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:

meguca is suffering.jpg

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)
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: 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


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!


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:


A “cut crease” look like this one from 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):


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!