Replicating your favorite character’s flawless skin and airbrushed look may take a little bit of makeup – or a lot, if you’re cosplaying Gamora from Guardians of the Galaxy. And for newbie cosplayers, makeup can be daunting.
But weirdly enough, cosplay can be a great way to dive into makeup. Cosplay is all about learning new skills and techniques – and in a way, so is makeup. So while I’m no guru, here are four simple ways I think you can level up your cosplay look. These tips are general and can apply to any character. Try them out before your next con!
1. Circle Lenses
Lots of anime and videogame characters have big eyes, and to replicate that, circle lenses are the perfect solution. Circle lenses are a type of colored contact lens. Originally from South Korea, circle lenses come in all different sizes (i.e., diameter widths) and striking colors that cover up your natural eye color so that you can really get the exact eye color your character has.
Reputable stores for circle lenses include Pinky Paradise and Honeycolor. Many cosplayers and fashion vloggers have ordered circle lenses from these two sites (and so have I!).
People who don’t normally wear contacts on a daily basis might be freaked out at the idea of sticking something right into their eyes. And, yeah, it is kinda scary – but it just takes practice!
It is important to note, however, that while circle lenses are approved by the Korean FDA, they have not been approved by the American FDA. It has become a controversy for some in the U.S. as to whether or not wearing circle lenses is dangerous.
But honestly, the best way to prevent any sort of infection for ANY lens (circle lens or not) is to simply not wear them for extended periods of time. I personally would not wear circle lenses longer than 8 hours in a day, and I certainly would NOT sleep with them on. That could cause major damage to your pupils. Please remember that you only have one pair of eyes!
It is also important to have a contact lens case and some contact lens cleaner if you decide to purchase lenses. If you have sensitive eyes, I would recommend brands that clean the lenses with hydrogen peroxide, like Clear Care®, for a thorough clean, but make sure to follow the instructions! Contact lens cases and contact cleaner can be found at your local retailer or at eyewear stores.
2. Covering Up Eyebrows
Kind of a weird technique, but still widely used by cosplayers who desire the same color eyebrows as their pink or purple-haired character. For those who have thicker brows seeking to match their eyebrows to their wig, many cosplayers use the “glue technique.” This involves brushing your eyebrow hair towards one direction, gluing down your eyebrow hair with a glue stick, waiting for it to set, and then covering up your natural brow color with foundation or concealer.
Eyeshadow powder and colored eyeliner pencils are usually the most popular methods for getting zany brow colors.
I do NOT recommend going as hardcore as some Japanese cosplayers do: they literally shave off their eyebrows for a cosplay.
Don’t do this, please…
3. Contouring & Highlighting
Contouring is essentially…putting muddy brown lines on your face and hoping that they’ll make you look fierce. It’s really weird. But for cosplay photography, contouring and highlighting can really make that extra difference in leveling up your cosplay.
Contouring makes your face appear slimmer, pushing parts of your forehead, nose, and cheeks into the shadows while bringing parts of your face like the bridge of your nose and brow bone areas to the foreground with highlighting. By doing so, your face will appear slimmer when cast with light. These techniques can really give you that “airbrushed” look your character has.
Contouring and highlighting makeup come in two different forms: powders and creams. Powders are recommended for those with oily skin since they’re more likely to set into your skin and stay firm. Dry skin types can also use contour powder, but depending on how dry your skin is, the powders might emphasize dry patches. Cream contour kits and liquid highlighters are recommended for those with drier skin types.
Full disclaimer here: I’m not asking you to go all-out Kim K on your face. But a bit of a shadowy buffs and highlighting creams can really make your photos stand out.
Probably my most important tip to all my lady friends: false eyelashes. I was pretty scared of them at first: the thought of putting a pair of caterpillars right near my eyelids freaked me out. But they are probably the one thing I would recommend most out of this list. Why? Eye enlargement!
Almost all fictional characters have striking eyes. And one quick way to cover enlargement and make your eye shape more powerful is by using false lashes.
Plenty of drugstores sell false lashes, but if you’re looking to invest in some really high quality ones, I would recommend going for the same falsies Japanese cosplayers use: Dollywink!
Dollywink is a series of Japanese false lashes created by famous spokesmodel and fashion designer Tsubasa Masuwaka. Her false lashes are super soft to the touch, lightweight, and come on an invisible band rather than a black band so that it appears that the falsies blend with your own natural eyelashes. I can’t recommend them enough!
Falsies come in all kinds of shapes, styles, and sizes: cateyes for the sultry, long and glittery ones for the dramatic, and natural lashes for the simple and sweet.
There are false eyelash applicators available in many stores should you want a more precise placement of your falsies. Or, you can just use your fingers. All I can recommend is: practice, practice, practice!
With these tips in mind, please never forget the most important tip of all: makeup is always optional. 🙂