Cosplay on a Budget: Makeup Starter Kit

Hokay peeps! Now that you kinda know what the heckie you’re doing with this makeup biz it’s time to put together a high quality starter kit on the cheap. I know choosing makeup can be kind of overwhelming and trying to figure out what’s worth your money can getcha feelin’ like this:

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but hopefully this guide will give you a good starting place! I’ll be including “splurge” items as well if you have some extra $$$ that you’re willing to burn on a high end product, but I’ll try to keep individual items on the cheap list under $20 USD.

Before we jump into the first category of brushes, I’ll preface this by saying you need:

blending sponges of some description (beauty blenders are nice but let’s be real here, they’re just a fancy sponge and you can get a pack of 20 for like $2 at Target)
a face/powder/blush brush
a foundation brush 
eye shading brush (look for something compact with densely packed bristles)
eye shadow blending brush (fluffier)
an eye liner/pencil brush
& a lip brush

to start. Having more eye shadow brushes is useful because you don’t have to wash them between uses at a con. If you’re into cream makeups then you’ll want a stippling brush or an additional foundation brush as well. Now onto the brands!

Cheap brushes:
Eco Tools (look for gift sets, also usually has BOGO 50% off deals)
Elf
Wet n’ Wild
Real Techniques (frequently on BOGO 50% off at Ulta)
Ulta’s house brand

Cheap face primers:
Elf Mineral Primer $6
Nyx Angel Veil Skin Perfecting Primer (dupe for Hourglass’ Mineral Veil!) $16
Nyx Pore Filler $14

Expensive face primers:
Too Faced Primed and Poreless Pure Primer $30
Becca Backlight Priming Filter $40
Too Faced Hangover Rx Replenishing Face Primer $32

Cheap eyeshadow primers:
Elf Eye Primer and Liner Sealer $3
Nyx Glitter Primer $6

Expensive eye shadow primers:
Urban Decay Eye Shadow Primer Potion $20
Too Faced Shadow Insurance Anti-Crease Eye Shadow Primer $20

Cheap foundations:
Elf Flawless Finish Foundation $6
Nyx Stay Matte But Not Flat (powder, but can be used wet or dry) $10

Expensive foundations:
Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition Liquid Makeup $40
Too Faced Born This Way $39
Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Water Foundation $39

Cheap concealer:
Elf HD Lifting Concealer $3
Nyx Hi-Definition Photo Concealer Wands $5

Expensive concealer:
Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer $28
Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-hour Waterproof Concealer $25

Cheap blushes:
Elf Palettes are $6, singles are $3
Nyx HD Blush $7
Makeup Geek $10 for a pan; $15 for a compact
Wet n’ Wild $3
Makeup Revolution $5-15

Expensive blushes:
Too Faced Love Flush Blush $26
Urban Decay Afterglow 8 Hour Powder Blush $26
Tarte Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Blush $28
NARS Blush $30

Cheap highlighters:
Elf Shimmering Facial Whip $1
Elf Baked Blush in Pinktastic $3
Nyx Illuminator $9
Wet n’ Wild Mega Glow Highlighting Powder $4
Makeup Revolution $5-15

Expensive highlighters:
Too Faced Candlelight Glow $30
Urban Decay 8 Hour Afterglow Powder Highlighter $30
Anastasia Beverly Hills Glow Kits $40
Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed $38

Cheap contouring/bronzing products:
Nyx Wonder Stick $12
Elf Bronzers Blush/Bronzer Duos are $4, Palettes are $6
Wet n’ Wild Mega Glow Contouring Palette $5
Physician’s Formula Butter Bronzer $15

Expensive contouring/bronzing products:
Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Bronzer $30
Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit $40

Cheap lipsticks:
Nyx (Round Case $4; Matte $6; Liquid Suede $7; Soft Matte Lip Cream $6)
Elf ($1-$8)
Colourpop ($5-$7)

Expensive lipsticks:
Too Faced La Creme $22
Urban Decay Vice $17
Kat Von D Studded Kiss Lipstick $21

Cheap eyeliner:
ColourPop Creme Gel Liner $5
Elf Waterproof Eye Liner Pen $2

Expensive eyeliner:
Kat Von D Tattoo Liner $19 (SWEAR BY THIS)
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Eye Pencil $20

Cheap brow products:
Nyx’s Microbrow Pencil $10 is a perfect dupe for ABH’s Brow Wiz, save your $$

Cheap mascara: 
Nyx’s Doll Eye Mascara $10
Elf Volumizing and Defining Mascara $2

Expensive mascara: 
Tarte Lights Camera Splashes $21
Urban Decay Perversion Mascara $22
Too Faced Better than Sex $12 (travel size is cheaper per ounce than full size at $23!)

