Makeup for the Crossdresser

First, the disclaimer: I am not an expert - I don't even play one on TV. I do, however, apply makeup myself frequently and I did have professional training.

What you are about to read here is my regimen. Every girl needs to develop her own variation. I do recommend that you write it down, just like I have. Keep it handy when you put your makeup on so that you don't forget steps, which I have done before. Feel free to use these instructions as a starter.

One thing that every "professional" agrees on is that the three most important parts of applying makeup are: blend, blend, and blend. There must be no visible lines in your makeup when you are done.

Before you start, you will need:

  • Adequate time - don't rush (remember: "Haste makes waste"). It took me almost two hours when I first started; I'm down to about one hour now.

  • Cotton swabs - I have used Q-Tips, but I prefer the kind that has a rounded, pad shape on one end and a sharper pad on the other. This kind is much better for cleaning up boo-boos.

  • eye makeup remover - you will almost certainly need to fix at least one boo-boo.

  • a hand towel - for wiping your brushes

  • a GOOD table mirror - it needs to tilt to the correct angle to make seeing yourself easy. If you have problem eyesight, think about a magnifying mirror.

  • proper lighting - this is absolutely essential. Too much difference from side-to-side will make your makeup lop-sided. To dim will probably cause you to put it on too thick. Too bright and you may never finish (BTW, daylight is the cross dresser's enemy).

Now, get out all of the makeup you will be using so that you can easily locate it.

Take a deep breath and relax, now comes the fun part.

  1. If you didn't apply moisturizer right after shaving (you did read my article on that, didn't you?), then apply it now all over your face, except your eyelids. Be especially sure that you get the areas where you shaved.

  2. Apply a yellowish concealer/base over the darkest areas of your beard. Hiding a beard takes work and practice. Pat it on gingerly and make sure you get complete coverage. The area around your mouth (mustache, the corners of your lips, and from the lower lip to the chin) are generally the darkest and hardest to cover. Don't overdo it, but be thorough. Take your time. Make sure you get under your chin and down your neck - it is common for CDs to forget these areas.

  3. Now, because it is the thing I am most likely to mess up, I apply my eyeliner. I use a liquid because it flows smoother. On the down-side, it requires that you keep your eye slightly shut while it dries. Make the line thin and even. If you use false eyelashes, make sure you do the line above where the lash attaches. Make the line from the inner corner to the outer corner, and slightly (1/8 to 1/4 inch, or 3-6 mm) beyond. Wait for it to dry (I fan it, but you could also use a blow dryer without heat). Now check it to see how it looks. Thin spots can be dotted to fill them in. Thick spots can be cleaned up with the cotton swabs and makeup remover that you have right there.

  4. The next most likely thing for me to mess up with is the mascara. [Someday I have to practice with false eyelashes!] Personally, I don't think brush shape really matters, they are all about as equally ineffective. Start from the inside of the eye and work outward. Pay particular attention to the outermost third of the lash. If your lashes are thin, apply a second coat after you do the other eye. I also apply a little to my lower lashes because they are light. I find that it is more effective to also stroke upwards from underneath (but also more likely to make a boo-boo). Check for messes and clean them up with the cotton swabs and makeup remover that is right there.

  5. Now, use a black eye defining pencil on your lower lids. Slant it sideways and rub it gently along the inside ridge of the lower lid. You want to make a black line that will make your eyes just jump out at people. If you find your eyes watering, relax for a moment and do both eyes again. [HINT: even if you are having a professional makeover, do this yourself. It's very difficult for someone else to do this without making you cry.]

  6. Time for your eyeshadows. I use a three color mix - usually of browns because of my natural coloring. Your hair color will have an effect on your choice as well. I use a smallish brush - never those little foam applicators they often include because they disintegrate into your shadows and make it look rough. Before the first color, wipe the brush on your towel to clean out the previous color. Put the darkest shade on first, closest to the eyeball. Don't start all the way in the corner; you can blend it into the corner. It goes up to just over the crease of your lid. I like to draw the brush out just beyond the end of the lid. Wipe the brush on the towel. The middle color goes above that, up to just under the brows. Blend the first and second colors where they meet at the crease. Wipe the brush on the towel. Finally, the lightest color goes up to your brow. It should be no more than a brush width, and preferably, the thin side of the brush. For nighttime, you can put a glistening white just under the brow, very thin and not the full width.

  7. Eyeshadows are powders, therefore, they will dust. Clean off the lower lid below the lashes with a bit of makeup remover and a swab. Work clean.

  8. Your first concealer should be dry by now. Use a good mousse foundation or concealer now. Since this is not the first coat, you have to learn to "dab and smear" so the two layers don't get mixed together. Put a little on your finger tip and dot it onto your face with a slight sideways motion so that it smears out. Cover the entire first layer and most of the rest of your face, including your forehead and nose. This sets the underlying skin color for the foundation that you'll be applying in a moment.

