close-up of eyeshadow pallette and makeup brushes for cosplay makeup essentials

Cosplay 101: Cosplay Makeup Essentials To Round Out Your Cosplay

If you’re interested in anything nerdy, chances are you’ve heard of cosplay. The hobby has exploded over recent years. More people than ever are interested in trying their hand at dressing up like their favorite characters. 

cosplay makeup essentials graphic banner created by writer and cosplayer Keana Ghost

When first starting out cosplaying, things can seem pretty overwhelming. Most cosplays involve a lot more than just slapping on a costume and calling it a day. You have to consider things like comfort, wig styling and, you guessed it, makeup! Makeup is definitely optional but it can bring something extra to your cosplay. Even if your chosen character doesn’t look like they wear makeup, you can’t go wrong with some eyeliner! There’s a lot of options as far as makeup goes so here are some cosplay makeup essentials and affordable product recommendations.

Here are some cosplay makeup essentials to check out:


This provides a smooth base for the rest of your look. It can even out the look of hyperpigmentation, help hide dark circles or blemishes, and more. Even if your skin is flawless, having a light layer of foundation can do a lot. 

There are tons of choices for foundations and that can make it hard to find the right one for you. Definitely do your research before purchasing! Consider your skin type: are you dry or oily? Do you want a matte or dewy look? Full coverage or something more sheer? Matching skin tone is also important to consider. Take the time to try different samples or get color matched if possible. 

Many people tend to go for more pricey foundations, but drugstore/cheaper brands can be just as good! Brands like Makeup Revolution, Revlon, Colourpop and NYX have amazing products that are comparable to the more expensive brands.

Lip Product

This doesn’t necessarily mean lipstick! A good lip balm can go far. Tinted lip balms, lip tints and lip glosses are my personal favorites. Once again, just because a character doesn’t look like they’re wearing any makeup doesn’t mean that you can’t take creative liberties and put something on anyway. 

A great place to find good lip products are Peripera, Colourpop, NYX, and ELF.


You can do a lot with eyeshadow! If you have the right colors, you can use it as highlighter, blush and contour too. It’s useful for natural looks and over-the-top looks too. It provides a good base for eyeliner as well. 

Many people go for whole palettes but getting single shadows can be helpful if you know exactly what colors you’re going for. That being said, getting a palette with a good array of colors is helpful because you never know what you might need.

Some great places to get eyeshadow is BH Cosmetics, Kiko Cosmetics, and Wet n Wild.


You’d be amazed what kind of looks you can achieve with eyeliner. You can tweak your eyeliner based on the character to give yourself a more cutesy or serious look. For example, I usually use a thicker line for bubbly characters. 

Having different color liners can make a cosplay pop too. If you’re cosplaying a character with a lot of blue tones, using a navy blue eyeliner instead of straight black can elevate your makeup. That goes for liquid and pencil liners. You can put different colors in your waterline like white or beige (to make your eyes look bigger) or even red. Or you can also put liquid eyeliner on lashes to change the color.

You can find great eyeliners from NYX, Milani, and Rimmel.


I’ve come to appreciate good false lashes but honestly mascara is all you need. Not only do they help the lashes stand out more but they can also help hide any fallout from eyeshadow on your lashes. Similar to the liner, you can also get them in different colors to add a special something to your makeup look.

Some good, affordable brands for mascara are Maybelline and L’oreal.


Above are the basics that you can use to get a well put together look. Cosplay makeup essentials can truly add another layer of creativity to your cosplay. It’s one of my favorite parts of cosplay. It’s always cool to see how people interpret characters. There’s a lot of creative freedom in the hobby so don’t be afraid to branch out. Try new looks and new products! Don’t be afraid to tweak this list to your liking too, there’s no wrong way to do makeup.

Read more of Keana’s articles.

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Featured image credit: Freestocks/Unsplash

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