Cheap setting spray:
Elf Makeup Mist and Set $4
Nyx Setting Spray in Dewy Finish or Matte Finish $8

Expensive setting spray
Urban Decay All-Nighter Makeup Setting Spray $30

Last but not least, there’s eye shadow palettes, which is where I sink most of my money. What I recommend is getting a neutrals palette and supplementing it with other pops of color in single shades or building custom palettes for specific characters. With colorful palettes, I’ll buy them if I can use them for multiple characters or if there are really unique shades that aren’t permanent for the particular brand.

Cheap eye shadow palettes:
Make your own with Make Up Geek $6 for regular shades, $10 for foiled
Elf ($1-$20) – I recommend any of the Prism Shadow Sets, and their Naked dupes
Nyx ($6-$20) – I recommend the prismatic singles, the Go-To palettes, the Avant Pop! palettes, and the Ultimate palettes
Makeup Revolution ($7-$15) – Lots of Too Faced palette dupes as well as UD Naked; more selection in the UK/on their site.

Expensive eye shadow palettes:
Urban Decay Nakeds $54; Singles are $19 for regular, $21 for moondust, and 4-pan palettes are $10, the Spectrum Palette would be a PERFECT splurge for a colorful palette; it’s $39 at Sephora right now
Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palettes $49, and these would be tied with Tarte for a splurge on a neutrals palette. 9-pan palettes like PB&J or Natural Eyes are $36
Buxom Make your own 6-pan for $40 with free case @ Ulta; or get pre-made ones for the same price
Anastasia Beverly Hills Make your own 4-pan for $40 with free case @ Ulta; palettes are usually great too! (I am loving Modern Renaissance!)
Tarte now has single shadows and while I personally have yet to try them, they’re getting A’s on Temptalia’s site so I’d say they’re pretty good! Their eye shadow palettes usually have a blush and sometimes highlighter in them, and are mostly neutrals. Sales can get them down to around $25 but they retail as high as $45.

Please keep in mind these are just my personal recommendations so what works for me may not work for you if you have a different skin color/tone/type than me. I hope you all find this helpful and look forward to seeing you create some amazing looks on the cheap!

Makeup for Cosplay: BASE FACE!

Hello peeps! Today we’re gonna continue a series on how to do your makeup for cosplay. First you’re gonna start out with your regular skincare routine and wait for your moisturizer to dry. I recommend putting your cosplay on before you start with makeup so you don’t get any on it while pulling stuff over your head. You can protect your costume while applying makeup by putting a tissue or dry washcloth down your shirt-front (think lobster dinner).

First you’re going to want to apply primer all over your face. Primer helps to even out the texture of your skin and provides a nice base for your makeup to stick to. Primers are usually split into water based and silicone based. If you have oily/combo skin, silicone is usually your best bet as water-based formulas will tend to melt. If you have dry skin, water based primers are great because they give you an extra layer of hydration.

My reccs:
Nyx’s Angel Veil (similar to Hourglass’ Mineral Veil at a fraction of the cost, good for all skin types) or Pore Filler
Too Faced’s Primed and Poreless

Next up is concealer! In order to hide discoloration on your face, you go to the color opposite it on the color wheel to camouflage it. So wherever you have redness and acne, you use a green color correcting concealer. To hide purple under-eye circles, you use an orange-y salmon color. To brighten up yellow/sallowness, use lilac. Concealers are usually creams or liquids. You want to use a stippling/blotting motion to apply these and don’t blend them out! Their purpose is to stay in the place where you need them. After they’re patted down to your liking, apply skin-colored concealer on over them so your face doesn’t look like a kindergarten kiddo just went to town on it. Same dealio with application; blot, don’t blend! Some people like to use setting powder to set their concealer under their eyes to help prevent it from creasing. Take a small brush, dip into setting powder, tap off the excess and blot gently on over the concealer. For using skin-colored concealer on your under-eye area, follow the “Itachi” (like from Naruto) lines on your face, don’t just do a little half circle.

