When I think about makeup I think about the power to create, the power to change, and the power to provide confidence. A simple application can alter the color and shape of a face, erase blemishes, or enhance our best features.
Genetically, our XY faces are larger than our cis counterparts, we have darker and courser facial hair, our lips are smaller, cheek bones less distinct, etc. Makeup for a transgender person can be the difference of passing in public, and the perception of your persona. We have read articles, watched tutorials, and learned from our peers how to feminize our faces, but we usually end up purchasing many products only to find our wallets suffer, and we still show a 5:00 shadow. Sometimes the best products are the least advertised brands, and there are many cosmetic companies who offer quality products for a fraction of the price. As an entertainer, I have found various cosmetics that help with my illusion to transform my features from masculine into my feminine character.
The most basic of products every makeup wearer will want to possess is a fantastic foundation, without it passing in public is nearly impossible. Underneath that foundation, you’ll want clean and moisturized skin, or daily wear will begin to take its toll. There are many great foundations on the market, but in my opinion the best foundation is Kryolan TV Paint Stick, which ranges about $15.00. This product is a heavy pan stick foundation usually worn for television and stage performances. The foundation can be applied heavy or light, and either way will deliver complete coverage. The paint stick comes in various skin tones, and works well with most face powders, such as Suddenly Fem’s Translucent Powder.
Another basic product is eye shadow, but it’s also the most commonly produced cosmetic, making it difficult to choose the best brand. Coastal Scents is devoted to providing quality products for a reasonable cost. Their eye shadows are pigmented as much as some of the luxury and art brands for a fraction of the price, and they blend beautifully. Their palettes range from 12 to 252 eye shadow pots - and the most expensive of those is the 252 Ultimate Palette for $24.95. The line has over 300 colors, ranging from natural to the most electric and extraordinary, providing the customer a range of options for day to night activities. Coastal Scents also provides the option for the customer to create their own pallets, and even has “Go Pods”, allowing the customer to travel with their preferred products. Their palettes and pods are magnetic, allowing for simple replacement of empty ones, and the custom palettes hold both eye shadows as well as their concealers. Coastal Scents’ concealers are another product I highly recommend.
Many people believe concealers are for strictly hiding blemishes. However, concealers can also be used to contour the face, and as a perfect natural shade for lipstick. Coastal Scent’s camouflage palette provides a range of 10 skin tone shades for $16.95. These concealers are creamy, and blend well into foundation allowing subtle or dramatic contouring.
While I’m touching on contouring and lips, I want to share a few techniques. There are countless videos showing how to contour the face and color lips, but recently makeup artists have shared the concept of using creams to contour. I've been doing this for several years, and I believe it’s the best method for a transgender woman to conceal masculine facial flaws. The application is easy; the blending is a little trickier to understand, but practice makes perfect. This is why I wanted to introduce readers to the camouflage palette from Coastal Scents; it’s inexpensive, allowing practice while not breaking the bank. When contouring, remember that contours should create shadows, while highlights feature attributes. For instance, let’s see how to contour your nose:
Contouring Your Nose
After applying foundation, but before setting it with powder, decide how slim of a nose you are trying to create by marking light lines down the nose with an eyeliner pencil.
Use a foundation brush, and a concealer 1 or 2 shades darker than your skin tone, and draw a line down the sides of the nose where you marked your line. You only need to draw these lines while practicing contours.
Dab the sides of your nose with a makeup sponge until your concealer has been blended into your foundation to create a shadow, without making your nose look dirty.
Take your lighter concealer, and with a clean foundation brush, draw a line down the middle of your nose. Gently blend this out with a second sponge; be gentle, large sponge marks visually widen your nose.
The same technique goes for the cheeks, forehead, etc.:
Using the pencil technique, find where you want your face to be more demure and apply the darker concealer.
Decide which facial features should be more prominent, and apply the lighter concealer.
As with the nose, blend the lighter and the darker tones together with a sponge.
Once your face is contoured and highlighted, apply your face powder.
Genetically, our lips are smaller than the feminine ideal, but you can correct this with a contouring makeup trick. While contouring the rest of your face, use a small amount of your darker concealer to smudge a thin line under your bottom lip, stopping just before the corners of the lips, and then blend it out into your foundation. This contouring creates a fuller lip line. You can go further by lining your lips after priming them with extra highlighting cream. Outline your lips by taking the color inside the corners of the lips, and slightly above the top and bottom of your lip line, then fill in with your lipstick. Lip liner allows the user to maintain control over the bleeding of lipstick. Just remember to find a pencil no more than a shade darker than your lipstick. One of the things I teach is that makeup is very much an art form. Anyone can slather on some lipstick and outline their eyes in liner and mascara, but to truly use makeup to transform yourself into who you want to be takes patience, passion, and persistence. If you want to command respect from others, you must always respect the cosmetics first. Use your cosmetics with respect and they will help you create the ultimate look that defines who you are.
Contributed by Diamond Dior
Edited by Joseph M. Porter
Michael Guinn, also known as Diamond Dior, has worked as a female impersonator and drag entertainer for twelve years, and discovered he was part of the transgender community six years ago. For nearly a decade, Michael has been helping other entertainers and transgender individuals better themselves with the art of makeup through private lessons and video tutorials.
For more information about his tutorials, visit youtube.com/arkansasglamazon.