[Article] Cosplay Makeup Do’s and Don’ts

Cosplay makeup; Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Doing makeup for cosplay is an entirely different realm of art than your every day makeup, it needs to look good both from far away and close up, flatter your own features, be accurate to your character and look good both to the eye and to the camera. Cosplay makeup is easy to under and over do, and it’s easy to just fall into a single look for every character.

SML Eyes #1

There are several things that I like to take into account before I start applying my character makeup, the first and most important step is:

  • DO wear makeup. This applies to both men and women! When you’re just looking at yourself in the mirror you may think you don’t need makeup, but harsh lighting, flash photography, and long con days can all effect how you look, and lead to less accurate and flattering cosplay photos. Although men’s cosplay makeup is much less extreme, it’s good to apply at least some foundation and powder to even your skin tone and reduce shine.
  • ALWAYS do a makeup test! Do wear your wig (if you’re using one), and take photos with and without flash. If you’re wearing contacts for the costume, make sure you can do your makeup while wearing them; it’s never a good idea to put in contacts after you’ve done your makeup.
  • Have a closeup of your character’s face around when you’re first applying makeup. If the makeup isn’t symmetrical, make sure you’re applying everything on the correct side.
  • Practice! At an event or photoshoot you may not have your source picture, or the time you usually take. If you’re going to be wearing the costume a lot, make sure you are comfortable applying your makeup over and over.

Once you’ve applied your makeup a few times, there are several common mistakes to look out for;

  • If your character has a skin tone close to yours, make sure you are using the right color foundation. When you apply your foundation, don’t apply it too thickly, and blend it down into your skin. Caked on makeup will show up in photographs, and wash you out.
  • If you are changing your skin tone to match or character, or are applying heavy makeup, Make sure you’re blending into your neck. If you don’t, your makeup will look like a mask, and photos from the side will have an obvious makeup line at your jawbone.
  • Use blush or bronzer. Both get washed out quite easily, and if you are pale, you can apply quite a bit before it starts to look over-done. Contour your cheeks and chin, starting at the center of your face and blending outwards.
  • Use eyebrow pencil! This doesn’t mean draw on your eyebrows, but instead try and use the pencil to color the individual hairs in the shape you want. Even if you have perfectly groomed eyebrows, using the pencil will help define and ‘clean up’ your look.
  • Define your eyes! Most cosplayed characters have larger than life eyes, and using liner, shadow and either mascara or false eyelashes will achieve this effect.
  • Use a darker colored liner on the top lid and a lighter color on the bottom will soften and open the eyes, and using a white liner in the corner and on the bottom will make your eyes appear much larger.
  • If you aren’t using false lashes, make sure to use lots of mascara. Always use mascara on your bottom lashes, and you can add 1-3 ‘false lashes’ by adding wings with your eyeliner.

I have a few personal photos to emphasize some of my DO points:

And here are a couple DON’TS

If you have questions about makeup specifics, please leave me a comment, or email me! I can always update this post with more information if people want to see it! Thanks!



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