Trying a new beard technique!

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Sometimes I like to crossplay as male characters, and often the ones I select happen to have facial hair. Some can just be drawn on (such as Sanji from One Piece) but there are others where I’m looking for a little something extra (Lancelot from Merlin and Aramis from The Musketeers, for example).

For a few years I’ve been using a technique picked up in this video, which is essentially adding little bits of synthetic hair to my face with spirit gum bit by bit. Then putting on longer bits if the character has more defined moustache/beard parts (Lancelot and Aramis again – Lancelot needs stubble brushed all around my chin and neck area while Aramis needs more and longer hairs for his moustache and beard). It creates a really good look. However, it takes anywhere from 45 minutes to over an hour to apply it. Then through the day my mouth movement is very restricted, I often have to just drink smoothies all day. Plus it becomes itchy through the day and I’m constantly shedding. There are more negatives than positives to this technique but I couldn’t think of another way of bringing it across and didn’t want to just draw it on.

(to note at this point: I know a lot of cosplayers do draw on facial hair. There is nothing wrong with using that technique if that’s what works for you. A lot can do it really, really well. I just wanted something a little more 3D, as it were, for my costumes.)

Though I will say this for the synthetic hair technique, a lot of people tell me it looks really good. 😀

Then a few months ago, Whatsername’s Cosplay showed me a new tutorial which had surfaced for doing a Realistic 3D beard by shear-lockcombs. It would seem I’m the first person she thinks of when she comes across beard tutorials. XD Today I finally gave it a go and here’s the breakdown of what I found:

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(please keep in mind that these are the opinions after a test-run which is also my first time using this technique)

– it’s a LOT quicker to apply. Whereas sticking synthetic hair onto my face takes me 45 minutes minimum, this takes me about 20-30 (and part of that was re-reading parts of the tutorial to make sure I was doing it right).

– I can still feel some restriction to my mouth. However, not as much as the synthetic hair method. After applying the fibre mascara I sat and ate a chocolate bar, which I wouldn’t be able to do with synthetic hair on my face.

– BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN APPLYING THE HAIR SPRAY. I used a smaller bottle because I felt it would give me a better precision (even if it actually doesn’t, the smaller bottle size makes me think it does and, hey, whatever helps you feel more confident with things). Keep your mouth and eyes closed incase you misfire.

– It will take practice. When doing my test run I didn’t base it on any stubble in particular, but getting a particular look may take a trial run or two.

– It will be very easy to correct if you get it wrong. Just use a bit of a make up wipe to get rid of your mistake and try again.

– Should be super-easy to top up during the day if you need. A small can of hair spray, the fiber mascara and the spoolie are quite small things to pop in a bag and just nip into the bathroom to reapply.

– I don’t know how it will feel on the face as you go on, especially in a convention environment. Of course being at a busy convention is far different to doing a test-run in a bedroom. So I can’t say whether or not it will wear off (though I imagine it will if you accidentally scratch at your chin or something) or start to feel itchy.

– Much easier to remove with a make up wipe or two.

– Does not involve smelly sticky spirit gum and having to constantly wash my hands every few sections

– Can be a little awkward to reach certain areas, but just go steady

– I would personally say this tutorial will work better for characters with more ‘stubbly’ beards, like Lancelot. I’d still apply synthetic hair for any more defined beards and moustaches.

– Quite inexpensive. Cans of hair spray can be found cheaply in various shops. Spoolies/eyebrow brushes are probably available in 99p/£1 shops. I got the fiber mascara on eBay for £3.85. The particular brand I got was Maybelline Illegal Length Fiber Extensions Mascara in brown (because the two characters I plan to use this for have dark brown hair).

– Dabbing probably gives a better stubbly look than brushing it down. But that could all depend on what particular look you’re after. This is one of those things you’ll find with practice.

And I think that’s it. Like I said, doing a test-run in the bedroom is different to wearing it all day for a convention/shoot/etc. But I will definitely try it out for conventions later in the year. I’m planning on wearing Aramis for Winter London Film and Comic Con and maybe London MCM in October, where I’ll use the fiber technique for the stubbly areas, and then stick on re-usable beards and moustaches for those parts. And if anyone wants to ever give me another excuse to wear Lancelot again, PLEASE DO I LOVE THAT COSTUME SO MUCH!

Here are some images of my first try. Of course they’re not as brilliant as they could be as it’s the first time I’ve tried this but I think with a little bit of practice this could be a really good look.

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And as a final note, please read through the tutorial yourself if you’re thinking of using this technique. Yes, you need fiber masacara for the look it gives. It also warns against things such as using hairspray on sensitive skin. If you can’t be arsed to scroll back up, the tutorial is here:

Sheer-lockComb’s Realistic 3D Beard Tutorial 

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3 thoughts on “Trying a new beard technique!

  1. I used this process for animefest last month when I cosplayed the assassin Ezio. Found the results were a lot more even if you use a stipple sponge to apply the mascara. Just use the mascara brush to apply a thin coat to the sponge and apply by dabbing the sponge up and down. I set it with a light dusting of baby powder. I was in a hot costume all day feeling like I was melting inside it, but amazingly the beard stayed intact. Have to watch the impulse to touch or scratch your face, but the mascara dries really good and there was no running. Turned out good enough that I was asked for a whole slew of pictures, which was a new experience for me. Used loreal volumous false fiber lashes mascara.

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    • That sounds a really good suggestion, I’ll have to try it out. Strangely, I don’t own a stubble sponge, even though most of y crossplays involve some form of facial hair. Also, ugh, tell me about how the urge to touch your face rises horrifically when you crossplay with beards (because you have stuff on your face, fair enough), but it should be pretty simple to carry around top-up supplies instead.

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      • Go my three pack of sponges off ebay, though if you have a local costume shop in your area they should be available this time of year. They were really low cost on ebay. The scratching thing is odd. I did carry supplies to make repairs, but found I didnt need to. The stuff dried really solid, and just touching it didn’t cause any problems, nor was it itchy. My biggest problem was the heat in my costume causing sweat even on my face. The beard didnt run, but came off really easy with soap and water. The only thing I want to try diffrent at my next event in three weeks is to use a waterproof mascara instead of the regular one. For my peace of mind.

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