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Photo from fatgirloffashion on blogspot!

My reccs:
Elf’s HD Lifting Concealer
Nyx’s Color Correcting Concealer Wands

After that, you’ll apply foundation. Regardless of your skin type I think liquid is best to use as a base for cosplay. Take a foundation brush, squirt a little bit of foundation on it, and apply all over your face using downward strokes. (Upward ones will cause baby hairs on your face to stick up, not kawaii). Then, you can use a makeup wedge/beauty blender to blend it out and get rid of the brush strokes. Sponges soak up more product and you’ll get more bang for your buck using a brush first. At this point, you can use setting powder all over your face, and then use a powder foundation on top if you have oily skin or tend to sweat a lot in cosplay. If you have dry skin, you can probably skip this step.

My reccs:
Elf foundation
Nyx’s Stay Matte But Not Flat Powder (can be used wet or dry!)
Urban Decay Naked Skin
Too Faced’s Born This Way

Final step is contouring! I know this is a way over-hyped Kardashian trend, BUT it does help you to look better in photos, especially on stage. There are a bunch of different ways to manipulate the appearance of your face shape using contouring (youtube it!), but the following is just basic/”natural”; but basically, anything you want to seem smaller or higher up/more defined you use contouring on, and anything you want to appear more prominent or draw attention to you highlight.

I prefer powder but the same deal applies for liquid/cream formulas. Apply brown/taupe product along your jawline, at your temples, and your hairline (if it’s showing under your wig). Next, you’ll contour your cheek-bones; the easiest way to find where to draw this diagonal line is to make a fishy face, and follow the hollow part of your cheeks starting from the temple and stopping two inches away from your lips. You can also contour your nose to look larger or smaller, draw two parallel lines down the bridge; the closer they are, the smaller your nose will appear. Now BLEND DAT BIZ. Next, you’ll do highlighter! Apply to your forehead if it’s showing, down the bridge of your nose, under your eyes (extend back towards your hairline), cupid’s bow (the “v” part over your top lip), the center of your chin, and in between the contour lines on your jaw & cheekbones. BLEND! Finally, blush! Concentrate the application to the apples of your cheeks (smile, the part where a grandma wants to pinch is the apple) and extend back towards the hairline. BLEND! Setting powder on all that, and your base face is done! HUZZAH! Depending on the order you do your makeup, you’ll want to use a setting spray after you’re done with everything as well to keep all that stuff locked for as long as possible.

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Handy dandy diagram from musely.com

My reccs:
Nyx’s Wonder Stick
Too Faced’s Candlelight Glow Duo in Rosy Glow
Nyx’s Illuminator
Too Faced’s Chocolate Soleil
Too Faced’s Love Flush Blush
Elf Blush
Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray
Nyx Matte Finish Setting Spray

I hope you find this helpful and stay tuned for more tips!

Makeup for Cosplay: Lips!

Hi peeps! Today we’re gonna talk about how to do your lip makeup for cosplay.

Doing this before your face is easier (to me) because if you mess up on the scale that I usually do, you don’t have to break out your concealer to fix your lipstick and then fix your foundation/contour/highlight. To start, you’ll want to (gently) exfoliate your lips; you can use a sugar scrub (mix honey or coconut oil and sugar, rub your lips together, and then lick it off) or a toothbrush in a pinch. Lipstick (particularly matte formulas) will cling to cracks and dry patches of skin, so you want to start with a smooth surface. Pat them dry and then apply a lip balm if you need one.

Next, you can apply a primer (some companies make them specifically for lips, but you can use your face primer on your lips too!) which will help to make your lipstick last longer. You’ll also want to apply concealer to your lips to cancel out their natural color.

If you’re going for a no-makeup look, stick to soft pinks and browns (i.e. your lips but better shades) for lipstick; or go with just a tinted gloss. For lipstick; you’ll line your lips with either a nude shade (like Nyx’s wonder pencil), something the same color or slightly darker than the lipstick you’ll use. You can use a lip liner pencil or a lip brush and lipstick for this step. Lining your lips prevents color from “feathering” or bleeding out beyond your lip lines.

