Product recommendations for your MALE UP! Cosplay Make-up – the ultimate list
Howdy and welcome to ~*Aby’s Beauty Palace*~! ….just kidding. You probably came here to find out about what products we would recommend for a good MALE UP aka cosplay make-up for male characters. These recommendations are meant to go together with our book “MALE UP! The Art of Contouring”, which you can purchase soon.
(Tl;dr – give me a shopping list with the bare necessities.)
|Contouring||Details||Tools & Skincare|
We have listed some products that served us well during our cosplaying career. Maybe you will find something you like for your cosplay make-up – and you can purchase it right from Amazon via the affiliate links we posted here! We are members of the Amazon Affiliate program and the eBay Partner Network. If you make a purchase via the links in this post, we get a tiny commission. This helps us run this site and is a great way of supporting us that benefits you as well.
So here are our product recommendations, together with some thoughts on why we recommend those products.
A make-up base, or make-up primer, is applied after the moisturizer and before putting on your foundation. It primes the skin for the make-up, filling in pores and tiny wrinkles, and makes the foundation look really smooth. The make-up also lasts for a longer time with this product – fantastic for cosplay! While a make-up base is not a necessity if you put your make-up on freshly washed and well moisturized skin, it can improve your make-up tremendously. Especially for 30+ cosplayers like us, a make-up base is a good investition, helping us hide early signs of our age and fooling unwitting spectators into thinking we might still be in our twenties 😉
Regarding reviews, this Primer by Lancôme (on eBay) is definitely worth a look, even though sure comes at a price.
A cheaper alternative which is also favoured by many is the NYX First Base Primer Spray (on eBay) for longer lasting make-up. If you also want the pore-filling effect, combined with a vegan formula, the NYX Pore Filler Primer (on eBay) is what we can suggest.
Another higher prized pore-filler we like to use (thanks to the suggestion by our dear friends Majin x Kayleigh) and have used for characters with extra smooth skin (e.g. Thranduil, Sephiroth, Radu) is the Benefit Cosmetics POREfessional Primer (on eBay).
Foundation is one of the true essentials to make-up. It makes your face the smooth and perfect canvas to paint your contouring masterpiece. But foundation can also be tricky. Sometimes it can make your face look like a mask (which is fantastic for superhuman beautiful characters), sometimes it hardly does anything to cover blemishes. Some make-up brands have really weird tints that make the skin look orange and unattractive and other foundations turn out flakey and uneven, no matter how much attention you pay in distributing them evenly. The foundations we found to be working the best for cosplay don’t do that. They also come in a huge range of skintones which makes it easier to pick yours. However, if you are unsure about your skintone, it probably makes sense to test them irl before you order or to buy them in store right away. Also make sure you can see the color in daylight, if you test it! Light in stores is often super artificial and what looks good in a store might turn into a shade that does not really fit you, once you see it worn in daylight.
Our all-time favourite regarding foundation is Kryolan Ultra Foundation (eBay). This foundation covers up everything! Also it can easily change the hue of your skin, meaning if you have a warm skintone, you can easily pick Ultra Foundation in a cold skintone. This is really essential for Aby, because her warm skintone clashes with many blonde wigs and Ultra Foundation in hue NB1 is also super pale and therefore a favored base for the Thranduil make-up.
The high coverage this product offers, comes at the price of the make-up needing a lot of powder (eBay) in order to not look too shiny, though!
For some characters (like Anders here), the shine is working pretty well. But for others, we prefer a more matte look. For characters like Kylo Ren and V, we used Kryolan Ultra Fluid Foundation (eBay), which also provides great coverage while at the same time being less greasy and shiny. If you want to go for extreme coverage, the Kryolan TV Paint Stick (eBay)is what we recommend. It is used and favoured by many drag artists as well as cosplayers and will cover everything up for good.
