What Is The Best Makeup For Cosplay?

Obviously, makeup for cosplay purposes differs from ordinary makeup. You have to represent vivid hues like Vishnu blue if you’re playing Mystique from X-Men. And of course, not all cosplay requires makeup; many comics heroes are lucky enough to require only a mask. For the rest of you, read on for a makeup kit that will make you the belle of Comic-Con in no time! If you want some more information on the history of Cosplay, you can look here.


Every cosplay makeup job starts with this. Since you’re bound to be wearing this for upwards of ten hours a day and might even collapse in bed without washing it off when you get back to your hotel room, you want it to be as non-irritating as possible. For a liquid foundation, one kind highly recommended is E.L.F.’s Acne Fighting Foundation, which actually treats blemishes.


We’re all ordinary people with our wrinkles, freckles, and character lines, so we need to hide those details when it doesn’t fit in with our fresh-faced manga character. Maybelline’s Fit Me Concealer works as well here as anything else, and blends well into skin tones to avoid sticking out like a bandaid.

Contouring and Highlighting

This is the part where we add those exaggerated character traits. Use this to sculpt and define your face shape into something more in line with your character. There’s contouring and highlighting sticks that suit this well, such as NYX’s Contour and Highlighting Stick.

Don’t forget lipstick, which also fits in this category, because even if your character doesn’t wear lipstick, makeup all over your face with no lip cover will make your mouth appear washed out. Use a natural color here. Also don’t neglect eyeliner, as even though your character may not wear it, characters from anime, video games, and manga typically have sharp, black-lined features. Eyeliner and other hard-line drawing items bring out that hand-drawn and inked comic look.


Now for the true cosplay feature: Wild and exotic colors! You don’t want to resort to costume makeup from the Halloween kit here, since it’s going to look caked-on and flaky. Here are the top brands of professional-level stage makeup with enough comic-book colors to suit any vivid character’s palette:

  • Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics – They make a vivid array of lip tars.
  • Makeup Forever – They have a great selection of eye-shadows in cartoon colors.
  • Urban Decay – Darkness to the rescue! Eye-shadows and eyeliners in hyper colors.
  • Formula X Nails – Nail polish with extreme effects like glitter, gold nugget, and toxic waste.

Lacking that, or in cases where you need a full face paint in an unnatural color like the Incredible Hulk, you’re going to have to resort to stage makeup. Whatever you do, avoid cheap Halloween makeup, since many of those contain toxins and look cheap anyway.


You need something to apply all this with! Applicators are more important in cosplay, because you want to blend like there’s no tomorrow. Think of achieving the flat color tones of a comic book, or an airbrushed Photoshop touch-up. It’s going to look unnatural, but just right for a Dragonball Z character.

  • Foundation brushes – Blend, blend, blend! You can never blend enough.
  • Sponges – Take a note from theater actors here.
  • Eye-shadow brush – You can skip this if your character needs a hard line-drawn look.
  • Powder brush – Not much powder in some designs, but anime gals thrive on it.
  • Other random brushes – You’re likely to reach for some eccentric shapes when designing some characters.


The best advice to take from here is to go on learning. By all means, dive into those YouTube makeup channels and learn from the best wizards in this culture. Since every skin tone is different, you’ll have to experiment to find what works for you. You’ll be driven outside the normal bounds of makeup, looking for ways to recreate the ghostly powdered face of Harley Quinn or the yellow skin of Marge Simpson.

Cosplay is an art form, after all, and a pretty advanced one. Remember, those actors on the big screen get to sit in a chair while technicians apply all this stuff. Hobbyists at home have to apply it all themselves.