Nowadays, everyone’s all about no-makeup makeup. Or no makeup at all. This all changes, of course, when you’re cosplaying. When you put on that costume and you do up your face, you aren’t trying to be yourself; instead, you’re mimicking the idealized face of a fantasy, cartoon, or anime character.
So it makes sense that what you look for in a cosplay foundation would be different from what you’d want to put on your face day to day. You want to think about coverage, about duration, about how it’s going to look in photos. This time around, we’ll show you how to find foundation that will make you look as good as fiction. The masquerade begins.
How to Choose Foundation for Cosplay – Buying Guide
Cosplay’s a bit removed from real life, so we knew we needed to talk to an insider for this one. We contacted Haku Kaze of Instagram fame to see what goes on inside her head when shopping for a cosplay foundation.
Haku started cosplaying about eight years ago. She has an avid love for all things cosmetics and half-jokingly admits that she has a problem when shifting through her arsenal of makeup. She cosplays men and women, models for fashion brands, and dabbles in many different techniques.
But, unlike many makeup influencers, cosplay is what ignited her passion. Check out all of her different looks on her Instagram below.
・Haku Kaze's Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hakukaze/?hl=en
Different Foundations Serve Different Purposes throughout the Day
Conventions can last all day, and you don’t want you makeup to slip during that time–not even once. That’s why many cosplayers will layer their makeup, using different foundations to fulfill different purposes.
Liquid Foundation: A Thicker Consistency Sets up a High Coverage Base for Flawless Anime Skin
Liquid foundation pastes itself to skin, so you could say it lasts longer and covers better than powder–in general, at least. Many cosplayers–regardless of skin type–turn to liquids to lay down an opaque base. If they do have oily skin–like Haku–they’ll set it with powder or layer under the foundation with a mattifying, pore-filling primer so it doesn’t slip.
When choosing a liquid foundation, look out for consistency. More watery formulas spread out easily; therefore, they blend more smoothly into the skin, minimizing damage. However, they fall short when it comes to coverage.
Thicker formulas, including creams, will hide your blemishes, which is what you want for your cosplay–just remember that they might not be as breathable and can aggravate oily skin.
Consistency, I would say, also depends on preference. I tend to go for middle-of-the-line consistency, because things that are too watery blend out more sheer, or the ones that I’ve tried so far don't sit well on my skin. And foundations that are too thick tend to be too cakey for me, so I like that consistency that’s right in the middle.
Powder and Cushion Foundations: Perfect for Touch-ups Between Photoshoots
Cons can stretch on for hours–and if you are sweating or if you have oily skin, then chances are, your makeup’s going to start sliding off in the middle of it. For this reason, many cosplayers carry around powder foundation to fix up their face throughout the day.
Powder foundation is compact, not as messy as liquid, and will absorb the grease off your face–and that is why they’re especially suited for oily skin. Just remember you can’t set cream products on top of powder products.
You could also try cushion foundation. It’s basically a pillow soaked in liquid foundation housed in a compact. Cushions are popular because they’re convenient; you just pull it out, dab on some foundation with the included puff, and slip it back into your bag.
Sometimes, if I use cream products—like cream blushes, cream highlighters—I’ll put that on and then I’ll set my face with powder. Because the rule of thumb is that you don’t put cream products on top of powder products. Or else, it tends to ball up and break apart. In any case, that sandwiching effect is really important in my book.
How Much Hydration Do You Need? Depends on Your Skin Type and the Weather at the Con
So it goes without saying that dry skin begs a hydration. But so may other skin types–especially if the weather calls for it. If, for example, you are scheduled for an outdoor photoshoot, and it’s winter and the air is stripped of moisture, then you will need a hydrating foundation.
There used to be a rule of thumb where liquid foundation was good for dry skin and powder was good for oily–but there are now different formulas that adapt to your skin type. Haku mentioned J.Cat Beauty’s Aqua Surance, which is a powder foundation that’s been infused with water–making it suitable even for the dry days of winter.
So, when looking for moisturizing foundation, keep out an eye for ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, often touted as a must-have for people with dry skin. Other than that, you can also look for popular plant and seed oils, such as almond, rose hip, maracuja, and jojoba.
Because I feel like skin can be kind of temperamental—so depending on how you treat it, depending on the weather that you’re in, you really have to know how your skin is doing in order to choose the kind of foundation that you want to wear for that day.
So, people with more oily skin can be like, “Oh, I just need mattifying foundation because my skin is oily.” And people with dry skin can be like, “Oh, I only need moisturizing foundation because my skin is dry.” But, for me, it’s like, “I kind of need both so I have what I need for a specific day, depending on how my skin’s doing.”
Shading: Test the Foundation against Your Neck and Choose One that Looks Natural
Thanks to the sun and the forces of nature, your skin isn’t just one shade, so think about where you want to swatch. The neck is generally a good place. You want, after all, the color of your face to match the color of your neck–and your neck isn’t overly exposed to the dying effects of the sun.
If you have dry to normal skin, go ahead and choose the shade that’s the closest to you. If you have oily skin, you might want to go a shade lighter. This is because foundation will mix with the oils on your skin and undergo a process called oxidation–which, among other things, deepens its color and makes you look an odd shade of orange.
