January 4, 2016

Me VS. makeup – How cosplay made me face my long-time enemy

Hello there, people of all genders!

Now here comes a post that I've had on my mind for a while now. I thought that it could be a nice idea to write about makeup and, more exactly, how drastically my thoughts have changed around it. You see, I used to reaaaaaally dislike makeup back then, although it feels utterly weird to say it now, haha.

Without further babblings I'll get to the first post of the year! Let's go ~

You see, before I got into cosplay I had been cramming my head effectively with the idea that makeup equaled nothing more than paying obscene amounts of money to put grease on your face so that you'd look fake. Ouch!
I'm not too sure why, how and when I developed these thoughts but I assume at least partly it comes from earlier school times when suddenly all the girls started using makeup and, while most of them looked fine, others ended up looking exaggerated with their super dark "hooker bar" makeup and, well,  back then I thought it looked like shit. :)) Not like I'm the one to judge but yeah, as a kid I was really negative towards makeup.
I guess my dislike towards makeup was further inconsciously strenghtened because some of these "overly makeup'ed girls" were in reality some of the many people who bullied me in school for years. Not like the makeup in itself is the reason or that it really matters but yeah, it somehow just left an negative impact on me (probably because I remembered some specific people as "those with a lot of makeup"), even though both guys and girls were treating me like a pile of shit without human value. I hate a lot of people from my former school, lol.

But yeah, I had no idea that cheap makeup existed. I had no idea that makeup could look natural, invisible and non-fake. I had no idea that you could use makeup simply for yourself and because it's fun and not just to attract others or give off the image that you're playing sexy, popular or whatever. I had no idea that makeup could actually make you look better without looking like what society thinks the typical flamboyant gay looks like (if you're a man) or a vain and self-centered bitch. What you mean I was narrow-minded and had no check on reality?
I seriously had no idea about the actual diversity of makeup users! People who use makeup range from actors (yes, even men), alternative fashion fans to long-haired badass dudes in heavy metal bands and... cosplayers. Cosplayers. 

Wait a sec, I'm one of them!! (⊙⊙;;)

... and my peeps be like "lol chill dude".
I had been effectively avoiding makeup like the plague before I got into cosplay; it was that thing that was so foreign to me and I viewed it as little more than a waste of money. I remember even telling myself that I'd never touch that shit, lol. And now I'm knee-deep in love with said shit, oops. I'm extremely ashamed to admit it but as a young pre-teen I used to think that "the only people who use makeup are those who are too ugly without it" or, God forbid, that makeup users had poor self-confidence or were using makeup to compromise for having an ugly personality.  
Ugh, I was such a horrible, judgmental and misinformed kid. Using makeup is not a synonym nor a reason for bad self-confidence – bad self-confidence is often the result from many different factors. Sure that makeup can make you feel better about how you look (often does!) but don't ever assume that all makeup users have self-image issues. Makeup is an art form, a hobby, a passion and has nothing to do with a lack of inner beauty either. Anybody can possess wonderful inner qualities and whether your face is slathered in two kilos of makeup or not doesn't factor in – anybody can be a good person and liking/using makeup isn't detrimental. I've learned since then that makeup shaming is a huge no-no. Makeup is fun and using it doesn't mean that you lack other qualities or have personal problems. Period.

Truth is that I don't even remember when exactly my opinions began to change, but at some point I realized that makeup, for me, was a neccessary evil in Cosplaylandia™ and that I had to change my approach to it at least a little – especially if I wanted to look somewhat decent on photos or at least a bit more like the character I was trying to portray. But the call to change wasn't the hard part to chew in this, no no – it was the need to learn. From scratch.

I mean, imagine this: You've been believing in Grace for all your life because she told you that Lucifer's grill foods taste like musty toe nails. But then you start studying to become a chef and suddenly it gets shoved in your face that Lucifer is actually a nice guy and that you should go and learn from him – he's the number one man who can teach you how to do the best roasted barbeque feast ever. And then, even more suddenly, you find yourself unwillingly shaking hands with your former enemy, trying to tell yourself that it's gonna be okay and that you'll learn to accept him bit by bit from now on, until you finally become friends and he'll teach you his secret mouth-watering barbeque recipes...

