…that aren’t needle, thread, food, and water.
I find that, unless asked, you never hear about specific products that are not essentially related to the costume. When you hear someone talk about their essential cosplay products, you get things like clear nail polish for tight runs, or safety pins for costume accidents. While these are great things (and all various tips are wonderful) I wanted to focus more on the five products I use to get “photo ready” with my costume.
Most of these products I also use in real life every day, so they have more use than just for cosplay! If you are ambiguous on buying a product to use only three times a year, have no fear of this list.
1. Certain-Dri Antiperspirant: I sweat a lot, all of the time. Yes, I do shower and wear deodorant every day. I still sweat. When at a con all day, you’re running back and forth from one place to another and you are probably sweating. Certain-Dri is a roll-on antiperspirant that you can find at any drugstore. It comes in a liquid form that you use at night. That part is important. This stuff works overnight to stop you sweating the next day, and it works fabulously. I’ve tried clinical strength deodorants, and nothing has worked like this. They also have a stick deodorant for morning use, but I haven’t used it. It should also be said that Certain-Dri is not a replacement for a shower, and you should still use your regular deodorant in the morning. Read the instructions, too, and listen to them when they say to wait before putting this stuff on fresh shaved skin. It hurts.
2. Benzoyl Peroxide: All over the cosplay.com forums are people wanting to get rid of their zits as fast as possible. Murphey’s Law says: cosplayers will get zits right before cons. Well, chances are, if you’re using a face wash of any kind (including Proactiv!) it’s got either salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide in it. I use the generic form of BP (again, found at any drugstore), 10% concentrated. You put a dab of it on a zit, and it works great for me in shrinking it and reducing redness almost immediately. It’s a great overnight method, especially when used in conjunction with salicylic acid. The only con about this is that your skin has to be pretty resiliant. You can work up a “tolerance” by continual use, but this is a very harsh chemical and should not be put all over your face. Be sure to use a great moisturizer with it, because it can dry out your face something fierce. I’ve had days where I put it on and my face is bright red and really itchy, so be careful. They also make a form of BP that is only 3% concentrated. If you have sensitive skin, I would start with the 3% and see how you react.
3. Moroccan/Argan Oil or Motions Oil Sheen Spray: Wigs get tangly on the way to conventions (and at conventions). They can come back in knots that don’t want to pull out, and of course, wig hair does not grow back. Ripping out fibers only leads to a thinner wig, which no one wants. Moroccan Oil (sometimes called Argan Oil) is a great detangler for wigs. You just put some of it on your hands, run it through the wig, and comb with a wide toothed comb or a wig brush (if there are any serious knots, rub the oil on them and first try pull the knot out with your fingers). I used this stuff on my Amy wig after Arisia because I was wary of putting a specific detangler on the wig, and it worked beautifully. It also does not wet the wig like a detangler or spray would, and I wanted to keep the wig dry. The brand I use is by Organix, and it was bought at the drugstore (a popular place for me, apparently). Cosplay.com also has a tutorial for Motions Oil Sheen Spray here, and although I have never used this method, others have with great results! I also use Moroccan Oil on my real life hair, which after years of getting dyed and bleached every two months is probably not only the length, but the texture of a 24-inch Kanekalon wig. This stuff untangles my hair like nothing else (and doesn’t smell like candy apple baby detangler).
4. Fast Flats: Fast flats are made by Dr. Scholl’s and are these rollable flat shoes. They don’t really have a sole – I wouldn’t wear them outside, but they are great otherwise. They’re perfect for a con – if you’re doing a lot of walking and are wearing crazy high heels they’re perfect. I used these at Anime Boston 2009, when I was dressed up as Lady Gaga and wearing five and a half inch heels. I specifically wore them when I was walking somewhere quickly and not intending to have my picture taken – walking through the hotel, walking to photoshoot location, or walking to the food court. Basically, if I was walking more than fifty feet, I put on Fast Flats. The most convenient thing about them is their compactness. It’s very important to me to be carrying the smallest bag with me at a convention. Fast Flats roll up, and because they have no sole they do so very well. They’re small enough to fit in a clutch purse or even a pocket. Not to mention they will save your feet from con torture. Always a plus. Purchasable through CVS, Walgreens, any drugstore.
5. Make Up Forever HD: Cosplayers rave about this stuff, and I am one of them. It has a high price tag, I know. But I assure you that it is worth every penny you pay. All of the Make Up Forever products are wonderful. I had a friend who used their blue primer and loved it, and I personally use their powders. Make Up Forever is specifically designed to make you look good under harsh photography or lighting. All of their stuff is long-lasting, so it will last you from waking up in the morning through sweating your butt off in the convention center until you take it off at night. They have a wide variety of colors and best of all, it’s sold at Sephora, so you can go in and play with the samples to find something that matches your skin tone. I use their loose powder every day, and I love it. The only thing I would warn about is their Finishing Powder. Make sure you blend it very well, and take a picture of yourself using flash photography after putting it on. In flash photography, if not blended well, it will appear as if you’ve put baby powder all over your face, which is not a good look. A cheap alternative (that I have also used) are the Photofinish products by Revlon. They’re drugstore priced, and while I think Make Up Forever lasts longer, their coverage is similar. Revlon has the drawback of a small color range. You can purchase Make Up Forever from Sephora, and Revlon products can be found at any drugstore.