Makeup Advice Please?


Hello Everyone!
I have a question for anyone who has or is playing a character who heavily relies on makeup as part of their racial requirements. SO all the lovely High Orcs, High Ogres, Sarr, Kin and Dyards- could you offer me your advice and tips?

I have fairly sensitive skin and I'm sure some of you do as well- what makeup brands do you use to keep from getting breakouts?And what's your process for "putting on your face"? Anything specific you do to prepare your skin?
Any special tricks/advice for wearing heavy makeup without angering the "face demons" will be appreciated!;)

Thank you!


Hello! I play a Dryad and use make-up pencils, eye shadow, and lip stain for my make-up. I play a thorn Dryad, so I use the pencils to draw vines, roots, and flowers on my face and neck.

I've found the eye-liner/lip liner make-up tubes to be easier to use than wooden make-up pencils. I found the pencils could be difficult to sharpen, or the make-up centers too hard on my skin. The tubes come in a variety of colors - so I have a green for vines, brown for roots, and reds/pinks/purples for flowers. They also tend to be color stay, so I don't find I have to worry about touching my face or using a sealer. At the end of every day, I use the Burt's Bees facial wipes to take the make-up off, then reapply in the morning. I've found those wipes to be gentle on sensitive skin but they still cut through the make-up pencils and lip stains.

My application process starts with my lips so they have time to dry. Next I put on whatever shades of eye shadow above my eye, and a line out each side with the brown eye liner. That gives me a spot to have vines come off of. Then I apply the green vines. I avoid my nose since even with color stay, it's the easiest spot to smudge. I try to make sure that the vines go into my hair at points {since I braid my hair as vines} and along my jaw so I have somewhere for roots to start. Then I add in the roots, just simple branched lines off the vines along my jaw down my neck. Once that's done, and I've touched any spots up either by adding or subtracting lines {I use the wipes for that, not paper towels, they smudge}, I draw in simple flowers along the vines.

So, some tips. Firstly: test, test, test. You'll be wearing the make-up a full weekend. So pick a day you'll be home and doing things so you can get a feel for how the make-up feels and how your skin reacts. It's -way- better to figure that out before game ~.^
Secondly, play with your designs. This is pretty easy to do at the same time as the wear test. Use different color mixes, patterns, etc. to find something you like and works for your character. If you're combining with a mask/prosthetic, see how best to blend make-up to the mask/prosthetic and try a few different things here too.
Thirdly, just like the make-up, if you are using a mask/prosthetic wear them around for a day. Sweat in them, it's gross, but you're going to be doing it at game anyways.

Anyhoo, hope that helps!
I was skeptical when I first started playing about how different every brand and style of makeup was from each other, but I have to say that Ben Nye makeup is really good about not causing breakouts on your skin, even with entire weekends of application. I would suggest any of their aqua-cakes for really intense makeup requirements.


Personal history: I played a dark elf for 2 years. In another LARP, I also played a race with charcoal grey skin with lowlights for several events. In a third LARP, I played an undead PC race with full face makeup for 5 years.

Protecting your face:
Get some nice lotion made specifically for your face (not just any hand lotion). I recommend Loreal brand Future-e, sold at Walmart and most big retail stores with large beauty depts. This lotion is lightweight, smells nice, has SPF 15, and is an excellent daily moisterizer:

Putting lotion on (and letting it dry) before applying your makeup will both help protect your skin against both breakouts, and drying, and make the makeup easier to remove at the end of the day.

Removing the makeup: Get Ponds brand cold cream. This stuff was made for 1960s levels of heavy duty face makeup! It'll take off heavy character makeup super fast! Then you need tissues or something to wipe the cold cream off at the end. Then you can use whatever your preferred face soap is.

If your skin is sensitive in any way, and/or prone to breakouts, I highly recommend that you remove your makeup completely when you go to bed. Don't just use face wipes -- get your face totally clean. Your makeup will look better for starting totally fresh in the morning anyhow.

Brand of makeup: Ben Nye makes a line of pancake makeups called "Aquacake." They are nearly twice the price of regular pancake, so about $14 for a large dish, give or take. Aquacake is waterproof, and thus "sweat proof." It stays on much better than normal pancake. I recommend that line highly.

Sponge: For full face coverage, get a natural sea sponge for application. Once you get the sponge saturated with your makeup color, this covers wide spaces WAY faster, and WAY more deeply than a traditional cosmetic sponge. Again with skin sensitivity, wash and dry your sponges thoroughly after every event. If your skin is really sensitive, switch these out as frequently as needed, maybe every event.