Just change the barbeque recipes to the mystery of makeup and you should get the idea of what it felt like for me, lol. I seriously had to step into unknown waters – I had no idea where to even begin! Everything was so strange to me, intimidating and complicated. The huge world of makeup made my head spin like a tumble dryer and, to make it worse, I didn't have anyone to turn to for help and guidance. Mom is not an option, way too awkward.

Have some (spinning) Monster Hunter meat grilling – because I can.
Nowadays it's more than embarrassing to think back about it but for my first two cosplays I didn't wear anything on my face, except perhaps for a miniscule amount of powder – and that was because mom told me to wear some at the con (yes, she was with me on my first big con). Yes, only powder. I didn't even color my light eyebrows to match the black wig nor use anything to define my eyes at all! Blasphemy!
Hell, I didn't even try to hide my dark circles or other nasty crud on my naked face; I seriously cringe beyond words when I bump into old cosplay photos that are tucked away somewhere in the deep dark corners of my computer – they shall never see the light of day or, otherwise, more than my pair of eyes will rot away. I seriously looked horrible and totally washed out, not gonna lie. It's that kind of thing when the costume is good-looking and even more so for a first one, the wig is good quality (but unstyled) but then there's *le gasp* the face with close to zero makeup on and –to put it as nicely as possible– it just crashes and burns the whole thing into cinders that float in hell for eternity. There ain't no saving that shit.

My first cosplay makeup experiences consisted of the following procedure: powder > eyeliner > fill in eyebrows (if necessary) > pale down lips (if necessary).
Nothing else. A bit later I started doing some minor contouring and after that I tried my hand at using foundation before setting the powder which, by the way, was a disaster. You see, I had always known that my skin is pale (dad would pull jokes about it) but I still wasn't expecting it to be so damn pale that I would have a hard time even finding a light enough fucking foundation! So yeah, my first foundation purchases were waaaayyyyyyy off the mark and I was nooby enough not to notice it until much later and, oh boy, do I puke at those photos now. 
Reminiscing back to that one year when I went to Sweden's biggest con (at that time) and didn't realize I had a horrible, mismatched, unblended brownish-orange foundation streak on my otherwise pale-ass jawline, that stood out like a thousand burning suns.
Finding a light enough foundation is, by the way, still one of my biggest challenges when it comes to makeup purchases, but I think I might finally have found something good – after years of accidentally buying mismatched shit that I can't use and don't know what to do with. #foundationfrustrations

I'm not gonna show you guys any old photos of my either non-existant or crappy makeup back then but I'll tell you that it looked really plain and dull; my eyebags were dragging on the floor, my face looked tired and washed out etc – it was horrible, plain and simple. I did the same very basic pencil eyeliner for all characters and yeah, it made me look like... me, except with a wig on, no matter what character I was supposed to be, lol. I also shudder at the reality that I didn't give a jackshit about my eyebrows until 2014, which means that I did a whole 4 years of cosplaying with hideous untouched hairy caterpillars crowning and roaming wild on my forehead!! *vomits profusely*
I mean, my eyebrows were so bushy that some hairs were growing on my eyelids! Eew. Nowadays I take out my tweezers and go through my brows at least every third day – what you mean cosplay changed me? No but really, cosplay made me start to seriously pay attention to my looks and I mean this in a good way! I'm super thankful about it now.

My first makeup tries looked like this. #relatable
Before cosplaying I rarely gave two shits about if I looked presentable in public or not (I could as well have walked around in a potato sack) but ever since I started cosplaying I make sure to look as clean and nice as possible unless I have a lazy day. Cosplay also made me view beauty and makeup from a whole different angle and made it more human and less superficial, funnily enough – everyone was beautiful in their own way. Cosplay made me realize that even a little change could go a long way in improving how you looked in your finished costume. I mean, the difference between using, for example, liquid eyeliner instead of pencil eyeliner already does a huge difference on photos!
Also, one thing to note is that especially on photos a makeupless face tends to look washed out and "disappear" most of the time, especially with a really colorful costume on or in strong lights, like stage lights etc. So yeah, for photoshoots makeup is really recommended and I'm glad I realized the difference it can make.

My initial response to using cosplay makeup was "meh" and then it slowly but surely grew into a "not too bad", followed by a "it looks better with makeup so I'll bother this time" and finally to a fullblown and self-admitted "I CAN'T COSPLAY WITHOUT MAKEUP! I NEED THIS SHIT!"