However, Kryolan products are not always available in every country and on top of that, they are a bit in the higher price range. A brand that is less pricey and has served us well through our cosplaying life is Maybelline. The Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Foundation (eBay) comes in a huge variety of skintones, provides great coverage and a matte look. If you want your make-up to look more dewy, you will probably prefer Maybelline Fit Me Dewy + Smooth Foundation (eBay). And for a very high coverage, we suggest you buy the Maybelline Fit Me Shine-Free + Balance Stick Foundation (eBay).
And if you are looking for a vegan & cruelty-free brand, e.l.f. got you “covered” with their e.l.f. Flawless Finish Foundation (eBay). And in case your skin tends to break out a lot, the e.l.f. Acne-Fighting Foundation (eBay) is just what you were looking for.
Conceal, don’t feel! Conventions have a tendency to bring out the worst in our skin and in case you have something to hide, like all of us, it is a good idea to invest in a powerful concealer. You can apply concealer beneath your foundation or on top of it and then blend it in. The qualities you should look for in a good concealer is that it blends well and is highly-pigmented so it will cover up those blemishes and stand out in a contouring.
Liquid Concealer for Contouring
Concealers can also be used for contouring! All you need to do is blend them into your foundation with a beauty sponge. Our favourite concealers for this purpose are Revlon ColorStay Concealer (eBay) and Maybelline Fit Me Concealer (eBay). Both of these concealers can also be used for covering up blemishes.
If you want shadows and highlights in one single concealer, we recommend Nyx’s Sculpt & Highlight Face Duo (eBay). And our vegan & cruelty-free concealer is the e.l.f. 16Hr Camo Concealer (eBay) which also comes in a wide range of colors – from fair rose to ebony!
Liquid Concealer for Covering Up Small Blemishes
The liquid concealer we prefer for contouring is also great for covering up blemishes. Therefore we suggest Revlon ColorStay Concealer (eBay) and Maybelline Fit Me Concealer (eBay)and the vegan & cruelty-free e.l.f. 16Hr Camo Concealer (eBay). However, if you are also looking for concealer to color-correct, Nyx HD Concealer Wand (eBay) is an affordable option.
Cream Concealer for Stronger Coverage
If you want more coverage, a cream concealer works better for you and we recommend Revlon PhotoReady Concealer Stick (eBay). And if you want to get into color-correction, we strongly recommend getting a whole palette, like the NYX Color Correcting Concealer Palette (eBay), the vegan option here is the Catrice | Allround Concealer Palette (eBay). The professional theater make-up version of this is the Kryolan Concealer Circle Neutralizer (eBay). If you only look for an orange color-correct for a 5 o’clock shadow, we suggest Kryolan Supracolor Orange (eBay).
Strongest Coverage for Tattoos and Skin Conditions
The strongest coverage – for hiding tattoos, port-wine stains or huge moles – is provided by Kryolan Dermacolor Camouflage (eBay). This concealer is also used by people with skin conditions or strong scarring and can be fixed with fixing powder (eBay) or fixing spray (eBay), which renders the product pretty much waterproof. And that is great, especially if you cover up something that is on your body, like a large tattoo.
A cosplay make-up without contouring? Impossible! There are various make-up types you can use for contouring. We differentiate between liquid-type make-up, oil-based contouring creams and powder.
For our Anime Make-up, we used the Revlon ColorStay Concealer (eBay) in Fair and Espresso.
Another inexpensive concealer you can use to create a contouring look is the Maybelline Fit Me Concealer (eBay). If you do not want to Mix and Match two liquid concealers Nyx’s Sculpt & Highlight Face Duo (eBay) is perfect for you, because it comes with two sides – one for shading, one for highlighting. Our vegan and cruelty-free option is the e.l.f. Under Eye Concealer and Highlighter (eBay) which combines the power to cover blemishes with a highlighter for extra shiny contouring. Best to be combined with e.l.f. 16Hr Camo Concealer (eBay) in a darker color for the shading. You can blend these in with a Make-up Blender (eBay).
