Stealth Cosplay is the practice of cosplaying—dressing up as a fictional character—in casual to professional settings. On Stealth Cosplay’s tumblr their tag line is: “for people who like to cosplay in public and keep their job,” which is Stealth Cosplay in a nutshell.
I love cosplay, though I haven’t created any specific costumes for myself—one day!—I love the thought, care, and craftsmanship that goes into cosplay. Hair, makeup, clothing: it all goes together to create one cohesive real-life interpretation of a character. A living embodiment that captures not only the character, but a moment in time when a fan can proudly shout their geek pride.
You can’t cosplay all the time, however. Even casual superhero clothing, like the merchandise found on Superherostuff.com, you can wear out casually, but to work? Not so much. I own a series of superhero t-shirts, but as an after school literature teacher, I can’t wear them to work. No matter how much my 3rd grade students would love it.
So Stealth Cosplay has always fascinated me, especially because of the lack of it. There was a Stealth Cosplay week held on Tumblr back in January of last year that received attention from The Daily Dot and The Mary Sue. Unfortunately once this week passed, so did the focus and discussion of Stealth Cosplay.
I searched Pinterest, Facebook, and Tumblr, and while the movement is still going pretty strong, it’s very quiet. This seemed so strange to me, considering that as fans we love to shine our geek flag as much as we can get away with it. But for all my research, I was only able to find Stealth Cosplay highlighting specific clothes, but nothing about hair or makeup. Any superhero inspired makeup I found was, while extremely beautiful, more like art than casual makeup I could employ at work or even out casually.
Part of the fun of cosplay is fully embodying the character, and I do believe Stealth Cosplay should follow that belief as much as possible.
My first choice when I embarked on this project was Anya Corazon. I choose her for two simple reasons: 1) her design is simple enough to easily build a stealth cosplay outfit off of and 2) she’s one of my favorite characters from Marvel.
Before we jump in, I’d like to say a quick something. Those beauty vloggers and bloggers, who look like perfection with the help of magic and expensive products? Not what I’m advertising here. I don’t own anything by Smashbox or MAC; I don’t have the money for it. I don’t know how to look photoshopped and canvas-smooth beautiful. I admire the art these women create, because that’s what it is: art. However, for an everyday average college-going geek girl working a part-time job like me? It’s just not realistic.
So I’m not advertising perfection; I’m advertising fun, affordable tips and tricks that I hope will empower our readers and encourage more Stealth Cosplayers to share their own stories and experiences.
To begin, I wanted to build an outfit based on Anya Corazon featuring four specific aspects: makeup, hair, clothes, and personality.
I started with hair. Again, Anya’s is super easy with a high ponytail and side bangs. I’m a bit of a novice when it comes to blow drying my hair, but I have learned three helpful tricks in getting not terribly frizzy hair.
So no one ever told me that heat can damage your hair while growing up. I always wondered why my hair would be so sleek and smooth after getting it done at the salon. Well, turns out it’s due to combination of things. When styling your hair you need some kind of heat protectant. I use Pantene’s 10 in 1 BB Cream, because it protects against heat, helps fight frizz, etc. I use it even when I don’t blow dry my hair, because I live in a humid area and my naturally curly hair will frizz up at the slightest touch of heat.
Before I even style my hair, I slap on two dollops of stuff from root to ends. Then I grab my round brush and get ready to start battling the dryer. For curly to wavy haired people, never, ever brush your hair out. It’s like teasing Bruce Banner; you’re tempting the Hulk. However, for Anya’s outfit, I wanted to blow dry my hair smoother and slightly straight. A rounded brush with holes – that’s a big thing, get one with holes – helps circulate the heat without frizzing up your hair.
The final trick is your blow dryer. I had a blow dryer that was a hand me down from my mamita that I’m pretty sure was from the late 80’s. Needless to say, it was terrible, so I never used it. I recently bought a shiny new blow dryer from Revlon with ionic technology which is a fancy way of saying it won’t make your hair frizzy.