This is so me celebrating a successful makeup job.
So yeah, cosplay totally turned my whole view of makeup upside down. From being that kid who'd not even look twice at the grocery store's makeup counter to being that young man who walks in there and actually buys stuff and walks home being all excited about trying it out! It is awkward though when there's other people around. xD I need to get over it.
Nowadays I have quite a lot of makeup and I even have a makeup bag for it, but still I occasionally feel like I'm missing something... :'D I want to point out though that my cosplay makeup got a notable upgrade once I realized the wonders or primer, concealers and liquid eyeliner. It seriously took me until last year to understand how important primers and concealers are! *shamecorner* How can I have lived so long without these godsends?

I'm far from confident with my makeup skills and I still mess up... a lot. I also feel like I have a looooooot to learn –makeup knowledge is like an universe that won't stop expanding for me– but at least now I can honestly say that I LOVE MAKEUP. I can't even imagine cosplaying without makeup anymore and I've started to enjoy the whole process so much that I occasionally paint up my face for non-cosplay purposes too! Especially for alternative fashion because then I get to experiment and be creative, yay! o/
So yeah, to sum it up: I used to hate makeup but I've come to really value it as an irreplaceable tool to complete my cosplays. I also want to state that I think that makeup is for everyone! It's a fun and a great way to express ourselves and, for those who think that guys can't or shouldn't use makeup, I can say only one thing: "I don't give a rat's ass about your outdated bigoted opinion, gtfo and have a nice day. :)"

Friendly reminder: Please understand that this is just my personal makeup story (and my opinions) and is in no way meant to be a type of "you must use makeup to cosplay" post. There are plenty of cosplayers out there who don't want to, can't nor feel a need to use makeup and that's perfectly okay. There is no need, nor right, to judge those who choose to cosplay differently. Cosplay is for everyone and makeup is not a requirement for a successful cosplay or whatever – not everyone strives to get to the same level and as long as the costumer has fun and puts in the amount of effort they feel comfortable/good with then that's all that matters. Makeup is a tool to enhance the hobby for those who want to take it, not a neccessity.

I'm not even sure anymore what was the original purpose of me writing this post but I guess I got said what I wanted to say. I'm sorry if it's messy and all over the place though. Thank you for reading! ^_^
~ Shiro Samurai out! 


Ronya said...

Good post! Yeah, trying to find a foundation that matches a pale skin is a horrible adventure through all the shops and still ending with a too dark one... I remember my first foundation and i looked like i had smeared nutella all over my face! Fortunately i'm better at using make up now so those nutella accidents dont happen anymore xD
Also, make up had always been a not-so-important thing in my life, until i started cosplaying. I'm still pretty bad at applying make up but everyone gets better with experience, right? I still hate picking my fuzzy caterpillar eyebrows but it needs to be done lol

Anonymous said...

The foundation seems to be problem of every Nordic person :D I have skin colour of a ghost so personal experience here as well. If I can recommend then do look what Lumene has to offer since they are from Finland and so have colours for our pale skins :D personally I use their matt control foundation in shade 0 (Light ivory) for my daily and cosplay purposes. It covers almost all of my blemishes even without concealers help so do try it if you're in need for new foundation :) Very good post btw mate!

Airi said...

I still want to make that video explaining makeup for beginners (namely with you in mind)!! Maybe you could do an overview on how to sew, I'd love to read/watch it!

Shiro Samurai said...

Looking forward to it!
Oh and I don't have the possibility of/equipment for doing videos right now, but I guess I could do some "sewing basics for beginners" post someday. :)

Alluring Alyss said...

I have the foundation problem too. I'm so pale and no matter what I use, it's too dark. That Wigglytuff picture resembles me trying to use liquid eyeliner <33


Chiku said...

Itsekin ajattelin joskus tolla tavalla, että jos käyttää liikaa meikkiä niin kokee ittensä rumaksi tai muuta vastaavaa :'D Cosplay lopulta tutustutti mut meikkien maailmaan paremmin, ja nyt ei vaan voi mennä ilman meikkiä cossi päällä coniin, musta meikki kuuluu hahmoon ja asuun, ainakin mulle! :) Neljässä vuodessa huomaa myös kehittyneensä tässäkin taiteenalassa aika paljonkin, cosplay tekee ihmeitä. ;)