Cosplay makeup tips!

Makeup for cosplay can definitely get complicated. Especially if you’re a cosplayer that doesn’t really use it too much. But if you’re reading this post, you’re probably wondering how to cosplay makeup to enhance your look. Or you know how to use makeup, but want to know the best techniques or learn something new. Whether new or experienced, this post will be for you.

In this article, I’ll give you 30 cosplay makeup tips that will make you look FABULOUS in cosplay! Some of these are things you never thought of. And some of these tips are basic rules that can keep things in simple.

With that in mind, let’s get started!

Getting started with cosplay makeup

Cosplayer: chibiusagimx.

1. Before you start putting on makeup, you need to clean your face first.

Your skin is the largest organ of your body, so keeping it hydrated, hygienic, and moisturized is the best way to prep for any makeup application. Cleanse your skin and moisturize at least 20 minutes before putting on your makeup; this allows ample time for your skin to absorb the moisturizer fully.

2. All good makeup starts with your base.

This is where you add foundation before any cosplay makeup products go on your face. For foundations, I have found a matte medium-to-high coverage to be the best for cosplay looks, especially for taking photos. A flat, matte base allows light to hit your skin evenly in photos. On the flip side, a dewy or even satin finish can reflect the light back at the camera, which usually isn’t good for photos (although it’s worth mentioning that dewy/satin foundation is shiny, so it can be an interesting choice, depending on your character).

Buying cosplay makeup

Image by kinkates from Pixabay.

3. Not all makeup brands will work for you.

Some brands will look great on you, while others can irritate your skin! A lot of variables come into play, such as your skin tone and your own genetics. For example, some brands will dry out your skin. So if you’re already prone to dry skin, picking this brand would not be a good idea. Some stores allow you to test out makeup before buying, so this is a great way to see that particular brand looks and feels great on you.

4. Like cosplay costumes, makeup can get pretty expensive.

We’re talking over $100 just for the foundation itself! So be sure to spend within your means. There are many high-quality cosplay makeup products that you can buy that are much affordable. More expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help at the makeup store, or even at the pharmacy.

When I was looking for concealer, the person who was working at the makeup section at the drug store was incredibly helpful! Not only did she help me find the right concealer for me, she also gave me really useful tips. Many are passionate about makeup, so they’ll be more than happy to help out.

6. You can always try makeup even when out of cosplay. ~tutu_the_bunbun

This is a great way to figure out what makeup style suits you the most, and figuring out how to do. By practicing out of cosplay, not only will you look more like the character, but also appreciate your own facial features.

7. You don’t need a huge collection of makeup to look good. ~luirae

You just need a small kit with essentials: concealer, foundation, contour, and eyeshadow palette.

Cosplay makeup techniques

Image by Dennis Von Dutch from Pixabay.

8. If you’re wearing a lot of makeup, or putting makeup on a prosthetic, put on baby/body powder after you’re done applying makeup.

The powder keeps the makeup from coming off and smudging!

9. Concealing is also an important skill to have.

Have a pimple? Conceal it. Have dark circles? CONCEAL IT. IT IS MAGIC. You can also use it to erase eyebrows and draw new ones that look like the character you’re cosplay. Concealer is also handy for reshaping lips by making your mouth appear longer for certain characters.

Wearing foundation or concealer on your lips before applying your lipstick will help keep it on!

10. As a cosplayer, contouring is a huge skill to have when it comes to cosplay makeup.

Contouring your features (e.g. eyes, nose, jaw) like the character you’re cosplaying is a must if you want to look accurate to the character.

11. “Always contour along your nose, face, forehead etc. I don’t care if you have high cheekbones. Photographs will ALWAYS wash you out.” ~luirae

Photographs can basically stamp your face flat. Makeup will definitely help you counter this!

12. You can wear fake eyebrows to help you look more like your cosplay.

Because most of the time, our real eyebrows won’t look like the character we’re cosplaying.

13. If you’re going for a more masculine look, go for an angular face, straighter/thicker eyebrows and do NOT use mascara. If you’re going for a more feminine look, use mascara and fake eyelashes.

14. “If doing bodypaint, always seal it with finishing powder. Do NOT leave it wet and unsealed. It will damage your costume and rub off on everything you touch.” ~luirae

Remember when Homestuck was a thing? I do! While Homestuck was a great series and cosplay, it also left a lot of stains on convention floors due to the blue bodypaint everywhere!

15. “If you need face paint, the best is Mehron’s Paradise Paint. However, keep in mind that this type of makeup is water activated. So if you sweat easily, it won’t stay on.” ~Anonymous

16. Eyeliner is also very useful because you want your eyes to stand out the most.

Liquid liner or waterproof gel liner is handy because it doesn’t come off easily.

