You Look Like a Movie Star!

Bollywood costumeImage via Ansuya

Something just looks off when you have done-up hair, gorgeous clothes, great jewelry…and a plain face. If you’re looking to take pictures of your costume, makeup is essential. It helps you look professional and will make sure your photos pop.

In this section:

Tools for Using Makeup

This might sound a little more industrial than you’d expect, but makeup–like anything–is about construction. The tools you use to put it on, build it up, and seal it in can be the difference between looking like Keira Knightley or a college girl that’s had one too many.

This is a very abbreviated list, but these are the bare bones of what you’ll need to get started:

cosmetic brushes for costuming


  1.  Foundation Brush It can also be used to apply concealer
  2. Blush Brush – Can be used for foundation finishing powder as well (you really should use a powder brush for those two, but this will work if you’re strapped for cash).
  3.  Contouring Brush – Absolute must; you use it to blend.


  1. Eyeshadow Brush
  2. Blending Brush – Again, you have to have this.
  3. Angled Liner Brush – Make sure this is pretty thin and stiff. You’ll get really frustrated trying to use one that isn’t.


  1. Tweezers
  2. Cotton Swabs
  3. Tissues
  4. Baby Shampoo – This is for cleaning your brushes.
  5. Protective Case

You’ll probably find that you want more tools as you continue experimenting with makeup, but these are the ones you’ll use with each application. You can get them at any cosmetics retailer. Go for the high-quality options! These guys are your makeup lifelines; you don’t want to go cheap on them.

Comparing Powder, Liquid, and Cream Makeup

Most makeup, whether you’re working on your skin, eyes, or lips, comes in these three mediums. It’s important to know their pros and cons so you can choose the one that’s best for you. Here’s a simple graph explaining them:

Comparing: Powder Liquid Cream
How does it blend? Very well Well Okay
Does it breath? Yes Somewhat Not very much
Will it need a touch-up if nothing happens to it? Yes Maybe Probably not
Which skin type is it best for? Oily to normal Normal to dry Dry
What tools will I need? Brush and sponge Brush, fingers, and sponge Brush, fingers, and sponge

Keep in mind, all of them will blend, and all of them will need a touch-up if you smear it. There is no super-makeup that’s resistant to everything, so if you’re expecting to go into an all-night rave, you’re going to have to fix it at some point.

That being said, this graph is a good way to think about the different kinds of makeup. Powder is the most flexible, cream the least, with liquid is somewhere between. If you find makeup that says it’s a fusion of the two, you’ll know it will provide results that are somewhere between those both mediums.

Keep this handy if you ever can’t remember which is which.

How to Use Foundation

I was terrified of foundation before I started using it. I wouldn’t even consider putting it on my face, convinced that it would make me look pale and that it would clog up my pores so bad I wouldn’t want to leave the house. When I started using it, though, neither of those things happened. I just had a nice complexion.

That’s what foundation does–leaves your skin with a matte finish so you can work one, single-colored plane rather than try to compensate for splotches. It’s the equivalent of laying down a coat of primer before you paint something.

Choosing a Foundation

There are a lot of foundation colors out there, and a better bulk of them differ by only a few shades of color. The problem is that, if you choose a foundation that doesn’t match your skin, you’ll look a little strange and won’t be able to figure out why.

First you’ll need to know the undertone in your skin. That means the color that backs your skin color, kind of like the lining underneath a slightly sheer layer of fabric.

After that, you’ll need to actually decide what to pick! The best way to do this is to go to a makeup retailer and physically test out several different shades by putting them on your skin.


There’s a bunch of different ways to put on foundation, and it all varies depending on what kind you’re using.


Gives a much more even look but is a little heavier than Liquid makeuppowder. It’s usually applied with brushes or sponges and will help you look good for any special occasion. Good for normal skin.


