You don’t have to apologise for not posting to Social Media

I’ve actively noticed of late that a lot of people apologise if they haven’t posted to social media for a while (nb. a while can be anything from 2 days to several months). I’ve been wondering why they might do it.

Is it genuine feelings of shame?

Perhaps simply an easy and expected post layout for stepping back onto social media platforms?

Are they showing off (‘I’ve been SO busy; check out my amazing life’)?

Or are they highlighting that if people haven’t seen them online lately it’s because they’ve been AFK, rather than the influence of the all mighty “Algorithm”?

Me? Shame definitely has a role. As does the easy first post to ease back into things. I’ve certainly posted apologetic statuses before after long breaks.

I took myself away from social media for a while because I realised I was putting too much stock in social media based validation. I cared too much what others thought of me and my work. One negative sniff would feel like murder undoing a hundred positive comments to the point where the fear of even potential negativity haunted me.

I got caught in the idea of posting schedules. Of posting everything I made because… Because… There was no because. Not really. I just felt it was the thing to do. I made the thing and so the thing should be posted online.

Except it didn’t have to be. Not everything made or experienced has to be posted. And not everything has to be monetised.

I’ve had to re-learn how to look at my own work and appreciate it. Enjoy it even!

Whilst away I’ve finished one costume and almost finished a second. I’ve been to Japan. I’ve started lifting weights in Minn’s new garden gym. I’ve styled several wigs, a few of which are below.

And I didn’t post any of it publicly until today.

I feel… more peaceful. I feel more appreciative of the world. I feel more present.

I post this because I want to; not because I feel I have to. I commission wigs because it is a great pleasure to sculpt for others.

And I’m not sorry when I don’t post.

Don’t be sorry for living your life as YOU choose to. You all have such infinite potential and whether you want to realise that offline or online, make it your choice.

What does accuracy in cosplay mean?

What does accuracy in cosplay mean?


Cosplay and accuracy are frequently discussed in the same sentence. But what does accuracy mean?

Well really, that depends on the individual. Accuracy can mean intimately reproducing a costume from a live action show (Marvel or DC characters, live action Disney). It can mean going to extreme length to match trims and seam lines to highly realistic animated characters (think modern Final Fantasy or the recent Captain Harlock movie). But in a category on its own you can find manga, anime and greater majority of animated shows.

Anime and manga characters tend to be far less embellished than their live action counter parts. They capture the essence of the character but are designed to be easily drawn over and over and over again for Manga and Anime. You might find more detailed one off artbook images but even then these are often only available from specific angles and can vary from one reference to the next.

So what does this mean? Well it might mean designing your cosplay to match the flat planes of the drawn character. For me, however, it means freedom. Freedom to “Hollywoodise” the costume.

My love affair with embellishing cosplay began in 2015 with Jen from the original Dark Crystal. When tracking down refs from such an old movie, even watching the movie and taking screenshots, I found there were many parts of the costume where it was impossible to be sure what was going on.

So I made it up. I kept the nature of the character in mind (Rustic, wild, fantasy). It was terrifying. I was so scared of being inaccurate. But you know what? No one else knew what it should look like either. And the essence of Jen was still there. (Totally jealous of the new Dark Crystal cosplays appearing from Age of Resistance by the way. Based on side by side analysis I’m pretty sure Jen’s costume is supposed to have originated from Riane’s outfit which means there are MUCH betters refs available now).

Next came the Clamp in Cardland CC and Lelouch. These costumes only existed in ONE artbook image which meant anything not on show had to be made up; heck even some of the elements technically on show needed interpretation (What is going on with that cape?). This time I loved the creative freedom that reference limitation allowed.

Shows like Naruto the musical and the Marvel movies who have made realistic and embellished yet still accurate to the original drawn design costumes have paved the way for real life interpretations of characters. We’re starting to see more of it in the cosplay community – as though we were all waiting for permission.

Well you don’t need permission. Go out there and make that costume yours. Worried about competition criteria? Well I can’t lie. opinions may vary from judge to judge but the vast majority of judges love rationally considered embellishment be it through fabric choices, addition of trims, historical planning, creative panelling, etc. And even if the judge doesn’t like it. Well who cares really if you have a costume you love more as a result of your own embellishments?

Me? I like to stick to the colour palette of the reference but add panels and décor within those flat planes.

Make that costume your own. There’s only one you. Why shouldn’t what you wear reflect that?

Cosplay wigs: Soft core spikes vs Hard core spikes

In many cases the choice whether to go for hard core or soft core spikes feels obvious to me. A Cloud from Final Fantasy VII I’d soft spike for instance. Well unless I was going for the classic pixel look from the original game… But some wigs can very much swing both ways. Either hard core or soft core and it’s up to the maker to choose the look.

Soft core spikes

Soft core spikes are made entirely off hair. They are often densely wefted to double, triple or even quadruple the density of a standard base wig before teasing and taming to generate the shape.

Hard core spikes

Hard core spikes have a core built from stiffened felt (Alternatives I’ve seen used would be EVA foam, upholstery foam or styrofoam) to which the hair is attached.


To a certain degree the pros and cons of a hard core and soft core spiked wigs depends on what you wish to do while wearing it.

For instance, if you want to do a handstand you have a better chance of securing a soft spiked wig.

