The world of cosplay is a world not many people are privy to. To many, it's a world shrouded in mystery that's full of fantastical conventions and events. To those in the know, it's a form of a performative art show where people are given away to express their creativity and imagination.
In recent years, the world of cosplay has slowly begun to be revealed to the rest of the world thanks to social media and sites. The popularization of geek culture also played it part. More and more people are becoming curious about cosplay and slowly experimenting with character looks through wearing wigs, wearing costumes, and wearing makeup. Below I've listed down the top five tips when doing cosplay makeup.
When it comes to face taping, there are a lot of things you need to be aware of. For one thing, there are a few people who claim that face taping is racist, akin to blackface and yellow face. The short answer is, no, face taping is not racist. Although, there are instances that it might be perceived to be racist. If you tape your eyes to appear more Asian-looking, then that strays in the realm of racism. But any cosplayer, professional or beginner that tapes their face doesn't pull on their eyes and say that they want to look Japanese or Chinese.
Most cosplayers who tape their faces do so to reshape their faces to appear more like the character they're trying to portray. In general, reshaping the shape of the face, eyes, and eyebrows in cosplay to look more like the character they want to portray.
Types of tape
Next, there are different kinds of tape that can be used for face taping. The most common tape for face taping is medical tape. This is the kind of tape you buy at a pharmacy. It's used to tape a bandage on a wound or secure medical tubing that's attached to a person's body. This kind of tape is designed to be used on the skin. Medical tape is pretty strong and adheres to the skin quite strongly which makes it ideal for face taping.
The other popular tape for face taping, and one that is highly recommended by many cosplay professionals, is the Assist Wig tape. It is from a Japanese company that specializes in cosplay products. It works better than medical tape because it allows the skin to breathe. The tape is transparent so it can adapt to any skin color. And its texture is matted so it can be blended in by makeup.
How to tape your face
And now we get to the part of the actual face taping. First, you determine the right point of your face where to apply one end of the tape. Using your finger as support, you pull the under the end of the tape up and anchor it on your wig cap. Then the same thing on the other side of your face. You can secure the tape with bobby pins to keep it in place.
While the techniques aren't actually that hard, what can take time is knowing how much of your face you want pulled to achieve the desired effect. You might also need multiple pieces of tape for added support so it stays on throughout the duration of the event.
More tips for face taping
Reshaping eyebrows in different ways can help achieve the desired look. If you pull the eyebrow to the side, it can make for an edgier look. Pulling it in the middle for a rounder brow makes the face appear happy and joyful. Pulling the eyebrow at its thickest part creates a sadder, more soulful look. Another helpful tip when it comes to face taping is to use a wig cap made out of stocking as this allows the tape to stick to it more effectively.
BROW FOR COSPLAY
The foundation for any good cosplay brow is a blank canvas which means you'll need to conceal your brow. Brow concealing is very common not just in the cosplay world but also in drag makeup and even theatrical makeup. Not many cosplayers conceal their brow especially if the character they're trying to portray has a natural look. But many professional cosplayers who like to challenge their cosplaying skills by going for the avant-garde and complex character look will have to learn to do proper cosplay brow and it first starts with concealing your brow.
First, you want to get rid of any excess oil in and around the brow so the glue can stick to it properly. Use an alcohol wipe and wipe the brow and its surrounding areas thoroughly. Next is to glue down the brow using Elmer's glue stick. This is the most common way to glue down the brow and it's relatively cheap and available everywhere. Applying the first layer of glue is very important and it should be applied against the grain of the brow. You want the hairs to be covered with glue as much as possible.
Then, using a lash comb or a spoolie brush, you comb the brow up, pressing as you go along to make sure that it's flat against the skin. If there is any glue that's crumbling around the edges of the brow, just take the same alcohol wipe or moist towel and brush it up and into the brow to get rid of the clumps. Next is to blow-dry the brow and make sure you're using a blow dryer that has a cool setting so you don't burn your face. Repeat the whole process several times until you don't feel any brown texture when you touch it.
Once that's done, you want to clean off any excess glue using a moist toilette before adding powder on the brow to set it. Dust off the excess powder before you conceal it using a concealer.
Drawing a new brow
Now that the brow is completely covered, you can now draw in a whole new brow. First, apply a base layer of the foundation where the natural brow is already concealed. Using the lightest shade of concealer, apply a base layer of highlight on the high points then lightly powder. Next, apply a cream, pencil, or liquid product to create a base. Then using a contour shade to create the brow base.
