5 Tips to Kickstart Your Cosplay Makeup


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Cosplay is making headlines all over the world for being an awesome pop culture trend that brings fans together from all sorts of fandoms. The cosplay trend started in Japan, where devoted fans would enjoy dressing up as their favorite anime and video game characters. Now, the trend has spread to the U.S. and all over the world, with various large scale pop culture conventions being held every year.

For some fans, cosplay is a work of art that needs consistency, effort, and creativity to pull off and captivate the audience. For others, it’s just a witty and imaginative way to portray their love for different characters, even if the costume doesn’t look like the exact thing.

But whether you want to transform into your character for a night of theatrics and performances, or just want to pull off a simple handmade costume with an elaborate wig, makeup is essential. Without proper makeup, your face won’t make the impression it needs to.

Perfect cosplay makeup is a mixture of love, art, and science

The world of cosplay makeup is all about making the most unnatural things appear as natural, whether it’s a paler, icy skin tone, larger eyes, or obscure clothing. To make sure that you actually pull off your next cosplay adventure at the next convention or party, we’ve gathered the best cosplay makeup tips to help your cosplay look stunning, regardless of how much money you spend.

If you can’t really comprehend how to start on your cosplay makeup journey, don’t worry. We will help you with the basics of your character and how to maximize the effectiveness of their physical attributes such as their skin, a nose, eyes, etc. Let’s start from there.

1. Nailing the skin

Examples of cosplay makeup skin ideas from cosplayers at a convention
Perfect cosplay makeup is a combination of a lot of love, art, and science.

Unless you’re dressing up as an alien or monster, most anime and video game characters, have a clear and even skin tone. Your skin needs to mimic this for awesome pictures and performances. Start by cleaning your face, applying moisturizer on your neck and face, and using a primer if your skin is particularly oily.

If you have any blemishes, start by getting rid of those using a concealer and blending it in. Then, use a liquid foundation to get smooth, even skin. Make sure that you use a shade that will help you achieve the color you’re opting for.

Use powder on top of your foundation to avoid fallout. Depending on how old you want to look, you may or may not have to use contouring skills to achieve a mature look.

2. Complete the eyes

Great eye cosplay makeup on two cosplayers at a convention

We all know that when it comes to anime or video games, the characters’ eyes give off a distinct intensity, especially when it comes to big-eyed heroines. To get that vivid eye look, you can rely on different techniques based on the character. In fact, even male characters will need eye makeup in most cases.

Animated characters have defined lash lines, even guys. So to get that intense look, try applying a thin stroke of eyeliner. Using mascara is also a good idea to make the eyes look better, but stick to black-colored mascara.

On the other hand, female characters have bigger and sparkly eyes. To prevent your eyes from looking smaller, use very little eyeliner and use more mascara. If you have short lashes, try using false lashes instead.

Try matching the character’s eye color with a pair of fashion lenses, which can also help the eyes look bigger.

If you’re dressing up as an antagonist, add a smoky effect because villains often have smaller and angry eyes. Adding sharp points to the edge of your eyes will give an intense look, and eyeliner

3. Color in the lips

Cosplay makeup example of two cosplayers at a convention using lipstick to help define their costumes effect

Most characters in anime and video games have light-colored lips, except for the case of female antagonists and other eccentric characters. If you’re cosplaying as a female character, stick to a nude or light pink shade of lip gloss. For female characters with bold colored lips, choose a glossy or matte finish based on how it looks in the anime or video game.

Male characters rarely have colored lips, so choose a nude shade if you want to add some definition to the lips. Some male characters have no color or definition on the lips, so to recreate that look, try using some foundation on your lips rather than a nude lipstick.

However, make sure that you exfoliate your lips before applying makeup so that your lips have a smooth appearance. Since foundation can dry out the lips and cause any imperfections to become instantly visible, use lots of lip balm before adding foundation. No colored lips will help you get into character and give your face a distinct appearance.

4. Other face details

Aside from the eyes and lips, some characters may have other distinct facial features that make them stand out. When you’re wearing a store bought or self-made costume, adding these details gives your cosplay more credibility and makes you easier to recognize as a character.

For instance, Prince Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender has a distinct burn near his eye. You can recreate this, and various other features, using a good quality face painting kit. Selecting one that’s meant for adult use can help in making it last longer.

On the other hand, some characters would have blood stains and other scary features on their face. Adding these subtle details shows commitment to imitating a character’s appearance.

5. Don’t forget about the eyebrows

The eyebrows, a critical part of any cosplay, are something that most amateur cosplayers tend to forget. While some characters may not have matching eyebrows as their wigs, most of them do. If the character has naturally shaped eyebrows that are slightly arched or straight, you can get away with adding some color to your eyebrows.

Use a face painting kit to add the color, but if you have dark colored eyebrows, you may have to lighten the color using concealer first.

In case your character has differently shaped eyebrows that are very dramatic and thicker than yours, you’ll have to use other techniques. To completely change the shape, use eyebrow wax to hide your actual brows. Then, cover it with a layer of foundation before drawing on the desired shape and filling it in with the same color.

To thicken your natural brows, add layers using eyebrow powder and a use a brush to blend it in.

Beginners can use these tips as a starting point for getting better with cosplay makeup, before moving onto the more difficult details. Make sure to practice a lot before finally going to a convention, so that you look well-prepared and ready to steal the show.

Now it’s time to transform yourself with these easy cosplay makeup tips

Cosplay has always been a mixture of love, art, and science. The best part about cosplay is that there is no right or wrong way of doing anything. It’s a form of self-expression that transforms you from a mere human into something much more. If you are looking for some additional cosplay ideas make sure to check out some of our other posts!

Now it’s your turn to give your input and tell us what we missed. What more would you like to see included in this article?  Let us know down in the comments and share!

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