Gay Your Makeup: An Easy, Breezy, Everyday Androgynous Look

Welcome to this thing that I’m doing now called Gay Your Makeup, where I teach you how to turn your face into a sexy magic trick! I’m excited about the direction of this column, and hopefully you’ll come out of this experience knowing how to wear glitter on your face in millions of different combinations. But today we’re starting with a very simple, natural look for people who want to trick everyone into thinking that they’re not wearing makeup. This look will make people think: I can’t believe it’s makeup (and not just naturally good skin)!


Primer

Behold, internet: my face without makeup. This is an inside exclusive, you’ve seen it here first. Seriously though, I’ve worn full-on makeup every day for most of my life (due to acne, boo). And even after Accutane cleared my skin once and for all, I still have scars on my cheeks that I’m uncomfortable showing to the general public. So if you’ve seen me in the light of day, you’ve seen me with makeup on. Which means I’ve gotten the hang of makeup not through expertise per se, but through good ole’ repetition, day in and day out.

And I’m not pretentious about it. For example, before you put makeup on your face you’ll want to use a moisturizer and then a primer. Do I think it matters which ones you buy? No. Absolutely not. I mean, sure, more expensive products are better for your skin, but forcing someone to buy more expensive makeup because it’s “better” is lowkey classist. And I know some of us are broke, so I won’t make you go to Sephora. In fact, go to the drugstore. Buy a moisturizer and a primer. If you’re really feeling indecisive, use the ones I’ve recommended above. Spoiler alert: they’re very similar.


Color Correction

After I put on primer, I correct some of my problem areas by using this fancy color correcting palette. I apply makeup with my very own freshly washed fingers, but I’ll be the first to admit that even after washing my hands, it’s an unsanitary method of makeup application. If you want to up your game, buy a cheap beauty sponge to apply makeup with! As far as color correction and how it works, there are a bunch of videos online to explain the process for different skin tones. Here’s a good color correction video for fair skin, and one for lighter brown skin, one specifically for Indian folks, one for lighter black skin tones, and one for darker black skin tones. If you think your skin is pretty alright on its own, you can skip color correction altogether.


Concealing

The most expensive item in my makeup bag is this concealer, mainly because it’s the only one I’ve found that actually takes on the challenge of covering my intense under eye circles. But the best inexpensive dupe for this concealer is NYX’s HD Concealer.


Foundation

When I was bougie and had a bunch of money, I used the Makeup Forever Ultra HD foundation, which gives heavy coverage but looks lightweight. These days, I use the inexpensive dupe for the Makeup Forever foundation, which is Revlon’s Colorstay Liquid Foundation. Both of these are considered “heavy coverage,” which is not really the trend in makeup anymore. These days, it’s much gayer to wear a sheer, dewy, light foundation. But listen, those foundations won’t do a thing to cover my acne scars. So I’m going to keep wearing the heavy stuff. But if you want to know of the best foundations on the market in terms of gay trends, it’s definitely the foundations made by Glossier and Milk Makeup. I love both of these brands and you’re going to hear much more about them in the future! Oh, also, just so you know, I put powder on top of my foundation to help it look more natural. That’s something that you’ll need an actual brush to put on.


Contour

Like I mentioned, I’m obsessed with Milk Makeup. It’s so, so gay. It’s also really expensive. But it’s where the majority of my splurge playchecks go. If you have lighter skin, I highly recommend using Milk Makeup’s Matte Quad for your androgynous contour. The contour that I’m using in this photo is the brown shade in Milk Makeup compact that has four different shades. It feels literally like a marshmallow when you touch it, and you can glide it on easily with your fingers. It basically does all the blending work for you. It’s definitely worth the money, and in upcoming Gay Your Makeup posts, I’ll show you how to use the other three shades in the quad!

If your skin is darker, I found some videos for contouring on different skin tones. For dark skin tones, look at this video by Khloe Dosh, and this one which is longer and super detailed. There are also some videos for medium/deep skin tones, including this one by Bianca Harris and this one by Nabiha Yusufali. Tell me what y’all think of these, and if you have favorite contouring products for darker skin, please share those in the comments!

contour: do like this

Oh also, when you contour with a cream shade like I’m using, make sure to only blend upwards, towards your temples. I don’t know why. I think it was something I heard once in a video tutorial. Congratulations, now I want to pass on the information to you. If makeup had recipes, I would be the kind of makeup chef who says “fuck it,” and throws the recipe away, hoping that something made up will work. This little trick works!