1. Weight: Hard core wigs are heavier than soft wigs. Generally people don’t have an issue with this but if someone had neck or back issues then it might be worth considering.

2. Spike integrity: Soft spikes can over time begin to deflate whereas hard cored wigs are supported by their understructure.

3. Transportation: Spike integrity can be both a pro and a con when it comes to transporting the wigs. Soft core wigs can stand a little compression whereas hard core wigs don’t appreciate being squashed. For the same reason if you are planning any photos laying down on your back this lack of compression can make it awkward.

4. Maintenance: Both types need occasional maintenance to at least tame flyways. From my personal collection, I find my cored wigs more durable but I do have a bad habit of mistreating my soft styled wigs because I know I can fix them if I want to wear them. Minn’s Super Saiyan Goku wig has been rocking since October 2015 and has traveled to the US, Japan and around Europe in that time.

5. The Look: Both styles are quite cartoony but I’m inclined to say soft spiked wigs look softer/gentler. The cored wigs have sharper angles in line with the Dragonball figures or game sprites.

Where do I buy my base wigs?

This article is up to date as of 19/02/2018. Please note that for all wigs pictured in this article, whilst the materials were sourced from the respective suppliers they were styled upon receipt by Nomes Cosplay

It’s worth noting that I’m based in the UK and thus this has a bearing on my chosen wig suppliers. Please find below a list of my current preferred wig stores. If you’d like to recommend an additional store for the list please let me know in the comments. Cost allowing, I will look into purchasing a wig from that store to review its qualities (heat tolerance, style and colour options, appearance, handling, volume, etc.).

UK suppliers

Coscraft: Coscraft are the pinnacle of cosplay wig suppliers in the UK. At the time of writing this (19/02/2018) they stock 14 styles of wig in up to 53 colours made from heat-resistant fibres. On occasion, they also stock specific character wigs for limited runs.

Coscraft stock wefts in all their wig colours making it easy to create wigs with colour variegation or increase wig thickness – better still Coscraft sell colour rings; well worth the small investment to ensure you purchase the best wig colour for you.

The delivery times for Coscraft orders within the UK are incredibly quick and I can expect to receive my items within 2-3 days of ordering. Shipping is free within the UK for orders over £15.

WiWigs: WiWigs stock a somewhat eclectic range of style and colour options however they are well worth a look. The fibres tend to be shinier than I’d like however this can be treated and the wigs are heat tolerant. WiWigs are convenient to have as a local supplier: quick delivery within the UK, workable fibres and a reasonable price.


China suppliers

Wig is Fashion:

I’d go so far as to say Wig is Fashion are my favourite lacefront supplier. Soft deep lace, gorgeous blended colours and heat-resistant fibres. You pay for it however, with the lacefronts selling for GBP £55-60+ compared to £25-40 at and around £45 at Coscraft. It’s worth keeping an eye out for sales.

Though WiF have a broad range you can never be quite sure what they’ll have in stock. I’m not sure if it’s simply because of the way their wig categorisation system works, but where with Arda and Coscraft I am able to memorise their styles and use colour rings to determine what will best suit my needs, with Wig is Fashion I’m never quite sure if I’ll find the right wig or even what I’ll find. I usually find something that works, but it requires a hike rather than a sprint through their stock. Whilst WiF do sell wefts, it’s on a made to order basis only.

Wig is Fashion also stock non-lacefronts. They have a good range but I find them a little more hit and miss than their lacefronts. Nice enough quality though sometimes an excessive shine on the fibres.

If you need a natural coloured lace front and are on a budget, is worth a look. The fibre quality is good but they have brought down costs by reducing the depth of their lace. On average you get about an inch of ventilated lace. They do stock some deeper lace options though I have yet to try these.

No matter; not all styles need three inches of lace. Whilst the cap size feels smaller than, say, Wig is Fashion, they are still very wearable. My boyfriend has the biggest noggin I’ve fitted for a wig and wigs fit him snuggly.

The colour and style range is limited. The fibres are heat resistant.


If I need a 150cm turquoise wig, CosplayDNA are my port of call. The wig caps are smaller than the other suppliers in this list so be prepared to expand the cap if you have a large head or a lot of hair to fit underneath. The fibres have a matte finish, are heat resistant and a wide, albeit unpredictable range of colours and styles.


USA suppliers

Arda wigs:

Arda stock so many styles and colours now it’s somewhat overwhelming: 50+ styles and 80+ blended colours. Matching wefts, ponytails and ventilated lace squares are also available here. They also sell colour rings making it easier to determine which colour to buy without the risk of misrepresentation on screen. Arda wigs are thick, matt-toned, and easy to work with. The cap-sizes are spacious to encompass even the biggest noggin.

The downside for a UK buyer are the inevitable high shipping charges, and the high likelihood of customs charges.

Suppliers to be tested

Lush wigs

Kasou wigs

Lucaille wigs

Cosplay Salon

Epic cosplay

Fairytale wigs

Multiverse wigs


7 Wig wear tips

From spiky updos, to crazy colours and flowing curls –  it’s no secret that when it comes to dressing as fictitious characters the rules of physics and biology don’t always apply. With the large variation in character hairstyles it’s not always possible to cosplay with your own hair and so for years cosplayers have turned to wigs. Below you’ll find a few tips and tricks I’ve gathered during my time in cosland for choosing, caring for and wearing cosplay wigs.


