Cosplay 101: Make-up Basics

Cosplay 101

Cosplay make-up can work a little differently to your everyday look. I make no claims to being an expert but I’ve learnt a few things along the way. Consider this a tips post, not a tutorial.


Think about skin tone. You can adjust your own tone a little, but (unless you’re being Harley Quinn or another character with a literal painted face) it’s quite limited. Pick a shade or two darker or lighter than your usual foundation, but anymore than that and it’s going to look strange against the rest of your skin.

Test a few foundations away from your usual brand to find what will stay longest on your skin. Bear in mind, conventions are sweaty places, so your foundation will need to stand up to that. Seal your foundation with a good face powder. You can top your powder up throughout the day, which will help combat shine.


If you’re not going for a specific effect, for eyes you’re basically going for definition. Photographs can make your eyes disappear a bit. Pick an eyeshadow that suits your character, or choose a good nude. Line the eyes (go waterproof if you can, again, think sweat!) and a put on a couple of layers of mascara. Now your eyes won’t vanish of someone gets a little exposure happy with their picture of you.

You can make a more dramatic eye with false lashes. Practise putting them on well before the convention so you’re used to it, and give yourself plenty of time to get them on on the day of the convention. False lashes can be fiddly and if you’re trying to do it quickly, that’s always going to be when you struggle!


I find brows are another victim of vanishing in photos. If my character has brows close to my natural colour, I just fill mine as normal. If, however, you’re wearing a wig in a different colour, colouring your brows can make a lot of difference.

I’ve had success using a lip liner, eyeliner or brow pencil in the colour I want to use. You can also use eyeshadow and gently brush it through your brows. There are methods involving paints out there, but personally, I don’t think it’s worth it. Stick with actual make-up products, and it’s less likely to upset your skin!


If you’re clever, shadows and highlights can dramatically appear to alter your face shape. Again, practice is key here. Get a good highlighter and then either a contour powder or a bronzer. If you use bronzer, avoid anything too orange and stick with brown shades, and avoid shimmer. Essentially, if you want to bring something forward, highlight it. If you want to push something back, put the contour powder on it. Blend well, or you’ll look stripy.

Study your source material and see where your face shape matches and where it differs. Experiment with shading and see how well you can match that shape.


The first step should always be a liner. It will give a more defined shape and help your lipstick stay put.  Whatever colour you use, apply one light layer first and then blot. To blot, gently close your lips around a tissue or a piece of folded up toilet roll. Apply another layer and then blot well. A good blot will help the lipstick stay put and not just transfer to anything you drink out of, and also helps stop it getting all over your teeth. Take the lipstick with you so you can reapply throughout the day if you need too.


For cosplay make-up, practice makes perfect! Do test runs at home, and take photographs. Be aware that make-up will photograph a little differently to how it looks in real life, so test this at home for yourself and you won’t be caught by surprise.


Cosplay 101: What Lies Beneath

Cosplay 101


Cosplay often involves a lot of weird fabrics, and we’re all trying to obtain impossible comic book shapes in our costumes. After hours building a costume, you can often find yourself what in the hell you’re supposed to wear underneath it. Here’s my guide to cosplay underwear. Most of this will be relevant to the ladies, as that’s my experience, but there are some handy-dandy tips for the gents too.

The Basics

Start on a good foundation. Cosplay often involves fabrics like spandex which shows through every weird bump of your underwear, so start with the smoothest foundation possible. Seam free thongs, smooth t-shirt bras or seamless bodysuits are a great place to start. No lines! If you do go bodysuit, do bear in mind whether you’ll be to escape from it to use the bathroom though. Stick with nude colours so it doesn’t show through. Your costume might look opaque, but fabrics can do weird things under camera flashes. Staying nude avoids any surprises when you get your pictures back…

Cinching it in

Lots of cosplayers are looking to create an exaggerated waistline. There’s a couple of ways to achieve this. Waist cinchers can work to smooth out your mid section and trim an inch or two off. Again, choose wisely and pick nude colours, smooth textures and minimal fastenings.

Underbust corsets can also be a great option to trim your waist. The same rules apply. If you are going to use compression garments like cinchers and corsets, please be sensible. Get measured, learn to put it on properly and don’t lace too tight. Practice wearing it around the house first so you know it’s comfortable and safe. Invest in the best quality you can afford and try not to wear the thing for hours and hours.


