Your Helpful Guide to a Gender-Affirming Beauty Routine


Presentation can feel tricky. In a world that is so gendered, it can be a challenge for Trans and gender non-conforming people to present in a way that reflects their own femininity, androgyny, or masculinity. This challenging, often overwhelming, feeling is especially true for individuals locked out of generational bonding rituals (experiences like having their mother teach them to apply lipstick or playing with makeup palettes at a slumber party). People who, because of the gender assigned at birth, didnt get the privilege of incorporating makeup into their own coming-of-age story.

Makeup, skincare, fashion, and fragrance offer a never-ending supply of tools to help alleviate the stress of walking through a world that doesnt see you how you see yourself. Not to mention, for many, these tools can also be means for survival; a way to avoid experiencing the hate and discrimination that often comes with merely existing as Trans or non-binary.

There is no one way to look feminine, or apply your makeup, or one singular fragrance that feels good on everybody. But, to say there is no point of reference or basis for feminizing or masculinizing through cosmetics would be disingenuous. To exist in this world is to be on the receiving end of the history of enforced gender, to uphold it, reject it, find power in it, or from it.

Along the centuries of Queer and Trans history, Trans and gender non-conforming people have picked up a few things to help them feel the most themselves in their skin. Skills that, though individual to ones skin tone, facial features, aesthetics, and beauty goals, continue to help discovery and confidence.

@shaqorim / Instagram

Continue reading for personal experiences from Trans and non-binary makeup artists on how they use cosmetics to feel their most euphoric, tips for application techniques, and product recommendations for you to try at home.

Perspectives on Presentation

Living outside of any majority group offers a different perspective on the culture or ideals set up by that group—in this instance, the cisgender, heterosexual patriarchy. For New York-based makeup artist and creator Shaqori Morris, "Being a Black Transwoman allows me to see beauty in so many different ways," continuing, "Coming into my identity has shown me there is no limit to beauty. Makeup gives me the opportunity to further express myself and create freely."

For Cyrus Veyssi, a New York-based influencer and makeup artist, their experiences with cosmetics have shown them "beauty is a form of expression, but more importantly, its a source of forgiveness." Explaining that "makeup and beauty have given me gender-affirming access to not just become closer to and more comfortable with my identity, but also heal many years of insecurities."

Though Morris tells us makeup was part of her journey of self-expression, she acknowledges the external is far from the most important part of gender presentation, "Most people seem to refer to external traits [for feminizing or masculinizing] which is not the right approach to begin with. When coming into your identity, you realize the energy you are wanting to give off externally starts with who you are on the inside, and thats the bottom line."

@sophiesahara / Instagram

Morris also insisted that "appearing more masculine, feminine, or androgynous is all personal perspective." Saying, "Do whatever youre most comfortable with. If you feel good, Im sure you look better!"

Their Go-To Beauty Routines


Both Morris and Veyssi agree a healthy beauty routine starts with prepping and hydrating your skin. For Morris, she exfoliates and moisturizes, then follows up with some Black Girl Sunscreen, which she explained is a "crucial step"—Veyssi doubled down on that, saying, "No skincare routine is complete without SPF protection."

For Veyssi, he washes his face with "ice-cold" water and Shiseido Complete Cleansing Microfoam. Following that with Ole Henriksen Dark Spot Toner, Kiehls Ultra Facial Cream, Sunday Riley Auto Correct Eye Cream, and applying all that SPF goodness. His last skincare step is getting clean-shaven, saying, "I love to have a clean-shaven face; its what makes me feel the most euphoric when it comes to affirming my gender."


After Morris is done with her skincare—using favorites like Glow Recipe moisturizers, Fenty Skin Total Cleansr," and any micellar water [she] can find"—she gets into glam. She always tries to allow some of her skin to peek through all the pigment and emphasizes how "blush is [her] best friend." A quick look at her Instagram showed that to be true. Adding her "best friend" adds "so much youthfulness and playfulness to your overall vibe. Which is what we want" and says she swears by Pat McGrath Labs blushes, especially the shade Cherish, which is "to die for."

