Cosplay Hair And Makeup Q&A

Cosplay has the power to transform us into the characters we love… and sometimes defines the very stories they tell. And it goes without saying that one of the most transformative elements of cosplay is the makeup. It brings your costume to life and offers cosplayers the freedom to add their own spin to their favorite characters.


In preparation for InterGalactiCon, we sat down with our friend, the badass makeup artist Ashley Sher. Known for her beauty and FX makeup work on America’s Next Top Model, The Bachelor and countless red-carpet productions, Ashley is making her mark in the industry with her creativity, skill, and dedication to excellence.

Read what Ashley has to say about FX makeup in today’s day in age and get a sneak peek at her exclusive demo for InterGalactiCon. 

IGC: Ashley, how’d you get started in the world of professional makeup artistry?

When I was 17 years old, I moved to Los Angeles in the pursuit to become the next big fashion designer. I graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in 2004, but I was too scared to start my own clothing line. Instead, I went to school to make zombies at the Makeup Designory (M.U.D.). Now, after 13 years in the business, I primarily do horror FX makeup.


IGC: What came first – beauty or FX makeup?

Horror FX. I love to do it whenever the opportunity arises. Beauty is a big part of my life, too, though. I got on America’s Next Top Model five or six years ago for beauty and the occasional FX art for special photoshoots.

IGC: Do you have a favorite genre or character to do makeup for?

Zombies are always a favorite. You can make so many different variations. For instance, one zombie can have oozing pores and puss coming out wherever, another can have peeling skin. I love that variety.

IGC: Whoa!


IGC: Where do you pull inspiration for these characters?

It depends on the project. I never copy anything. I can take direction, but I always come up with something that’s my own.


IGC: Do you have a unique makeup style, like making innocent characters look more villainous?

I never do sweet characters. I tend to lean toward the gory, evil characters – especially with clowns. I only do killer clowns. I like the dark side. 


IGC: How long does it take to do what you do?

Depends on the character, how much body you’re tackling and the details involved. If I’m just doing face and hands, it could be about 45 minutes. I once did a blue alien. That particular project took two people airbrushing a guy from the pelvic area up, while I put on the details. It took us a total of two and a half hours. If I did it alone, it would’ve taken at least four hours. Zombies always take the longest at about six and a half hours. Prosthetics change things up, too, since the glue has to try.


IGC: How do you keep up to date on new FX makeup trends?

I use Pinterest. It helps inspire and twist ideas. I have a board for all of my favorite cosplay makeup characters. I’ll look on YouTube if I need to figure out how to do a certain makeup technique. YouTube has gotten so big. There are some really talented makeup artists on there that I respect.

IGC: Cosplay makeup can be really challenging between caked-on face paint and liners. Tell us, what bothers you about doing horror FX makeup?

A few things: when someone doesn’t sit still, when someone picks a character but isn’t open to suggestions, and when my airbrush machine jams.

IGC: What can InterGalactiCon fans look forward to at your workshop on June 16?

I’ll be doing a big demo of a surprise character, handpicked from Con-creator Steve Kirk. I’ll show my step-by-step process for creating hairstyles and makeup looks. I’ll also have an open discussion with the audience about my work.

To learn more about Ashley Sher, visit

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