How to Get Cosplay Body Paint Right: Common Cosplay Mistakes

Cosplay allows you to become any character you want to be, from everyday humans to robots, aliens, and warriors of all kinds. When you’re cosplaying a fantasy or sci fi character of a different species, for example, you might need more than just their clothes or armor to play the part. If you’re playing a character with a fantasy skin tone, like blue, green, or pink, for instance, you’ll have to figure out how you’re going to handle that aspect of your cosplay.

While there are some workarounds like morph suits or creative makeup, body paint is generally a popular option for cosplaying alien or fantasy characters with brightly colored skin. However, to get a body paint application that looks professional and high quality, there are a few things to remember (and avoid). In this post, we’ll explain how to get cosplay body paint right by avoiding some common cosplay mistakes.

Common Cosplay Body Paint Mistakes

Cosplayers in body paint


  • Using cheap/poor quality paint and makeup. You may be tempted to try and use the colorful costume makeup that’s sold around Halloween, but buyer beware: that makeup is generally poor quality and won’t last or give you the professional finish you need to complement all the hard work you did on your cosplay. This makeup may work in a pinch, but for the most part, you’ll want to look into professional theater makeup from brands like Ben Nye or Mehron if you want a paint/makeup that will apply nicely to the skin and look great in photos.
  • Not prepping your skin before painting. Just like you would prime a canvas or your EVA foam before painting, you’ll get the best body paint results if you prep your skin correctly before applying the color. Make sure to always start with clean skin free of any existing makeup or dirt and grime. You may also want to apply a special body paint primer that will create a smooth surface on your skin to help the color of your paint pop and extend the longevity of your application.
  • Not testing your body paint before the event. Especially if it’s your first time using body paint or cosplaying this character, you’re going to need to do a test run before you’re getting ready in the hotel room before a con or before the day of your photoshoot. You’ll need to get a feel for how the color shows up on your skin, how long it takes to apply, how much detail and shading you need, etc. You may need to buy a little extra product in order to do a test run, but your end results will turn out better if you have an idea of what you need to do before go-time.
    Fantastic Four Cosplayers Body Paint
  • Not using the right tools. Body paint should be applied with soft makeup sponges that won’t leave behind texture on your skin. You can also blend colors together with your sponges to create highlight and shadow tones or to transition from one color to another. Using a translucent setting powder with a big fluffy powder brush can help set your paint so that it will last longer (or you can use a setting spray). Be sure to apply any additional makeup, like eyeliner and mascara, before setting your paint.
  • Painting your entire body. Finally, you only need to paint the skin that’s going to be showing when you wear your cosplay. You don’t need to paint skin that no one is going to see, and most cosplayers stick to the face, ears, neck, chest, and shoulders. Painting your arms and legs is one option, but those areas tend to rub off on your cosplay and anything you touch no matter what, so we would recommend finding colored tights and arm socks to wear instead to save yourself a lot of mess. 

With these tips in mind, you can avoid most common body paint pitfalls and get a great application of body paint that completes your cosplay.