If you want your lips to appear larger, you can contour them! Some companies make plumping glosses with menthol or cinnamon, but these will need to be reapplied every few hours to keep your lips plump. This method is a little less annoying: when lining your lips, use a shade darker than the color you’re using for lipstick, and trace slightly outside your natural lip line, and shade in the inner corners of your top and bottom lips. Apply your lipstick, then make a fishy face. Using the liner shade, draw vertical lines where your lips pucker, and blend it in. You can apply a lighter shade to the center of your top and bottom lips, and blend, which will give them a more 3-D effect. Next, take a tissue, and gently press it to your lips, and dust finishing powder through the tissue onto your lips. Put your thumb into your mouth, press your lips around it, and pull it out to get rid of any lipstick that would end up on your teeth. Apply gloss if you so desire, and set your face with setting spray and you are good to go!

Bonus points for how to fake whiter teeth: cool-toned/blue-based red, pink, and berry lipsticks, or glossy nudes will also make your teeth appear whiter! Matte, frosted, or yellow-based shades can sometimes make teeth look duller/gray or more yellow.

Same weekend, but my teeth look duller as Sailor V because I’m wearing a yellow-based coral than they do as Sylveon where I’m wearing a blue-based hot pink. Photo on the right is from Anna-Neko Cosplay & Photography!

My recommendations for lipsticks/liners/glosses:
ColourPop Cosmetics (liners & lipsticks, their liquid formula is actually very close to Kylie lip kits so save yourselves some $$$!)
Elf’s Moisturizing Lipsticks
Nyx’s Lip Liners, Soft Matte Lip Creams, Butter Glosses, & Round Case Lipsticks
Too Faced’s La Creme Lipstick line
Urban Decay’s Vice Lipstick line

I hope this was helpful!

Makeup for Cosplay: Eyes!

Hi peeps! It’s been a long while – I’ve been busy with graduation festivities at my school and wrapping up recruitment on some studies I’ve been coordinating.

So today we’re gonna talk about how to do eye makeup! I think doing eyes first makes the overall application process MUCH easier than starting out with foundation/other face products because then you don’t have to worry about fallout from eye shadow messing up your foundation and concealer. Alternatively, you can put a ton of setting powder under your eyes, do your eye makeup, and then sweep all the setting powder & eye shadow fallout away~!

For eyes, I’ll walk you through some terminology and some different types of looks. But first, a handy diagram from fahv.com:

eyemap

You’ll start out by putting in contacts if you’re wearing them. Makeup is hard to get off of fingers and you don’t want that in your eyes. Next you’ll take eye shadow primer and smear that all over your lid and up to just under your eyebrows (this part of your eye is called the brow-bone).

The way I usually do my eye makeup is by taking a light (usually white, light pink, or flesh toned) eye shadow all across the brow bone area using a windshield wiper motion. I’ll also usually put this close to my tear duct/where my eye socket meets my nose to brighten up that area and make my eyes look more awake. Next, I’ll take a slightly darker color and pat that onto the lid. If I wanted a super minimalist look, I might sweep the same color into the crease and call it a day.

After that, I’ll take a color that’s a little bit darker than the lid shade and use the same sort of windshield wiper motion to put it into the crease, which is the part of your eye that does the fold-y thing. I have deep-set, semi-hooded eyes so unless I’m raising my eyebrows, you usually can’t see my actual crease, so I extend this a bit beyond where my natural crease is. You can also use another color as a “transition color” if the contrast between your crease shade and highlight is really strong; sweep that between them to make it less intense. Next, I’ll take a shade that’s lighter than the lid shade, and pat that onto the center of the eye – this makes them seem more awake and draws attention to the eyes. Finally, I’ll take the darkest shade I’m using and put that into the outer “V” of my eye. BAM, SMOKEY EYE. If you really wanna make it smokey, you can also blend this outer v shade along your lower lash line. If you want a fun/colorful look, you can blend a bright color on the lower lash line. Blend as you go and at the end to avoid having your eyeballs look like a color-by-numbers.