Eyebrows

Step 1: Use your eyebrow brush to outline part of your brow, the half that sweeps toward your temple. Step 2: The trick is to make your brow darker at the ends by blending in the outline that you drew and lighter at the beginning by brushing in the opposite direction. Some .gifs follow that illustrate this motion.

step one: do like this

step two: now do like this

As far as eyebrows products go, I’ve used the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Powder Duo for two years and I kid you not, the container looks like I haven’t used any of it. Some people prefer the Dipbrow Pomade of the same brand, but it’s really just a matter of trying both and seeing which one you like. The most subtle and gayest eyebrow product, though, is definitely Glossier’s Boy Brow. Oh, also, you’ll need an eyebrow brush to do the eyebrow thing.

Precisely defined eyebrows with sharp edges on the left compared to more untamed brows on the right

Now for a brief PSA. If you see the gifs above and think, “Ew, that’s not what eyebrows on the internet look like!” let me just say: please stop being rude, I feel very fragile today. But also? You’re wrong. So take a seat, I have a little lesson in Eyebrow Politics to share with you. The good news is that if you’re any sort of queer, your eyebrows don’t need to be perfect anymore. Perfect eyebrows are so 2015, and they’re associated with The Straights. It’s 2017 and if you’re gay, you’re allowed to never pluck your eyebrows again. While you’re at it, throw some vaseline on your brows to really emphasize how gnarly they look. Then go ahead, bedazzle your eyelid, why not? We’re playing fast and loose and glittery in this world.


Highlight

The best way to bring this look together is by throwing some highlighter on top of your face. Highlighters are another category where I allow myself to spend money, because I’m lazy and the expensive ones literally do all of the work for you. I love Becca’s Shimmering Skin Perfector in Moonstone, which I’m wearing in this photo. Becca is a great brand of highlighters for a bunch of different skin tones. I love how the shades Champagne Pop and Opal look on darker skin! Oh, you’ll also need a brush for this step, lol.


Now put on some chapstick and that’s how you do it, folks! This is the look I’m sporting nowadays. It’s nice because it doesn’t include blush, which is the makeup product that reveals 1) you’re wearing makeup and 2) you’re blushing “like a girl ought to blush” which feels really cringe-worthy for me personally, gender-wise. This look is intentionally natural and basically just contours and highlights the parts of your face that pick up light while also defining your features more clearly. I hope you have fun with it, you radiant queer sunbeams.

Cecelia is a playwright and student living in Houston. She is most passionate about writing and watching the honest queer experience in film, television or theatre. She also finds herself to be very moved emotionally by zines, squirrels and emojis. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @zo0mbini.

Cecelia has written 24 articles for us.

39 Comments

  1. Cecelia this is everything I wanted a queer make up tutorial to be ???.

    After coming out and giving up all things femme in a journey to self identification I’m slowly coming back to make up but am struggling to stay away from too feminine make up and this is a great starting place !

  2. Thank you for this as I find this very helpful and useful(specially the eyebrow portion of it). Just one question I did’t see answered here. How do I make my lips queerer, besides of course choosing a queer color? Well I know purple is pretty queer, but else do you suggest to queer up our lips? Also, how does one make their lips more full?

    • Just pick a color not a pink or red. Cool colors as well as yellow or orange in lipstick are most hated by cishet men as lipstick colors.
      Only woman type folks seem to celebrate cool colors in lipstick.

      Um to my memory lip-liner can be used to make lips look fuller, but I don’t know if that works for real people make up.
      Ballerinas and stage people is where my make up baseline was formed.

    • imo any color is queer if you’re queer and it’s on you!

      BUT, as far as colors etc for making lips more fuller, lipliner and overlining is my go-to! I’m more on the fairer side with neutral undertones and am more into subdued lip colors paired with eye-focused looks, so cool mauvey-browns are my absolute favorite. But obvi depending on your skin tone/color preference that differs (tbh cool tones look excellent on pretty much everyone, especially paired w/a gloss!)

      My everyday lipcolor is Tootsi by Colourpop, and I overline my top lips with the matching lip liner (tbh if you have a steady hand and/or a pointier lipstick you don’t need a liner). It’s sort of hard to describe, but instead of following the slope of the side of my top lip, I draw the line slightly above it and more straight/less dipped downwards, sort of mirroring the shape of my bottom lip. Adding a gloss on top of your lip color or using a non-matte finish lipstick also helps add dimension if you’re about the shinier look.

      I take a lot of makeup techniques/inspo from drag makeup and “Instagram makeup,” so I’m sure there’s sources floating around Insta/Youtube with better explanations! 🙂 Currently, makeupbyjaack is one of my favorite insta’s.
      Sry long comment, I’m verbose, eek!

  3. Bless this. As someone whose main exposure to using makeup has been under strong stage lighting, I’ve always wondered how people contour and achieve certain styles for ambient/typical lighting.

  4. Reminder to check your products in the skin-deep database over at ewg.org. I used to use Revlon foundation but traded it out for another product when I saw it was rated a 6–although this was awhile back, they might’ve reformulated and have it down to a lower toxicity level now that’s safe for everyday use.

