With makeup, the creative possibilities are endless! I’m a complete novice when it comes to makeup. I can barely perfect my winged eyeliner let alone make myself up to look like a completely different character. As someone who is so inspired by cosplayers but has yet to cosplay herself, learning how these incredible cosplayers use makeup to complete their whole cosplay look has been such an insight.

  1. For more cartoon-y/anime characters, do you exaggerate anything in your makeup to make it fit the character more?
  2. What brand of makeup do you usually turn to for those really bright colors that you might not use for normal daily life? Is there a certain palette you think works for that?
  3. If a cosplay calls for colorful tattoos, what do you do?
  4. What are your must-haves for cosplay makeup?
  5. If you’re strapped for cash, are there drugstore dupes or creative ways to get the makeup look you want?


Trisha Hershberger

Instagram/Twitter: thatgrltrish

  1. I personally lean toward a more realistic look for my characters. What would this character look like if they existed in real life? I will take identifying exaggerated characteristics but do my makeup to suggest that rather than directly imitate it.
  2. I’m a theatre girl at heart, so I have a lot of Ben Nye in my stash. I also use M.A.C. for bright colors when I need to restock.
  3. I personally use liquid eyeliner pens. It’s easy to apply on yourself, but you have to be careful to let it dry before you smudge up against anything. If I really need it to last all day, I’ll get some alcohol based makeup so that I know it won’t sweat or rub off, but then it’s a bit of a process to take off later.
  4. A contouring palette so that you can get your facial features to be as similar to the character’s as possible. Also, false lashes help give that extra umph that many female characters have.
  5. Of course! I discover new makeup and new tricks all the time! Use what works for you!


Marcie Zimmerman

(Cosplay.com account): DLGR

Twitter: DLGR02

  1. Oh yeah! Contouring is super important, especially if youre crossplaying (M->F or F->M). There’s lots of tutorials on DeviantArt, even tumblr, on how to really push the convincing factor. It just helps add that extra touch! Also dont go too gentle with the eyes or face when applying makeup; you want your face to POP in your photos! Ditto with changing your skin color to a character that has unnatural skin tones. You should totally get your SFX makeup game up and check out those Homestuck kidstutorials on how to do that. (Of course, use the color your character has if its not grey.) Also with facial hair, it helps if you snag some beard or mustache extensions to affix to your face versus drawing it on. Ditto with natural hairlines for your wigs. If you can learn how to lace front (TONS of tutorials online) and get the tools for it, its just a nice touch.
  2. Personally I use liquid for foundations and I mix a little gentle face lotion into powder eyeshadows to make the colors REALLY pop if the character calls for it. You also want to go a shade or two darker in face powder to contour. I dont have any specific brands; just use what youre used to/comfortable using and just play with it. If your character has an unnatural skin tone, my cheat is to use color theory charts to see what colors artists use to shadecertain colors, and then I use those colors to darken where I need to contour and lighten where I need to. You cant use your normalmakeup for that, so those REALLY help a lot!
  3. BEST WAY is Holly Conrads tutorial to make your own fake tattoos! Otherwise, I hand-draw with sharpies. *shrugs* I mean, it works, and rubbing alcohol will help get them off, but its a pain. Try not to have the WHOLE BODY covered, okay? LOL.
  4. MAKE UP REMOVER! Specifically Neutrogenas Oil-Free Eye Make-up Remover in the purple bottle with gold top! IT WORKS FOR ALL THE MAKEUP!
  5. Dollar store make up kitsI hear they work! But usually I just figure out a way with what I already own, or borrow from friends! Lol!


