I have been a lifelong crossdresser but struggle with makeup. Especially around my eyes. Do you have any suggestions? How did you learn? Are there any businesses to teach makeup to crossdressers?
Eyes are tricky! I can do my foundation and lips just fine, but even after all this I still can’t do anything more just a simple look with eyeshadow and eyeliner. When I want something really AMAZING or DRAMATIC (and I always do, lol) I book a makeover.
Have you tried makeup tutorials on Youtube? Some of them can be very helpful, especially the drag videos. I know not everyone is going for the drag look but some drag artists are amazingly talented when it comes to some of the challenges a girl like us faces (no pun intended) such as contouring and working with a more masculine facial structure.
When I first started dressing I was taught to use tape to pull my eyebrows up and give me a more feminine look. I would rather focus on my makeup. The taping is not very enjoyable. Do you have any suggestions on my eyebrows and more feminine look without taping?
Of course, there are no standards on what one must look like in order to be feminine. That being said, a thinner, shaped, arched eyebrow is generally considered to be more feminine. There are a few ways you can achieve this.
You could have your eyebrows waxed to create this look. Personally I thread my eyebrows and I love how they look. Until I started doing this my eyebrows were thick and almost unibrow-ish and I like how they look now, regardless of what gender I am presenting as.
When you change anything about your appearance (shaving your legs, for example) in order to look more feminine (again, there are no standards any girl must meet to be feminine, but you know what I mean) it will also impact how we look in male mode. Because of this, I understand that not everyone is able to wax/thread your eyebrows or shave your legs (or arms, chest, back…the list goes on and the list is gross).
In personal experience I have had a small of people comment on my eyebrows. I don’t think many people notice or care what my body and facial hair looks like. If they do, they are usually not rude or invasive enough to ask. I’ve never had anyone ask why I shave my legs or arms. I assume it’s because most people either don’t notice or they don’t care. I mean, think about it. Do you really pay attention to someone’s body hair? If you do, are you rude enough to simply flat-out comment on it? I’ve had a few girls comment on my eyebrows on male mode and it’s always been complimentary along the lines of “you have great eyebrows” and that’s it.
Girls like us tend to be paranoid (which is a survival tactic in a way) about someone making a connection between ANYTHING we do with this secret side of us. We are petrified that someone will notice our shaved legs and figure out we shave them so we look better in fishnets.
Of course makeup isn’t “practical” in the traditional sense. I don’t wear makeup because it benefits my health. If anything it can work against healthy skin. Mascara dries out and makes your eyelashes brittle. Foundation can cause you to break out. Ever get liquid eyeliner in your eye?
BUT! Makeup needs to be practical. It needs to WORK. I wear makeup so I look and feel more feminine (not that a girl needs to or has to wear makeup to be feminine, mind you) but I feel prettier in lipstick than I do without it. Makeup needs to do what it’s supposed to do. Lipstick needs to stay on, concealer needs to… uh, conceal.
Like many aspects of this side of us, crossdressing (in this case makeup) takes time, patience, and money. I believe (for he most part) you get what you pay for and a $28 tube of lipstick is typically better than something that costs a couple of dollars. There are so many things I have invested in when it comes to my look. I’ve invested time to learn how to walk and strut (and climb rocks) in stilettos. I’ve spent an untold amount in building my wardrobe. I’ve done so much trial and error when I was learning (and still learning) makeup.
Makeup is supposed to DO something. A bronzer is designed to do something different than what a highlighter does. Same with foundation. Of all the techniques I’ve learned, foundation has been the most crucial. I mean, it’s one of the first (besides a primer) things we apply when doing our face. If your foundation is greasy it’s hard to build on top of that. If it’s the wrong shade for our skin then our whole look will be off.
The foundation I use is different from what you may use. It’s different from what my wife uses but not because we have different skin types and skin color, my foundation primarily is used to color correct the blueish tint my face has where I shave my facial hair. Therefore my foundation (and everyone else’s) must be practical.
When I started to learn makeup I searched for “makeup for crossdressers”. I used this term for two reasons. Firstly, I needed makeup for a typical male face. My face was more rectangular, and a typical girl’s face was more heart-shaped. Thanks to contouring you can enhance and minimize certain features of your face. True, foundation can’t change my facial or bone structure but it can give the illusion of a rounder face. I also wanted to find makeup that was effective in color correcting so counteract the persistent and stubborn facial hair and five 0’clock shadow. Secondly I wanted to buy makeup from someone that didn’t think it was unusual that a guy was buying lipstick. So, finding somewhere that catered to crossdressers was appealing.