Set powder: For any thick coat of makeup, use something as set powder. It helps your makeup stay on, and it deepens the color considerably, covering up any difficulty getting an even coating with the sponge. When you see those really professional looking super awesome dark elves, they use Set Powder (Charcoal Powder) to get that great coverage! Set Powder by itself is allegedly translucent, but I find it leaves a thin white coating and dulls some colors. Theatrical makeup supply stores can do a special order of some colors for you, like green. "Prairie Dust" is brown set powder. "Charcoal Powder" is black.

CLEAN UP WARNING: If you use Charcoal Powder, Prairie Dust, or any colored Set Powder, treat this stuff like nuclear waste! The powder is very fine, and it gets blown around VERY easily! Get a special brush that you use for this ONLY! Keep the powder and its brush in a Zip Lock bag in your luggage. Plan some extra time for cleanup in your campsite's bathroom when you use this -- because, trust me from experience, even if you're super compulso neat, this stuff still leaves a sink mess! Worth it, but be a good citizen and clean up after your application. :)
Patterns: If you play a sarr, or anything other than 1 solid color, take some good pics of your made up face for reference. That makes it easier to do the details (stripes) the same way every time.

Have a great time!



Seconding cold cream. It is MAGICAL.

I use Mehron Paradise cake makeup, it smells nice and has lots of good stuff for your skin in it.

Primer is great to put on after moisturizer and before makeup. It acts as a layer of protection for your skin and helps the makeup go on more smoothly too!


These are all great tips! thank you everyone! I'm super grateful- and thank you for all the brand recommendations!


On the note about Cold cream- when I did a Clown Camp (yes I know- but I 19 and a counselor so I have an excuse.) We did a layer of Ponds Cold Cream UNDER our white greasepaint. It acted as a barrier like the lotion would and also made taking off the thick set makeup that much easier in the evening. It's cool how stage makeup tricks apparently work for LARP as well! :) This I think I can manage.
Again thank you ALL so much for your advice- and if anyone else has any tips PLEASE feel free to leave them, Lol- I'll need all the help I can get.
My wife is extremely sensitive when it comes to anything she puts on her skin: shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, perfume, make up, etc. There are only certain brands her skin can tolerate, otherwise she breaks out in hives. She uses Mary K make up for her character. It apparently most of it is hypoallergenic or something like that. I don't know, but she is happy with it.



While the above help is indeed excellent, I figured I would throw in my buck-eighty-two for good measure, as additional perspective benefits everyone.

For a couple points of reference on my knowledge base, I've played a Dark Elf for the last 13 years (Ooooold) and have worked in the skin care industry for the last 4. Over those baker-dozen years, I've gone through a number of different 'things' that can impact your application of makeup.

Currently, I apply makeup via an airbrush system. Now, I know what you're probably reacting with first -- "That sounds way more pricey than I'm looking for". I thought that for a while, as well, but have been using it without much complaint for the last year and change. If you're just starting into a make-up'd race, I would generally agree that an investment into application hardware isn't something to do on a whim, however for anyone set on a heavy-makeup race, this changes a great deal.
  • Application Time -- Following May's National event, I've got makeup application down to ~15-20 minutes for neckline-up. That includes hair and ears -- Dark Elf, and all that. We applied the faces for four dark elves well inside an hour with a single airbrush.
  • Water Proof and Incredibly Smudge Resistant -- Going into an alcohol based makeup has allowed a freedom of costuming without fear of the dreaded makeup transfer. To the extent that I'm presently donning entirely white for entire weekends without makeup transfer to the collar.
  • Consistent application -- Airbrushing is a very even-application. Getting a caked-on look that will happen with other types of makeup is incredibly difficult to stumble into by mistake with an airbrush.
  • Stencils -- Yes, Stencils. With appropriate setting powder, you can apply the exact same look every time, ensuring crisp edges and lines if you choose to acquire stencils.
  • Clean-up -- The big call after events is certainly that high makeup race folk should go clean the bathrooms or other places they apply makeup, because they make a mess. Well, unless you're spraying this on literally everything around you intentionally, there's little to nothing that needs clean-up. You'll need to clean out the actual airbrush gun, but that's maybe 4 oz. of isopropyl alcohol run through it directly into a drain. Easy peasy.
Now, there's a downside to an alcohol based makeup applied through airbrush other than the cost. It dries out your skin on application, which makes the importance of pre-application of lotion paramount. While applying something with SPF in it on Friday night may seem like a great idea, the reality is that the SPF's exposure to air will, in fact, be long gone by the time Saturday morning rolls around. Going with something that won't irritate your skin, while providing lasting moisture without pushing you into a break-out scenario is what you're looking for, and that's something that no amount of online experience can really convey, what with skin being different on every person.