  5. Even though I am very pale myself, I think it’s wonderful that you were so inclusive of varying skin tones! I often see that as a major problem in the makeup world. So hurray for this!

  6. Thank you, thank you so much <3 I recently started to use make up and I'm still not super good and this is very helpful since I was having trouble with finding the right foundation (and bunch of other things it seems, my poor wallet).

  7. Thank you so much!! I love makeup but hate looking made up. I hate eyeshadow. I hate shimmer. I hate blush. I hate mascara. I hate constraining my gender expression.

    Will you please do more gay makeup tutorials?

  8. I am praising lesbian jesus so loudly right now…my gf and I were literally just scrolling through our phones trying to find a femme who is into makeup and would be willing to show us how to do it! Now that our jobs and faces are getting more “sophisticated” it’s a real thing!

    I also want to thank you for validating my life x2 in this article with the revelation of queer eyebrows. I have been being “lazy” about getting my eyebrows done for a few months now and I am starting to look like Frida, but the thing is I like it! I can feel the scrutiny of some of the menfolk I work with though (one of them even made a not so subtle tweezer reference) and I was starting to cave–you just gave me the strength to keep fighting the patriarchy one stray eyebrow hair at a time! Seriously, I can’t wait for future installments!

  9. This is everything I have been wanting about makeup. After having a near breakdown in Ulta (one part overwhelmed by all the options and two parts gender identity crisis) this is the gentle and informative piece I’ve needed. Thank you, thank you!!

  10. YES!!! I’ve dialed my makeup back to light foundation, soft coral blush mainly for contouring (I am super pale, can’t seem to find a contour shade that doesn’t look like bacon on my face!) fill in the brows (gotta add the ginger to them, since I’m a dyed ginger) and smear on a little grey eyeliner (because my lashes are so blonde.)

    • I’m also really pale, but I’m totally confounded when it comes to contouring. Blush looks too femmey for my every day look, but I just don’t understand how contouring should work with my face. No matter how much I blend it I’m just like “this is not what a face should look like”. It all feels too dark and, yes, rather bacon-y haha. Idk if coral would work with my skin tone but I’m definitely interested in finding something that works

  11. I’m still so confused on how to blend! I bought the Nyx Color Correcting palette a while back, and was so excited to try it – but every time I use it, I end up either looking like I very obviously have green and yellow patches on my face, or I end-up rubbing it in so much that it becomes completely invisible and provides no coverage.

    I’ve tried watching that same YouTube tutorial before (the one for fair skin), but they fast-forward through the blending process so much that I can’t figure out how it’s correctly done. I feel lost.

    • With color-correctors, as I understand it they’re supposed to be sheer and correct color rather than provide coverage; the foundation over top provides coverage. In the tutorial she goes as far as correcting then putting concealer on top of that and THEN foundation: the color corrector is hidden under two layers of coverage. Dunno if that helps!

  12. Bloody hell that was comprehensive – thank you!

    I just sort of chuck foundation at my face when it feels like time to wear make up and spend the rest of the day/night nervously rubbing my jawline. But NO MORE.

  13. This is so interesting! I stopped wearing makeup a while ago but like the idea of wearing something that looks real natural and not especially feminine! Starting from scratch and buying all of the above sounds like a lot of $$$ (and work!) though. Is there an abridged version I can do to get started? Like maybe do the color correction + eyebrows but leave out the foundation + contouring + highlighting?

    • As someone who loves makeup but is lazy my recommendation for basics would be:
      skincare – the better your skin looks the less you have to cover up, definitely moisturize. use one with spf because the sun and your skin are not friends
      light weight bb cream – i use drugstore brands and they’re nice for light, natural coverage, and as a bonus are more forgiving in shades and such than foundations
      concealer – basic for dark circles and any spots that need covered, I’d recommend starting with just concealer as color correcting can be hard to work with
      eyebrows – there are plenty of cheap eyebrow products that work really well and it will make a huge difference in your face
      lips – anything, from chapstick to lip gloss to lipstick, but please at least chapstick. take care of your lips.
      (optional: mascara to open up the eyes and a natural-looking light blush or bronzer to keep the makeup from washing out your face)
      in my opinion contouring and color correction is unnecessary for everyday makeup especially if you’re just starting out! also especially at first while you’re figuring out what you like get drugstore stuff so you don’t waste a ton of money on things you might end up never using
      (I know I didn’t write the article but I’m just really passionate about makeup)

    • Related: can someone please explain to me how to use the Boy Brow from glossier? Because I end up looking like I smeared my eyebrows with a bit of dirt. My eyebrows are sparse towards the outsides and so the brush design of the applicator is kind of weird when it’s hitting skin.

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