  1. Purchase your wig plenty of time in advance of the con to avoid disappointment

Seems obvious, no? And yet so many of us get caught out. Sometimes shipping times are mean. I’ve heard the story too many times of wigs arriving the day before the con with no time to style, or even not arriving at all. Sometimes the wrong wig shows up! And when you’ve gone to so much work to be ready it’s a shame to not feel your best. I like to order my wigs as early as I can when working on a costume so that I have time to sort out any problems I might run into if the wig isn’t quite right.

Case in point. Below on the left is a wig I ordered. To the right is the wig I received with no time to do anything about it. I learned my lesson the hard way.



  1. Match the wig colour to your character but also to your skin tone for maximum flattery

When finding the right wig I like to not only consider which colour is most accurate to the character but I also think about which tone of that colour will suit me best. My skin, for instance, doesn’t take well to yellow blondes. I start to look sallow or the blonde starts to look ginger. With this in mind I lean towards lighter and ashier blondes for the best aesthetic for me.


  1. Knocking down the shine of a wig can make the wig look more natural

We all know no one naturally grows bright pink hair but some synthetic wigs are heavy on the shine and look a bit more fake than others. This can detract from the fantasy illusion of the cosplay. Dusting a wig with baby powder or translucent make up setting powder can take down that sheen. Take a little powder and run it through the wig with fingers and a comb or with a big face powder brush. You may have to do this each time you wear the wig as the powder will come off. If you’re planning to heavily style the wig then you’re in luck – hairspray also helps to reduce wig shine.

Some people swear by soaking wigs in fabric softener to take away shine but I haven’t personally tried this.


  1. Wig nets keep your own hair under control and your wig clean(er)

A wig net worn under a wig can keep your own hair out of the way and helps prevent stray wisps of your natural hair showing through your wig and breaking the character illusion. Wig nets come in a range of colours – I like to keep a stock of light beige nets to wear with pale wigs and black ones to wear with dark wigs. You can get both lycra and fishnet wig nets. Personally, I prefer the fishnet type so that I can pin the wig to my head through the netting and better secure it. If you have long hair you can put it into a Heidi braid first before putting on the wig cap.


  1. Bobby pins and wig clips help secure your wig to your head

Pinning your wig in place helps to make sure you stay looking fab all day and aren’t worrying about slips. The minimum number of clips I use is one at each temple and one behind each ear. I try and slide them in in such a way that they bite but are also hidden by the wig hair. You can also get sew in wig clips and combs which you can stitch directly into the wig to help secure the wig to your head – these are particularly helpful with heavier wigs or wigs where the hairline offers few convenient places to hide bobby pins.


  1. When it comes to hairspray it’s got to be Got2B

My favourite hairpsray for wigs is Got2Be by Schwartzkopf. Most wig hair is synthetic but off the shelf hair sprays, gels and other products are designed for use with real hair and so don’t bind with the synthetic fibres in the same way. Got2B works really well with wigs. It can hold all day at a con. I always travel to cons with a can in my bag just in case I need to do any emergency styling and to keep those flyaways tamed. You can buy small travel cans for this purpose as some cons won’t allow large aerosols past the security gates.

I like to use Got2Be on wig sideburns each time I put the wig on to help the side burns stay styled and flat to my face. It helps hide those wispy bits of my real hair that always try and sneak out from under the wig at my temples.


  1. Storing your wig carefully can help it last longer

Overtime wigs can frizz but you can maximize the lifespan of your wig. Comb your wig out after wear working any knots through from tip to top with a wide toothed comb and your fingers. Take your time easing out the knots to minimise the damage to the fibres and be sure not to stretch the fibres. Minimally styled wigs can be stored in the bag they came. If the wig is long, you can plait the wig before storage to help it stay knot free. Heavily styled wigs are best stored on polystyrene wig heads.


I hope these 7 tips have been helpful. What have been the most helpful wig tips you’ve picked up? Please leave a comment and let me know!

A basic guide to wig wear and care

wig guide image 1.png
Downloadable PDF version: 2017 02 10 – A basic guide to wig wear and care by Nomes – Volume 1

A basic guide to wig wear and care

by Nomes

Copyright © 2017 by Naomi Thorne

All rights reserved. This document or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review. The author does not take any responsibility for any harm or damages causes whilst attempting the techniques outlined in this document. Scissors and razors are sharp; all due care should be taken whilst using these, and other wig styling products (e.g. glues and hairsprays).

First Release, 2017

Author: Naomi Thorne

Editor: Amy Bennett

Creative Consultant: Chris Minney

United Kingdom




Here you will find a short guide to help maintain, store and wear your wig.

The ideas shared in this document have been gathered over time since I began cosplaying in 2010. They are gleaned both from my own experiences and through tutorials. These are by no means the be all and end all of wig styling but I hope they will offer you a start.




To untangle wigs and wig hair use a soft bristled brush OR a wide toothed comb OR your fingers to slowly and gently ease out any knots. Work from the bottom of the wig towards the top. Try to avoid pulling on the fibres as this can lead to hairs breaking and frizzing. Persistent knots may need to be trimmed out of the wig. Silicone spray can help reduce static and tangling and straighteners applies to heat resistant wigs can reduce any frizzing that does occur.

