Best Cheap Makeup Brands for Cosplay

Cosplaying can be a pretty pricey activity; you’ve got the materials, accessories, cosplay pieces, wigs, and more to buy to recreate your favorite character. However, there are ways to cut corners and find the best supplies at an affordable price.

Case in point: makeup.

There are tons of different brands of makeup out there in the world, and there are quite a few inexpensive one in the mix. While a cheap price tag may be appealing, knowing the quality of the product is important to ensure your cosplay comes out looking flawless.

If you’re just getting into cosplay, and you’re not sure where to turn for good, affordable cosmetics, then this is your guide! This is rather subjective, and I’m sure there are a ton of brands I’ve missed, but here are my top picks.

NYX Cosmetics

NYX is perhaps my #1 go-to affordable cosmetic brand. Any time someone who is new to cosplay asks me about my makeup recommendations, I always suggest NYX. Their selection is incredibly vast, and they have a huge shade range when it comes to foundations, concealers, and lip colors. They even have cream face paints! I even used their products for my Data makeup tutorial. No matter what kind of makeup product you need, NYX will more than likely have it.

My Top Product Picks

Collage of NYX makeup products, including foundations, powder, eyeliner, and mascara.

For eyes, I recommend the Eye and Eyebrow pencil in White (for the waterline to make your eyes look large and bright), the That’s the Point liquid black eyeliner in “Hella Fine,” and The Skinny Mascara (has a teeny tiny mascara wand that’s handy for applying product to lower lashes).

For face, I recommend both the Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Full Coverage Foundation*, the Total Control Drop Foundation (my favorite), and the Set It & Don’t Fret It setting powder.

*The caveat I have with this particular foundation is that it’s pretty tricky to work with. However, it does have a huge shade range, and it photographs beautifully. Would recommend if you’re specifically using it for cosplay photo shoots.

For miscellaneous items, I picked the Glitter Primer and the Multitasker Mixing Medium. The Glitter Primer is a sticky base perfect for loose glitter and pigments, and the Mixing Medium turns any eyeshadow into a longwear liner!

Pro Tip!

When swatching foundations to determine the right shade for you, swatch it on your jawline or on your inner forearm and check it out in the sunlight. This will give you a true indication as to whether or not it matches with your own skin tone, as store lights tend to have a blue tint to them.

Wet n’ Wild

Wet n’ Wild is an incredibly affordable makeup brand, and they’re cruelty-free! They also carry a decently-sized range of products, and they are always on the up-and-up about the latest cosmetic trends.

My Top Product Picks

Three tubes of Wet n' Wild liquid lipstick with two cream color face paint palettes behind them.

If they are available, definitely pick up their Fantasy Makers cream paint palettes. Usually available around the time of Halloween (and after for a discounted price!), you can get six colors in various shade ranges. They’re not the best for coverage, but I did use the pastel cream palette to create my cutesy Frankenstein look!

Swatches of Wet n' Wild liquid lipsticks on back of hand.

I also love their Liquid Catsuit liquid lipsticks. They’re super longwear and come in a wide range of colors.


Morphe is a contender for my favorite affordable makeup brand. Like NYX, they had a huge array of products to choose from, but they’re mainly known for their amazing brushes and gigantic eyeshadow palettes. Many beauty influencers love morphe because they create products that look and feel just as great as prestige products but for less than half the cost in most cases. Definitely a must if you’re on a tight budget!

My Top Product Picks

Jaclyn Hill x Morphe Palette with lid open.

For bulk eyeshadow palettes that will last you forever, I recommend both the Jaclyn Hill 35-shade palette and the James Charles Artistry Palette*. Both have a large range of products for under $40 (from nudes to shimmers and matte shades), and they blend incredibly well and have excellent staying power.

Inner forearm with 5 different eyeshadow swatches from the Jaclyn Hill x Morphe Palette

*Please note: I own the Jaclyn Hill palette and have only swatched the James Charles one, but both are pretty comparable and affordable.

Also, though it’s not pictured, I do recommend their brushes and their setting spray as it’s alcohol-free (perfect for sensitive skin cosplayers)!

Pro Tip!

You can use hairspray as a makeup setting spray! However, if you have senitive/irritbale skin, anyting alcohol-based will congest your pores. So be wary when searching for a setting spray.

Surreal Makeup

The only indie brand on the list, and they’re also cruelty-free and vegan, too! I discovered this brand last year at C2E2, and I fell in love with the color range of their shadows, how unique the shades were, and how sparkly they are. I have slowly been working my way through their range of products, and here are some of my favorites:

My Top Product Picks

5 eyeshadow shades and a tube of lip gloss from Surreal Makeup

Of course, I have to go with their eye pigments. Surreal Makeup makes amazing duo-chrome shadows and all-natural glitter shades. They offer high-impact color for a big payoff.

Inner arm with swatches of 5 eye shadow shades and a lip gloss from Surreal Makeup.

I also love their lip glosses. I’m not a gloss girl, but I love the one I bought last year in the shade “Sky Serpent.” It’s nourishing, ultra-shimmery, and it smells good!

Pro Tip!

You can order samples of any of their products for a great price! That’s how I’ve been trying out so many of their shadows.


e.l.f. is a tried-and-true favorite in the beauty community (that’s also cruelty-free!), and it’s a great brand to try out if you’re just learning how to use makeup. I don’t use many e.l.f. products, but the ones I do use are awesome for cosplay.

My Top Product Picks

This Mad About Mattes in “Nude Mood” eyeshadow palette is ultra versatile for those who want to contour their eyes to create different shapes, and it’s perfectly compact for travel.

Two makeup palettes by e.l.f. Cosmetics, with one containing eyeshadows and the other containing contour powders.

The other must-have item I cannot recommend enough is their contour palette. Available in Light/Medium and Dark/Deep, this is a great beginner’s contouring palette that allows you to mix and blend shades for the perfect color. Can’t use powders? It’s also available as a cream contour palette!

Honorable Mentions

Here are some products where the brands didn’t quite make the list entirely (with the exception of Eylure, but that’ll be in a different post), but that I would definitely recommend for cosplay usage!

From the top going around clockwise, we have:

  • Eylure Luxe False Lashes in “Baroque”
  • L.A. Girl PRO. Matte HD Longwear Foundation
  • Real Techniques Makeup Sponge (makeup tool, so fell into a gray area)
  • Ardell Forever Kissable Lip Stain
  • L’Oreal Lash Paradise Mascara (dupe for Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara)
  • Ulta Beauty Shadow Switching Pan (another makeup tool)

Whew! Well, that was a whole lot! I hope this was informative in some way, and helps you in your cosplay journeys! Let me know if I forgot any great brands, or what tips helped you out the best in the comments down below!

Want more cosplay content? Check out my Cosplay 101 post over on Certified Comic Shop’s page, and the Cosplay tab for project notes and more!

Life was meant to be lived nerdily, so what are you waiting for?

7 Comments Add yours

  1. I don’t cosplay but this was a pretty cool post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mickey says:

      Thanks! It’s also useful for where to just find cheap makeup 😉


  2. Noel says:

    Just stumbled across this post and I’m so glad I did! I really want to improve my cosplay skills, but I can’t afford much high-end makeup! Thanks so much for the post, I’ll definitely be bookmarking this for my cosplay plans later this year! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mickey says:

      Yay!! So glad you find this helpful! Thanks for visiting!


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