Appearance Lists Makeup

MtF Makeup: Foundation Tips

If you are new to makeup and want to know what to focus on first, the answer is easy: foundation. Like its name implies, foundation is the key to an elegant, easy makeup routine. If you get it wrong, everything else will look wrong too.

Luckily, a good foundation routine is pretty easy to get right, with some trial and error. Here are the tips I found most helpful.

Tip 1: Find the right color match for your skin tone

I wish someone had explained this to me at the very beginning: foundation is not like a coat of paint. You need to match your foundation to your natural skin tone, otherwise you’ll have that overdone, fake look.

Unfortunately, there is no other way to find a matching skin tone than trial and error. I have a fairly neutral to warm skin tone, but when I first started out I went way too light. When the foundation doesn’t match your skin tone, you run the risk of looking blotchy where coverage isn’t 100%.

There are a couple of good tools for finding your skin tone match. I like the Maybelline online tool – simply take a photo and it’ll tell you the matching color to buy.

Once you know your base color, you can use to translate into any other brand of makeup. It’s worth trying out a few different brands to see which you like best.

Last note: you’ll have to change your foundation throughout the year as your skin gets lighter or darker.

Tip 2: Don’t go too heavy

Nothing makes foundation look wrong than over-application. Too much foundation will give you a cakey look, and counterintuitively, often makes wrinkles and other imperfections stand out. Too much foundation also is a pain to keep up throughout the day – you’ll need to spend a lot more time touching things up.

The key thing to remember about foundation is: use just enough to get the job done. If you hare having problems hiding beard color or other skin imperfections, consider a color corrector or concealer rather than applying more foundation.

I also don’t recommend starting with heavy-duty foundations for this reason; its too easy to over-apply and get a fake look.

Tip 3: Try different application techniques

Everyone’s skin is unique, and what works for some won’t work well for others. There are three main ways to apply foundation:

  1. Use your fingers. It’s messy, but gets the job done well.
  2. Use a makeup sponge. A lot of people swear by this. You can even buy swanky makeup sponges.
  3. Use a brush. Any broad makeup brush will work.

I have big pores on my cheeks and nose, so I never could get sponges to look very good. They smeared the foundation on top of my skin, rather than getting into the pores.

For that reason, I tend to use a brush or my fingers, depending on how much time I have.

Tip 4: Try tinted moisturizers

Recently, I discovered tinted moisturizers. If you don’t need as much coverage, these can be a really great way to get a more natural makeup look without sacrificing coverage.

I really like the BareMinerals tinted moisturizing gel – it is super light weight, but provides a good amount of coverage and needs very little touch up during the day.

The downside of moisturizers is they can look a little too dewey (or wet), so you’ll want to follow the next tip.

Tip 5: Use a powder

I also wish someone had told me this early on: use a fixing powder. Foundations typically dry with a wet look (very popular these days), and a powder on top with take off some of the shine and give you a more normal look.

If you still want that fresh dewey look, you can apply the powder around your face, but leave it light on your cheeks and center of your face. A fixing powder will also help your makeup stay in place throughout the day, and reduce smudges.

What foundation tips have you learned?

Body Care Hygiene Makeup

MtF Transition: Three Options for Facial Hair

Facial hair is a pain. Unfortunately, as a trans woman, you’ll have to deal with whiskers, in some shape or fashion, for a while. You’ll want to learn how to remove or camouflage your beard soon after you begin your transition.

Unfortunately, shaving isn’t enough. The whiskers under the skin cause a dark discoloration (even with lighter beards) that is a major determinative cue for gender. Even if you are on anti-androgens like spirolactone, your whiskers will still grow, albeit more slowly.

You have two choices for facial hair: removal or camouflage. For most trans women, you’ll need to do both at some point. Removal takes a while, and so hiding your beard hairs with makeup is a key skill to learn while you are in the process of permanently removal.

Let’s walk through the different options.

Option 1: Camouflage with Makeup

The easiest, safest and most pain free way to deal with your beard is makeup. A heavy foundation and concealer can hide the discoloration (5 o’clock shadow) that whiskers cause on the face.

One key thing you’ll need, especially if you have darker facial hair, is a color corrector. This is a specially colored primer (usually orange) you put on before your foundation to cancel out the darker pigments. This is especially important for maintaining coverage as the day wears on – the more beard hair grows the darker the color will get.

I like the LA Girl Pro Concealer from Amazon.

One downside of makeup only is that you’ll have to apply it any time you want to hide your facial hair. Especially if you like a more natural look to your face, you’ll want to consider more permanent removal options.