Using all browns, taupes, whites, and light pinks can give you a natural look like what I have for my Tutu cosplay or you can use this with “crazy” colors like I did for my bisexual flag inspired pride look. Using darker browns, grays, purples, and blacks will give you a “vampier” or more sexy look. Smokey eyes don’t have to be all dark – you can use light shades to get the same effect. Play around with stuff and see what you like!

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Another type of look is called a halo eye; which involves 3-4 shades – one you’ll use for your browbone, another for the crease, and then you’ll use the same shade on both the inner and outer v, and the final shade goes in the center, like this look from paulina_alaiev on makeup geek’s website:

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A “cut crease” look like this one from allure.com is where the line between the lid and crease shade is very sharp and not blended (youtube this – cut creases are a pain in the buns for hooded eye folks and I’m not gonna put myself through the frustration):

glitter-cut-crease

There’s a bunch of other ways to do eyeshadow but these are the ones that seem popular now! Other eye shadow tips: if you want bright colors to really pop, use Nyx’s (or another brand) eye shadow sticks in white as a base; if you want duochrome or glittery shades to pop, use a black eyeshadow stick on over your primer. Wetting a brush with finishing spray and then using eyeshadow can also make them appear more intense. Once you finish doing your eyeliner, wipe away any excess with a makeup wipe and you’ll be good to get going on the rest of your face.

Next we’ll talk about eyeliner – there’s a bunch of different styles but the ones you’ll use most frequently are “basic” (i.e. just follow your upper lash line with the stick, try not to make it too thick) or a cat-eye (same deal but gets thicker towards the outside edge of your eye and ends with a flick). Markers/pens probably give you the most control and are the easiest to work with. “Tight lining” is when you apply eyeliner to the “water line” of your upper eye (you use cream eyeliner for this). This makes your eyeliner appear more uniform. Most people use brown or black for eyeliner, but sky’s the limit, you do you. Lining your bottom water line with white will make your eyes appear larger, more awake, kawaii/animu; black will make your eyes appear more narrow and sexier.

Mascara: just do it. It makes your lashes look really good! Primers exist for them as do waterproofing top coats for trips to Colossal Con! Using vertical strokes with the wand on bottom lashes makes it easier to get to them. If you have issues with length, dusting setting powder on your lashes between coats can help. You can also apply false lashes to give you some extra volume and length.

For brows, you can either use a pencil (like Nyx’s Microbrow or ABH’s Brow Wiz) or powder, or pomade/gel. If your character has natural colored hair that matches yours, just fill them in with the product of your choice. If your character has a crazy hair color like pink, you can do a couple of things if your brow hair doesn’t match: fill them in with a light brown powder color (this draws less attention to them), or you can follow this tutorial by my friend Lara.

After you’ve finished the rest of your face (stay tuned!), you’ll finish off with a setting spray to keep everything locked in place. I hope you find this helpful!

Cosplay on a Budget: Saving Money on Makeup

Hello my peeps! Today I’ll be talking to you about how to stretch your sweet, sweet dollar bills on makeup!

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So the first & most obvious way to save is to just buy cheap makeup instead of shelling out the big bucks for higher-end brands. You can read about my fav cheap brands here.

I also recommend getting set up for rewards programs at your local beauty chains (the two major ones in the U.S. are Ulta Beauty and Sephora). Both are free and allow you to rack up points (1 per dollar spent, and look out for multiplier events that allow you to earn 2-5x points on certain purchases) that can be used for various things depending on the store.

The deets for Ulta‘s program are in the link. The most appealing part of Ulta to me is that their points are redeemable for $ off of your purchase, which means you can use them on that Urban Decay palette you’ve been eyeing that’s not available for discounts. Ulta also does a 21 days of beauty event where 2-3 high end products/day are usually on sale for 50% off, saving you buckets of money! Ulta also carries drugstore brands in addition to “prestige” brands, and has regular sales on drugstore products. They have a $3.50 off a $10 purchase coupon every week, in addition to ultra-rare 20% off anything coupons (typically these are no good on brands like Urban Decay).

The deets for Sephora‘s program are after the jump. Sephora does a semi-annual sale with 10-20% off total purchase for BI’s and VIB/VIB Rogue members, but usually their prices do not budge and they do not offer coupons. You redeem points for “gift sets” on their site, so I recommend saving up to the 500-point tier to get something really worthwhile.