Creme makeupMuch heavier than the other options, cream makeup will give you a great finish but shouldn’t be used on anything but dry skin (the cream keeps in moisture). Apply with fingers, sticks, or brushes.


matte power makeup

  • Loose powder is good for everyday use. It won’t cover up as much as liquid or cake, but it also isn’t as heavy and will let your skin breath more, making it a great option for people with oily skin. You can apply it with a brush or sponge.
  • Cake powder, however, works a little differently. It’s a very tightly packed powder that requires a moistened sponge or brush to use. It will give you an amazing matte finish, but due to the level of coverage and time it takes to apply, it’s best used only when you expect pictures to be taken. It tends to dry skin out, so you need to apply some kind of moisturizer a while before you use it.

How to apply loose powder:

How to apply cake powder:  If you’re just starting out, I’d suggest skipping the green concealer step. It can go very wrong, very fast.

Highlighting and Contouring

People say that all models have high cheekbones, and they might be right…but a whole lot of that structure comes from highlighting and contouring. That’s the process of emphasizing the natural hills and valleys in your face to make them more prominent. You’re putting makeup that is lighter than your skin on the areas the sun hits, while putting makeup that is darker than your skin on those that are typically cast in shadow.

If you think that it will look a little weird…

facial contouring with makeupImage via B for Bel

…you’re only half-right. At some point you’re going to look like you’re sporting tribal marks, and that’s okay! It’s supposed to happen. You blend everything together to soften the colors, pat it with powder to keep it in place, and voila! You look gorgeous, darling, positively gorgeous.

To do it, you’ll need one powder or cream makeup that is a couple shades lighter than your skin, one much darker than your skin, and one that matches your skin. You’ll also need an eyeshadow brush (small and thin) and blush brush (stout and fat).

Here’s a couple of tutorials to help show you the proper ways to highlight and contour:

With cream:      

With powder:

Test it out a couple of times before the big day. It can be a bit tricky to get down, but once you do it will be one of your all-time favorite makeup tricks.

How to Use Blush

Blush can be a little scary at the start, but it’s actually really simple to use! You just have to know what you’re working with.

What is it?

The idea of blush is in its name–you want to look like someone just gave you a really nice compliment and you don’t quite know how to handle it. It’s a colored pigmentation meant to imitate not your skin color, but the flush of your skin.

How do I know what color I should use?

When you’re initially choosing a blush, this guide is a good baseline to work off:  It will help you narrow down what you’re looking for.

If you’re going for a natural finish, try to match the shade to your actual blush (make a fist and look at your knuckles; those darker spots around the bone are what you should be looking for). If you want something with a lot more pop, you’ll just need to test it out and see what fits best.

Where does it go?

Take your fingers and push on your cheekbones. Do you feel where the bone is closest to the skin? That’s where the blush should go (That’s where you turn red. Since the skin is stretched over the bone right there, it’s easier for the color of your blood to show through. Kind of creepy, but it helps to know what you’re recreating).

You can either smile when you put on your blush to highlight just your cheeks, or make a kissy fish-face and follow the natural bump over your cheekbone.

How do I put it on?

None of this means very much if you don’t know how to apply it. Here are a few tutorials to help you out:

Remember to start small! You can always add on more blush, but you may have to start from scratch if you end up needing to take it off.

How to Use Eyeshadow

I personally love playing with eyeshadow. There’s so many different things you can do! Whether you want big and bold, funky, or girl-next-door, there’s a way to accomplish the look. Most eyeshadows follow this basic form, though:

 How to apply eyeshadowvia Andrea Buccelli

That’s the general idea–darkest in your crease, medium on your eyelid, lightest above the eye. If you choose to create a wing design, you draw the crease color into the wingtip.


Eyeshadow primer works the same way that paint primer does–it leaves you with a flat, even-colored surface for you to work on. Whether you’re using a white eyeshadow base or simple cream primer, it’s crucial that you apply it to all the places you expect to cover with eyeshadow. Otherwise the shadow will crease, smear, and come out dull.


Blending is one of the most important skills to have when it comes to applying eyeshadow. It helps each color transition smoothly from one to another. All you do is lightly brush your applicator back and forth over the lines between each color to meld them together.