After I finished my hair, I pinned it up and back so I could work on the next step, makeup. For Anya, since her costume design is so simple, I went simple and neutral on the makeup. Remember, this is Stealth Cosplay, the point isn’t to shout your geek cred, it’s to softly, but proudly, represent it.
Lets start with the face, I’ve included photos of my face with just primer and one with primer and foundation. The lighting isn’t the best, so pictures couldn’t catch how bad my face actually was. I was recently terribly sick and the result was a rather nasty breakout. But I wanted to make a point about primers and foundation.
See, primers actually work.
They do, honest. They create a smooth surface to apply makeup especially products like foundation and blush which can cause your skin to further breakout. Think of primer like a protective shield against the villains of dirt and oils fighting their way into your skin along with all the chemicals in makeup as well.
I use ELF’s Mineral Face Primer and Loreal Paris’ Green Face Primer. Two face primers you ask? Yes. Green concealers and primers help cancel out redness on your skin. I haven’t played around with a green concealer, but I like the primer. It does help reduce the redness of pimples and acne. Does it make them disappear? No. Which is why I’d like to experiment with a concealer, but the primer does help reduce the redness. Unfortunately on it’s own, it doesn’t fully smooth out my face which is why I bought ELF’s Mineral Primer.
Talk about smooth. The consistency was a little strange to work with at first, but after a few uses I got used to it. It does go on very smooth, and applying my makeup is a lot easier. Most days for work, I don’t go full face, applying heavy foundation to your face daily is bad for your skin. You need days to just let it breathe so use a primer instead to get rid of redness and smooth out your face. This is why I included two pictures, one with primer and no foundation and with with a full face, because I wanted to show that you can get away with just using a combination of primers and not going full foundation for your face. If you’re self conscious about your acne like I am, you don’t need full foundation every single day. It’s time-consuming, expensive, and bad for your skin.
For this outfit, I went full face and used Revlon’s Colorstay Foundation. I have oily to combination skin which means I have dry patches typically above my eyebrows and chin area. I also get oily around my nose and cheeks. Finding a foundation that didn’t shine bright like a diamond or feel really sticky and greasy after a few hours has always been a challenge. I’ve tried many, from liquid to powder. I even used the expensive Bare Minerals (holiday gift) brand.
I’ve found that Bare Minerals made my skin extremely dry which made me oil up even more. Did you know that if you don’t add moisturizer to your daily skin care routine it will actually create more oil on your skin? I didn’t. I didn’t use moisturizer because my skin would always be oily, but using moisturizer actually helps balance out the natural oils in your skin.
So I end my skincare routine with Neutrogena’s Oil Free Moisturizer for Combination Skin, move on to Loreal Paris’ Green Face Primer, and finish everything off with ELF’s Mineral Primer. Tip: give your skin thirty seconds to a minute in between each application to settle. I chill with music when I do my makeup, check my email, or scroll tumblr.
I usually do my eye makeup next. I use Maybelline’s Color Tattoo in Barely Branded as a base coat. The heck is a base coat? I didn’t know either until recently, but I learned that by applying a base coat your eyeshadow will last a lot longer. This also works if you use eye primer, but those can be expensive depending on the brand. I like using Color Tattoo’s as their staying power is fantastic, and the color of Barely Branded is very light, so I can pack on actual eyeshadow color and not worry about it creasing or smudging throughout the day.
The eyeshadow I used was Wet ‘n Wild’s eyeshadow palette in Walking On Eggshells. I’ve seen other beauty bloggers say that it’s a cheap alternative to Urban Decay’s Naked Palette. Personally I don’t see how an eyeshadow palette with colors that are meant to be light and neutral looking should cost a person eighty dollars, but then, I don’t get why so many ‘no makeup look’ tutorials feature ten to twenty high end products. As I said, I’m a broke college geek girl, so Wet ‘n Wild’s three eyeshadow palette’s for two dollars at my local CVS works just as well as the high end brands for me.
Apply as it says on the palette, bottom goes all over the lid, middle goes in the crease, and the top color goes right under the brow. This is where brushes can really come in handy. They’re not a requirement, but I prefer using them. ELF sells them for a dollar to three dollars (the studio line is three) at Target. I also own two of Eco Tools double sided brushes which I love and adore. But they’re a bit pricier than ELF’s brushes.