Through trial and error I had some success but the thing I found more than anything is that most people and stores really, really don’t care who is buying what, or why they are purchasing it. Trust me, the cashier at Walmart does not care why a guy is buying a dress. Sure, they may briefly think about the purchase but you’ll leave their thoughts as soon as you step away from their checkout lane. However, I found that purchasing makeup is on another level. Makeup artists, the clerks who work at MAC (or wherever) are not only extremely brilliantly talented and knowledgeable about makeup, they are also incredibly enthusiastic and supportive. Not only will they help you with your right shade they will also be so excited about helping you.
When it comes to makeup what I buy is just as important as who I buy it from.
Jecca Blac’s mission is to be a brand that represents all beauty lovers: all expressions, genders, sexualities, abilities, pronouns, shapes and sizes. As well as providing cruelty free makeup products we also help bring our beautiful community together.
Jecca Blac was kind enough to send some products to review which I used for my last photo shoot.
Before I wore makeup, I thought it was simply lipstick, eyeliner/shadow, blush, and mascara. The obvious things. The easy to see things. When my wife started to teach me I was surprised to learn about bronzer, concealer, highlighters, lip liner, and primer. These are the less obvious things when it comes to doing your face. This is where makeup and practicality meet. Primer is essential! It’s the first thing you apply before anything else. I hate to compare it to painting a canvas or a wall or whatever, but that is essentially what it is meant for. It will reduce your pores and will create a smooth and even base before you apply your foundation. A primer will also help your makeup stay on longer, especially during warmer weather. I can definitely notice a difference when I forget to use a primer as my foundation goes on so much better with it than without it.
A primer will either work, or it won’t, simple as that. This primer works, so yay! But the difference between this primer and others I have used is that it feels very, very soft when applied. As someone who has facial hair my makeup needs to work harder than it does for someone without it. I tend to add more layers and my foundation tends to be thicker and heavier than someone without facial hair. The Blur and Matte Primer feels very… thin, for lack of a better word, but that’s a good thing! My face felt a little lighter than it normally felt, if it makes sense. This primer also made my foundation easier to remove and wash off at the end of the day.
Speaking of facial hair, my technique to balance the bluish tint and to conceal the annoying and persistence of growing facial hair is typically a multi-step process. I shave very closely when I am going to be en femme but as the day progress that five o’clock is returning. My makeup needs to conceal that. Many of us just layer on foundation to do that… and it works to an extent. This can lead to a greasier (ew) feel and it becomes really annoying to wash off at the end of the day. Color correcting is pretty essential but what is it, exactly? Simply put, it’s a technique where you apply a conceal or color correcting powder or liquid where your skin is darker (under your eyes or where your facial hair grows). It’s not meant to be used all over your face, but it can be helpful when it comes to contouring.
I am always looking for a more simplified technique when it comes to color correcting. I like as few layers as possible but the layers need to WORK. They need to be effective. I am delighted that Jecca Blac’s Correct and Conceal Palette works effectively. The palette includes a cream for concealing and a cream for color correcting. I use this after my primer, and before my foundation.
The pictures below are me wearing these products and are without a filter. When it comes to makeup it’s usually obvious when someone is wearing eyeliner or lipstick, but it’s not always apparent when someone is wearing a primer or a bronzer… but it’s sometimes very obvious when they aren’t. My makeup is working, my skin looks clean, and my coloring is even and balanced. The primer in particular is working the hardest because my foundation, my eyeshadow, my lipstick is all dependent on how strong my primer is. Photo shoots require my makeup to be able to hold up under bright lights and since the whole point of a photo shoot is to, you know, take pictures, my makeup needs to LOOK amazing as well as do its job, so to speak.
I am happy to have more makeup that does what I need it to, and I am so happy to have found Jecca Blac. I love finding, supporting, and promoting any business that understands our community, that makes products that a girl like us needs and wants, and looks at makeup as simply makeup, something that anyone can use, regardless of their gender.
Thank you to Jecca Blac for not only these samples but for all they do.
Do you have any recommendations for dealing with (permanent?) razor burn? I can be made up, dressed to the nines, feeling pretty–and then I’ll notice that the razor burn on the side of my neck is visible even through my makeup. Ugh! Any products you can think of to help me get rid of this pox on my femininity? Thanks so much!
