Make-up, Wigs, and Feet

Make-up, Wigs, and Feet :: Cosplay Mayhem P4

So the best part of cosplay is being able to completely immerse yourself in a new character, to become someone you aren't. Or at least that's why I cosplay! In order to do that though, most of us need some extra help in the way of wigs, contacts, make-up, and yes, even padding sometimes. Oh, the stories I could tell you about cosplaying Amelia from Slayers (Naga's little sister) and the number of "Your chest isn't big enough" comments another friend and me have both gotten during our experiences cosplaying as the over-endowed princess.

Hair & Wigs
Hair is difficult to talk about, because everyone has different types. Curly, straight, long, short, thin, thick, light, or dark, there is no good universal advice on cosplay hairstyling.

My hair is naturally light-colored, thin, and medium length. Because of that, it's not hard for me to pull my hair up or curl it, but I can't do Sailor Moon buns and tails, because my hair isn't long enough or thick enough for that. My favorite method of lightening or darkening my hair is to use Kool-Aid. I mix it with less water than the package says and use black cherry for darker and strawberry or regular cherry for more of a brown tint to light hair. This leaves the hair feeling a little bit sticky, but it dries quickly and doesn't stain or flake off once the hair is dry.

For hardcore cosplayers, you can actually dye your hair using permanent or semi-permanent dyes. Once I tried to help a friend dye her hair blue, and I will never dye hair again. The bleach was hard to apply and time correctly in her very dark hair, and it ended up kind of patchy. The blue didn't take very well to the hair either, and according to her hairstylist, who fixed it, blue is the hardest color to use to dye hair.

Wigs are of course the non-permanent alternative. I don't really like wigs, as my skin tends to get itchy, but if you are going to wear a wig, make sure you have plenty of bobby pins to keep your natural hair up. Wigs tend to be at their cheapest around Halloween, or you can find specialty anime wigs online and at conventions. These will be more expensive, but typically a higher quality and will come in more anime suited colors and styles.

I styled my own wig, the one time I used one, by using normal hair care products. (It was a synthetic wig, and I was cosplaying as Amelia wil Tesla Saillune from Slayers, who has short purple hair that curls outwards.) I found a wig that had the basic shape I wanted, and then used normal styling gel to make the shape more distinct. Finally I topped it off with some purple streaks from a streaking product. In contrast, the same friend with the unfortunate blue hair incident cosplayed Amelia a few years before that, and I spent a couple of hours with a curling iron and styling gel to get the same effect in her natural hair. Using a wig had more preparation time (styling the wig) but meant I only needed to tie up my hair and put on the wig at the event itself. It just goes to show how much your natural hair affects what you'll need to do. Really, both methods had their own problems and conveniences. Personally, I don't like wearing wigs, so I would have rather styled my hair if possible, while other people I know aren't bothered by wigs at all. Of course, a wig you can do yourself, while hairstyling often takes a generous friend.

Hair extensions can also be useful, and they are rarely very expensive. These can then be cut and restyled if you are ambitious. My Vampire Princess Miyu hair was done with a hair extension that I found as a braid on a scrunchy (on clearance) that I then cut off, re-tied, un-braided, and washed so the braid waves would go away. It was a much less stressful way to do a bun with a dangling hair piece than to try to bobby pin my own hair into that style.

Art by Nut-Case
Remember, cosplay can be a fun even for the whole family. Get your parents and their creativity involved!

This is another very ethnic and diverse area for cosplay. Most anime characters are Japanese, though only some look it, and most cosplayers in America are not. Some people go with painting anime style eyes around their own eyes. Others use make-up to make their eyes wider. This is a cosplay area where talking to other cosplayers can really help. has a whole forum on make-up, and you can take advantage of finding other people with similar facial styles and learn from them.

This seems as good a time as any to mention contact lenses. Plenty of cosplayers use them these days, and if you don't need them to be prescription, then they are moderately priced. Average prices seems to be between $30-$40 for solid colors, while specialized styles might cost you upwards of $160 to $300 for the most unique and anime centric contacts.

Barefoot Dilemma
Just to be difficult, some of our favorite characters like to run around barefoot. This can be quite a problem for cosplayers, as anyone that's ever walked barefoot across an asphalt parking lot can tell you. As many conventions grow too big to use a single hotel or convention center, cosplayers need to deal with traveling between buildings several times a day.

Even if you are inside all the time, in such a crowded space, toes can be stepped on, and many mysterious things can be stuck in the carpet.

So here are a few choices:

  • Wear slippers/shoes/sandals when outside, and then go barefoot inside.
  • Create a substitute – for my Miyu costume, I found white sandals with only a few straps. Since Miyu has a ribbon around her foot, I painted some of the straps red to represent the ribbon and left the rest white. I then tied the rest of my ribbon up my leg. (In retrospect, I should have made the ribbon on my leg shorter, because I had people stepping on it at the con.)
  • Get a pair of flesh-toned ballet slippers and use those.

Certainly, with a bit of creativity you can find a solution that works for you. And when it comes time to be on stage for cosplay, it's easy enough to remove any footwear.

Next time I plan to talk a bit about the pit-falls of costuming and the drama associated with cosplay bash sites and the interesting phenomena known as cross-play.