For curly wigs, comb one curl at a time and wrap the hair around your fingers to restore the curl once any tangles have been removed.

wig guide image 2

Maintaining a styled wig

It is not always possible to brush heavily styled wig.

Flyaway hairs can be restyled by carefully repositioning the hairs and fixing them in place with wig-suitable hairspray. For particularly stubborn strays use a little heat from a hairdryer combined with hairspray to train them back into position. Got2B glued hairspray by Schwarzkopf is particularly effective on wigs.

Spray the hairspray from at least 4-6 inches away. Overuse of hairspray can cause the hairs to clump together and appear greasy. Gently surface combing with a soft bristled brush can help break up any clumps. Be careful not to pull on the hair as tension can cause breakage and frizzing.

Excess hairspray can affect the colour of wigs. This is more noticeable in dark coloured wigs. If discolouration occurs, it may be possible to remove the excess product with a little water and then restyle. If this is still unsuccessful it may be necessary to recolour the wig or wash the wig and restyle.

Spike tips are finished with hi-tack fabric glue or Got2B spiking glue depending on teh level of permanence desired.

wig guide image 3

Storing your wig

Properly storing and transporting a wig can help extend its lifespan. When not in use styled wigs are best stored by pinning them to wig heads (I recommend a minimum of three round/pearl head pins: one on each ear tab and one at the nape of the neck. Heavier wigs may require additional pinning. Keep your wig head upright in a safe place such as on top of a dresser or in a cupboard or even in the box in which you received it.

wig guide image 4

Transporting your wig

Transporting a wig can be a challenge They can be delicate and unwieldy. Below you’ll find a few methods I’ve used or seen used during my time in the cosplay community:

A zip lock bag

Wigs which have only a small amount of product in their styling will often survive short trips in a bag. I recommend stuffing the inside of the wig with tissue paper if using this method to help the wig retain its shape. You can then remove the wig from the bag and place it on a wig head or collapsible wig stand once you reach your destination.

A hardshell suitcase

Personally I like to use hard shell hand luggage sized suitcases to transport wigs to and from events. I use carefully positioned underwear and socks to support the wig in the case but bubble wrap would be a suitable alternative.

On a wig head in a carrier bag

Many people swear by large carrier bags with broad bases in which they stand wig heads. With this method the wig can be in sight at all times. If the wig is tipping or suffering excess pressure it will be possible to spot quickly and rectify problem.

On a wig head in a box

This method is much like the carrier bag except the wig is enclosed on all sides and can be stabilised within the box with so that nothing is in contact with the wig. You can add straps to your box and either carry it in one hand or on your back.


Step 1: The wig cap

  1. Take your wig cap.
  2. If you have long or thick hair you may want to pre-style your hair in order to keep it as flat to the head and smooth as possible. Heidi plaits are a popular method for keeping long hair out of the way under wigs.
  3. Pull the wig cap over your head until it is around your neck.
  4. Pull wig cap up and over your hair positioning elasticated band at the hairline.
  5. Encourage any stray hair under the wig cap. A little hairspray may help keep particularly stubborn sections of hair under control. You may choose to seal the hole in the wig cap shut with a bobby pin.
  6. If you have thick or long hair you may choose to wear a second wig cap for added security.
  7. You are now ready to put on your wig!


Step 2: The wig

Standard wig (please note application technique can vary for heavily styled/weighted wigs)

  1. Remove the wig from the wig head on which it arrived. You will find 3 bobble-head pins attaching the wig to the wig head: one at each ear tab and one at the nape of the neck.
  2. Adjust the tightness of the wig using the elastic tabs in the back of the wig.
  3. Hold of the ear tabs, one with each hand.
  4. Place the centre front of the wig half way down your forehead.
  5. Ease the wig over your head tucking your hair underneath with your thumbs as you go.
  6. Slide the hairline point up your forehead until it reaches a natural position. The wig should cover your natural hairline.
  7. Check that the ear tabs are level and the wig is even. Ensure that the wig is pulled down securely at the back to cover your hair.
  8. Secure the wig in place with bobby pins that match the colour of the wig. For basic wigs, I recommend a minimum of four bobby pins: one at each temple and one behind each ear.
  9. If your wig has side burns position them against the sides of your face with your fingers and fix them in place with hairspray.


  1. Begin by putting on the wig as described above for a standard wig
  2. The lace section should end just in front of the hairline

If the lace and wig feels secure I usually stop at this stage however if you wish to further secure your wig please read on:

  1. Take prosaide, lace tape or wig glue and apply it to the hairline underneath the edge of the lace hairline.
  2. Hold the lace still until your chosen adhesive has dried.
  3. When the time comes to take off the wig be sure to clean off any residual adhesive using the appropriate materials to prolong the life expectancy of the wig


Bobby pins and hairclips are the most popular way to secure wigs to your head. Both are available fairly cheaply at most pharmacies. You can buy them in a range of colours. I recommend choosing a shade that is complementary to your wig so that it will blend in during use.