In sketching your brow, it's helpful to use the start from the head of the brow as an anchor point and draw the brow following the contours of the original brow or draw it high above the natural brow arch. It all depends on the character look you're trying to accomplish. After sketching, you can fill in the brow using a brow pencil.
If you're going to be using contour in your cosplay makeup, think about balance and facial symmetry. You can connect your nose contour to your brow for a more dramatic and 3-dimensional effect rather than a flat-expressionless look. You also want to avoid drawing your brow too high as it can elongate your nose a little too much.
HIGHLIGHT AND CONTOUR
The key to any successful portrayal of a character is achieved through the right use of highlight and contour. If you've looked at any jaw-dropping makeup transformation, you'll notice that it involved a lot of this technique. If done right, it can really make a huge difference in your overall look, making you resemble the character even more effectively.
In certain makeup genres, highlight and concealing are interchangeable. It's used to hide certain undesirable features of the face like facial hair and dark under eyes. You want to apply the product under the eyes and the forward-facing part of the cheeks to help create that nice natural glow. Just imagine an inverted triangle with the base just below the eye. Do the same on the other side.
The corners of the nose have also applied some concealer. For men, it's advised to apply a layer of concealer on their five o'clock shadow if their character has a smooth facial feature. The chin, middle of the forehead, in between the brows, and a thin line at the top of the nose are also highlighted for maximum effect. Blend the product into the skin with a beauty blender using a tapping motion.
A lot of people use contouring with the intent of making things smaller but when you do contour a certain way; it can actually make things appear bigger which is great if you wanted to emphasize certain features on your face.
Contouring depends on the shape of your face and the character's face shape. It's helpful to pick which parts of the face you want to pull back and recede as this is the main function of contouring. If you want to slim down a nose to appear more like noses in manga characters, you can apply contour on the sides of the nose to slim it down. The same thing applies to your forehead and jawline.
To contour the cheeks, visualize a line from the top of the ear towards the corner of the mouth - that's the line you want to contour - but stop right where the eye line is to avoid looking too sucked in. The thickest part should be near the ear and the thinnest part should be near the mouth.
For the forehead, contour around the perimeter of the forehead, close to the hairline with the thickest part being the sides. For the jawline, simply follow the jawline, starting from the corner and moving towards the chin. And finally, contouring the nose requires the use of a brush and applying the product on the sides of the nose to give it more definition. If you have a bit of a wide nostril and want to slip it down, you can apply contour on both sides.
Once that's all done, it's time to blend the contour in. Keep in mind that you can always blend while you contour since some products dry quicker than others. Grab a beauty blender and use a tapping motion to blend so you're not moving the product around your face. To blend the nose, use a small brush for more control.
Once you've blended all the contour products, you'll notice that your face is a lot more sculpted and slim-looking. You can set the base with a translucent powder or if you really want to amp up the contouring, you can go in with a bit of contour powder to set the cream areas.
Cosplay eye makeup really depends on the look that you're going for. Maybe you already have a specific character in mind. Or you're looking for simple everyday makeup or something outlandish and a complete fantastical eye makeup look. The possibilities are literally endless. So long as you have the imagination and the right products you can virtually recreate any character you wish to portray.
A good rule of thumb before doing any eye makeup is to apply eye shadow primer to prepare the skin around your eyes for the makeup you're going to apply and ensure the skin is hydrated enough and the eye makeup won't cake. Apply the primer on your eyelid and underneath the eyes as well.
Basic anime eyes
Start by taking an eye shadow color that's a little darker than your skin tone to give the crease of your eye a little more definition. Then take a shade closer to your skin tone as a sort of transition to help blend everything up towards the brow bone. Next, using a flat shader brush, grab a light shimmery color for your eyelid. Grab another color that's lighter than your skin to highlight your brow bone. And then use a white shimmery eye shadow for the inner corner of the eyes to make it appear brighter and farther apart.
If you've noticed, most of the colors used for the eye makeup are in neutral tones and this is because typical anime characters don't really use a lot of makeup. You'll want to emphasize the eyeliner rather than the eye shadow.
Fantasy eye makeup
On the subject of fantasy eye makeup, it's going to largely depend on the look you're going for. There are several aspects that you should consider when going for this type of eye makeup look.