Morris explains, "When doing my own makeup, I try my best to keep the exact shape of my nose by adding little to zero product. Especially being Black, were often told our noses are too wide, but its one of the many things we have to learn to embrace.

"For my everyday makeup," Veyssi "applies a BB cream or skin tint, dewy blush, volumizing mascara, brush up my brows, and then slap on a juicy lip balm or lip oil." For these steps he goes in with LOréal or Ole Henriksen primer adding Haus Labs Triclone Foundation or Shiseido Synchro Foundation on top. For lips its always Kosas Lip Oil or Dior Beauty Lip Oil and blush is usually Patrick Ta or NARS. And, of course, Glossier Boy Brow is what they use get their brows styled perfectly."

When Veyssi feels they need to keep facial hair from peaking through, they use Ole Henriksen Banana Bright+ Vitamin CC Stick for color correction, followed by their favorite concealer, Hourglass Concealer, as an extra layer. And, for those trying at home, anything peach, orange, or warm-toned can be used to neutralize the natural blue hues of facial hair.

When doing their makeup, Veyssi says they always try to show off their eyes because of how confident it makes them. "I think I have pretty, kind, and beautiful eyes, so most of my looks in some way enhance them, whether its the size or the color. It all comes down to playing with pigments similar to my own skin tone to help bring out the hazel hues."



As for hair, Morris loves "a cute updo, but when my hair is freshly retwisted, Im allowing my locs to flow and exist freely." Finishing off her routine with a few spritzes of Giorgio Armani Si fragrance because it reminds her of her high school days.

Veyssi "usually runs a ton of leave-in conditioner into the hair, slicks it back into a tight bun, and gets to work on the makeup," which is only five steps.

Helpful Makeup Tricks

Faux Beard:

For those seeking a more masculine aesthetic, there are ways to create faux beards and sharper jawlines. One way is using mascara on a textured brush and applying it all over where a beard usually grows—neck, jawline, the lower part of your face, and around the lips. Similarly, contouring along the jawline will make it pop even more. Veyssi recommends Westman Atelier Contour Stick or LYS contour stick for that extra jawline punch.

Nose:Again there is no one way to look masculine, but, to achieve that stereotypically "hunky" look, you can apply contour to your nose to make it look bigger, shading both sides as well as where the nose meets your brow bone.Eyebrows:

Additionally, you can make your eyebrows appear more stereotypically masculine by applying brow pigment against the natural curve of their shape to make them appear straighter and bigger. Also, though it might seem counterintuitive, dark eyeliner can also help make your eyes look more striking, which, in addition to the other masculinizing tips, can help you achieve the look you are going for, after all drag kings dont shy away from packing on the makeup.

Again, do what makes you feel most comfortable because gender presentation is highly individual. Both Veyssi and Morris use cosmetics to highlight the features that make them confident and euphoric, so take a long look in the mirror, find what you love most about yourself, and work your beauty routine around highlighting those natural features.

@sophiesahara / Instagram

Advice for Beauty Beginners

Makeup and cosmetics can often feel overwhelming for people just discovering their gender identity, while there are classes offered at beauty schools, in makeup stores, and at gender clinics—for those without access or money for those resources; Veyssi says, "Start small!" and "Watch tutorials, ask questions, join online communities or beauty insider programs that can help!"

Veyssi also says, "Dont think that because someone looks a certain way that you should mimic their exact routine—I always thought I needed to recreate something to the T in order to affirm my gender, especially when it came to being influenced by feminine beauty tutorials. Remember that your face is unique and different and you need time to understand it!"

Morris doubled down on that claim, saying, "Do what you want, buy what you want, look how you want. No ones forcing you to partake in things you have no interest in. Dont let people police your consumption or non-consumption of cosmetics. Be a little more carefree!"

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