6 Costume Hacks from a Filipino Cosplayer

It’s not every day that you’ll see Harley Quinn helping Joker reapply his face paint while Princess Lea and Wonder Woman do shots by the bar. When you see five different spider-mans munching on nachos with their masks half up, then you’re in either one of two places: a cosplay convention or a costume party.

Most people never have to worry about costumes until a costume party comes up. Suddenly, everyone would be searching for capes, masks, and wings for trick or treating or the next costume party. The interest in costumes and characters surges during this time of the year, but there are some people who make costumes all year round: Cosplayers.

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Cosplay by definition is a performance art where participants, called cosplayers, dress up to represent specific characters from anime, books, or film. Cosplay in the Philippines is usually limited to conventions that happen a couple of times every year, but for one night a month, the whole world is a stage.

Cosplay is, surprisingly, not all about sewing costumes. There’s wig styling, makeup, modeling, and even fitness involved in this hobby, but making costumes is still a big part of the trade. Filipino cosplayers know all the tricks and hacks for a better costume from years of trial and error. From the budget places to shop t0 the many upcycling techniques, this article will help you bring your favorite characters to life.

6. Does your character have an alien skin color? Use long gloves or colored stockings instead of body paint for your arms.


Bodypaint is a messy affair. You’re likely to spend money and time putting it on only to have it all rub off on your friend’s white shirt. Instead, find a long glove (the ones usually used for ballroom) in the exact color of the skin you need. Glue fake nails in the same color for added effect.

Need something longer? Cut up some leggings to cover your arm and use body paint on the palms. Seal the body paint with hairspray and some powder, and you’ll be ready for that Gamora costume.

5. Foam boards are the secret to lightweight props


Need a sword? Foam board. Need Maleficent wings? Foam board can be used as a base. Does the character use a staff? Maybe a PVC pipe but the details will probably need foam board. Foam board is the universal base of most props because it’s lightweight, durable, and easier to cut than the more common illustration board.

Another perk is that it’s easier to find tutorials online that have patterns for foam board that are to scale, so it takes a lot of the guesswork out of measurements. The cheapest source of foam boards is Divisoria where they’re usually sold by sheets or by the roll.

4. Use glue stick to remove eyebrows and liquid lipstick to color them


The clown from IT and Joker are two very popular costumes, and what they have in common is that bright black eyebrows may ruin the look. For those who want to erase their eyebrows, glue stick is the key. Comb down your brows then apply glue stick (yes the one from the bookstore) then wait for it to dry. Once it’s dry,  dust the eyebrows with powder before layering on more glue. Finish it off with a layer of foundation to erase the eyebrows completely.

For those bright unnatural eyebrows, skip the eye shadow and use a liquid lipstick in the needed color. The effect will last longer and will be much more vibrant.

3. Fake blood looks better when you make it yourself, and you can even make it edible!

Fake blood is a scary costume favorite. Combine one part water with three parts corn syrup then slowly add in the red food coloring until you get the desired color. Add in corn starch if you want the “blood” top become thicker.

Need edible blood for your lips? Combine corn syrup with red food coloring until you get a color slightly lighter than you want your blood to be. Add in cocoa powder to the mix to darken it and get a more realistic blood effect. Use water and cornstarch to adjust the thickness accordingly.

2. Skin-colored leotards make your legs look better in photos


For those cosplaying the classic Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, skin-colored leotards are a great way to shape your legs for pictures. Get one as close to your skin color as possible for it to look natural. These have the added bonus of helping you get more comfortable with the more revealing cosplays. The hack works for anyone wearing a costume that’s on the daring side.

1. There are Facebook groups where you can rent costumes

If you don’t have the time or energy to make costumes, the next best option is to rent. There are a number of costume rental shops in Metro Manila, but not all of these are accessible.  Another approach is to look through cosplay groups in the Philippines! There are many cosplay groups on Facebook where cosplayers sell or rent out their old costumes for a fee.

It might be daunting to enter the groups at first, but it’s simple enough to search the group for the exact costume you need and to message the seller. Some of the costumes come with wigs and props so your costume will definitely stand out.

Costumes are all about copying a character but don’t feel limited by thinking you have to copy the character perfectly. No one is ever too big, too short, or too skinny to dress up like a character they love. Costumes are for everyone to have fun and take pictures, so don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone and have time of your life.