Color. The smoky, bright, or unusual color is often used in creating fantasy looks. Because everyday makeup is all about muted and neutral colors, using bright and bold colors can help draw attention to the eyes.
Shine. Fantasy looks often require special effects and when it comes to the eyes, the more the shine, the better. Forget the beige matte eye shadows for now and grab the fuchsia glitter. Many brands offer a variety of effects such as iridescent, pearlescent, glitter, metallic, diamond, shimmer, marbled, and many more.
Dramatic. Whether you're trying to recreate a real-life person for your cosplay or an alien fantasy look, it's typically necessary for you to go dark or dramatic with the look. This requires layering in eye shadow, liner, and false eyelashes or several coats of mascara for lengthening or volumizing to make the eyes a lot more attention-grabbing.
Fantasy Eye Styles
- 1Cat Eyes: This eye look was inspired during the sixties and very reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn. Cat eyes are incredibly fun looks to do and can be used for everyday makeup as well.
- 2Glitter Eye: This style is perfect if you're portraying a pixie or princess inspired cosplay look. Glitter eye makeup is also great for a dazzling feminine fantasy cosplay look. It involves a thick seep of glitter eyeshadow on the eyelid and contoured eye with different shades of glitter color.
- 3Fantasy character: Your cosplay has a number of different fantasy characters to get inspiration for your next cosplay look and all of them require a fantasy eye makeup look. You can do a simple lash line or opt for something like a darker eye if you're portraying a brooding man.
Similar to the eyes, cosplay lips largely depend on the character you're trying to portray. But it is common for many cosplayers to conceal their lips because it's much easier to recreate a character's lips without having to work around your own lip shape and color.
When it comes to lip concealing, a helpful tip would be to not use concealer since it can dry the lips. Instead, use the foundation to conceal your lips. Also, you should moisturize your lips first before applying any form of makeup on it. Foundation also provides a better skin color compared to concealers which tend to create a gray cast on the lips which can make you look sickly. Once you're done with the foundation, set it using a compact powder that matches your skin tone.
Elongating the edges
This method is very popular among cosplayers in creating a more anime-like lip shape. To create this look, you can use your preferred eyebrow palette. If you're using eye shadow, remember to pick a neutral brown shade as it creates the most natural-looking shadow effect. If you want to create a more realistic depth on the lips, use a two-tone contour using light and dark shades. Use the lighter brown shade to create a small wing that connects to the outer corner of your lips. Blend it up to the sides of your inner lips to make it look like it's the natural lip shadow. You can also use a little concealer to blend it out if it's too harsh. Depending on the look you're cosplaying, you can wing the lips downwards for a serious look or curve it upwards for a feminine or cute character.
The simplest way to overdraw your lips is just to outline it. This serves to make it look bigger. You're basically repeating your own shape. If you don't want to correct the shape or if you don't want to correct uneven lips, this is the best way to go.
The second way is to lift the arches of the lips a little higher and slightly lower the bottom of the lips. The corners of your mouth, you leave it like it is. This method will make your lips look fuller but it won't make your mouth bigger and wider. This is best used for people with an already pretty wide mouth and great if you're trying to portray an anime character that commonly has doll-like mouth features.
Another way to overdraw your lips is, in fact, the opposite of the previous tip; this means only overdrawing the sides. This can look nice on people with already pretty small mouths, big cheeks, or wider jaw. Your mouth will look wider using this method and it won't look as if you're overdrawing your lips. However, if this is not done correctly, you can appear as if you're eating chocolate with crumbs left at the corners of your mouth.
Lastly, the way to correct the shape of your lip would be to overdraw just on the upper lip and near the corners, making the top lip kind of roll-up, and the overdrawing blends neatly to the arches of your lips. In this case, make sure you're lighting the area near the corners of the mouth.
The history of cosplay goes far beyond the emergence of anime and nerd culture. Since that time, people have more options on what they can cosplay but the spirit of cosplay still remains which is portraying a fictional character to the best of their abilities with the end goal of having fun and entertaining others.
It's helpful to think of cosplay as another form of artwork. Your body is your canvas and your paintbrush and paint is makeup, wig, costume, and accessories. And your fame that painting with how you portray that character, copying their little mannerisms and habits to effectively complete your transformation.
Eliza Brooks is an ardent blogger who loves to write about outdoor, travel, fiction, and more. She is currently working with Yourcosplay, which offers a wide variety of costumes from anime characters to children's Halloween costumes.