I’ve never heard of razor burn being permanent, but there are a few ways to treat it, reduce it from happening, and prevent it from getting worse.
Razor burn is caused by your shaving habits. If your razor is dull or dirty you will likely get razor burn. The solution is pretty simple, replace your razor frequently. You should also wash your face with hot water before you share as this will open your pores. Dry skin is also going to work against you so make sure you are using a moisturizer.
Touching your razor burn or continuing to shave will irritate the infected area and will prolong it. Consider taking some time off from shaving. Personally I shave my face about once a week.
As for covering it up, you could use a concealer (I like the Correct and Conceal Palette from Jecca Blanc) but makeup will also irritate the area. Covering it up will only, of course, cover it up. It will also likely make it worse.
So, take a few days off from shaving, switch to a higher quality blade or an electric shaver and use a moisturizer. If the problem consists you may want to contact a dermatologist.
I recently came across your site and am glad I did! I’m wondering where you have gone locally for makeovers, or do you do all of your own makeup/dressing? I’ve tried to separate places in Las Vegas with mixed results. One was really expensive, and didn’t deliver all that they claimed, but the showgirl outfit was fun! The other was less expensive but not very organized.
Wondering if you know of anywhere local or even in the surrounding states.
Thank you so much for your blog!
I can do my own makeup and I have a zillion dresses, but I usually will have my makeup done when I go out, especially if it’s for a photo shoot.
I’m looking for a place to help me turn from a man to a girl makeup wise. A place that would do my makeup for me. I want to look like a girl for Halloween, but don’t know how to use makeup. I live 2 hours west of the twin cities in Minnesota.
The other option is simply scheduling a makeover. Don’t look at a makeover as a “boy to girl” transformation. When you schedule a makeover, think of your goals. If you simply say “I want to look like a girl”, well, that’s kind of vague. Every girl looks different from one another, and you and your artist will likely have different ideas about what you want.
When I get a makeover, I am usually asked these questions:
“What are we thinking today?”
I let my artist know what kind of look I am going for. Do I want something dramatic and intense and bold? If so, I am looking for heavy eyeliner, probably a smokey eye or a cat’s eye look. I usually want bright red lips and wear false eyelashes.
“What colors are you thinking?”
This question usually refers to what lipstick and eyeshadow shade I want. Most of the time it will compliment whatever outfit I am wearing.
“What are you doing today?”
This question is usually in regards to what I am planning on after my makeover. I am going to the mall? If so, perhaps something casual or an everyday look. Do I have a photo shoot? Some makeup looks better in photos than others. Am I going to be outside? If it’s hot out then a setting spray is essential.
When I get a makeover, I think about what I want in specific terms. What I ask for includes these things:
-Color correction (an orangey shade that covers my jawline and under my nose to counterbalance the blue-ish tint that facial hair creates) before my foundation).
–Contouring -(my facial structure is pretty angular, so I like my facial features to appear a little more round)
-Eyebrow shaping and definition
-Overdrawn lips (a lip liner just outside of my normal lip shape and then filled in with lipstick to create fuller lips)/
There are a lot of places to get makeovers in the Twin Cities. My go-to places are Rita Ambourne and CaJah Salon. Of course, places like MAC, Ulta, and Sephora also are an option for girls and girls like us.
The mission of Jecca Blac is a cause I wish all designers and companies had. From their website:
Jecca Blac’s mission is to be a brand that represents all beauty lovers: all expressions, genders, sexualities, abilities, pronouns, shapes and sizes. As well as providing beautiful makeup products we also help bring our beautiful community together.
Jecca Blac is a gender free makeup brand that celebrates all makeup wearers. We believe you should use beauty to express yourself and celebrate your uniqueness.
Jecca Blac was founded by Jessica Blackler who has a professional background doing makeup for television and film. She went on to teaching girls like us how to do makeup.
I am always happy to promote businesses that sincerely provide services and products to girls like us. Inclusion is so important. Every face is different and my makeup needs are different than my wife’s, so its wonderful to find products for me and others like us.
Makeup was one of the most intimidating and wonderful skills I’ve ever learned. Over time I learned techniques beyond just simply how to apply foundation, such as using eyeshadow primer to help lipstick stay on longer.
What are some of your favorite makeup secrets you know?
And this is all going to sound very shallow and I own that. I also know that my feelings and thoughts are very hypocritical to my core belief: that beauty and femininity has no guidelines, no rules. There is no such thing as passing, it is impossible to be too “male” to be a girl.
