My Favorite Childhood Halloween Costume: Nala From The Lion King

Do this lazily cute costume with stuff you probably already own, save for a piece of felt. But even that only cost me, like, 50 cents.
Publish date:
October 28, 2013

Don’t get me wrong, I love Halloween. But also, I’m lazy. I admire those who do gorgeously elaborate and accurate cosplay, but my kind of costume is one that brings maximum cute for minimum time, effort and money.

The look I’ll show you here can be created with nothing but stuff you probably already own (or can borrow from somebody), save for a piece of felt. But even that only cost me, like, 50 cents.

I decided pretty late this year what I was going to be. I had a lot of great ideas, but as I said, cheap and lazy really narrows your options. It was only when I was reading through Mari’s post full of adorable childhood costumes that I got inspired to look back at my own old Halloween costume photos, and found this gem.

Can we take a second to fawn over how adorable/creepy it is that I am either Nala from The Lion King, or that Nala is eating my face. Either way, I thought it would be fun to pay tribute to the first movie I owned on VHS by recreating the look almost 20 years later. (Can you believe it has been 20 years since Lion King? I rewatched it this past weekend and it is still solid gold, and OMG SO MANY TEARS at the stampede scene, you guys, wahhhh.)

Anyway, on to getting Nala-fied.

This was easy for me to create on the cheap, because I already had vaguely lion-colored clothing at home I could put together. For those of you playing at home, be warned that if you’re attempting to go slutty Nala, absolutely nothing sexy comes in the color camel. Instead, you’ll end up looking like a lioness who works by day as a secretary in a law firm. But, like, a very fierce lioness-secretary, at least.

I started with the mane. I know only male lions actually grow manes, but my hair is kind of too perfect of a frizzy poof to not. All I had to do was scrunch it up and air-dry with no product in it.

For those of you with hair of the sleeker, straighter variety, sleeping with your hair in lots of little wet braids or mini buns can give a similar effect. To get extra volume at the roots, I grabbed sections about one or two inches down the length of my hair and lifted them up, clipping them in place so that they would dry with more lift, like so

While my hair dried, I made the ears.

All it took was one sheet of felt from the craft store. I folded it in half, and cut out two half circle shapes along the fold to create what looked like two little taco shells.

Then I quickly stitched along the edge, leaving a centimeter’s worth of space unstitched for pinning.

Then, I teased random sections and added a few little bitty braids to give it some more texture, kind of like Jessica did here and then finally pinned the ears in.

To create the light ring of fur that lions have around the eyes, I swept MAC Eyeshadow in Era from the crease all the way up to my brow, and then on the lower lid as well, blending it down into the half circle below the eye created by the orbital bone.

On my actual lid, I smudged Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze.

Then, I lined my bottom waterline with Tarte’s Skinny SmolderEyes pencil in Onyx, squeezing my lids together to transfer some liner on to the top waterline as well.

I finished the look by lining my upper lash line in somewhat of a reverse cat eye, extending the line down past the tear duct and on to the side of my nose.


To create a lion nose, I traced out a curved shape on my nose and filled it in using an angled eyeliner brush and NARS eyeshadow in Bali, a matte deep brown. A brown eyeliner or brow pencil would do just as well here if not better.

Then, I finished the look of with e.l.f. Studio Contouring bronzing powder. I brushed it all over my face with the exception of the area around my mouth and chin, to create something of a muzzle.

Finish up with a matte medium brown shadow (or just your bronzer again) to trace some small curved lines at the corners of your mouth, and one down the middle of that dip between your nose and mouth (it's called a philtrum, btw).

And you’re a lion, my ferocious cuties!

What childhood costume would you most like to recreate?