 

Personally I find Ulta’s rewards program and overall shopping experience to be more worthwhile than Sephora, but you do you and decide which is best.

HSN & beauty.com also offer great deals but I don’t shop there as often.

Also, pay attention to the brands themselves. Most websites will offer you 10-25% off your first purchase if you sign up for their email newsletters, but watch out, as some like TooFaced will only let you apply these to permanent products (lame), and the codes usually expire after a month, so don’t sign up until you’re ready to buy. Online retailers of high end brands usually have sales when the seasons are changing, so keep your eyeballs peeled around those times of year. If a palette is limited-edition, it will usually go on sale (if it isn’t sold out — still salty about the Peach Palette, y’all) when the next batch of limited stuff is going up (e.g. the Gwen blush palette & all the lipsticks were half price at Ulta not that long ago because they’re trying to make room for the new Alice in Wonderland stuff).

Next, we’re gonna talk apps. Retailmenot is a wonderful website/app that will find coupon codes for online and in-store shopping and I will be recommending it HEAVILY in any cosplay-on-a-budget posts. It also works on a system where you can upvote codes if they work, and down vote if they don’t. Add your favorite brands and they’ll let you know when deals pop up in stores.

Ebates is another great website/app that helps you save money while shopping online. Basically, you activate a “shopping trip” via their website or browser app before you shop at any online retailer, and they’ll send you cash for a certain percentage back on your purchase. They will also sometimes do rebates for in-store purchases, but not always.

Finally, invest your money wisely! Compare price per ounce on full size vs. travel sized products across and within brands.

Buying this elf dupe for the Naked 3 for $10 seems like a good option but if you go through this palette more quickly than the more expensive one because the shadows aren’t as pigmented/there are fewer of them, then you would have been better off shelling out the $54 for the real deal the first time around because you’d be spending less money overall.

Travel sized versions of things are great for trying new products but keep in mind Ulta and Sephora will let you return literally anything if you do not 100% love it (usually for store credit, but better than nothing). Urban Decay’s All Nighter Setting Spray is $14.00 for 1 ounce, and $30 for the full-sized 4 ounce bottle. In the full size, you’re only paying $7.50 per ounce. Sometimes, the travel sized version is actually cheaper per ounce, so it always pays off to double check so you don’t get ripped off.

Another good way to invest your money is in palettes, whether it’s eyeshadow, blush, contour, or something else. Regular Urban Decay singles are $19.00/.05 ounces (so $3.80 per .01 oz) but in the Vice Ltd XX Reloaded ($56) the shadows are .03 ounces a piece for 20 shadows. You’re paying $2.80 per shadow (so $0.96 per .01 oz)  and even though you’re getting .02 oz less than you would in a single, you’re paying way less per .01 oz AND you get more colors to play with.

Stay frugal my peeps!

Makeup for Cosplay: Skincare!

Makeup for Cosplay will feature tutorials and tips dedicated to help you put your best face forward in cosplay!

When people think about makeup, they usually don’t think about skincare products, but when you think of it like you do art, makeup is your paint, and your skin is your canvas. Having a nice canvas makes painting beautiful pictures much easier.

Honestly I am the laziest person ever when it comes to taking care of my skin but when a con is approaching, I usually make sure I’m being good about it at least a month in advance. 

The first step to helping your skin is figuring out what skin type you have. There are five major types (excluding people with skin conditions like rosacea or excema):

-Normal: You are the envy of all around you; your skin seems nice and hydrated without being too oily, dry, or prone to acne.
-Oily: if your makeup seems to just melt halfway through the day, and you’re prone to lots of acne, chances are you have oily skin.
-Dry: if your skin is flaky in patches or always seems “ashy”, you probably have dry skin
-Combination: if your skin is oily in some places, and dry in others, congrats! You have joined the combination skin club like me!
-Sensitive (is more of a subtype): your skin hates products with strong scents and harsh anything. It’s a delicate flower and demands to be treated as such, otherwise you’ll get a rash.