Once I get my eye shadow down, eyeliner comes next. For Anya’s outfit, I didn’t go for anything extreme. Just a simple thick swipe across the lid. I also apply eyeliner under the eye as well. Those looks you see on beauty bloggers that look deep and dark? That’s just them getting into the tiny spaces between their eye lashes. Also maybe because they’re professionals, but mostly because they get in between those lashes.
It’s not too hard depending on which tools you use. I love Maybelline’s Gel Eyeliner, and it comes with a nifty brush to use, too. I’ve tried liquid eyeliner and, well lets just say, the results were not awesome. Gel eyeliner is a great alternative for those who want to get that dark look of a liquid liner, but don’t want to use liquid liner. I like using a pencil to line the upper waterline of my lid and then use the brush to line the top. If you’re not confident in the line you made or in making a nice solid line, use the pencil first. Pencil is easier to use and easier to clean if you make mistakes.
Making mistakes is a staple in doing makeup. I make mistakes all the time. Which brings me to the most important tool you’ll need when doing your eye makeup.
I’m not kidding, these babies have saved my eye makeup so many times. You can get an entire box of a hundred for a dollar at the dollar store. Using your finger can work, but it can also smudge your line badly or transfer your eyeliner across your face. Plus, the small tip makes it really easy to clean everything up.
I also made my line thicker on the outside, and then thinned it out near my inner lid. Afterwards, I let everything sit.
Next, I apply blush using ELF’s Blush and Contour Kit in St. Lucia and then blend everything together with Rimmel’s Stay Matte Powder in Translucent. I also take a blending brush and blend all my eye makeup together. Adding the matte powder helps keep everything from smudging or creasing. The last thing I work on is my lips since that’s my favorite part of makeup after eyes.
For Anya’s outfit I went with a neutral lip. I use NYX’s Soft Matte Lip Cream in Stockholm. I had never never tried lip creams before, but I adore NYX’s Soft Matte colors. For me, NYX is the brand we should all be spluging on. They’re affordable. and their products are very good. I can’t wait to try more of their stuff.
The final part of the outfit was of course the clothes. The costume Anya wears now is a black body suit with a giant white spider in the center. I went with a long sleeved black shirt, black skinny jeans, black boots, and a white belt to break everything up and add that splash of white.
You can switch this up, too. I wore a pair of black high waisted shorts with the long sleeved black shirt and a pair of black flip flops.
And that’s it! The look of my Anya Corazon Stealth Cosplay is done, all that’s left is the personal embodiment of Anya Corazon herself. I don’t want to just look like the character in a casual or professional setting, I want to take the traits I admire so much about that character and employ them in my daily life.
We all have our favorite superheroes for whatever reasons. Certain aspects of certain characters just speak to us. They can inspire us in various ways, whether it’s to be a better person or be more comfortable in our own skin. For Anya, it’s her personality and culture. She’s one of the few Latina—specifically Puerto Rican—characters in comics. I love her relationship with Rikki, I love her take-no-crap attitude, and I love her determination to continue being a superhero, powers or not. I love how she danced without fear or shame in Avengers Assemble and isn’t scared to talk back to the “adult” Avengers when she needed help.
So when I dress up in Anya Corazon Stealth Cosplay edition, I don’t just go out to look like her, I go out to embody all the traits of her that I love. Her confidence and snark, I take it with me. It’s not just about looking like Anya Corazon, it’s about embodying what she means to me as a fan.
I’m a firm believer that clothes, hair, makeup, the whole aesthetic of what you look like, how you present yourself, can be empowering. It should be empowering. From real-life people like Beyonce who stands in a power pose, owning the world, to fictional women like Wonder Woman who also stand in the power pose, owning the world. It’s not just about how they look, it’s about how they feel and present themselves.
That’s the goal of this project, Stealth Cosplay isn’t just about looking like a character, but taking what makes them great and imbuing yourself with those traits. Creating an inner sense of confidence and feeling good about yourself all while winking your geek cred at your office.