Yesterday in my makeup technique class, I attempted Peking opera and Kabuki makeup applications; we had the option of switching Geisha makeup out for Peking opera, but I didn’t even try it (the girl next to me spent more than two hours on her Geisha makeup). While I had something resembling success, I say ‘attempted’ because when it comes to those types of makeup applications, everything has to be absolutely symmetrical, smooth, and in a single word, perfect…or it looks horribly, horribly wrong.
So while I was cursing my shaking hands for about three hours, I thought about practice. Like with most things, the real key to those specific makeup applications was years and years of practice.
While you, the cosplayer, don’t exactly have years and years to practice your character’s makeup (unless you cosplay the same character repeatedly), it’s a good idea to give yourself a few trial runs so that the morning of the convention isn’t the first time you’re doing your application.
Makeup almost always goes on more quickly after the first application, and these trial runs let you figure out if something isn’t working. For example, false eyelashes are a costume piece for Grell Sutcliffe; you watch him put them on in the manga and anime, so it’s not something that can be faked with mascara. If I had put on my pair of false eyelashes for the first time on Friday afternoon at the convention, I would have discovered that they made me look incredibly sleepy and nothing else. Even after reshaping and curling, I had to tweak my entire eye makeup scheme around those blasted eyelashes.
Makeup horror stories are a fun thing to share, but they aren’t really that welcome at the moment they actually happen!