Samantha Waldenmeyer

Instagram: sam.waldo

Twitter: @SamWaldenmeyer

Facebook: SamWaldo Cosplay

  1. Simple answer? Yes, I use make up to exaggerate features to help fit characters. Mostly for my eyes. I usually want my eyes to be bigger, so I put white eyeliner on my upper part of my lower lid with black or brown eyeliner to line it after that. Then I put white in the inner corner of my eye and it gives the illusion of slightly larger eyes.
  2. It’s very important for me to test our colors before I buy them, so I usually buy makeup in store to see what the colors are! I don’t have a specific brand I use since in reality most makeup is very similar. What it’s important to me is the actual base of my makeup, like my eyeshadow base, and setting powder. For those, I use the NYX brand because it works well with my more oily skin. For bright colors, all I need it eyeshadow that looks bright, and then I use a white eyeshadow base that really makes those colors pop! If I want the colors a bit darker, then I just use the “nude” color base. I use the NYX Finishing Setting Powder  to apply all over my face after I put on my foundation. The powder (although white) blends in clear and provides a camera ready face for pictures! Now my face is normally really pale and in pictures I just look white so I always make sure to put more emphasis on blush and contouring my face a bit more. I don’t normally wear makeup, so this is something that I’m still fooling around with.
  3. Luckily, I’ve never had to use tattoos, although I do plan to in the future. Most people seem to just paint on tattoos but that tends wear off after a bit. There is a way to actually print off tattoos at home and apply them like temporary tattoos. Jo-Ann Fabrics carries printer paper for this process. It’s pricey but it lasts much longer. You just want to be sure to shave any hair off so it applies nicer. I have friends that have tried this process and it looked so good!
  4. Cosplay must-haves! Blush, because I’m pale, eyeliner to make my eyes stand out more, setting powder for picture ready faces, and bronzer for contouring. I’m very pale and you can tell in some of my pictures that I just looked washed out. My face needs that color added to it. Also lipstick! Adds a bit more dimension!
  5. Just because makeup is more expensive doesn’t mean it’s better. If all you can afford is drugstore make up, that’s perfectly fine! Makeup allows everyone to have a bit more creative license and there’s no wrong way when it comes to cosplay. All that matters is the look you’re going for. If you want bold, focus on thick eyeliner. If you want flirty, try a smokey look! But, cheap makeup is still make up, just depends how you want to use it!


Elyse (Mouse)

Instagram/Twitter: princessbilbo

FaceBook: MousesCosplay

  1. Yes. I’m still learning with makeup, but I try to make my cheeks more pink, and anything to make my eyes pop more.
  2. I have no brand, I actually shop for color, and I sadly don’t buy a lot of makeup.
  3. There is something called tattoo transfer paper that I like to use. It makes your design a removable tattoo, like the ones we wore as kids. It’s awesome. If not, then just take eyeliner and draw what you want on you. I used Ben Nye makeup once for a tattoo.


Laarnie Barcelon

Instagram/Twitter/FaceBook: Rikachuuable

  1. I normally would exaggerate my features by contouring more, or by changing the type of eyeliner that I wear along with the thickness of the lines I use. This isn’t as common for me to do though as I naturally have very large eyes and my features normally work well with anime-esque characters.
  2. I normally use my e.l.f. 144 Eyeshadow Palette for my cosplay needs when it comes to color. I use various different types of primers to help me get the best look out of the palette. For other quality brands, you might want to turn to Sugarpill, ColourPop, Urban Decay, or Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics.
  3. I would either turn to a reliable body paint, or I would get the tattoos printed as temporary tattoos. My favorite method to turn to, albeit possibly expensive, Is the latter as it would save me tons of effort of having to spend hours painting my body and possibly getting it all over my costume and everything in the vicinity also.
  4. Primers are important for cosplay makeup. I’m such a stickler for this because for so long I have been trying to improve my makeup game and what had helped my skin and makeup look so much better in the mirror and via camera has been a good primer for every aspect of your makeup. For foundation, I would recommend the Smashbox Photo Finish Primer, the Maybelline New York Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser Primer, or the Too-Faced Primed and Poreless Skin Smoothing Face Primer as all have provided me the best selfie shots, along with the best photoshoot photos. I also think it’s very important to have quality brushes or sponges as they truly help make the end result look incredible, whether you are going for a daily look or for cosplay.
  5. Yes! Normally, there are great quality dupes for everything that you would want so long as you do the research on them. Not all of the products you would be interested in could be found at the drugstore, but a quick trip to Ulta or lurking around on the Internet for good dupes of certain products can make life so much easier for you and your wallet! As for makeup looks, I honestly just recommend practicing to improve your skill and to understand the characteristics of the products you have. I’m still finding my way around with products and understanding the characteristics of them as some mascaras are troublesome, and other eyeliners tend to bleed to my bottom line…and it’s to be expected. You won’t get better without practice, and understanding how to properly use the products that you have and its qualities will make the makeup process so much easier.
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About Author

Justine Ngai

This self proclaimed professional fangirl of all things pop culture posts the geeky news on the Facebook page with Squad Member Julia. She also writes up convention roundups, geek's guides, reaction pieces and appears in videos on the YouTube page. Most of her time is spent watching all the TV shows she can. When she’s not doing that she’s letting her geek flag fly at conventions, catching a Broadway show or exploring and traveling to new places. To wind down she'll cozy up with a cup of tea and watch reruns of Parks and Rec and Gilmore Girls.

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