This video shows you exactly how to do it:   


Now, you see how he used a few different shades of brown? You can substitute any colors you’d like in there. If you want to go natural, stick to shadows that are close to your actual skin tone. If you want something bolder, choose many different shades of a specific color (teal, robin’s egg, and indigo for a blue eye) or mix-and match (red, yellow, and blue) to create a theme. I personally swear off all browns because there are so many other gorgeous colors to choose from.

Sharp Lines

There’s no rule that says you have to blend all your colors together. Using sharp lines gives a dramatic effect that will really make an impact.

This is a great example of how to use sharp lines correctly: (If you want some inspiration while you’re playing with makeup, subscribe to him. He’s amazing).


Many costumes stand out because of how unusual and beautiful they are. Why shouldn’t your eyes match? Use them as a canvas to paint on different designs related to what you’re doing!

Let’s go back to Emmanuel:  Makeup tools are based off of artist’s brushes, so it’s easy to use them the same way.

Plan everything!

No matter what you’re doing, it’s crucial that you have a vision and stick to it. Blindly charging into application or changing the plan halfway through will lead to you wiping everything off and starting over again (I’ve done this too many times to count). Know what you want to create, figure out how you’ll do it, and follow that format until you finish the job. Even if it comes out looking differently than you imagined, it will end up being leagues better than if you hadn’t planned it out beforehand.

How to Use Eyeliner

There’s a good reason that eyeliner has been used for tens of thousands of years. It’s any kind of makeup that emphasizes the natural shape of your eye and is a gorgeous way to make your eyes pop. There’s a few different kinds to choose from

Kinds of Eyeliner

  • Pencil – Just what they sound like, these are best for making basic forms and lining the rims of the eye. It isn’t impossible to use them to make sharp, pointed wing tips…but you will be fighting to get them perfect. Its important to learn to techniques:  blending and without blending
  • Liquid – These are easy to use but because of how fluid they are, also a little hard to control. Most come with either a brush or pointed foam tip. You’ll want to buy brand name liquid liners–the very cheap sorts either have a bad applicators (so you can’t actually use it) or will be very dull once on your skin. Since liquid liners are generally not too expensive and don’t require any tools, they’re great ways to start off. Applying liquid eyeliner becomes easy with practice
  • Cream – This is probably the best kind of liner available. It’s smooth, vibrant, durable, and because you use a small brush to apply cream liner, you have far more control over where it goes. It takes slightly longer to apply than pencil or liquid but the effect is well-worth it.
  • Eyeshadow – With the help of a liner brush you can create stunning effects with eyeshadow. You can either brush it right into your lash line for a soft impact or wet the tip of the brush and dip it into your eyeshadow to use it like liquid liner. People usually use dark-colored shadows (they stand out better), but it’s alright to go for whatever colors you have on hand.



Individual false eyelashes

They’re small groups of false eyelashes meant to add oomph to your actual eyelashes. Some people also use them as replacements while eyelashes that they lost grow back in. Individuals are great if you want to add a subtle bit of volume to your eyes or if you expect to have very up-close photos taken of a natural eye. To put false eyelashes on, you’ll need a pair of tweezers and your favorite mascara:

Full False Eyelashes

Glue on False Eyelashes

Usually what people mean when they talk about false eyelashes, full lashes cover the entire lash line and are great for bombastic looks. It can be tough to apply them very close to your natural lashes because of the black band, but with practice you’ll get them spot-on each time. In the event that you miss, you can just do a thick cat eye to cover-up the seam.

Full falsies also tend to come in creative options, ranging from bedazzled lashes to colorful feathers to light-up kinds that respond to motion. That makes them great for costumes of off-beat characters.

Before you use them, you’ll usually need to trim false eyelashes to best fit you. All you have to do is hold the false lashes up to your eye, see how far over your natural lash line they go, and cut off the excess lashes on the outer corner of the lashes.

How to apply false eyelashes

You cut the false lashes at the red line.

How Do I Put Them On?

This video shows you a few different ways to apply them.Be careful, though! Due to how precise you’ll need to be and the fact that you could get glue in your eyes, the last application technique should only be used by someone who is very accustomed to putting on liner and lashes.

