You’ve seen them at conventions: splotchy colored Bajoran nose ridges bumpy in all the wrong places. To use Gul Dukat’s favorite phrase, “rest assured” those intrepid cosplayers spent hours and hours working hard on their makeup. It’s difficult to create a three-dimensional ridge on a flat surface. But, “rest assured,” you can apply, in less than 10 minutes, Bajoran nose ridges that perfectly match your skin color and have absolutely no rough edges to speak of.

When I first decided to cosplay Major Kira, I spent forever on the nose ridges: researching different methods, buying various pre-made prosthetics, making my own out of various latexes and gels. It was expensive experimentation. But no matter what approach I took, I was never satisfied with the results. It took too much time to apply, or the edges or color didn’t blend into my skin. The best I ever got doing my own nose ridges was a one-hour application time with OK color match and marginal results blending the edges, and after sweating in it for the day as it progressively looked worse and worse, it would take a half hour to remove it carefully enough that I could use the nose again. Then I realized that cosplay is more like live theater than it is like film -- and changed my approach.

In filming, the camera will often be very close to the makeup, so the makeup has to actually be three-dimensional to create the desired illusion. Also in filming, there is a makeup artist there to do touch-ups in between takes. What looks like a continuous five-minute scene with perfect makeup is actually hours of work with multiple times to fix the makeup.

Cosplay, on the other hand, is much more like live theater. The viewing audience is in the same space as the performer, and usually over an arm’s length away, so a three-dimensional illusion can be achieved with highlights and shadows. Also, a cosplayer, like a stage performer, has one continuous performance with very little chance to touch up the makeup.

Instead of thinking like a makeup artist for film, think like a makeup artist for stage: use a variation of the stage makeup trick for old age wrinkles. As long as your audience is more than an arm’s length away, it looks three-dimensional and works better than prosthetic ridges because it uses your own skin color and there are no edges to blend. Even within an arm’s length, I’ve had people think it was three-dimensional. With a little practice, it takes just minutes to apply, stays on well for most of the day and takes seconds to remove.

In general, what you’re going to do is apply two colors in lines, the lines touching each other along their length. Where the two colors meet, but do not blend, it creates the illusion of a wrinkle.

You will need:

• A pot of crème highlight. I use Ben Nye Ultralight, but that’s because I’m super-pale. Use a highlight that will work for your skin color.

• A pot of crème character shadow, dark enough to create a shadow effect against your skin color. I use Ben Nye Character Shadow.

• A ¼” flat brush or eye brow brush.

• Powder. I prefer a translucent powder, but any loose powder that matches your skin tone should work.

• A picture of the makeup you are copying. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve done it, I always pull out a picture for reference. Google thinks I have no idea what Major Kira looks like, I’ve searched for the pictures so much.


  • Wash, dry and moisturize your face.
  • Do your usual makeup routine that makes you happy. Or not.
  • Using the flat brush apply the highlight in horizontal lines across your nose.
    • The highlight lines will be directly above the shadow lines, which you will apply later.
    • I wrinkle up my nose to see where the wrinkles naturally lie and follow those lines as much as possible.
    • The lines will be about 1/16” thick each – so each line has a top edge and a bottom edge.
    • Wipe the excess makeup from the brush.
  • Using the flat brush, carefully feather out the top edge of the highlight lines.
    • Do not touch the bottom of the highlight lines with the brush.
    • It is absolutely key to keep the bottom edge of the highlight line crisp and clean, but blend the top edge of the line so that it fades out.
  • Clean off the brush, or at least wipe off most of the light-colored makeup from the bristles.
  • Using the brush, directly below the highlight lines apply the shadow lines.
    • Touch the brush right up against the crisp line of the bottom edge of the highlight lines, but not over that edge.
    • The two colors should touch, but not overlap.
  • Wipe the excess makeup from the brush.



  • Using the brush, carefully feather out the bottom edge of the shadow lines, keeping the top edge of the shadow lines crisp and clean, blending out the bottom edges.
  • Use powder to set the makeup.



  • Do not rub the makeup when you’re wearing it, and it should last as long as your regular makeup does.
  • Wash off along with your regular makeup, or use a baby wipe if you just want to take off the ridges.


Brooke Wilkins is a professional costumer at Evermore Park, a soon-to-open immersive story living experience, populated by satyrs, fairies and other mythical creatures, where guests can participate in the story happening around them. She is a Utah-based costumer, designing and constructing for 40-plus productions, including A Christmas Carol and The Little Mermaid. She recently created motion-capture suits that don’t look like motion-capture suits to be used as part of a live VR technology demo. Brooke runs Garak’s Tailor Shop at Star Trek Las Vegas. When not creating costumes professionally, she creates them for her own amusement and enjoys cosplaying at conventions, parties and at home with her nieces and nephews. See her blog at

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