Regardless of your skin type, you’ll want to follow some basics:

  • Drink lots of water! Your skin needs water in order for it to stay healthy. Alcohol dehydrates you, and can cause breakouts and dull skin, so try to avoid drinking a lot before a con.
  • Wash your face twice daily with a gentle cleanser (even if you don’t wear makeup, you still get oil on your face by touching it, and other grime from your environment- you definitely don’t want to be sleeping in it!) Makeup remover wipes are a lazy person’s dream come true.
  • You can tone your skin once or twice daily with an astringent (usually something with 2-5% salicylic acid) that will help to keep acne at bay.
  • Use a gentle exfoliating wash/mask once or twice a week (this helps to get rid of dead skin cells which cause your skin to look flaky if it’s dry or cause breakouts if they build up too much)
  • If you’re super prone to acne like me, you can also get benzoyl peroxide cream in concentrations up to 10% over the counter or prescribed from your doctor. Even those with very oily skin will probably want to only use this once daily before moisturizing because it can be VERY drying.
  • MOISTURIZE twice daily- regardless of your skin type! If your skin gets too dry or irritated from harsh products, your body will start producing even MORE sebum/oil and this will lead to more breakouts. For acne-prone folks, look for a moisturizer with non-comedogenic oils.
  • In the daytime, you’ll also want to protect your skin with 30 SPF sunscreen if the UVB index is low, and higher SPF if you’re planning on spending a significant amount of time outside or the UVB index is high. In the summer, I’ll usually split my moisturizer into two containers, and mix one half with sunscreen to cut down on the time I take to get ready in the morning. Cancer ain’t fun and UVB exposure causes wrinkles and discoloration.
  • Taking care of the rest of your skin also makes for prettier cosplays! Exfoliate once or twice a week, and put on some lotion after you get out of the shower for nice, healthy looking skin!

Unfortunately, taking care of your skin takes some trial and error to find out what works best for you in terms of brands and product types. Good luck, and don’t lose hope if things don’t work right away!


I’m sticking what I use down below in case it’s helpful:

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  • Body stuff:
    • Small secret: you do not need to pay a ton of money to Lush for a good exfoliator! You can make your own at home by mixing a cup of sugar or jojoba seeds + vanilla/insert your fav scent here extract + 3/4 cup of oil (coconut, olive, vegetable, w/e). I do like Lush’s Ocean Salt and Ulta’s Luxe Smooth Exfoliating Scrub, but both are pricey (Ulta’s do go on sale occasionally)
    • For moisturizer/lotion, you can’t really go wrong with Palmer’s Cocoa Butter. I have a lot of lotion from Bath & Body Works as well that I love. However, one thing that I WILL splurge on, always, is Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner from Lush; this stuff smells AMAZING and makes skin feel baby-soft. It’s ridonk.
  • Face stuff:
  • Cleansers:
    • Shea Mositure African Black Soap Problem Skin Facial Wash and Scrub – I’m putting this here instead of under exfoliators because this is so gentle it really doesn’t feel like it’s doing much exfoliating, but is a lovely cleanser!
    • I use Ulta’s eye makeup remover wipes and Formula 10.0.6’s Keep Me Clean wipes for the rest of my face.
  • Astringent:
    • Formula 10.0.6 So Totally Clean Deep Pore Cleanser – oooh baby this stuff is strong! There’s also a sensitive skin formula.
  • Exfoliator:
    • Forumula 10.0.6 3 Times Sublime – I use this as a mask once or twice a week on dry skin, and use it gently on wet skin the rest of the time alternating with the Shea Moisture stuff
    • I like using Lush’s fresh face masks (faves are Catastrophe Cosmetic, Cupcake, Oatifix)- all of these are gentle exfoliators since you wash them off.
    • I also like Montagene Jeunesse/My 7th Heaven peel masks (Tea Tree, Green Tea, & the Passion Fruit one), they’re much cheaper (only $2), and work to help improve your skin tone.
  • Benzoyl peroxide cream:
    • Just get the generic! It’s literally the same stuff so don’t pay more for a brand.
  • Moisturizer:
    • The Body Shop Vitamin E Cream – LOVE THIS! Works just as well as the stuff from Lush for a cheaper price point.

Cosplay on a Budget: Wallet-friendly makeup brands

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MOON PRISM POWER… MAKE UP!