How Do I Get Them Off?

Bedtime will sneak up on you eventually, which means that the lashes will have to come off. To do that…

  1. You should soak a cotton pad or Q-tip with eye makeup remover (or find one that is already sold in an applicator).
  2. Let it sit on your eyelashes for about 30 seconds.
  3. Softly rub back and forth over your eyelashes.
  4. Very gently tug at the false eyelashes. If you can see the glue start to stretch between the lashes and eyes and it doesn’t hurt to pull at the eyelashes, then you can carefully begin to ease them off. If not, continue to soak and rub the lashes with eye makeup remover.
  5. Once they’ve lifted off your eyes, run the applicator between your eyelid and the false lashes as you pull. This will help them come off more easily.
  6. Use remover to get rid of any glue residue left over from the lashes after you’ve gotten them off.

They’re So Dirty…Can I Clean Them?

Eyelashes will get all gunky and unusable after just a couple of wears. This easy guide will show you how to clean them: Clean-False-Eyelashes

Remember, keep a hold of the container they came in! It will be easier to store them later on.


“I love your eyebrows! We’ll call them Frida and Kahlo.”

A lot of people overlook their eyebrows, but I’m not sure why. They’re one of the most expressive parts of your face! You have to make sure they look good when you’re putting on an equally expressive outfit.

Shaping Eyebrows

You’re sick of your eyebrows being lumps on your forehead, but you don’t know what else to do with them. Shaping your eyebrows will make you look polished no matter what kind of makeup you’re wearing. Before you select your look, you’ll need to refine the outline and determine its borders:

How to sculpt brows image courtesy of Pretty Easy

This is a basic guide to show the proper proportions of an eyebrow.

  1. The start of the brow. It should match up with the outer corner of your nostril.
  2. The arch. It should line up with the outer corner of your nostril and the center of your pupil when looking forward.
  3. The end of the brow. It should line up with the outer corner of your nostril and the outer corner of your eye.
  4. You can measure all these just by holding a pencil or pen against your face.

When you need to decide on what shape to choose for your eyebrows, use this guideline to work off:

Eyebrow Shape GuideGuide courtesy of What to Wear

You’ll notice that the eyebrows help even out the face’s features–straight lines shorten the face while curved lines elongate it, and deep arches thin it out while slight arches make it wider. The thickness is up to you. Remember, though, that thin eyebrows will be hard to see, while thick eyebrows will scream for attention.

I highly suggest visiting a salon to have your eyebrows shaped initially, but if you absolutely can’t, then use a pair of tweezers to very, very carefully shape them. Delicacy is key here–you don’t want to take away too much and end up having Pamela Anderson’s eyebrows (that woman might be gorgeous in a lot of ways, but my goodness does she over-tweeze).

Eyebrow Makeup

Because eyebrows can get lost on your face (especially with blonde hair), people have come up with a few different ways to make them stand out.

Filling In

This is the quick way to do it. Perfect for child-like characters or toughies, it gives the impression of a full brow.

  1. Find a thin, angled brush, and an eyeshadow that’s two shades darker than your actual hair color OR an eyebrow pencil that’s two shades darker than your actual hair.
  2. Fill the brush with eyeshadow and tap out the excess (skip this if you’re using a pencil)
  3. Brush it into your eyebrows with feather-light strokes. Start with a thin layer and build out from there (it’s really easy to go overboard on this).
  4. Brush your eyebrows with an eyebrow pencil to work the color in and evenly distribute it throughout your brow.

Be careful to stay within the established lines of your chosen eyebrow shape! Otherwise it will look strange.


A more involved process that’s meant to make your eyebrows look extraordinarily defined. It’s really good for noble, fantasy, and glamour characters.

If neither is exactly what you’re looking for, use aspects of both filling in and sculpting to find a happy medium between them.

Changing Color

A lot of costumes involve crazy-colored wigs, and nothing makes a hair look faker than eyebrows that don’t match. If you want to temporarily change their color, you’ll want to shade them in with eyeshadow (most other kinds of makeup end up looking chunky).