As a minimum I like to use four bobby pins to secure a wig – one at each temple and one behind each ear. Wigs which are weighted, such as ponytail wigs, may require many more. No matter how many clips and pins you buy you will probably find yourself buying more fairly regularly. Bobby pins are to wigs as socks are to washing machines.

Some wigs come with built in wig clips. If present you will find these stitched into the underside of the wig usually at the hairline and the nape of the neck. Alternatively, you can buy these clips for a few pounds online and sew them in yourself.

wig guide image 5.png




On choosing materials for a costume (with Attack on Titan jackets as the example)


There’s a big Attack on Titan cosplay group brewing here in the UK.

(If you’re UK based and interested in potentially taking part you can join the group here: )

I’ve just put together a costume breakdown on jackets for the group and it seemed a good opportunity to share my thought processes when I consider materials to use for a costume using Attack on Titan jackets as an example. Please note these are my personal considerations and are by no means the only justifiable option

Personally I think that variegated uniforms could well be a real issue in Attack on Titan. Resources are scarce and they use what they have and that may mean not everyone matches. We already known for instance that there is a great deal of variegation in the clothing each character wears underneath their jacket after all (a white hoody for Annie, A grey shirt and cravat for Levi, a yellow shirt for Hanji, a green/beige shirt for Eren). This is fantastic for meets as just because uniforms differ the unifying design still pulls the group together.

Fabric: Saying that however, my choice for the jacket fabric would be suede (faux suede). It provides great texture. The Attack on Titan world lacks modern amenities so it highlights the era with a rustic feel. It is matte and thus light absorbent which is good for camouflage when galloping through woods and can be treated to become waterproof. Suede is durable – it will provide some protection from the wearer from abrasion during combat.

Due to limited grazing land for cattle, leather would likely have been scarce; this is further evidenced because we know the survey corps are ‘special’ and permitted one meat meal a day for energy and muscle building. Because nothing can go to waste in a world of such limited resource, the skins of the butchered cattle would be put to good use. As the military are considered important and get a bigger slice of resources, the skins of those cattle would likely have been reserved for making the harnesses and the skirts (the skirts create a seat during 3DM manoeuvering so these must be strong) of the 3DM gear. Slightly simplified, but suede is made by splitting the layers of a hide; you can therefore get more suede per hide than leather. All the military need their own jacket but not all the military need 3DM gear all the time which has lead me to conclude suede for jackets and leather for harnesses and skirts is a logical choice.


Patches: There is no indication that plastic exists in the AoT world, therefore embroidered patches are more in keeping with both the period and with military wear. Additionally, embroidered patches create texture which is visually pleasing.


Buttons: Buttons are an important factor in military dress. For each division of the military they often have their own buttons with their own logo. I have no illusions of being able to source Wings of Freedom buttons but suitable alternatives can be found. Researching military buttons provides inspiration such as shields to emulate the unifying shied emblem across the whole AoT military or selectively choosing wings or horses for the survey corps and military police respectively.


Weathering: Weathering crosses all elements of the jacket and pulls the piece into the real world. The military would be expected to be clean and tidy (Particularly Levi but Hanji less so. In fact Levi has to knock them out and bathe them himself when he can stand it no more) but their uniforms would likely be worn and stained to some degree due to the nature of the work the military do. As resources are limited and uniforms cannot be constantly replaced. I think it highly likely that many recruits would receive hand me down gear from soldiers who have not survived.

After combat of course they could be covered with all sorts of blood, mud and viscera 😉.


In conclusion, when putting together a costume I like to consider the world the characters exist within and choose materials accordingly. A Marie Antoinette dress for instance would require brocades, silks, satins, etc. A Ghost in the Shell costume on the other hand looks to the future and thus I would be trying to achieve an otherworldly feel. For Ghost in the Shell might take inspiration from other sci fi sources such as Star Trek: Voyager’s Seven of Nine – the corset she wore beneath her costume in early seasons to create the illusion of cybernetic implants all over her body for instance.

For me one of the aims when I’m making a costume is to as close as possible approximate how I believe that character would look if they walked into the real world and I make decisions accordingly.


Thank you for taking the time to read this essay and I hope this has been of use.


(A.k.a. A few musings on how to grow a facebook page organically without spending money, irritating people or shooting yourself in the foot)

We’ve probably all been in a position where we’ve watched some random page’s like count skyrocket overnight. How did it happen? Their reach is through the floor and dropping. They’ve had nothing go viral. How did they do it? Chances are it involved their wallet.

I can understand the temptation to buy likes. Every direction you look people’s pages are blooming in the great cosfame migration of the 2010s, and you find yourself stuck gaining a few followers a week if you’re lucky. You can’t understand why your like count isn’t moving. As far as you can see your posts are no different to Miss 10,000 over there.

And you think to yourself, ‘If I could only get more people to see how great my content is then I just know they’d love it and my page could really thrive and grow and contribute.’

So you find yourself a ‘Like’ farm. Unlike sponsored posts, it’s anonymous – none of your friends will know what you’re doing. They might suspect but they won’t know. And there is a certain stigma around promotion when it comes to cosplay pages, paid or otherwise – it’s a narrow rope to walk if you want to reach people without being frowned upon. ‘Like’ farms don’t cost a huge amount either. A few quid and you can double your page following in a matter of hours. The first result of a google search tells me I can get 1000 likes for the low, low price of £13.99.

