There are a lot of skills to learn in cosplay, and one that doesn’t get talked about as much is creating fake facial hair. Despite this, it’s an essential skill for crossplayers to master but is a useful skill for anyone who wants unique facial hair for a costume.
I’ll go over the three most common methods that are used to create fake beards, goatees, and sideburns for cosplay. Each of these methods uses different types of skills and will give you varying levels of realism. Method 1 is the easiest (using makeup), while method 3 is the most difficult but also the most realistic.
Regardless of what you choose, make sure you practice wearing your facial hair before the day of the convention. This way you’ll know how much time it takes to put your beard on, and you won’t be panicking if something goes wrong as you apply the facial hair.
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Method 1: Creating a Beard with Makeup
To create a simple beard with makeup, you will need a stipple sponge and a cream makeup in the color you want your beard to be. Remember, the color of facial hair is usually a little different than the color of your head hair, so the makeup you use doesn’t have to match the wig perfectly.
- Cut the edges of a stipple sponge so that they are rounded rather than square. This will prevent you from making hard edges on your facial hair
- Press the sponge into the makeup. Press some of the makeup off onto a spare piece of paper towel to keep the makeup from being too dark or gloppy when you apply it.
- Press the sponge up and down onto your face. Do not rub the sponge at all, since that will create smears on your face. You only want to press the sponge up and down along the area where your beard or facial hair will be.
The makeup beard method is only useful if you’re trying to mimic the appearance of stubble or very short facial hair. It could also be used for small sideburns since this area tends to be overshadowed by the wig. Stipple sponge makeup will work for costumes that you intend to be seen from a distance (a stage play, for example), but it will never look like real facial hair.
Method 2: Create a reusable beard with lace
Styling a lace beard (or mustache) that you can apply directly to your face is probably the most common way to cosplay with facial hair. You can start with a large base beard and cut it down to the correct style, or you can build your beard from scratch using wig wefts and lace.
- A lace beard or mustache to use as a base.
- Pros-aide or another skin adhesive (such as spirit gum)
- Hair shears or a razor for shaping facial hair
- Wool crepe
- Determine the size and shape you want your facial hair to be. Cut your prosthetic pieces to size. If in doubt, start bigger than you think. You can always cut more off later.
- Trim the edges of the facial hair so that you have no unnaturally straight edges.
- Test the beard on your face to ensure it looks okay, then make any necessary adjustments.
- Apply pros aid to your face and the beard/mustache prosthetic. Wait until the adhesive gets a little tacky.
- Press the facial hair lace pieces against your face and hold the edges in place until they are sticking properly.
- Cut some small bits of wool crepe and glue them around the edges of your lace piece to help it look more natural.
If you can’t find a beard in the color you want or pre-made beards just aren’t working with your face shape, then you can make your own from scratch instead.
- Trace the area on your face where you want your beard or facial hair to be.
- Cut out the shape in your wig lace. This will be the base of your wig.
- Add wefts of hair along the lace one layer at a time. Stop before you get to the edge.
- For the area on the last half inch, you will want to lace the wig fibers by hand to create a more natural look.
Creating your own lace piece for facial hair is best for characters that have long facial hair or for costumes that you intend to wear frequently (so that you can reuse the beard or mustache as many times as you want. You can even create lace pieces that you attach directly to your wig to use as distinctive sideburns for your cosplay.
Method 3: The hand-laying beard method
Hand-laying a beard or other facial hair is generally the most realistic method. It is also the most likely to stay on your face even after eating and talking. However, it is not reusable and can take a while to apply, especially if you want to create a large beard.
Always practice this method before the day of the convention. It takes a little bit of practice, and it can take a little while to apply unless you’re doing a small area. This will also help you make sure you’re timing your makeup application correctly so you can get to any photoshoots on time.
- Pros aide (or other facial/skin adhesive such as spirit gum)
- Wig fibers (or something similar, such as wool crepe strands)
- Apply some adhesive to the skin and allow it to get slightly tacky. Start at the base of the neck and work up and around the chin. You always want to apply the bottom layers of a beard first.
- Hold a clump of hair strands against the sticky skin. Hold it there for 10-15 seconds to give the hairs time to stick. You should apply the hair as long strands and trim the beard after everything is connected.
- Use a comb to remove any loose hairs. This will also help you from creating a beard that is too thick.
- Repeat steps 1-3 until you have filled out all the facial hair.
- Trim the beard according to your cosplay’s needs. You can use a razor for facial hair or a pair of hair shears depending on what you have available.
If you are planning a cosplay that has a beard that covers a wide area of the face, this may not be the method for you since it can be quite time-consuming to apply. However, it can be a simple, cheap alternative when all you need to do is apply small patches of facial hair, such as a small mustache or sideburns.
If you don’t want to hand-lay an entire beard, you can also simply lay the edges. Apply a lace beard or mustache, then use the hand-laying method with a small amount of hair over the sides of the lace to hide it completely and make the facial hair appear more natural.