inDevelopment – Alien Makeup Basics

Lissan and Vynni get ready at Dragon*Con 2009. Photo by ankokuyoss.

Lissan and Vynni get ready at Dragon Con 2009. Photo by Jenny D.

Welcome to another post from inDevelopment! If you’re gearing up for Star Trek Las Vegas or another convention, this post is for you. Today we’re going to talk about what you’ll need to complete your alien look, be it Andorian, Bolian, Orion, Twi’lek, Castithan, Troll, or whoever else you feel like being for a day.

We already talked a bit about one way to make Andorian antennae. Of course, there are an infinite amount of ways to make the prosthetics and accessories you need. There are also some great craftspeople who make and sell their products (and can customize them for you!) on sites Etsy or through their own sites. One example is Qob!, who makes Klingon foreheads and more.

The most important part of any alien costume is the makeup. Honestly, it took us quite a few attempts to get it looking really good—you can see our evolution here. We’re sharing these tips so you’ll be able to get it right from the start.

Buy high-quality makeup. Makeup in a tube from your local party supply or Halloween store won’t cut it. We have ordered from for several years and have been very satisfied with their selection, prices, and turnaround time. We recommend Mehron Paradise AQ water-based cake makeup. Match the makeup color to the character or alien species you want to cosplay as best as you can. Don’t forget setting powder and a sealant like Ben Nye Final Seal.

Keep an eye out for any shadows, liners, and lipsticks that compliment your base color—yes, even if you’re a guy and/or you don’t normally wear makeup. Attention to detail is important! Get a cotton swab and make sure you get coverage on your ears and nose. If your character has white hair, they will probably have white eyelashes and eyebrows too. Familiarize yourself with contouring your makeup so you look realistic, not washed-out.

Invest in a train case, especially if you think you’ll be doing makeup again. It doesn’t have to be fancy if you’re just starting out. You can pick up a cheap one like this, or look around for one. We got ours at Target for under $30 and it has served us well for several years. A train case will protect and keep your makeup and accessories organized, even in checked luggage.

Our "box o'blue".

Our “box o’blue”.

Some essential things to pack in your makeup case include mascara applicators, eyeshadow/liner applicators, makeup sponges and wedges, wig caps and bobby pins that match your wig,  and makeup remover wipes. We’ve found it’s a good idea to have both absorbent and less-absorbent makeup sponges on hand. Your needs will vary depending on what type of makeup you’re using and how extensive it is.

Keep a bottle of super glue and some safety pins in case you run into trouble with your costume or accessories. Consider bringing an unbreakable stand-up mirror if multiple people in your room are applying makeup at the same time. Bathrooms can get crowded.

Don’t trash your hotel room! Bring paper towels, trash bags, and bleach wipes (or non-toxic cleaner if you’re chemically sensitive). Keep surfaces covered while you’re applying the makeup and wipe any smudges clean immediately. Some makeup will actually stain the bathtub, so get as much as possible off with makeup remover wipes before taking a shower, and use cleaner wipes for damage control.  Bring a towel from home so you don’t stain the hotel’s towels or sheets. (Same goes if you have dyed hair and the color runs.) Not only are you being kind to the housekeeping staff, but this way you’ll avoid a potentially hefty room cleaning fee.

We’ll talk about makeup application next time, with an instructional video from Dragon Con. Trek Track has lots of great Trek guests and events lined up again this year. Make sure you catch the 2013 Miss Star Trek Universe Pageant!

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