We prefer to use oil-based contouring colors for gritty make-up styles, make-up that needs to stay on for a long time and more dewy looking make-up styles. An oil-based option that comes with two colors and is easy to apply is the Nyx Wonder Stick (eBay). A palette we own and use pretty often is the Make-up Revolution Cream Contour Palette (eBay) – Pasta’s make-up test for Negan shows its colors in action! The vegan and cruelty-free option e.l.f Cream Contour Palette (eBay). If you wish to combine colors yourself, we highly recommend L’Oreal Stick Foundation (eBay). While you can also use a Make-up Blender(eBay) to blend these in, we recommend using Oval Brushes (eBay).
For our stencil-technique we used a powder palette from Catrice which was sadly discontinued. So we went to look into what had the overall best reviews in the medium price-class. The powder palette we were most impressed with regarding color range and pigmentation, as well as being cruelty-free and vegan is the NYX Cosmetics Highlight & Contour Pro Palette (eBay). This palette offers highlighter and shading colors in multiple shades that work for many different skintones. If you are looking for a contouring palette with warmer shades, the Makeup Revolution Ultra Contour Palette (eBay) is the one for you. However, if you want to start off with less colors, the NYX Cosmetics 3 Steps To Sculpt Palette (eBay) is a great option.
A highlighter is used to really make your face glow! We like to use it for characters that are more than just handsome – basically anyone that can be called “gorgeous” deserves a share of highlighter to their face.
The highlighter used for our Thranduil make-up was a highlighter cream by Kryolan which seems to be discontinued. A good highlighter cream alternative to this is the Revlon PhotoReady Highlighting Stick (eBay). However, there is always a risk of a cream highlighter turning out flakey if applied on top of foundation. Therefore, we would like to recommend the vegan & cruelty-free e.l.f. Metallic Flare Highlighter (eBay) as well as the NYX Duo Chromatic Illuminating Powder (eBay) to you, which comes in different shades. Mind whether the character you are cosplaying as should give off a warmer glow or an icy cold shine! A highlighter in a higher price class that will give your face an intense glow, is a favourite to many and that I (Aby) gave as a gift to myself for having finished our book project, is the Too Faced Diamond Highlighter (on eBay). It is just. so. sparkly and beautiful and the cold glow of it is fantastic for those “more gorgeous than they are legally allowed to be” characters I like to cosplay as (not saying “Sephiroth” but I totally mean Sephiroth).
Blush works well for characters with a warmer skintone or visible red patches of skin. Pasta’s Cullen Rutherford always gets a slightly red nose painted on with the slightest bit of blush.
If you are looking for a subtle blush for your cosplay make-up that will also work for contouring, NYX Duo Palette Wine & Dine (eBay) is what we recommend. The color is very soft and does not look “painted on”. A vegan option that also follows the principle of blush+contouring is e.l.f. Blush & Bronzing Powder (eBay). A brand with multiple colors that also clearly tells you whether you are getting a warm or a cold glow with your blush is L’Oreal Super-Blendable Blush (eBay). I found it a tremendous help to pick the right shade of blush, that it is indicated whether you are picking a warm, cold or a neutral color.
Finishing powder/ Spray
If you want your make-up to look more matte, it is best to use a transparent powder, like this powder from Kryolan (on eBay). The benefit of using a powder like this is also that your make-up lasts longer. A cheaper and vegan option is the e.l.f. Perfect Finish HD Powder (on eBay). However, there are also sprays that have the same effect (and are vegan), like NYX Setting Spray Matte Finish (eBay).
