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Aug 18

How 4 Next-Gen Makeup Lines Are Serving the Transgender Community

Photographed by Ben Hassett, Vogue, May 2013

It’s been a celebratory season in the name of Pride. Virgil Abloh used his newly minted title as menswear artistic director of Louis Vuitton to send a global message of inclusion by showcasing a diverse casting of models down a rainbow-hued catwalk in Paris. Celebrations commenced stateside and a mosaic of glitter filled streets across the U.S. in support of the LGBTQ+ community. Lady Gaga, ever the ally, debuted a showstopping neon eye, a gradient wash of red, orange, yellow, and blue, at New York City’s parade. Aquaria won RuPaul’s Drag Raceand appears in Ryan Murphy’s 1980’s dance musical Pose, which debuted to great success on FX and now serves as the show with the most trans people in front and behind the camera in television history. Even more? Earlier this summer, Miss Universe’s first-ever transgender contestant was named—26-year-old Angela Ponce from Spain—and will compete to win the beauty title later this year. It’s a major feat, and the cosmetics industry is finally falling in line.

Because even though it may seem like makeup has long been at the center of the queer community, often considered a tool for self-expression, identification, and reinvention, most transgender people “don’t feel included in the beauty world,” says the trans makeup artist Dominique Anderson, who currently teaches a course called Classes for Confidence: Bold Beauty for the Transgender Community at Sephora. The good news is, in addition to the big-box beauty retailer’s in-store makeup classes which are offered free of charge to anyone interested in tips for covering up unwanted facial hair and tutorials for sculpting cheekbones to desired effect, there is also a slew of gender nonbinary brands and charities that are supporting members of the LGBTQ+ community—with even the Kardashians offering a hand. Here, a closer look at how brands and individuals are bridging the gap between the transgender community and the beauty industry.

A Crash Course in Transgender Beauty

In June, as part of its larger Classes for Confidence series that aims to help individuals in times of major life transitions, from workforce reentry to overcoming cancer—Sephora launched Bold Beauty for the Transgender Community, which offers complimentary in-store makeup classes for transgender and gender nonbinary individuals across the U.S. “A lot of trans clients, and I know this because I was in their same predicament, feel judged,” explains Anderson. That’s why her 90-minute sessions provide students with skin-care advice, for many who are transitioning also undergo treatments such as hormone therapy, plastic surgery, laser hair removal, or electrolysis, all of which can wreak havoc on skin, and helpful application tips, such as how to contour your face to specifically accent desired facial features and apply concealer on blemishes, under eyes, and unwanted facial hair. “I want people to leave feeling fearless, feeling beautiful—and not just on the outside,” she says. “Here, they know they are supported.” And if you can’t make it to an event, Sephora’s YouTube channel now includes a bevy of personal how-to video tutorials that are led by trained, transgender beauty advisers.

The Minimalist Makeup Line

The hashtag #MakeupHasNoGender is the mantra behind Jecca, a London-based unisex brand that launched at the end of last year. With just one product on the market—a Correct & Conceal palette that is specifically formulated to counteract the blue tones caused by beard shadow—the vegan line is making waves (and selling out) not only because of its cutting-edge formula but for always putting its customers first. “Lots of my clients have never touched makeup [before],” says Jecca’s founder, Jessica Blackler, who was inspired to start the line after hosting a series of makeup tutorials out of her home and in correctional centers. It’s why her offering is small and simple—for now. In two easy steps “[clients] literally transform their face and are able to see themselves in the mirror looking like who they really are,” she says.

. . . And One for When the Invite Says “Extra”

Once your flawless, cake-free complexion is sorted, look no further than the New York City–based brand Fluide—a newly launched line that touts a mix of highly pigmented liquid lipsticks, body glitters, seven-free nail polish, and more. “Being exposed to queer, non-mainstream representations of beauty opened up limitless, ungendered possibilities in my own self-expression,” says Isabella Giancarlo, the creative director of Fluide, who began the seven-month-old line with her business partner Laura Kraber. “Makeup can be one powerful, yet approachable, tool in self-actualization and self-expression.” Think: a chrome-color lacquer in C’mon Everybody, which takes its name from an empowering Chic track, not to mention the Studio 54–inspired nightclub in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn; or a metallic, purple matte lipstick called Poodle Beach, in honor of the famously inclusive vacation destination in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. “It’s our way of paying tribute to safe spaces because the queer community has needed them historically and needs them today,” says Kraber. Perhaps most exciting? The line’s brand-new eyeshadow palette which comes in noisy neon shades of blue, yellow, green, and silver. That one is called Seeing the Future, which is looking bright indeed.

How to Get Involved Now

While many companies support the health and legal rights of the LGBTQ+ community through charity—Jecca and Fluide both give a portion of their proceeds to groups like the Stonewall Community Foundation and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project respectively—there are other ways you can make a difference. Take, for instance, celebrity hairstylist Andrew Fitzsimons (the wizard behind the Kardashian’s lengths): Last year, in tandem with the Transgender Economic Empowerment Project at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, he set up the Trans Cosmetic Donation Drive so members of the beauty industry, worth billions, could donate unused cosmetics and personal hygiene products to transgender and gender nonconforming people. “For a lot of people presenting as their true selves, something as simple as lipstick or foundation allows them to face the world and feel more secure,” says Fitzsimons, who cites the higher rates of poverty and unemployment in the transgender community. “The beauty industry has a past like everything [else], but we don’t have to be subject to the past—we can create a new future.” And because of Fitzsimons’s efforts, bold names such as L’Oréal Paris, Bioré, Kendall and Kylie Jenner, and Kourtney Kardashian are already committed donors.


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