I have a lot of questions about my Aria T'Loak makeup, specifically how long it takes and what products I use, so I figured I would put it all down here. Hopefully this helps all of you Asari, Twi'leks, Gems, Critters, and other painted characters out there!
If you are doing a character with body paint, be prepared! It is a lot of fun, and it makes a big impact, but it is time consuming to apply and it has to be maintained. A good setting spray will be your best friend, but plan on carrying an emergency repair kit for smudges and sweat drips. I live in the deep south, where it is always hot. Right now it is 8:00 am, and my weather app says it feels like it's 96°F out there! Sweat is a thing. It's better to prepare for it.
The first step of getting this makeup look right is the step that is most often overlooked. You have to moisturize! The night before I get into Aria, I always make a point to moisturize with a fairly heavy moisturizer. I like Lush Charity Pot for this! I've tried a lot of things, but Charity Pot seems to work best for me. Apply liberally to any skin that is being painted, and go to sleep, because you are getting up early in the morning. This is a pretty involved makeup, after all! Plan on being in front of a mirror for 2-4 hours. I have managed to get my time down to about 2 hours, but that's with a good bit of practice. My trial run took closer to 5 hours!
Ok, awake and alert now? Awesome! Wash your face! You're going to want clean skin with no oils or residue in order to get your headpiece to adhere well. I recommend a cotton headband or sweatband under your headpiece, to help absorb the sweat that will inevitably happen. My headpiece is latex, and most likely yours will be, too. Make it or buy it, that's up to you, and we can do a whole other post on that subject, but, for now, let's assume you have it in your hand. The first thing you're going to do is apply your adhesive to the headpiece. I like Prosaide II adhesive a lot. Wait until the adhesive is tacky before you attempt to adhere your headpiece to your head. Once it is tacky and sticky to the touch, put the cap on and start placing the edges down so the cap is positioned the way you want it. Mine covers about 1/3 of my forehead. Once your edges are stuck down, you're going to want to cover the seam as best as you can. I use liquid latex from Mehron for this. Paint it down over the edge, making sure to fill the seam, and smooth it to make a seamless transition from headpiece to skin. This may take more than one layer of liquid latex, and that's ok. Just make sure to let the latex dry between layers.
While your latex is drying, you can start working on your face. I moisturize (yes, again) with Charity Pot. This has replaced my usual primer, but some people prefer to use a primer on top of moisturizer. It really just depends on your skin. My usual primer is NYX Angel Veil. After moisturizing, I start the process of getting rid of my eyebrows. Apparently eyebrows are an Earth thing? Aliens rarely seem to have them. I use the classic drag queen trick to "erase" my eyebrows: Elmer's glue stick (make sure it's the purple one), and a layer of powder (I like NYX SFX Setting Powder), dry, and repeat, until all smooth. There are a ton of tutorials for this on YouTube! Once Eyebrows are set and latex is all dry, you are ready to paint. I use Mehron Paradise AQ in Violet for Aria. Add a little water to the pot to activate the color. You don't want too much water though! Just enough to make the paint smooth but not runny. I apply the first layer with a medium sized flat paint brush. Subsequent layers are patted on with a wet makeup sponge. You want to work slowly and methodically! I start with my nose and work out to the edges of the cap. For my body, I start with the center of the chest and then work out. Make sure you aren't leaving streaks, as they become more obvious as the makeup dries. Do not wipe with the sponge. This is the #1 mistake I see people make. You want to use a dabbing motion. This process will take some time! Don't rush yourself. You will be so much more happy with a smooth, even paint job. Take the time to do it right.
Once the color is on, it's time to apply the makeup. WUUUUUUTTTTTTTT??? Yup. You heard me. Think of it this way. the body paint is like foundation. You still have a full face of makeup to apply! One thing I have noticed is bright body paint erases the definition on your face. You're going to want to go back and add that lost bone structure back in. I use eyeshadow palettes for this! They have lots of colors that work for any color of body paint you are using. Just make sure that the shadows are matte. For Aria, I use an old palette I've had forever, but this one from LA Colors is close. Use the darker shades under cheekbones, around your jawline, at the temples, under your collarbone, and on the sides and under the tip of your nose, then come in with the lighter colors across the brow, bridge and tip of nose, tops of cheekbones, chin, and top of collarbone. Check out highlight and contour how to's on YouTube if you are unsure how to contour your face. Once your highlights and contours are in, you can do any eye makeup you like. I usually just do a smoky eye with the same eyeshadow palette and add a small winged eyeliner (I love NYX Super Fat Eye Marker because it is super easy to control), then top with my daily use mascara. Blush is optional (I usually skip it), but your day to day wear blush will work for most things, if you choose to use that. For lips, I have used a number of lipsticks, depending on what is available at the local drug store (it's the #1 thing I forget to pack!) or just what I like. You are looking for a color that is slightly darker than the paint color, but not too dark, if you are going for a no-makeup look. I definitely recommend checking out drugstore brands for an inexpensive lippy! You aren't likely to use it unless you are wearing this particular costume, so there really is no need to spend more.
We're almost there, kids! Two more steps! That sweet sweet face tattoo is done with Mehron Liquid Makeup. I use a mix of blue and red to get a dark aubergine color I like, and then apply it with an angled brush. I could use a stencil, but honestly, I just freehand it on. If you trust your artistic abilities, go for it, but I do recommend not being like me, and taking the time to make a stencil. Once all of your makeup is on and you are happy with the results, SET IT. I use my setting powder again, and then go over the top of that with Kryolan Dermacolor Fixing Spray. This is quite possibly the most important step! This stuff will keep your makeup from budging. Do not skip it!
Alright, my little colorful friend, you are ready to go out there and wow them! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or if I missed something. Or, heck, show me your makeup! I love seeing what you guys use! And yeah, all of those product links help me out, so if you are thinking of trying any of this stuff and want to click products from my blog, that would be awesome and I would love you forever.
Aria T'Loak photo credit- Vaughn Photography, Nashville, TN