But I’m only human. I have my insecurities and I get depressed sometimes when I am en femme or see a certain photo. For every glamorous picture I post, there are five similar shots that are just… ugh and will never be posted. And that is not Shannonlee’s fault. I’m the model, it’s my body, my face, my everything.
If you look at anything long or hard enough, you’ll start to notice little things you missed before. Furthermore, it’s not healthy or recommended to over-analyze or to be super critical of pictures, or of anything, of our femme selves.
But here I am.
So, what do I hate about this picture? Glad you asked.
Let’s look at my face. No matter what direction I am looking or how my head is positioned, my face is my face. Contouring can only do so much. I have a pretty strong jawline and it’s not going to be different no matter which gender I am presenting as. My face looks very male here. Pointing my head down slightly can usually minimizes my jawline, but I clearly didn’t do that here. Perhaps I should hire a modeling coach. 🙂
Same with my shoulders. I look like a linebacker (which is a part of a football team but that’s literally all I know about linebackers). The pose I am (trying to) rock here contributes to how my shoulders look of course as I am supporting my body with my arm, but my God, my frame is huge. I am thankful black is a slimming color and de-emphasizes my shape but this picture makes me wish there was a darker color than black.
Lastly, my hands. There are many things one can do when it comes to changing the shape or appearance of our bodies. We can contour our faces, we can wear black, we can wear hip/butt/thigh pads (and I do), we can avoid certain patterns on a dress… but I am very self-conscious about my hands. I wear rings in an effort to lessen the manly appearance of them and I suppose I could paint my nails more often than I do, but I try not to draw attention to my hands in my shoots but this photo, due to my pose, make it hard to do that here.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I feel beautiful, I love how I look, I love this picture. Everyday I get emails from girls like us who try so hard to be beautiful. Their heart is aching so much as they yearn to be pretty. I understand. I relate. I am very secure with how I look and who I am, but I have days just like anyone where the dysphoria is killing me and I just want to go back to presenting as male and hide under a rock forever.
As much as makeup, a pretty dress, and killer heels can make us feel feminine, they can also make us feel very… male. As I move from one gender presentation to another, I can see signs of my male self peeking through the cracks of my femme self. My eyeliner might look amazing, but I also see the bags under my eyes. My lips might be the reddest shade in the world, but I also see my male jawline.
Makeup and clothes can only do so much. It’s our attitude that must do the heavy lifting. Our hearts must also work hand-in-hand with our clothes. Yes, a pink dress makes me feel more femme than my suit, but if I am constantly nit-picking at every aspect of my face and body (and hands and…. everything else), the pinkest dress in the world is powerless.
And pink is NOT powerless. And neither are you. Block out the parts of your brain (and society) that tell you that you are not pretty. That you are not beautiful. That you are too male. At the end of the day, there’s only so much we can do when it comes to our bodies. Red nail polish is not going to suddenly give our hands the slim, tapered look we may wish for. Accept it. Own it. Move on. Focus on what you love about yourself. I may have the manliest hands in the world, but my legs are to die for.
If t-girls had a team color, there’s no question it would be pink. Pink is considered to be the most feminine hue of the spectrum. Even “boy clothes” like a dress shirt is commonly looked at as femme. I don’t support or agree with the genderization of anything, whether it is a color or something to wear, but pink is pretty aggressively feminine. And thank God for that.
But pink is more than a color for me. It’s a state of mind. It’s an attitude. I wish I knew how to eliminate dysphoria for good, but it’s not possible. There’s always going to be days, photo shoots, makeovers, pictures… where I feel and look more masculine than I would like. I acknowledge it, and fight it as best as I can. It’s not always going to be a fight I win, but if I think pink, in attitude as well as what color I wear, I can hold my head high (even if my head has the squarest jawline in all of humanity) and love who I am.
Last year I had the honor of visiting La Femme Mystique, a gender transformation studio in Saint Paul run by the incredibly talented Rebecca. I know many of you have had the pleasure of getting a makeover and photos from her, and I wanted to share the pictures from my visit.
Not only is Rebecca an accomplished makeup artist and a skilled photographer, her studio is located in a really beautiful building which seems like it was built for perfect photo shoots. We did pictures in the hall, on the roof, by huge windows…. I loved the variety. Rebecca’s eye for the camera always gave her the perfect shot.
La Femme Mystique is a wonderful little studio and Rebecca couldn’t be nicer. I hope you all visit her soon!