Can you cosplay without makeup?
If you’ve seen the numerous cosplay photos online, you probably notice all the flawless skin that some cosplayers have. Or the lighting matching perfectly with the cosplayer’s face. Well, that’s not by accident! That’s using makeup properly to enhance you look.
So you might be wondering if it’s mandatory to use makeup with cosplay? Let’s find out.
Can you cosplay without makeup?
Although cosplay makeup enhances the way you look, it is not mandatory as a cosplayer. There are quite a few ways to still look great without makeup, such as knowing your best angles on camera, good editing and filtering skills with photos and making the best use of lighting.
In this post, I’ll give you 9 ways to cosplay without makeup. Again, having cosplay makeup is almost always better. But if for whatever reason, you do not want to, then that’s fine. We’ll go over 9 ways you get around cosplaying without it and still look great.
1. Cosplay a character that wears a mask or helmet
All the other tips below involve some sort of skill or trick to not have to use cosplay makeup. But the easiest solution by far is to just cosplay a character who already wears a mask or helmet. That way, you don’t have to worry about how your face looks like; you’re covered up anyway!
There are so many characters that either wears a helmet or a mask. Here are a few examples:
- Kuki Shinobu from Genshin Impact
- Nightwing from Teen Titans
- Kakashi from Naruto
- Kitana from Mortal Kombat
- The Juggernaut from X-Men
I made an entire list of cosplay ideas for characters that wear masks. Click here if you want to see!
2. Avoid flash photography
I don’t know about you, but flash photography always makes me look so ugly! That big white light reveals all your unflattering physical features, like your acne, wrinkles, scars and fat! Good makeup usually hides these things really well under flash photography. But since we’re about not using makeup, then you’ll want to avoid flash photography altogether if you can.
Make sure you take your cosplay photos with soft lighting. Or even better, use the sun to get natural lighting on your face. That way, you don’t need to depend on flash photography.
3. Know your best camera angles
When it comes to getting your photos taken; generally speaking, there will be poses that will make you look great while some will look not so good. And if you want to cosplay without makeup, these good and bad angles will be further magnified! So it’s important to know which camera angles look best for you. Try practicing in the mirror and seeing which ones you think look good.
4. Use filters
In today’s age of Instagram and TikTok, using filters is totally normal and probably expected of cosplay photos and videos. So you can use those pretty filters to hide all the things you don’t want people to see that makeup normally would hide. It’s pretty awesome how beautiful a single filter can make you look. So especially when it comes to cosplaying without makeup; go crazy with the filters!
5. Wear a full bodysuit cosplay
In addition to finding characters that wear a mask or helmet, you can also find characters who simply wear a full bodysuit that covers your whole body. No need to worry about contouring, mascara, blotting, foundation or anything like that. You could literally wake up from bed, put on your Spider-Man cosplay and look as if you spend hours preparing your cosplay! Okay, that’s an exaggeration but you know what I mean. This is why fursuits and bodysuits are great. You don’t have to show yourself personally. And in this case, no need to wear makeup at all.
Here are some examples of bodysuit cosplays you can do:
- Stormtrooper from Star Wars
- Samus Aran from Metroid
- Pyramid Head from Silent Hill
- Alphonse from Fullmetal Alchemist
- Pikachu from Pokémon body costume (or any Pokémon really)
6. Photoshop is your friend
Hey, let’s face it. Many cosplayers and photographers use Photoshop on the photos. It helps to get that perfect cosplay look. So why not use it to do what makeup does, which is highlight your best features and hiding the not-so-nice features? You can edit out anything you don’t want to include in the photo. With that said, it’ll be more work on Photoshop to edit these things out, rather than wearing makeup.
7. Avoid physical activity before a photoshoot
Hey now, get your head out of the gutter! 😉 What I mean is that some of you guys have a tendency to get flustered or look red after exercising or doing anything physically intense (e.g. your face turns red). And you definitely do not want to look like this right before a photoshoot. In some cases, it’s really easy to tell from photos that you’ve been working up a sweat right before the shoot.
So you want to make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to rest and freshen up before a cosplay photoshoot. That way, your skin looks fresh and optimal for photos. Makeup could normally cover up these things, but without it, it will be a lot more difficult to do so. Therefore, you want to avoid physical activity before a photoshoot.
8. Have a good skincare routine
This is beyond my general expertise, and I’m no doctor or dermatologist. But in general, you want to have a good skincare routine so your face looks as beautiful as possible. You should look for your skin type (e.g. dry, oily skin) and use products that cater towards your skin.
I have many cosplay friends who are very well-versed in skincare, and it makes a HUGE difference in how they look with a proper skincare routine. Practice good grooming and cleaning skills. Don’t skip out on it!
I then do a 3-step cleanse: Toner, Serum & Cream. These products help my skin have an even/smooth/healthy complexion, repair damaged skin & moisturize it since I have very dry skin; I don’t want the makeup crack my skin during a shoot at all. If you have oily skin, I suggest using products that help with that; you don’t want your makeup melting off. Sometimes I replace Serum with a facemask if my skin needs serious repairing (if I look tired/dead, dark circles, lots of acne). You’ll want to use lemon facemask if your face looks dead. Cucumber, seaweed or aloe mask for dry skin or rice. Shea Butter or avocado mask for oily skin!!
-My friend’s skincare routine
9. How your cosplay looks is more important (in my opinion)
I feel we can focus so much on photography and makeup, that we forget that the costume itself is just as important, if not more. All the perfect lightning, makeup and angles can’t make up if your costume looks bad! So if you don’t need to focus on makeup, then the most important thing is the cosplay itself.
There are many simple but crucial ways to improve your cosplay, including:
- Using good quality materials
- Making sure the cosplay fits well on you (i.e. not too big or small on you)
- Adding extra details on your costume such as embroidery
I made a whole post on how to improve your cosplay. If you want to read, click here.
In real life, most people don’t care if you wear makeup or not
I wanted to add this part because in the end, after cosplay photos and all, it doesn’t matter so much. I’ve seen many of my cosplay friends outside of conventions without wearing any makeup. And yes, they do look different. But I don’t really care. They’re not my cosplay friends because of the makeup they wore; they’re my friends because I enjoy being with them as a person. So when it comes to social interactions, don’t stress too much about cosplay makeup!
To summarize, here are the 9 ways to answer the question, can you cosplay without makeup:
- Cosplay a character that wears a mask or helmet
- Avoid flash photography
- Know your best camera angles
- Use filters
- Wear a full bodysuit cosplay
- Photoshop is your friend
- Avoid physical activity before a photoshoot
- Have a good skincare routine
- How your cosplay looks is more important (in my opinion)
And there you have it; 9 answers to the question, can you cosplay without makeup!
I hope you found this post useful. Have you ever cosplayed without makeup? Or do you find makeup absolutely necessary? Let me know in the comments!
My name is Roger Senpai. I’m a cosplayer that’s been in the community for well over a decade now. I’ve traveled all over the world to Anime and Comic conventions and hosted my own cosplay events. Now I’m writing articles for new and experienced cosplayers like you to help inspire, save you money and improve your cosplays!