Without killing my wallet? Please?

I’m gonna preface this by saying that I am HEAVILY BIASED towards cruelty-free products, but I am not judging you if you buy stuff that isn’t. I’m just not gonna feature stuff in recommendations if it’s not cruelty free because I don’t use it/don’t pay attention to their brands so I can’t give you an accurate review!

Newsflash! You do not need crazy expensive makeup to look good! Good primer and setting spray will do wonders for even the cheapest of brands. Most of the time you just need to use more of the cheap stuff/reapply more frequently to get the same effect as someone using the expensive stuff. And expensive =/= high quality! And, as much as it pains me to say it, unless you’re doing a photoshoot, most of your makeup (read: eye shadow) won’t show up well in hall shots from Joe Schmoe at the con. Disappointing, I know, but it’s the truth.

Temptalia.com has a “dupe finder” that lets you compare products. So say you really like NARS Blush in “Orgasm” but are not in love with the $30 price tag; dump that into the dupe finder and it’ll spit out a bunch of products that are similar in color, finish, and lasting power, along with the savings between the two brands. This thing is a lifesaver, especially when it comes to finding something close to your dearly departed limited-edition what-have-you-product.

On to actual brands themselves:

Eyes lips face or elf has a ton of good makeup for like $1-8 cheap (read reviews to find out what’s worth the $$), and you can find it in most drugstores and target. They frequently dupe or try to dupe more expensive brands, so if you’re looking to try an expensive palette but aren’t sure you want to shell out the cash because of how the colors will look, check their website first. I particularly love their blushes, brushes (SO CHEAP), shimmering facial whip ($1 highlighter, cannot go wrong), all over color stick (I use it as a cream blush), lipsticks, color-correcting powder (I usually use this on top of primer and again over foundation if it’s too dark for my skin tone), and their makeup mist and set. I used to use their foundation, but they changed their formula and now their lightest shade oxidizes much darker on my skin, so no more cheap acne-fighting foundation for me.

NYX is a little bit pricier than elf and also very high quality (I’m also a total junkie). You can also find it in drugstores/Target, and they are also carried by Ulta Beauty. I love their HD blushes, highlighters (dupes for UD’s new summer ones & Too Faced’s candlelight glow, HOLLA), lipsticks/lip paints (hello tarte dupes!), micro brow pencil (Anastasia brow wiz dupe woot woot), false eyelashes, doll eye mascara & their water-proof it mascara coat, some of their eyeshadows (these are usually hit or miss), powder foundation (can go on wet or dry), finishing powder, pore filler primer, jumbo eye pencils (priming lids with “milk” is a fabulous way to get bright colors to really pop), the wonder pencil (can use to line lips, as a concealer, and highlighter), liquid liner, their wonder stick (contour & highlight), color-correcting concealer, and makeup setter.

Milani is another great, budget friendly brand with really cute packaging! I have not personally purchased anything from them yet but I’m planning on picking up some lip colors and blush with my next Walgreens run. I’ve heard literally nothing but good things about both so I’m excited to see how these work. They’re also very good at duping higher end brands.

ColourPop is a brand that’s popped up fairly recently, and they. are. all. the. rage. I’m planning on picking up some of their eyeshadow singles in the near-ish future along with some of their lipsticks. (Can you tell I have a lipstick problem yet?) EDIT: THEY ARE SO WORTH THE HYPE! Lipsticks are amazing, and while I don’t like the fact that their eyeshadow singles need you to use your fingers to get them on, they are so buttery I don’t even care that much.

Wet n’ Wild is another very cheap drugstore brand with some good dupes for high-end makeup. Personally I’ve only ever used their lipsticks, but I’m looking to add some of their other stuff to my collection soon. EDIT: Their brushes are pretty great!!

Ulta Beauty’s house brand is also pretty decent, but their products are usually hit-or-miss for me. I like their regular lipsticks, but not their liquid mattes, their primer is nice, mascara is great, brow pencil & gel are also good, but aside from that I haven’t really tried much from them (what I have tried I’ve received in grab bags for making an $x amount online purchase).

So those are some of my top picks for makeup on the cheap! Next time I’ll be talking about some of my favorite higher-end brands!

Do you have any great, cheap makeup faves? Comment below!