Bare necessities shopping list
Here is our list for everyone who couldn’t give less of a shit (fair enough ;)), and just wants to be done with this without spending too much for their make-up:
- Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Foundation (eBay)
- Nyx’s Sculpt & Highlight Face Duo (eBay) (can be used for covering blemishes and for contouring)
- [NYX 3 Steps To Sculpt Palette (eBay) (for powder contouring)]
- [Make-up Revolution Cream Contour Palette (eBay) (for cream contouring)]
- Beauty Blender (eBay)
- Eigshow Brush Set (eBay)
- Stipple Sponge (eBay)
- Manhattan Multi Effect Eyeshadow -95R Mad Maroon (eBay) + Manhattan Multi Effect Eyeshadow -29C Vanilla Sky (eBay)
- e.l.f. No Budge Eyeliner Pencil (eBay)
Eyeshadow is one of the true necessities of a cosplay make-up. Except for when you can use your contouring palette as eyeshadow which we might do for some manlier characters (so the color of the shadow matches). However, especially regarding safety (in case you are wearing contacts together with your eyeshadow), it is better to rely on products explicitely marketed as eyeshadow. So if you look into buying an eyeshadow or an eyeshadow palette for your cosplay, keep in mind to look whether the eyeshadow has a “not suited to be worn with contacts” label – because some eyeshadows pack so many glitter pigments, there is a chance those might get under your contacts – and we know from experience just how shitty that is. Generally speaking, there is always the danger of getting fallout from powder eyeshadows into your eyes and with contact lenses, there is the possibility of that stuff mitigating under the lens and hurting like a b- budgie on a stick. Putting your contacts in before applying eyeshadow helps to minimize the chance of that and if you want to make super sure, apply an eyelid primer (eBay) first!
The eyeshadow palette I used for my Radu Barvon Anime Make-up (picture below) is the Revolution Eyeshadow Palette, Reloaded Velvet Rose (eBay). It offers a great mixture of shiny, glittery colors that work well for an eccentric bishonen look, as well as some matte shades.
If you plan on buying eyeshadow for a more naturalistic and matte look, the palette Revolution Eyeshadow Palette, Reloaded Basic Mattes (eBay) will work best for you. A good single color eyeshadow is Manhattan Multi Effect Eyeshadow -95R Mad Maroon(eBay)
which looks natural and can be combined with Manhattan Multi Effect Eyeshadow -29C Vanilla Sky(eBay).
A cruelty-free and vegan option is the e.l.f. Clay Eyeshadow, Necessary Nudes Palette (eBay) which also features matte and glowy colors.
If you want extra intense color combined with a long last, you should totally check out these cream gel eyeshadows (eBay)!
Enhancing the contour of your eyes looks good with every character. For some characters, a subtle, dark brown outline around the lashes is enough and for others, the jet black gel liner wing is the best look. If you buy an eyeliner, make sure it fits your needs: There are eyeliners that can easily be smudged and others that stay in shape no matter what. There are waterproof eyeliners and eyeliners that are easy to get off again. Once more, it’s important if the eyeliner can be worn together with contacts or if there is any label on it stating those two don’t go together.
Kohl/Dry Pencil Eyeliner
I(Aby) have been using the Manhattan Khol Kajal Eyeliner (eBay) for… propbably longer than you should use an eyeliner (cosmetics do have a shelf-life and I am a fool for ignoring it). It lasts really well and can still be smudged.
A great inexpensive, vegan and cruelty-free eyeliner is the e.l.f. No Budge Eyeliner Pencil(eBay). The fact that it is retractable means it doesn’t have to be sharpened to always have the perfect, precise result.
Liquid Eyeliner Pen
Whenever we run out of time and can’t be bothered to apply gel liner, we use the essence Waterproof Eyeliner Pen (eBay) because it is really easy to apply. A very beginner-friendly eyeliner pen that still turns out pretty dark. If you are looking for a more professional eyeliner pen that will result in a deep black look, the ARTDECO Sensitive Fine Liner (eBay) is what you are looking for. The vegan & cruelty-free alternative is NYX Epic Ink Liner (eBay).
