Looking Good in Cosplay WITHOUT Contacts, Wigs, or Makeup?

No contacts? wig? makeup?

When most people think of cosplay, they’ll picture someone wearing an elaborate costume, looking pristine from head to toe. They don’t think about the different aspects that go into it, including the contact, wig styling, and makeup artistry. However, these aspects are not always necessary for creating a stunning costume to wear at a convention.

In general, you can have fantastic cosplay even when you don’t have character-specific contacts or a wig. You can edit photographs and practice styling your hair to make it look perfect. Makeup is generally recommended to help you look good in pictures, but there are also ways to cosplay without wearing it.

If you feel uncomfortable wearing contacts, a wig, or makeup, you don’t have to wear them. While they often optimize the overall look of a cosplay, you can still look good without. We’ll go over some ways that you can still look your best even if you don’t include these parts in your costume.

Cosplaying without contacts

If you are cosplaying a character with unique or brightly colored eyes, it might feel like you have to wear contacts to make your cosplay complete. For example, if you cosplay a fire bender, you want to give yourself orange eyes. However, contacts are not something that should be used lightly. If worn incorrectly, they can cause permanent damage to your eyes, so it’s completely understandable if you don’t want to wear them for your cosplay.

Ranka cosplayer with frog phone
In the anime, Ranka actually has red/brown eyes. Did I notice the different color when taking this photo? Nope! The cosplay still looks fantastic without that tiny detail.

Most people won’t notice the wrong eye color

The reality is that most people won’t notice if you have the wrong eye color. Contacts are a tiny detail next to the rest of your costume that it just isn’t as significant as you’d expect it to be. In addition, human eyes are much smaller than most cartoon and anime eyes. While their eye color takes up a large part of the face design, our eyes are difficult to see unless we get close to someone. Therefore, having the wrong color eye will never ruin your cosplay.

red eye contacts
Colored contacts can add to the overall effect of a costume, but they aren’t necessary if you don’t want to use them.

Learn to edit photos to change your eye color

If you still really want to have photos with the perfect color eyes for your cosplay, I recommend learning how to use Photoshop. While many people are intimidated by this program at first, it’s not all that difficult to use. Changing the eye color of a photograph is a pretty simple technique. This way, you can be comfortable at conventions and protect your eyes from ill-fitting contacts while also obtaining the desired effect with some simple photo editing.

Wearing glasses instead of contacts

If you already wear glasses and don’t want to start wearing contacts for a character who doesn’t wear glasses, that’s okay too. You have a couple of choices here:

  1. Just wear your glasses. There is nothing wrong with cosplaying with glasses. Even if it’s not 100% accurate to the character, you can still look fantastic with the rest of your costume.
  2. Take your glasses off for photos. You can also choose to wear your glasses around to see, but then remove them for photos. I recommend keeping your glasses case on hand so that you don’t risk scratching your glasses.

Cosplaying without a wig

While wigs are probably essential for creating elaborate styles (like Yugi from Yu-Gi-Oh!), but most other characters will look perfectly fine if you use your real hair. Wigs are convenient because you don’t have to restyle them every time you wear your cosplay. You also don’t have to keep your hair at any specific length. However, they can be expensive and annoying to wear, especially on hot days.

chii cosplay from chobits
Back in 2014, I grew my hair out to cosplay Chii from Chobits. This was a lot cheaper than buying a long cosplay wig since long wigs tend to be more expensive.

Using your real hair for a costume

Personally, I’ve used my real hair for many different costumes. Since my hair is naturally blonde, there are a lot of characters I could cosplay. These are some tips that I use to make sure my natural hair looks good while wearing cosplay:

  • Get it cut to the correct length a week before the convention. Hair grows pretty quickly, so you don’t want to cut it too far ahead of time. A week gives you enough time to get used to the new cut before wearing it to the convention.
  • Practice styling your hair. Don’t wait until the day of to figure out how to make your hair look correct for the character. Instead, experiment ahead of time, so when you’re ready to put on your costume, there will be no stressing about the hair.
  • Use a lot of hair gel and fixing spray. Hair can easily get messed up in the wind or from rubbing against your costume. Make sure to use hair gel and setting spray to keep your hair in one place. I especially recommend this for bangs and any pieces of hair that will be framing your face since these parts add to the overall look of your cosplay the most.
  • Wash your hair multiple times afterward. Since you’ve got a lot of product in your hair, you’ll need to wash it thoroughly afterward. If not, you’ll end up with sticky, stringy hair even after you’ve showered.

Using temporary dyes to color your hair

If you don’t want to permanently dye your hair for a costume, there are actually temporary solutions available. They will change your hair color and slowly wash out over the course of a couple of weeks. Of course, you can still use your real hair this way, even if your character has an unnatural blue hair color. My sister likes to use this type of dye and recommends the brand Arctic Fox for bright colors.

Atlantis cosplayers
I absolutely love the interpretation that these cosplayers created of the characters from Atlantis. It’s both recognizable and entirely unique.

Giving your character a different hairstyle

You can also completely change the character’s hairstyle to make it work with your hair. For example, I’ve seen a really creative Sailor Moon cosplayer do her hair in two afro-puffs rather than the pigtail buns that the character has. It made her costume unique and stand out among all the Sailor Moon cosplayers. So don’t be afraid to change things around to make the character work for you and your hair.

Cosplaying without makeup

Of the three aspects of cosplay (contacts, wigs, and makeup), makeup is the most difficult to get around. Whether you are male, female, or other, makeup helps to smooth out your face, covering up redness and spots. You are almost guaranteed to look better in photos once you start using makeup. If you can, I recommend learning the basics of makeup application to help improve your cosplays.

However, I understand that many people can’t wear makeup for religious reasons, allergies, or because their parents won’t allow it. There are still some ways you can look as good as possible without applying any product on your face.

Take care of your skin

The easiest way to get away with no makeup in cosplay is to take excellent care of your skin. Wear sunscreen when you’re outside, clean your face, use a moisturizer, and drink lots of water. Do what you can to keep your skin looking healthy and smooth even when you’re not wearing makeup.

Blotting your face for photos

One thing you can do to keep your face from looking shiny or sweaty in photos is to use blotting paper. Simply take a piece of blotting paper and dab it on your face right before you are in a photo. This is especially useful for oily skin, but you would be surprised at how hot conventions can feel when there are so many people crowded into one place. 

Editing photos to cover blemishes and eye bags

If you are self-conscious about your skin and want to cover up blemishes and lines, you can actually do a lot by learning how to use photoshop. Of course, it will take some practice to get good at this, but it’s definitely an option if you want to change the way your skin appears in photos. As much as people like to rag on photoshop, it’s a fun tool to learn how to use, and you can use it in so many ways to improve photos of your cosplays.

Wear a cosplay with a mask

If you don’t want to bother with your face at all, you can choose to cosplay a character that wears a mask or a deep hood. Something like a dark mage from Final Fantasy, Spiderman, a dementor, or any other masked character can easily be cosplayed with no makeup once or ever.

Jawa from Star Wars
The easiest way to avoid makeup is by wearing a costume with a mask or hooded cloak that hides your face.

Emily Joice

My name is Emily, and I have been cosplaying since my very first convention in 2008. Over the years, I've experimented with all different kinds of cosplay costumes, especially loving the process of creating props and styling wigs. I also delved into cosplay photography, and love exploring how to optimize costumes so they look excellent in photos. Most of the photos you find on this site were taken by me over my years at anime conventions.

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