For the makeup that goes into an airbrush system itself, there's a few out there and I'll admit that I've only explored alcohol-base due to the above non-transference aims and goals. While some will swear by specific brands of makeup, the biggest difference I've found is how new or fresh it is. I've tried Endura and Pro-Aiir previously, and while Endura tends to stay 'fresh' a little longer, proper storage is likely the larger key, as with all makeup.

Again, as with all make-up, you'll want to set it. With an alcohol/airbrush setup, the setting powder is key, as this makeup has a tendency to stick to itself post-application, which can make awkward lines across your skin (especially the neck). Additionally, after an initial pass, I go over 'problem' areas that tend to wear thin or get missed easily an extra time or two, applying setting powder after each pass, and then finishing with a setting spray.

"Hey, you said some pointlessly huge number of years playing a prohibitively makeup covered race, but only mentioned the last year. What's the deal, guy?"

I'm glad I asked me that question, self. What I was using previously was the oft-mess-making Mehron Charred Ash specialty powder. This served me well for many, many years, however I spent many, many hours both applying and cleaning up everything around me. And that includes time spent five feet away from the mirror, applying over a large garbage can to minimize clean-up. While this is a great, inexpensive makeup, it does have the clean-up aspect working against it. It does provide some transference-resistence, but still readily noticeable if you plan on wearing anything other than the color of the make-up exactly (And I do mean exactly -- since dark green still transfers to a shade lighter with noticeable ease). As a counter-point to the airbrush 'wash your face thoroughly' above, this specialty powder adheres best to the oils of your skin. Not exactly great for cleanliness, I admit. I've heard some people say use the above setting powder with specialty powders, but I honestly couldn't tell the difference the number of times I tried. But the setting spray was still a requirement.

Now, make-up aside, lets move to the actual concern -- Skin. Depending on skin-type, you may or may not be able to sleep in your makeup. This has a couple up-sides and down-sides on either end. Upside to sleeping with it on, you have minimal (likely) touch-up the following morning. Probably around your neck, maybe a cheek or forehead. In addition to being able to 'sleep in game'. Downside, the longer you have makeup applied, the worse it'll be for your skin afterwards. For those who can handle it, I still suggest sleeping in your makeup, as a night or two won't cause any sort of lasting issue in the majority of cases. For those who can't, removing makeup (at least the majority) before you sleep is advised, to prevent against rashes, break-outs, and the like. That's also something that no amount of online, experience-derived advice can tell you -- if you can or can't. I suspect that you'll learn through the day how your skin is behaving with a lengthy application of makeup. The big difference that I found between the airbrush and powder, just what they were, is that airbrush makeup is intended to stay on the skin for days at a time, while the theatrical makeup of Ben Nye and Mehron are generally for just that -- a theater performance, maybe two, and don't have as many concerns alleviated in their formulation to allow for extended, embattled use like we'll see over a LARP weekend.

What I can't suggest enough is a proper skin care routine before and after an event -- preparing your skin for long-term makeup application, and then recovering from it. There's plenty of brands out there with different claims, however finding a routine that has no fragrances is critical. These are literally the worst thing for your skin, as they may smell botanical or whatnot, but these are the primary irritants and the biggest difference between "Normal" formulations and "Sensitive" formulations. Outside of that, finding a Face Wash / Cleanser that works for your skin is a minimum. Realistically, you'd want to go into a 4 or 5 step routine to prepare/recover correctly. That's a Cleanser, maybe a toner, an exfoliant for certain, as well as a moisturizer. You might expand to antioxidants, if nothing before that has them, as well.

All of that said (I did say well over two cents), what works person to person is a very mutable and different thing. While people can advise on their experience and what's worked for them, finding a route to what works for your skin and makeup over 48-72 hours is something that you'll know best, though others presenting the road for you can certainly help you find the ideal outcome.

If you have any questions for me specifically, feel free to ask here or in private.


In case it hasnt been said- and maybe it dosnt matter since this seems mostly face-focused buuuut just in case: for hands, arms, torso, any part of the body that isnt the face- your best bet is to skip makeup entirely and go bodysuit.

With additional paint work and airbrushing for detail

Depending on how much you sweat, preparing two of the same thing is probably smart.


In case it hasnt been said- and maybe it dosnt matter since this seems mostly face-focused buuuut just in case: for hands, arms, torso, any part of the body that isnt the face- your best bet is to skip makeup entirely and go bodysuit.

With additional paint work and airbrushing for detail

Depending on how much you sweat, preparing two of the same thing is probably smart.
Good job for link. that's good advice.