Option 2: Laser Hair Removal

If you want a more permanent solution, consider laser hair removal. This works by using a special laser to zap the hair follicle, heating it up and permanently killing the cells at the base of the hair. This prevents the hair from regrowing.

Laser hair removal is usually done at a doctor’s office, and can be quite expensive. Expect to pay a few thousand dollars for a full treatment; usually it takes 3-6 visits spread over a year to completely remove facial hair. There are home options for laser hair removal, like the Tria, but these usually aren’t approved for use on your face.

Though it used to be true that laser only worked on people with fair skin and darker hair, new laser technology is also effective on blonde and gray hairs.

One last note; laser treatments hurt. Its not excruciating, but the zap of the laser feels like a hot needle poking into your skin. On sensitive areas like your upper lip, this can be quite painful.

Option 3: Electrolysis

Electrolysis is the most reliable and most proven method of permanent hair loss. Electrolysis works by inserting a small needle into the base of the hair follicle and then using a zap of electricity to kill the cells that generate the hair. This permanently removes the hair.

Electrolysis works for all skin and hair types, but can be very time consuming because each hair needs to be treated individually. Expect many sessions over months in order to remove all the hair on your face. Electrolysis can also be very painful. Some describe it as similar to laser hair removal, or even more painful.

Treatments are done at a doctor’s office, and will typically run a few thousand dollars for a full treatment package.

Have you had success with other hair removal options? Let me know if the comments.

Lists Makeup

Top 5 MtF Makeup Mistakes

Makeup is hard, especially for the trans woman who is just starting out on her journey. Cis women have the benefit of years of experience putting on makeup, and make it look easy, but turns out its not.

Unfortunately, the only thing worse than wearing no makeup is wearing bad makeup; it can emphasize all the wrong things and make you look more like a man that without any makeup at all.

These were probably the biggest mistakes I made early on; certainly not an exhaustive list, but the biggest and easiest to avoid for sure 🙄

Mistake 1: Not matching foundation shade to skin tone

When I first started buying makeup, I had no idea what shade to buy for anything, so I got what I thought would look good on my face. Unfortunately, I bought a bunch of foundation which was way, way too light.

The key to a good makeup job is to use the least amount possible while achieving the look you want. When you get a foundation that is too far from your natural skin shade, you end up having to use a ton to get a consistent color across your face. This means that you have that ‘overdone’ drag queen look, rather than the subtle accents you are going for.

Maybelline has a good online tool you can use to figure out a starting place for your foundation shade (just make sure to take the photo indoors under soft light).

Mistake 2: Not using a color corrector

Until you figure out how you want to remove your facial hair, you’ll need to figure out how to hide the discoloration that beard hairs cause on your skin. Foundation or concealer alone isn’t enough; you need a color corrector. The problem is that our eyes pick up subtle shading in skin tones amazingly well, and the darker color under the nose and on the cheeks is a super strong ‘male’ cue.

A good color corrector will make sure your skin is an even color across the bottom part of your face, and more importantly will ensure that color stays consistent throughout the day.

Mistake 3: Not applying foundation correctly

I think there are as many methods for applying foundation as there are YouTube videos on the subject. Though there is no ‘right’ way to do it, there are a bunch of wrong ways. Depending on your age or skin type foundation can either be invisible or it can highlight all the imperfections, wrinkles and big pores on your face (think bad icing on a cake).

I have the best luck using a big blending brush to rub foundation into my skin – this seems to be best at getting into the wrinkles, pores and blemishes. Avoid smearing foundation on with a sponge – that seems to only work for the small subset of women blessed with perfect skin.

Mistake 4: Too much contouring

Despite what the Instagram set says, contouring can’t magically change your facial structure. In many cases, too much contouring actually has the opposite effect, especially when trying to create fuller cheeks by drawing under the apple; this has the opposite effect of accentuating the angular cheeks most men have. Don’t forget, contouring can only highlight what’s already there, not create what doesn’t exist.

Generally, I avoid contouring on my face except for a bit at the back of the jawline to make it fade into my hair a bit more easily.

Mistake 5: Not enough lip size

This is a big one that I did for a while, with very mannish results. The trick to lips, especially for trans women, is to focus on the upper lip. This tends be thinner, especially when smiling, than on cis women, and nothing is a strong gender cue than a thin lip.

At first, I got some bad advice against overdrawing; but don’t be afraid, overdrawing can have dramatic impacts on your perceived femininity if it gives you a visible upper lip when smiling. This works best when you use a concealer or foundation on your lips to blur the color between your skin and your lip.

Just don’t go too far with the big lips, or you’ll look unrealistic.

So those are my top 5. What mistakes did you make with your makeup when first getting started?