Stop right there.

That click could very well kill any chance your page has to grow.

‘Who am I to say this’, you ask. ‘Nomes Cosplay is nobody. She’s had a page for years and only has 2.5k followers. Blah blah blah’

And that’s true

But you know what? I may be small but I actually get pretty great reach compared to a lot of people. My reach number is regularly a quarter plus of my ‘Like’ number and my posts average 30-50 likes and comments. I didn’t know that was great originally. For a while I was frustrated that facebook didn’t let everyone who followed my page see every post – they’d liked my page after all, so why shouldn’t they see it? But over time and over many a beleaguered conversation about ‘the demise of facebook pages’ and ‘facebook only being in it for the money’, I began to realise that I didn’t have it too bad.

I don’t promote.

I don’t sponsor or boost posts.

I don’t buy likes.

You guys – and I love you for this – you’re here because you want to be here. You’re here because we share a passion. I started this page as a space to share knowledge and I post what I love. WIPs, costume breakdowns, tips, slices of life and photoshoots. And I share my inspirations – the costumes or techniques I come across that leave me in awe. It’s a diary really. One day when I’m old I want to look back at my page and enjoy the memories.

A few years ago the big fad to gain page followers was contests.

‘Like this post and like my page and leave a comment and you could be in with a chance to win!’

And you still get a lot of-

‘Please follow my page. L4L (Like for Like)’

-on various pages and groups.

It’s a semi-successful tactic in that at least it targets towards a likeminded audience – especially when you compare it to like farms. But even though some of those people will discover how completely awesome you are a lot of those people aren’t there for your content. You haven’t grabbed them yet. Chances are they haven’t even seen your actual day to day content. They’re there for the contest and will never interact with a single post. Some of these ones will unlike your page once the contest has ended. These ones are actually a blessing in disguise. These guys are no longer cluttering up your reach.

Which gets us down to the meat and the bones of it.

People think they want likes but what they actually want is reach. They want to be noticed. Everyone wants to be noticed – it’s human. We want to matter in some small way. That’s ok. But isn’t it better to be noticed consistently by a small bunch of people than to be unnoticed by a big, huge number of people? Isn’t it better to contribute somehow to a few people’s lives than to, well… not?
What I’ve noticed over the years is that people who grow their pages for the sake of growing their pages end up with a big ‘Like’ number but a scroll down their feed at the interactions per post makes for sad viewing.

But why is this?

Logically a large following should lead to a large reach right?

Well unfortunately the two can be mutually exclusive.

Whilst no one truly knows the mystery of the facebook algorithm this is what I have I have gleaned.


And if I’m right, as far as I can see the key is to get the ball rolling.

‘Ok, but what does this have to do with my large like number but poor reach,’ you say.

And I say this. If you have gained a following of people who follow your page because they want free stuff or because you paid them and their page is just a spam account rather than a real person or you offered them L4L so they liked your page just because they wanted to gain the extra like on their own page – then those people are not going to interact with you. If facebook only pushes new posts to a small number of followers at a time and the majority of those followers are not ones who actively want to take part in your page then they will not react and facebook will push your post no further. So by bloating your like count you are effectively diluting your audience and making your post invisible from the people who actually follow your page to see your content – the very people who are most likely to interact with you and get something from your page.

If people interact with your post not only does the reach to existing followers increase, the reach to potential new followers with a mutual interest increases too.

Person 1 interacts > Person’s friend sees they have interacted > Person’s friend likes what they are seeing and feel confident that their friend is endorsing the page > Persons’s friend decides to like page too.

In summary the key is not to just gain ‘Likes’. It’s to gain the right likes. It’s to find the people who want to share something with you.

Do you know what people like Yaya Han, Jessica Nigri, Shappi Workshop, Nikita Cosplay, Calssara, etc. will say if you ask them how their pages got so big? They don’t know. It just happened. When they started they didn’t work hard at promoting for promotions sake. They worked hard doing something they loved. And week in week out they kept putting out quality content and helping people who asked for their help. And it just so happened to pay off. They were exceptional. One, then two, then more things went viral. People shared them. People mentioned them.

‘Yeah but X’s stuff is amazing and they have like no followers so what makes these guys better?’

Luck. That’s all. It’s the very last ingredient for success and that cannot be bought. We all know someone who’s amazing and yet has a small following. Heck I know dozens of someones. Have you heard of the mythical Hollywood syndrome called ‘a break’? It’s the same thing. You have to be exceptionally talented. Turn out content that people want to see. Have a great personality.

And you have to be lucky. And you have no control over that.

So I suggest not spending your finite time on this earth bartering and paying for empty likes.

But what CAN you do?

1. Remember your page isn’t just about you. It’s about what you can do for other people. Are they there to learn? Are they there to be entertained or to laugh? Can you dazzle people with your amazing attention to detail? Do you have awesome photoshoots? Are they there to see you naked? It could be all of them or it could be one of them or it could be some other reason entirely. Different people have different niches and you can decide on yours. If you can offer people something they want, then they will want to see your page.

2. Content is king – Keep your content consistent and keep your content high quality. Every time you post ask yourself – if I followed this page would I want to see/read this? But don’t sweat it too much because this is your page and it’s supposed to be fun. So be you. After all you can’t always tell what people want to see and the stupid selfie you took might suddenly have 100 likes.