Cake Eyeliner (CEL)
Cake Eyeliner is the tool of professionals for dramatic stage make-up. It is blended with water and put on with an eyeliner brush for a perfectly dramatic look. Kryolan offers a Cake Eyeliner set with 5 colors for a reasonable price or Single Cake Eyeliners as well as Sealers on eBay.
Our favourite type of eyeliner is gel liner which is applied with an eyeliner brush, very intense and smudge-proof.
We have been using the NYX Cosmetics Gel Liner (eBay) for years (and in the make-up in the photo on top of this column) and it has always served us well – make sure, to always close the tiny jar it comes in, though, it dries out pretty fast. Our vegan & cruelty-free favourite by e.l.f. is their Cream Eyeliner (eBay).
Truth be told, we never mastered this tool. It requires a very steady hand to use, which neither of us has when we are hyped up about going to a convention 😉 But if you master the Liquid Eyeliner with the teeny-tiny brushtip, you can create the thinnest line of all products recommended here.
A product that is said to be very good is the NYX Cosmetics Vinyl Liquid Liner (eBay). It is waterproof and comes with a brush-tip.
Use a mascara for characters with epic lashes or if you already applied the jet black gel liner. We like to use the Maybelline Great Lash Mascara (eBay). And if you are looking for a vegan-option, you will like this mascara (eBay).
To make your eyebrows pop-out more or make them thicker, we suggest the Revlon ColorStay Eyebrow Pencil (eBay), which served us well in recreating the thicc eyebrows of elvenking Thranduil. A vegan and cruelty-free alternative is NYX Cosmetics Micro Brow Pencil (eBay).
We use a Kryolan Lip Rouge Palette (eBay) which has just the right color for each of our characters. Generally, owning a lipstick palette is fantastic if you have many different characters you cosplay as. This lipstick palette from L’Oreal (eBay) is less expensive than the Kryolan brand and offers you some variety in your colors. Vegan option – as usual – by e.l.f. Cosmetics (eBay). For starters, a simple nude colored lipstick (eBay) can be enough, though.
For special effects
We also introduce some special techniques in our book and want to help you find the materials for those.
For stenciling, you need Translucent Vellum Paper (eBay) to cut your own stencils.
To create fake-stubble, you need Pros Aide skinfriendly Adhesive (eBay) and Wool Crepe (eBay).
For taping, you need rubbing alcohol (eBay) and Leukofix skin-friendly tape (eBay).
Make-up brushes are fantastic tools and we can only recommend to invest in a full set of brushes if you start with make-up. If you search for make-up brush sets online, it is easy to get lost in the sea of products and there are sets that have so many different brushes – how would you even decide which one to use? A reasonable collection for a reasonable price and in beautiful color is the Eigshow Brush Set(eBay). The BESTOPE Makeup Brush Series (eBay) consists of 18 brushes and even includes a fan brush and an eyelash brush.
- Fan Brush (eBay)
- Angled brush (eBay)
- Eyeliner brush(eBay)
- Blush brush (eBay)
- Slim Shadow brush (eBay)
- Powder brush (eBay)
- Foundation brush (eBay)
- Lipstick brush (eBay)
Oval brushes are the best tool for blending in oil-based contouring colors.
It can sometimes be handy to have multiple sizes at hand and therefore purchase a set of oval brushes (eBay).
However, a single medium-sized oval brush (eBay) is already working well for starters.
Cleaning your brushes in-between changing colors (e.g. from shading to highlighter) is important and a quick way to clean up the brush is the MS.DEAR Color Removal Sponge (eBay). This handy tool allows for you to clean off the brush without water and is the perfect quick-fix during make-up. However you should also clean your make-up brushes with water and a mild shampoo from time to time. Otherwise they will simply be gross and lead to your skin breaking out. There are also special brush shampoos (eBay) for this – but any mild shampoo will do.
Regarding sponges, we can really recommend the Beauty Blender (eBay). It can also be cleaned with a mild shampoo and water. Don’t be scared if it gets bigger through the water!