17, “Learn how to glue down eyebrows. Being able to change the shape of your eyebrows will really elevate your makeup and (you will) look more in character.” ~luirae

18. “NEVER tape your eyes to be more “squinty.” That’s just racist.” ~luirae

19. Color can be so much fun to incorporate in cosplay looks!

So you should ask yourself, “What are the colors of my character?” Even if it doesn’t look like your cosplay character is wearing eyeshadow, you can take your creativity into your own hands. For example, if your character has unnatural colored eyes, bring that color onto your lid and you can shimmer eyeshadow on it. The inner corner of the eye will catch the light and make your eyes look brighter and more awake.

20. “Exaggerate your makeup. The wig and costume are going to pull attention away from your face.” ~eyekandycosplay

Pretty straightforward. You want your makeup to be as eccentric and attention-grabbing as your wig and costume will be!

21. Brushes are very important for applying your makeup, so I recommend using those!

They really make your makeup look much cleaner, so study your brushes and learn what each brush is used for! You don’t need expensive makeup brushes either; as long as you know what you’re doing it will come out nice!!!

22. Don’t forget your lips as lip color is important even when doing masculine looks.

Lip color makes sure you can see your mouth in photos.

Cosplay makeup during a convention

Cosplayer: chibiusagimx.

23. Test out your makeup before the convention day.

You don’t want to try new makeup products or techniques during the convention. Some makeup items will make you look flattering. Others not so much. Take out the guesswork by experimenting outside of the con. Also patch-test new makeup before doing a makeup test for the cosplay. Especially if you have never used the same type of makeup/brand before; some makeup can cause breakouts or allergic reactions!

24. To get people to see you vividly in cosplay, they need to be able to see your eyes.

Keep the lid light, the crease dark, and highlight your brow bone.

25. “Always keep eyelash glue on you if you wear fake lashes. Inner corners tend to unstick first after long hours of wear. Fix them before you take photos.” ~luirae

26. After you put on your makeup, you should practice your poses in front of a mirror.

A trick you can do for shoot is sucking your stomach/neck in, so your jawline looks sharper. And then open my eyes wide (not too wide LOL) so the photographer can capture that big doll eyed Anime look!

27. Priming your skin and setting it with spray is the best way to shield your makeup.

Also, doing simple things like NOT touching your face and eating your convention pizza with a fork/knife will help.

After the convention is over

Be sure to clear your face of makeup after the convention is over! Image by Kenny Holmes from Pixabay.

28. Clean your makeup brushes regularly, before/after use!

Old makeup can clog pores and cause infections due to bacteria being left on the brushes from using it from before.

29. Whatever you do, do NOT leave your cosplay makeup on before you go to bed.

It is NOT a good idea to sleep with your makeup. Not only can the makeup trap dirt and bacteria, it can also prematurely age your skin. So be sure to wash it all off before going to bed.

30. For makeup removal, we recommend doing double cleansing.

Use makeup wipes to get the first layer, and follow up with facial cleanser and water. Remember to moisturize after cleansing. For water based body paint, never fear, a shower and a good body scrub is all you need.


To summarize, here are the 30 cosplay makeup tips you NEED to know:

  1. Clean your face first before putting on makeup.
  2. All good makeup starts with your base.
  3. Not all makeup brands will work for you.
  4. Like cosplay costumes, makeup can get pretty expensive.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  6. You can always try makeup even when out of cosplay.
  7. You don’t need a huge collection of makeup to look good.
  8. Put on baby/body powder after you’re done applying makeup.
  9. Concealing is also an important skill to have.
  10. As a cosplayer, contouring is a huge skill to have when it comes to cosplay makeup.
  11. Always contour along your nose, face, forehead etc.
  12. You can wear fake eyebrows to help you look more like your cosplay.
  13. Masculine look and feminine looks.
  14. Don’t leave bodypaint unsealed and wet.
  15. Mehron’s Paradise Paint is great for face paint.
  16. Eyeliner = useful.
  17. Learn how to glue down eyebrows.
  18. Never tape your eyes to be more squinty.
  19. Incorporate color into your cosplay look.
  20. Exaggerate your makeup.
  21. Brushes = important for cosplay makeup.
  22. Lips are important.
  23. Test out your makeup before convention day.
  24. Eyes = important for makeup and cosplay.
  25. Keep eyelash glue on you.
  26. Practice your photoshoot poses WITH your makeup on.
  27. Priming your skin and setting it with spray is the best way to shield your makeup.
  28. Clean your makeup brushes regularly.
  29. Don’t leave your makeup on while sleeping.
  30. When you remove your makeup, clean your face twice.

And there you have it; 30 cosplay makeup tips for you!

All these tips will definitely help you with your makeup and for sure make your overall cosplay look much better. Although makeup again is not necessary, it makes a huge difference in terms of your appearance.

If you’re looking for more help with cosplay makeup, check out these other articles:

Which cosplay makeup tips are you going to try? Let me know in the comments below!


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