3. Share posts to RELEVANT groups – So you like RWBY? Then by all means make a post or share a post in a RWBY fanpage. You can even link back to your page. I recommend however not making your page the focal point of the post. Again – Content is king. Make the post about sharing a passion or sharing information. If you keep posting in the group, sharing your work, fandom knowledge and commenting on other people’s threads consistently you’ll be amazed how many people start to recognise you. Let them recognise you for the right reasons.

I recommend not sharing to more than one or two groups at a time or you are going to annoy not just strangers but your friends too. I can’t tell you the number of time I’ve been scrolling down my newsfeed and seen six of the same identical post all from the same person. It’s annoying and it doesn’t do them much good because a lot of those groups they are sharing to have duplicate audiences who won’t find getting spammed very endearing. Also facebook tends to group all those 6 posts into one mega post and just lets me know one or two of them in detail and then says ‘oh by the way there are four more posts like this if you want to expand and see the same thing a few more times’. I never do. Choose the right groups and share moderately.

4. Interact – talk to people. These can be people at cons, people who message you, people who comment on your work, people in groups, people who share a mutual interest. Show you are thankful to have those people there. Show you are interested. Be humble. Be helpful. Be the person you wish to live with because those choices are with you for the rest of your life.

5. Personality – Most people opt to be some form of themselves on their page. You can reinvent a persona if you prefer and if you can keep it up. Whichever you choose be genuine to that personality and inject it into your content and interactions.

6. Don’t worry about your Like number – It’ll grow. It might be slow. It might be fast. Either way it will go up. Personally I ignore my Like count. I’ll occasionally raise an eyebrow at an unexpected jump but ultimately I see it as something that is not totally within my control. All I can do is keep plugging away and let the numbers fall where they may. If I can’t control it then I’m not going to worry about it.

In conclusion – there are ways to gain likes if you truly feel you need them. Make it a way you can be proud of.

If I can help just one person in some way through something I post then as far as I’m concerned it was worth it.

Just one.

1+1=2 ad infinitum

Competitive cosplay part 2: Judging

In order for a contest to happen there has to be someone or a panel of someones in place to decide who is going to take home the prize: The Judges.

Who those judges are is entirely up to the event running the contest

The judges can be anyone from a known competitive cosplayer, the previous year’s contest winner from that con, a random celebrity guest who happens to be at the con, a popular cosplayer, … – in other words it varies. For smaller cons I’ve attended cons as a panellist before now and then been rope into judging last minute because the planned judges didn’t show up or have gone walk about. The focus of these smaller contests is usually on fun and giving people an opportunity to showcase their work. I think of these contests as the practice runs. The stepping stones for contests like ECG, WCS and Eurocosplay as well as the up and comers like CCCC and CWM where the judging panels tend more towards experienced competitive cosplayers and well-respected crafts people. I like seeing international judges at the big contests as they are then more removed from the local country politics effectively eliminating a lot of griping.

Judging criteria

There are no standard regulations in place for cosplay contests other than those the con chooses to imposes. Likewise some contests will set aside pre-judging time where you can spend 5-10 minutes one on one with the judges showing and discussing your costume with them up close whereas in other, usually smaller, contests sometimes the only time you have with the judges is the 30 seconds you spend on stage.

Costume judging is often broken down into categories such as:

  • Craftsmanship: What techniques have been used and how well have they been applied
  • Accuracy: In cases where the cosplayer has emulated the design from a video game, anime, movie, etc. how faithful have they been to the source material
  • Effort: This is a category I find dubious to quantify I must say – making a shirt might be high effort for one person but easy for another. This category is supposed to quantify how hard the cosplayer has worked to achieve their finished result.
  • Cleanliness: How professional is the costume finish, are their raw seams or unprimed foam visible? A clean but simple but clean build for instance can score higher than a complex but messy build
  • Complexity: How difficult was it to realise the costume?
  • Performance: How entertaining was the cosplayer on stage be it well thought out poses, to a fully choreographed skit.

Some contests go so far as to provide a breakdown of the relative importance of each category e.g. 50% costume and 50% performance.

The rules will often tell you what percentage of your costume must be made relative to bought. Whilst the bought parts will therefore not be held against competitors, if it comes to a deciding vote and one competitor has made more of their costume than the other then that can be a clincher. Find a balance and if you do buy parts of your costume be honest and acknowledge them. If you want to minimise the chance that a bought part of your costume might influence the judges then make that bought part less meaningful – no sensible judge would expect you to make your own pair of black ballet flats for instance.

Some competitions, usually at the smaller or inexperienced cons have no judging criteria. This is where it is particularly important to have 1 or 2 experienced judges on the panel who can put together a judging plan quickly for all the judges to follow. In cases with no references you have to rule out accuracy judging as it would be unfair – the judge cannot know every character in infinite detail by heart after all. In cases with no pre-judging performance becomes important as the few seconds a contestant is on stage are then the only opportunity the judge has to look at the costume – this is often where people find themselves seeing bigger ‘obvious’ costumes winning though any judge worth their salt will be looking for a full package. The judge in this case is having to make quick decisions: What techniques have been used? How well have those techniques been executed? How complex is the build? How well finished is the costume? Are the contestants practiced/entertaining (not always the same thing)?