  9. Now it's time for your eyebrows. I'm going to assume that you've already plucked the shape. Use a brown eye brow pencil. Use it at an angle and start tracing your natural brow. Then add a little at the upper edge to thicken them just a teeny bit. How far out to go? Most makeup artists will tell you to take the pencil and hold it with the end at the tip of your nose and the body going across the outer corner of your eye - where it meets the natural line is as far as you dare go. I usually stop a bit short of that. Now use an eyebrow brush, going upwards and outwards so that all pencil strokes are evenly blended. [HINT: It is better to do this halfway than too much. You don't want big, bushy looking lashes. I use a lighter color pencil than my mentor gave me because I tend to put it on too heavy.]

  10. Take a deep breath and relax. Check yourself over. Fix anything that needs to be fixed. Take a few sips of coffee; have a cigarette.

  11. It's time for the foundation. If this takes less than three minutes, you're not doing it right; take your time. Make sure you shake the bottle well. Shake some onto your finger tip. I start on my forehead and dab three spots with the first being just above the top of my nose, one left and one right. Now with the "dab and smear" technique, blend it out and up. Remember to go higher than where your wig goes if you wear one. Go all the way to the hair line (and even into it) on the sides. You make need more than one dab. Then use half dabs on your temples, blending up to the forehead foundation. Work down the face and nose. Don't worry about getting real close on your lower lids yet - or in the side creases of your nose. Remember to go on down your neck covering all the concealer. Also go behind your jaw line a bit - there was probably a little beard there.

  12. Now, to finish the foundation, grab another (clean and dry) cotton swab. Dip it in the foundation (I rub around the inside of the bottle neck). Now apply it sparingly to the inside of your eyes where there was no shadow or liner (the point is to leave no natural skin showing). With a bit more foundation, get the lower lids right up to the lashes. Now put a bit more in the creases of your nose, and possibly on into the edges of your nostrils. You're goal is a consistent color all over your face and neck. Now double check everything in the mirror. Turn off some of the light and look again. Fix any flaws you might find. Take a deep breath and relax.

  13. Now you need a big pouf brush (they sell it with that name). Wipe it on your towel. Shake it in the air. Dip it into your face powder and then tap off the excess - there will be some. Gently, from the forehead down, poof it onto your face. I don't mind doing spots more than once - the powder is setting the foundation and drying up the excess oils, if there is too much, the poofing will knock it loose. Should you end up looking like there's too much powder, clean the brush on the towel and poof away without any more powder.

  14. I figured this one out on my own. The easiest way to finish the blend at the lower edge (on the neck) of your make up is to take the tissue that you've been wiping things off your hands on and gently brush it across that lower edge from the makeup side to the non-makeup side. This creates a cleaner, feathered edge so it won't look like you're wearing makeup.

  15. Wow, you've done an awful lot already! Now you need a smaller poof brush and your blush. Start by wiping the brush on your towel. Now dab it into your blush. With an upward stroke (from about the outer edge of your pupil), brush the color from the cheek bone up to your temple. Do both sides. Check the effect. If you need more, go ahead, but don't overdo it. Once it's obvious that you've applied blush, it's probably too much. You want a glow, not a blush. I also put a slight amount on the ridge of my nose.

  16. Using a different poof brush, you can VERY lightly apply a LITTLE bronzer (if you need it) to your lower cheeks, chin, upper neck, and maybe forehead. Again, by the time you can see that you've put it on, you have too much. The point is to look like you've had a bit of sun on your face; if you really have, then skip this step.

  17. Finally, the lips! Match up your lip liner and lip color. There should not be much of a difference - I have never understood those girls who use vastly different colors and look really wicked for it. I use a felt tip lip liner. Draw it along the upper lip, from the little ridge outwards. Do the other side. Now fill in the little dip in the center (yes, there is a name for that, but that's one piece of trivia that eludes me). On the lower lips, start in the center and draw the liner out, but not all the way to the corner. With your mouth closed, notive where the lips meet. That's as far as you should go with the liner. Do the other side. If your mouth isn't close to symmetrical, adjust for it with the liner. Try to stay right on the lip edge, not above, not below.

  18. Ever since my mentor introduced me to lip gloss, I've not gone back to tube lipstick. But if you like it, use it. Again, work the lips in quadrants. Take the color up to, but inside the liner. The liner should stop the color from "bleeding" outside the lips when you talk, eat, drink, or smoke. It works, girls. Just remember to refresh the color every now and then - like when you go to the ladies' room. For nighttime, you can use that same shimmery powder you used just under your lids on your lips. Use the same shadow brush and dab just a bit of the shimmer on your lower lip and rib them together. Viola! Instant kissability!

[From a professional Beauty Consultant: To make more full, pouty looking lips, put a little concealer in the center of your lips before applying lipstick. Then after the lipstick, add a bit of gloss to center of your lips. Also:  to keep lipsticks on and not coming off onto your straw or rim of your cup or glass, wet the straw, glass, or cup first.]

Okay, you're now beautiful! Stand up and check the mirror again. Don't use the makeup light - only "natural" light such as your admirers will see you in. Go out and meet your public, girl.