Another really great tool that we would not want to miss in our cosplay make-up tool box is the Stipple Sponge (eBay). It is fantastic for imitating uneven skin, rashes, rosacea and even stubble.
Clean skin is a must for a good make-up. A cleansing gel helps to prepare your skin for applying make-up because it helps to remove dead skin cells and oil which could make your make-up look flakey and uneven. In general, a good beauty routine is important to maintain a neat appearance, to prevent early aging and to simply look your best in your cosplay.
Since your skincare routine is not just limited to conventions but something you should do daily, it makes sense to invest in skincare from a trustworthy, eco-conscious brand. You will be going through many containers of skincare, so why not support a brand that cares for the planet and for your face by using only the best ingredients?
This is why we want to recommend the e.l.f. Cosmetics Daily Face Cleanser (eBay) to you! It’s vegan, cruelty-free, contains no debated chemicals and is very refreshing. Another eco-conscious face cleansing gel we can recommend is Burt’s Bees Face Cleanser for Sensitive Skin (eBay) which is non-vegan due to the beeswax, but still packed with only the best ingredients for you.
A great exfoliant to help you clean your pores from make-up residue and primer or to prepare your skin for a thorough shave is e.l.f. Gentle Peeling Exfoliant Enriched Face Cleanser (eBay). It’s cruelty-free, vegan and doesn’t contain phthalates, parabens, nonylphenol, ethoxylates, triclosan, triclocarban, and hydroquinone. Meaning: There’s no bad shit in it. It’s also a rather gentle exfoliant and can be used 2-3 times a week.
Finding a good moisturizer is not easy, because it should be the optimal one for your skin. Which moisturizer works for you is very dependant on your skin-type. Do you have dry skin? Oily skin? Or mixed skin? I (Aby) have mixed skin and on top of that a skin condition from using too many beauty products which means I’m really sensitive and my skin doesn’t like oily moisturizers. What works really well for me is the L’Oreal Hydra Genius Moisturizer for Normal to Oily Skin (eBay). It contains Aloe Water and Hyaluronic Acid which moisturizes really well and makes it easier to apply foundation. There is also a version for this for dry skin (eBay) and one for extra dry skin (eBay). A slightly higher priced moisturizer I have used when my skin condition made most creams unbearable is the La Roche-Posay Toleriane Moisturizer (eBay). If you have sensitive skin and/or break out often, I can really really recommend this moisturizer.
If you are looking for a vegan moisturizer, ACURE Incredibly Clear Mattifying Moisturizer (eBay) is a product we have often seen recommended. Another vegan option is the e.l.f., Daily Hydration Moisturizer (eBay) which comes with ingredients such as aloe, jojoba oil and shea butter which are known to calm, repair and nourish your skin without being comedogenous (making you break out).
Our favourite (non-selfmade) make-up remover that even handles heavy-duty cosplay make-up is The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser (eBay), which is applied to dry skin and takes your make-up with it, if you wash it off. Another great cleanser is Burt’s Bees Cleansing Oil (eBay) which also employs the cleansing effect of oils. You can also use them together with Reusable Makeup Remover Pads (eBay), which make your beauty routine so much more eco-friendly and also save a lot of money compared to using make-up wipes or cotton pads.
If you start off with a shave, we recommend you exfoliate your face first, for example with the e.l.f. Gentle Peeling Exfoliant (eBay). Then you need a good shaving foam (eBay), and after the shave, a post shave balm, like the NIVEA FOR MEN Sensitive Post Shave Balm (eBay) which also prepares your skin for applying make-up and works so good as a make-up base, that also people who didn’t shave used it under their make-up.
I hope those recommendations help you navigate the urban jungle that is make-up. I know I had some trouble of finding good products when I started cosplaying and up to this day, making a decision on what to buy is annoying – so I can already see myself coming back to the list past!me generously compiled 😀
What are your favourite make-up products for cosplay? And how do you decide on what to buy?
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Shiniest, most beautiful regards,