Proud nerds such as myself look forward to one event all year: Wizard World Chicago Comic Con. A four-day perfect storm of celebrities, panels, costume contests, screenings, art, and excitement, nerds and geeks of all stripes come out in force for the biggest Chicago convention of the year.
As a member of the media, I was invited to document the best beauty statements of Chicago Comic Con 2014. People with nerdy interests are often portrayed as unstylish dorks, but we're smart, passionate, and creatively driven people. OF COURSE that extends to our makeup and hair!
My own look turned out to be a bigger challenge than I'd expected. I’d planned to wear my hair down, but then it was nine MILLION degrees and humid every day I attended. My carefully straightened locks turned into sweat-induced Medusa curls before I’d even finished breakfast, so it was a high bun with flowers for me!
But it wasn't just my own beauty I was responsible for this year. Kelsey and I have been friends since high school, and this year she was wearing her incredible homemade TARDIS costume to Wizard World. She asked if I’d do her makeup and of course I was delighted.
Because her dress is SO dramatic, I knew I needed to keep her makeup relatively simple. I used my favorite product, Make Up For Ever Aqua Matic Eye Shadow in Iridescent Blue, to give her a long, elegant cat-eye that wouldn’t vanish beneath her glasses. I also used (what else?) Revlon Balm Stain in Smitten, blotted twice, to give her lips some stay-put color.
I asked Kels what her best beauty advice is, and she said, “Honestly, a lot of what I know, I’ve learned from you. So the best advice, which is something I hear from you a lot, is to step outside the box. This is a cat-eye that’s blue--I wouldn’t have thought of that, but I LOVE it.”
I SOLEMNLY swear I didn’t force her to say any of that.
And then, we were at Chicago Comic Con in Rosemont.
Though crowds are a little overwhelming to me, there’s something really special about being around so many people who love the same things that you love. I dove right in to talk to people about their convention beauty game.
“Nostalgia” was a big costume theme this year at Wizard World Chicago. I saw more Street Fighter costumes than I could count, but none were on the same level as Jessica’s Chun-Li. She made her top out of a $3 blazer, coffee cup holders, and ribbon, because she is amazing.
As my own (single) high bun was starting to give me a headache, I naturally had to ask about hers. “They’re really comfortable,” she said, dashing my hopes of commiseration forever. “My hair is down to my mid-back, but I’ve got small socks inside each of these to keep the shape and volume.”
Jessica's best beauty advice? Water is your best friend. “It’s the best beauty product out there,” she said. “If you drink enough water, you’re healthy on the inside and you look more radiant on the outside.”
I immediately ran off to get a bottle of water. Conventions are dehydrating.
Do you ever meet someone and immediately know you’re going to hit it off? That’s how I felt when I literally bumped into Kate outside of a poster booth.
“I’m here to see Bruce Campbell,” she told me right away. “He’s so handsome. But there are a lot of handsome men here, have you noticed? And they say nerds aren’t attractive!”
You’ve probably noticed Kate’s amazing vintage hat. This turban-style number is from the forties, but she has hats in her collection that go all the way back to the 1800s. “I wear a fun hat every day,” she said. “I want to show kids that they don’t have to turn into a sour, boring old adult. They call me the Crazy Hat Lady, and I love it!”
Sammie was standing behind me in line for coffee. (Side note: waiting for caffeine for 45 freaking minutes will make any two people into best friends.) She looooooves a cat-eye, so of course I had to talk to her about how she gets her perfectly even flicks.
“I like the Stila Stay All Day Liquid Liner for the top,” she said. “The brush and pot combination doesn’t work for me, but this makes it so easy. One tube lasts me three months and I use it every day.”
On the bottom, she uses Revlon Colorstay pencil liner to trace halfway across her waterline. This defines the cat eye shape but doesn’t make her lovely peepers look tiny.
Kat Archer is the owner and lead artist of ColorBUZZ Face & Body Painting. When I saw her execute this perfect floral look in under 10 seconds, I knew I was in the presence of incredible skill.
Kat told me that when she got out of the army, she decided to go into business for herself and discovered that she loved painting faces. Even though she didn’t have a formal art education, she’d always been a creative person. “Art speaks to you sometimes,” she said. “This was the art that spoke to me.”
She uses professional theatrical makeup instead of facepaint, because a lot of people--kids especially--can have skin reactions to facepaint. It also allows her to blend the colors together much better and sets dry, which makes her art so much more elaborate. Kat also emphasizes the need for good quality brushes and clean tools, because otherwise how are her colors going to look good?
Amber here came all the way to Wizard World Chicago from Colorado, and was dressed up as the cutest TARDIS (complete with key necklace and two heart earrings) that you ever did see.
She’d also gotten delicate purple and royal blue streaks put in her hair especially for Chicago Comic Con. “I’d always wanted hair like this,” she said. “The con was just my excuse to finally do it. I’ve never dyed my hair before, ever!”
Amber's best beauty advice: “Don’t worry about what other people think of your look. I’m a bigger girl, and some people don’t think I should be dressed like this, but I don’t care! Confidence makes your look, and it makes you beautiful.”
The Doctor would be proud.
Nei’s amazing turquoise mohawk was so incredible that I literally RAN to her artist’s booth to talk to her about it (her art, by the way, is amazing--you should check it out).
She told me that the secret to her hair’s glorious height and shape was backcombing her naturally fine hair like crazy, then holding it in place with got2b Blasting Freezing Hairspray. “It’s so good,” she told me. “It’s the only thing that holds my hair in place.”
When I asked her for her best beauty advice, she thought about it for a while. “Can it be a product?” she asked. “Because the e.l.f. Eyeshadow Shield is GENIUS. It stops the rest of your makeup from getting ruined by eye shadow, and you can use the edges to get your eyeliner flick even.”
Wigs are a staple of any convention. Amarilys Lily’s amazing Lumpy Space Princess hair was one of the highlights of my Saturday morning. “RuPaul is my wig icon,” she told me. “This is two wigs stacked and teased on top of one another for shape and style.”
"One of my big issues with costume wigs is that they’re often heavy or uncomfortable, "Amarilys Lily told me, adding that her best wig secret is getting your wigs correctly fitted the first time. “This doesn’t hurt my head at all,” she said. “It’s like wearing a large sunhat.”
And what would Wizard World Chicago be without running into a few xoVainers? As I was getting ready to leave on Saturday, I bumped into Lady Penguin Cristina and her friends, who I first met at C2E2 earlier in the year.
I ended up being their unofficial photographer for several minutes as people posed for pictures with them. “John did the special effects makeup,” she told me, pointing to Two Face’s very realistic scarred-up face.
Catwoman’s perfect red lips were also a subject of discussion. “It’s NARS Lipstick in Hyde Park,” she said. “It’s the perfect long-lasting red, especially for pale people.”
After spending 26 out of 48 hours at Comic Con Chicago, I was exhausted, slightly blistery, but very happy. Being able to talk to so many creative, cool people and learn from them and see what inspires them was a wonderful experience. I'm already counting down until next year. Maybe I'll dress up for the first time!
Are you a convention-goer? What's your favorite nerd-inspired look? If any of you reading this spotted me on the floor & took a picture with me (there are a bunch of you!), post them in the comments or tag me on instagram!
Also, what should I dress up as next year? I'm thinking maybe Madame Vastra.