If you want to smooth everything out and avoid lines, shapewear can be a good option. Most cosplayers I know use shapewear of some kind under their costumes. There are loads of different options out there, depending what you want to smooth, whether you want shorts, vests, body suits or somewhere in between. You know the drill by now. Seamless, nude colours. Buy the best you can afford for the best results.

Cosplay Cleavage

Spandex can do weird things, including smushing your breasts down. If this is a problem and you want to create a more extreme silhouette, invest in a decent push-up bra. Lots of cosplayers swear by the Victoria’s Secret Bombshell bras to boost their assets. This…is not generally an issue I have so I can’t vouch for their effectiveness personally. Again, nude colour and smooth lines if you can. Get properly measured too!

There is also, of course, Pompberry’s famous Cosplay Cleavage tutorial if you want to do some serious boosting.


At the other end of the spectrum, if you’re an ampler chested lady wanting to minimise your assets for crossplay, you can bind your chest. I’ve never done this, but there are lots of tutorials out there. However, BE CAREFUL. Done improperly, you can really hurt yourself and permanently damage your breast tissue. Don’t bind with bandages. Just…don’t.

Safer methods include layering a couple of sports bras, sports compression wear, or if you’re going to do it regularly, just invest in an actual chest binder. Your boobs will thank you.

As with corsets, be sensible. Don’t squash too much and don’t wear for too long.

Legs for Days

Wanna know how cosplayers get perfect legs? Dance tights. They’re sturdier than fashion tights, so they last longer and take a beating better. They hold everything in and smooth it out. They’re thicker, so create the illusion of perfect legs while providing more coverage for a skimpy costume. They’re also designed to be with leotards so they don’t have that control top at the top of the thigh, which makes them perfect for wearing with short shorts or leotard based costumes. I’ve worn dance tights for years, as an actual dancer, and I swear by them. My preferred brand is Capezio, which you can buy on Amazon.

And for the gents…

This one is an awkward one, but I see it so often at conventions. Gents, please be aware that spandex is not forgiving and it has a tendency to cling. I don’t need to see every detail of Spidey’s trouser department, but most guys seem oblivious to how…obvious…everything is in spandex suits. You can’t just wear your regular boxers. Sorry. DO NOT try and use a sports cup to disguise it either, as this actually does the opposite. Like dance tights, dancers have the best tricks here. Invest in a dance belt. Buy one in a nude colour. Male ballet dancers wear them and are suitably contained for leaping about in white tights under stage lights without embarrassment.


Don’t forget, you can send me any cosplay questions you have and I’ll try and cover them in a future cosplay 101!.

Cosplay 101: Interacting With Cosplayers

Cosplay 101

You’ve waited for months. You’ve queued for hours. You’re finally in the the convention hall, and there they are. The cosplayers. Like a strange alien species in elaborate armour, light-up props and monster heels. Now what?

I know some people feel shy about approaching cosplayers, so here’s my guide on the etiquette of interacting with cosplayers at conventions.


We’ve worked hard on these costumes. Please do ask us for photos! We like it, promise. Most cosplayers are flattered to be asked and will be more than happy to pose for you. There are some exceptions of course. Don’t forget, cosplayers are people too. If the cosplayer you want to photograph is eating, sitting and taking a break or otherwise resting…please leave them be. Wait and catch them later. One other thing I find really odd is when people take photos of you without asking, when they’re walking past you or stood a little way away. If I’m walking somewhere or talking to someone and your sneak photo comes out with me making a weird face or an important costume detail covered, on your head be it. Just ask. Cosplayers don’t bite. You’ll get a much nicer picture if we know you’re taking it!

Oh, and I hope I don’t need to tell you guys, but sneaky pictures of bums and cleavage is not okay. 

Silk Spectre Pin-Up

Comments and Conversation

Again, I promise we don’t bite. Come and talk to us. Personally, I am always more than happy to chat about the costume or the character, and I have made so many friends just chatting to people at conventions. Never feel like you can’t go and start a conversation with someone. On a similar note to above though, keep respect in mind. Whatever the character, there’s still a person in there, so keep it appropriate, yeah? At the risk of sounding like your mum, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

And the rest…

It should go without saying,  but if you’re posing with cosplayers, check before slinging an arm round them or touching them at all. You might mean it in a matey way, but not everybody is happy being touched or hugged by strangers. Definitely no grabbing. They might look incredible, but groping is never, ever acceptable.