We’ll also say here that it’s better to choose a foundation that matches your and not your character’s skin. As Haku pointed out, foundation doesn’t last all day. And if your skin does, by any chance, peak through, you want to make sure you still look as natural as possible.
Then, there’s still the problem of online shopping. How are you supposed to choose a shade if you don’t even have a sample to swatch? Haku talks a bit about her process below.
To find your undertone, a lot of people say, “Look at your veins." And they say that if your veins are more green, then you have warm undertones; if your veins are more blue, then you have cool undertones. Neutral is in between.
Actually, for my foundations, I like going for neutral undertones, because whenever I take pictures for photo shoots, I like to desaturate my photos, and having pink or salmon undertones will make the pictures turn out the way that I want them to. That’s also a preference—even if you have warm undertones, you can be like “Oh, I want a neutral foundation” or “I want a cool tone foundation.”
The Finish: Matte Foundation Will Give You a Warm, Deep Glow During Any Photo Shoot
An experienced photographer can work magic with a camera. And Haku herself says that if the foundation looks good in person, than it should look good in photos. But there are a few things you can keep in mind to make shoots go smoother.
First, know that at the hands of an inexperienced photographer, dewy foundation can make you look oily–which may be a problem if you often go to cons where passersby take your pictures.
Second, it’s common knowledge that the sun is the skin’s arch-nemesis. If you are going to be taking photos at blazing noon, then go ahead and wear foundation that includes UV protection. But if you are going to be somewhere darker, then SPF can give you a white cast in photos, especially in the presence of flash.
But also, most foundations don’t have SPF. It’s usually the BB creams and the CC creams that act like foundation—but also have other skincare properties in them—that include SPF. One of my favorite skin products is this one BB cream that has SPF in it. So if I’m going to do a night shoot, then I won’t wear that one, specifically.
Top 10 Best Foundations for Cosplay to Buy Online
It’s time to present the goods. Here are 10 foundations especially suited for cosplay, including a few favorites from Haku’s arsenal.
10. Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat Le Teint Radiance Awakening Foundation
Radiant to the Eye and Satin-Like to the Touch–Beautiful Finish for Dry Skin
Now, it’s not a flat foundation, yet it also isn’t super dewy (but may get a little reflective if your skin secretes a lot of oil). If you have dry skin, it makes you look hydrated, healthy, and natural. It looks a bit runny when you first pour it out of the bottle, and it spreads like butter onto the skin. But it’s a pretty high coverage foundation, smoothing over scars, acne, and redness.
It claims and delivers eight hours of coverage. After that, it does crease and break down around the nose–and rubs off where your skin secretes the most oil. It will stay better if you prep with a good primer and set with a good powder. But you may want to hold off on using it for all-day cons.
9. Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition Liquid Makeup
Lightweight, Velvety Foundation You Can Build up to Full Coverage
If you have dry skin, it can cling onto patches and look cakey–so you may want to prep your face with a beauty oil or moisturizing primer. However, if you have oily skin, it will latch on to the sweat and oil seeping from your skin, looking better and more luminous as the day goes on. It can stay on for a full ten hours, creasing perhaps around the nose–so you may want to set and refresh with a translucent powder.
The foundation is initially a bit matte, but it throws back just enough shine to have you appear healthy and airbrushed in photos. There’s also no SPF–so this can be your go-to for night shoots. One layer gives you medium coverage, though you can build it over acne or darker pigmentation.
8. MAKE UP FOR EVER Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation
Made to Look Good in Photos: Comes in 40 Shades and Leaves You with Flawless, Radiant Skin
It’s medium to full coverage, and it’s matte, with just enough luminosity to give you a slight glow during photo shoots. It also smooths over uneven skin texture and hides blemishes. However, it’s just light enough to not aggravate acne or cause major breakouts. You end up with flawless, yet natural looking skin. And it helps that there’s around 40 shades to choose from–you can go from alabaster to dark coffee, from beige to salmon pink to golden undertones.
If you have oily skin, you might want to set it with a powder or spray. However, it does lock in tight and stays on your skin for about eight hours with very little smudging–if you do need to refresh throughout the day, dusting on a bit of powder should do the trick.
7. Fiona Stiles Luminous Finish Foundation Concentrate
For Dry to Combo Skin: Dewy Finish, Silky Feel, Good Medium Coverage
The Fiona Stiles isn’t well-known (so it’s sometimes hard to find in-stock)–and Haku has no idea why. It’s light, but it holds its shape, and it gives you solid medium coverage. As the day goes on, imperfections start peeking through at around the six, seven hour mark (especially if you have oily skin)–but it’ll last you into the night as long as your slap on a primer.
It slides onto your skin evenly, and it smooths out like silk. It’s best if you have dry to combo skin. If you are full-on oily, try the matte formulation–it’s still lovely, not drying, and covers a bit better than the luminous.
6. Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup
Full Coverage Foundation that Locks in for the Entire Day
Chances are, if you’ve ever looked into the best long-wearing foundations, you’ve stumbled across Estee Lauder’s Double Wear. It locks into your skin, though the finish can feel a bit heavy and tacky to the touch. It also blends out beautifully, pretty much covering everything underneath–imperfections, pores, the works–so you get a clean, even canvas to work your magic on.
The finish is matte, and it does a good job controlling the sweat and oil that seeps out of your skin throughout the day. It can be a little drying, so if you have dry skin, try prepping with some beauty oils or finishing up with a moisturizing spray. Double Wear does look like makeup and not like skin–but if you’re going to be in costume anyway, why bother going for a natural look?
5. Revlon ColorStay Whipped Crème Makeup
Good, Opaque Drugstore Foundation that Lasts Over Eight Hours, Even on Oily Skin
The foundation is whipped, but it’s not a mousse. When you open the jar and dip a finger in, it actually feels really solid and heavy. But once you blend it out with the heat of your fingers, it slides onto your skin like silk. It’ll stay on for a good eight, ten hours if you have oily skin, hardly transferring or smudging at all. It’s opaque and has just a bit of a dewy finish, without being greasy.
It also works beautifully for dry skin, though you might want to prep with some beauty oils or blend a drop or two of the oil in with the foundation if your skin is parched. Actually, the foundation might even be better if you aren’t oily, as it can last over ten hours in the absence of sweat, grease, and humidity.
4. Revlon ColorStay Liquid Makeup for Combination/Oily Skin
The Best Budget Foundation: Medium to Full Coverage, Long-Wearing Product for Oily Skin
Revlon’s back again. If you like wearing lightweight makeup most of the time, and you don’t want to spend on a heavy-duty foundation you’re only going to take to cons and photo shoots, look into their liquid ColorStay. It, like its whipped cousin, is opaque, blending easily over and hiding any blemishes and pigmentation. Despite the coverage, it feels light on the skin and doesn’t accent creases.
Once it dries down, it feels velvety to the touch. You can wear it from morning to night–though you will start looking a bit shiny in the T-zone around evening-time. If you have dry skin or if it’s winter, you may have to mix it with some oil or luminous foundation to get extra moisture.
3. Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation
Comes in 40 Natural Shades that Stay on Oily Skin All Day Long
This is another one straight out of Haku’s stash. It’s liquid, but meant for oily skin. It does such a good job of controlling oil that Haku’s–who has oily-combination skin–first reaction was, “I don’t know if I like it. It’s clinging on to all my dry patches that I didn’t even know I had.” But, over the course of the day, after the sweat and oil started to seep, her skin started looking better and better.
It latches on to oil and wears all day, no matter how greasy your T-zone gets. The finish is powdery and can get very matte, especially if you have dry skin. And even though it’s medium/full coverage, it sits naturally. And we haven’t even mentioned the 40 shades, ranging from snowy porcelain to deep, dark chocolate.
2. J.Cat Beauty Aquasurance Compact Foundation
Moisturizing Powder that Doesn’t Look Powdery or Cakey and Is Radiant on All Skin Types
This is another recommendation from Haku. It’s a powder foundation, but it’s hydrating. It locks water into your skin, using ingredients such as cactus flower extract, which retains moisture. Even if you have dry skin, it won’t cling to your dry patches. It covers your pores, but it doesn’t look like your face is caked in powder–especially if you use a good setting spray. It also just feels really soft.
But since it is powder and it’s in a compact, it’s perfect for quick touch-ups–just a few dabs on your face and you’re ready to go. Shading’s probably the biggest issue. There’s only eight–and you’ll also most likely want to go a shade lighter. The product oxidizes, going dark and orange almost as soon as it touches your skin.
1. Shu Uemura Petal Skin Fluid Foundation
Leaves Your Skin Natural, Radiant, and Soft as Petals–Even Without a Setting Powder
Haku had nothing but praise for this foundation. This is another liquid foundation formulated for oily skin. Haku doesn’t even set it, because she finds that when she does, it makes her look dry and flaky. But even if you touch it when it hasn’t been lain over with a powder, it’s not tacky and leaves you with a soft, natural finish. As Haku put it, “It makes my skin look like skin.”
If, on the other hand, you have dry skin, the finish comes out a bit matte. It’s got pretty good coverage–enough to hide acne scars and similar blemishes. (You may need a concealer for anything more severe.) When it dries down, it blurs out your pores rather than painfully enhancing them, and it’ll last you from morning to night.
We Have Some More Tips on the Rest of Your Cosplay
We admit it–we love talking to cosplayers. They’re craftsmen, makeup artists, and actors all in one. We interviewed two other talented women on different aspects of cosplay. Give them a visit below!
We talked about foundation for a bunch of different skin types. But each of the products we introduced have a few things in common. They’re formulated to last you through all-day cons. They look good on camera. They hide blemishes because, of course, fictional characters don’t have acne.
There’s a lot of foundation out there that are well-suited to cosplay–we only introduced a few we know to work. Just remember what your skin type is and what kind of effect you’re hoping to achieve, and you will be deep in the masquerade before you know it.
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Sorry, but What’s Powder Foundation Again? It’s just wh
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