And if the judge does have a reference, without pre-judging it’s a case of playing head-tennis between the paper in front of them and the person on stage. And yes of course, the judges in this case have to ask themselves the question: did they buy it or did they make it. Usually it’s obvious but it can cause many a judge headaches and doubt. In general judges very much want to be fair in their decision making after all.

From the competitor perspective you can think tactically based on the criteria. If there are no references and/or no pre-judging for instance, then the quality of your work need to be more obvious. Don’t always take the easy or obvious route when constructing your costume. Think outside the box as to what techniques you can use. Keep the judges interested. Choose a competition costume that allows you to show off the breadth of your skill range. If you make part of your costume and aren’t quite happy with it then take that as a sign and do it again. Never stop learning. Keep reading up on techniques and methods online.

For me 80% of a competitive costume build is research and planning. That includes techniques I can use (I can cast this bit, I can do this in embossed leather, I can embroider that, laser cut this, sculpt there, etc.), materials to choose (for a live action character try and match that fabric to the one used in real life as closely as possible; for very detailed animated characters study the look and the flow of the characters outfit; for more cartoony/flat styles often found in manga, Anime and comic books this is a chance to think about the character practically – are they rich or poor, futuristic or historical, if the only existing reference exists of the front then how would you imagine the back to look in real life, etc.), etc. That isn’t to say more complicated costumes are better than simple costumes. Look at Eurocosplay (an international contest with representatives from across Europe) where Edward Elric (Fullmetal Alchemist) and Sora (Kingdom Hearts) have taken the crown – outwardly simple outfits, but the devil is in the detail. The contestants went out of their way to find ways to showcase techniques within the boundaries of those costumes and executed them fantastically – here pre-judging played to their advantage and their performances were also excellent.


If you have time with the judges for pre-judging, plan for it. Figure out what the important things you need to say are in advance – it’s incredibly annoying when you forget to mention an important facet after judging is over. If you’re nervous or struggling to remember take a few cue cards with you until you feel more confident. Personally I quite like to take sample boards with me showing a breakdown of the materials used in the costume. I find this helps to keep me on track with covering the techniques I’ve used. A savvy judge will help to guide you through judging to help you show your costume at its best – they will check all angles, flip seams and ask questions.

If the competition calls for a progress book then use that to your advantage to call attention to details that might be hard to see on the worn costume. Often the judges have only five minutes to spend per contestant or set of contestants in an organized pre-judging so help them to see you at your best. Judging cosplay is not easy. It is a comparison of a very eclectic skill range and trying to rate one against the other has caused much discussion amongst judges who are often constrained to very tight time frames in which to give the result. You can help yourself and the judges by portraying yourself concisely and clearly.

You can also help yourself by knowing your judges. If you know judge A is a particularly keen sewer and judge B is hot on armour then make sure your sewing and armour are up to scratch. Know the jargon so that you can discuss it properly and give the judges faith in you and your skills. At the same time if you know a judge is less familiar with the techniques you are using you may want to provide a little more in depth knowledge of how that technique was applied.

Unfortunately, you have no control over where pre-judging will take place. I’ve been judged outside in 40oC heat; I’ve been judged in the middle of a crowded con hall filledwith echoing noise; I’ve been judged directly behind the stage. Best case scenario the con will have a small room set aside for pre-judging where you and the judges can easily hear each other, the lighting is flattering, and there is enough space for the judges to move around you and your costume

At the end of the day it’s important to remember that judges are people too. No more and no less. So communicate with them and interact with them as people.

The contentious question

Everybody knows it but nobody is saying it. Cosplay is subjective. That means the judging of cosplay contests no matter how we try to be fair and unbiased is also subjective. A cosplay that might win at a contest with one set of judges might not even get an honourable mention with another set of judges. Whilst there are sometimes clear cut winners often the judges are in a wrestling match between several different cosplays that could all take a prize for different reasons. But that’s why the judges should always be a panel with a range of skills so that they can compare and discuss and finally come to a conclusion. But that’s also how you know that if after a contest a judge tells you you were close to winning an award, then that’s the truth: you really were close. SO keep entering. Keep trying. Because only those who enter can be in with a chance of a prize. And this is why at the end of the day you shouldn’t enter the contest just to win prizes. Enter contests for love of the craft or love of the stage or love of the character. And if you do get a prize, well, that’s a bonus then isn’t it.



Please feel free to chime in with your own thoughts in the comments whether you agree, disagree or have something more to say. If anything particularly key crops up I’ll edit this article to add it in.

Competitive Cosplay part 1: What, why, who, where and how?


In my time as a cosplayer I’ve had the privilege to be on both sides of the judges table in both large and small cosplay contests. In this series on competitive cosplay I’d like to share some personal insights from my last few years of competing, things I’ve learned through my pitfalls and highlights, and hopefully encourage a few more people to take to the cosplay stage.


Competitive Cosplay part 1: What, why, who, where and how?

What are cosplay competitions?

Cosplay competitions involve being assessed by a panel of judges based on a set of criteria. These criteria can involve the execution Continue reading “Competitive Cosplay part 1: What, why, who, where and how?”