applied over my face, and left on as I sleep. It’s guaranteed to fall off in the middle of the night, but your skin will love you for this.

Morning Of The Convention
Once the face mask has fallen off your face and you go to do your usual morning routine of brushing your teeth, washing your face, and sorting out your hair, there is one step to do before all of that – the nose pore strip. Again you will thank me for this tip. It’s available in most supermarkets and drugstores and all you do is apply the strip to your nose then pull it off. It adheres to the skin but pulls out all of the muck that’s been left behind in your nose pores – these are a godsend!


The Make-upPrimer
Once you have pulled your hair back, and made sure your skin is fresh, moisturised and ready to rock and roll, then we begin the transformation. Applying primer to the skin will even out any pores, lumps and bumps around your face. It also gives a silken finish to the skin which not only holds the make-up longer but also allows application of the make-up to be easier. Don’t forget to prime your eyes as well.

BB Cream/Foundation
There are hundreds of brands of BB cream and foundations available. One of the key things to do is to find the perfect shade for your skin. Using the back of your hand doesn’t really give you an accurate colour match, so actually applying to your face or to the upper chest area will give you a good colour match. You can also ask a member of staff in most make-up stores if they have a colour-matching service, where they can tell you your colour code. Another thing to determine is what kind of skin you have, whether it’s greasy, dry or combination. Aim to get a BB cream or foundation product that matches your skin type. Apply this to the entirety of your face, and please don’t forget to bring your make-up down on to the neck (front, back and sides), chest and on your ears.

Eye-Shadow Make-up
The men can probably skip this step (unless you want to give it a go to bring more dimension to your character). For women, this look is more for the natural look where you create definition within the crease of your eye, and highlight the brow. Using any type of nude palette, use a nude or a light peach on the lids, a slightly darker shade of the colour you had, or a very light brown to put definition into the crease, and then a pale nude or a lightly brushed on white just under the brow to allow your eye and brows to pop.

Eyeliner and Mascara (Fake Lashes)
 There are many different types of eyeliner, from pencil, liquid, gel, charcoal, and an array of colours. There are also plenty of different ways to apply your eyeliner. It all comes down to testing and finding out what best suits you. Personally I like to close my eye and work from the outer eye to the centre, and then from the inner eye to the centre. There are different shapes and styles that can be done which give your eye a different shape or look; these can all be found with a simple Google or YouTube search. There are thousands of tutorials online that can help you with any make-up problems you may encounter. One thing I will say is that getting a waterproof mascara is the best way to go as a cosplayer. There is no streaking when you get hot and sweaty, and it definitely won’t run when you fangirl a little too much and begin to cry at the convention. Black and brown mascaras are the best choices for this, and application is simple – just look downwards into a mirror whilst keeping your head straight and apply the mascara to the top lid, then look up into a mirror whilst keeping your head straight and apply the make-up to the lower lid. As a rule I always go over a second time for more definition.

This step can get very tricky, and will take some getting used to, but I highly recommend that you visit Tina Young’s YouTube channel and watch her video How To Contour For Beginners. The idea is to create a new shape out of your own face. With practice and referencing your character profile with a few tutorials from YouTube, you can recreate your face shape. At this point as well it’s good to apply your blusher on your cheeks for the girls – not so much for the manly characters.

Chapstick, lip balm, lipstick, lip tint and lip gloss are all completely different things – and even if the colour you want isn’t there, it’s still really easy to achieve the colour you want. First of all you need to moisture and seal your lips with lip balm or chapstick – this will allow the product to apply smoother, will fill in any cracked or flaky lips you have and also stops the products from staining your lips (unless you use a lip stain or lip tint). Using a lip pencil to line the lips can help make sure the lipstick you apply doesn’t bleed into the skin surrounding the lips, and can also give a contoured and crisp edge. There are many brands and colours of lipstick you can use, so search around for one that suits your needs. If you can’t find what you are looking for, I always recommend getting a jar of coconut oil and putting a small amount into a lip balm sized container, then mixing eye shadow of the colour you want into the container. Stir it till it’s thoroughly mixed and set it in the fridge overnight. Using a gloss over any of your lip products or over bare lips will give a shine and plump look to your lips.

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As I said in the beginning, this is just a basic guide for any cosplayer out there who would like to achieve that special look to fulfil their cosplay. Make-up is overlooked a lot, and with some practice a basic make-up look can take up to 10-15 minutes to achieve (even without the one week pre-preparations). There really is no excuse not to wear make-up to create that cosplay look. Hopefully this guide will also help the male cosplayers out there to realise there is no shame in using make-up for that chiselled handsome cosplay of yours, and it really is a lot easier than it looks.

If you have any questions or tips and tricks of your own that you would like answered or shared, then please feel free to send an email to and it might be featured in a future article.

1 Comment

  1. why
    20 July 2016, 17:03 why

    the picture at the end is the single most terrifying fucking thign

    Reply to this comment

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