This is a great tutorial that shows you two different, convincing methods:

Lip Service

I love experimenting with lip color. The most basic of colors can completely transform your look, which is essential when you’re getting into character.  You have to make sure you do it right, though, or you’ll just look like a little kid who got into mommy’s makeup.

The most important thing to remember is…


Do you see the strong edges with the flesh tone ends and the pink begins? That’s your lip line. If you use this as an outline for your lip color, it will come out right. You don’t, and it won’t. It’s that simple.

The tip of the cupid’s bow (that’s the little dip on the top of your lip) and the side of the bottom lip will give you the most trouble. That’s because any imperfection on the top of the lip will be noticeable, even if it’s just a few millimeters, and the lines at the bottom of the lip aren’t as well defined as the top.

How Do I Do It?

To avoid having your lips look wonky, use a lip liner that matches or is very close to matching your chosen product. That’s the easiest and quickest way to make an accurate, detailed outline of your lips. If you cover your entire lip with it, it also avoids unattractive gaps where the color wears off.

If you don’t have liner things becomes much harder. You need to make an outline using whatever product you’ve chosen and fill in from there. This can be risky because, if you make a mistake, it’s really hard to fix it (and several products will stain whatever skin it touches). You can approach this in two ways:

  1. Make an outline using a lip brush and your chosen lip color, filling in the lips after (this is the best alternative).
  2. Fill in the lips, following as closely to the lip line as possible, and refine the shape after using the pointed tip of your tool (this will give you the worst results).

Watching a red lip tutorial will give you a really good idea of what you’re trying to do:

What Can I Use?

  •  Lipstick – This is the most traditional of the four. It will give you bold , close-to-matte color but can be very hard to maintain and has a habit of bleeding out.
  • Lip Gloss – The easiest of the four to use. The colors are much more muted than with lipstick and it will fade away the fastest, but application, maintenance, and touch-up are all very quick processes.
  • Lip Stain – It glides on like lip gloss and has amazing staying power, but it’s very difficult to fix mistakes (it literally stains the skin). Depending on how much you use, you could have remnants of the color on your lips the next day.
  • Powdered Makeup – Yes, it’s possible. This is one of my favorite tricks. Using Vasoline is an easy way to turn any powdered makeup into lipstick. Either swipe it over your lips and dab on the color of your choice, or mix a small amount of vasoline and powder together and apply it like lip gloss. You can also apply white eye base over your lips and work off that, like in this tutorial:

The only thing you have to remember is that it’s fragile. Powdered lip color will wear away very easily and lip gloss will make colors run together. Additionally, if you’re using different colors on your top and bottom lips, some of the color will transfer from one lip to another. You can quickly fix it but it’s a pain in the patchouli to do.

Fixing It

It’s a miracle if you manage to get your lips done without needing to fix anything. When you mess up, you’ll need:

  1. Tissues, Q-tips, and/or makeup sponges
  2. Makeup remover or face lotion (it works just as well)
  3. Concealer

I personally like to use baby wipes (they work as both an applicator and remover), but the listed tools will give you more control. The concealer is an emergency fix to hide any stubborn stains around your lips. Use firm, controlled swipes that follow your lip line to get rid of imperfections.


There are a bunch of different ways you can dress up your lips (as you can see in that Skittles tutorial up there.)

Flat Color

A great accent to finish off your look.


Mystical and earthy, you blend several different shades of color together to make a certain part of your lips more pronounced. Here’s a tutorial on how to do it (it’s actually really easy):


This can be whatever the fudge you want! Use your lips as a canvas and go crazy! These cartoon lips are a great example of what you can do:

Take Care of Your Tools!

You don’t want your makeup to come out all splotchy and you definitely don’t want to risk covering your face with product that’s full of weeks-old bacteria. Make sure to clean your brushes every week or, if you don’t use them every day, in between events.

All you need to clean your makeup brushes and tools is baby shampoo, a sink, and a towel that won’t leave fibers all over the place.