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Make up guide for transvestites – basics

By Betty Jašková, June 20, 2009, 22:50, Tips and tricks

This article focuses on trannies who need advice in elementary basics of make up as beginners. Makeup is part of our look and by correct styling we can change the way we look - shift nice features, suppress the ones we don't like or create extravagant looks in drag queen style. Whether your have a baby-like face or problematic skin, whether your want natural or extravagant look, correct make up is the way to success. It's important to realize that a transvestite / transsexual has got different face features than a woman, different skin type and can react in a different way to the same products. That's the reason why some techniques and steps differ. My personal advice: don't be discouraged by initial fails, beginnings are always hard, but you can overcome them by practicing.

It's important to read as much information as possible before you start, you can find a lot of information on web. From paper books I recommend Making Faces by Kevyn Aucoin and Face Forward by Kevyn Aucoin) , Makeup Makeovers: Expert Secrets for Stunning Transformations by Robert Jones . These books contain basic as well as advanced techniques, including description and usage of materials / tools. Apart from that, Kevin Aucoin's books are full of nice & interesting experiences /stories, they're well written and interesting.

For start, I have to say some of my advice is personal and may be different to opinions advocated by stylists for general public. Drawing from my personal experience, I often change some general techniques. Again, each person is different and thus some techniques need to be modified. Some steps can be left out (day make up), while with others (draq-qeen) extra steps are added. I come from general assumption that male skin has got more imperfections ( thicker skin, larger pores, scars, acne, etc) and the whole procedure reflects that. The makeup procedure can be divided in 4 stages:

  1. preparation of skin for makeup
  2. makeup procedure
  3. fixing mistakes
  4. cleaning / after-care

Preparation of skin for makeup

  • Shaving – without thorough shaving even the best makeup looks terrible! More tips and tricks for epilation / depilation can be found at Depilation and epilation for trannies
  • Cleaning the skin– before starting any makeup skin has to be thoroughly cleansed and relaxed. In case shaving irritates your skin I recommend using special after-shave calming products. In my case washing my face in cold water does it, skin calms down and pores close. After that you should clean your skin with toners/cleansers, I use toners with mattifying / tightening effects. Put a little of toner on a cosmetic pad and mildly clean your whole face/ neck.
  • Preparation of the skin – after cleansing the skin you apply moisturizer or primer. Type and consistency again depends on skin, but it shouldn't be too dry nor oily. If your skin has imperfections, wrinkles or enlarged pores you can use special primers which even out the color tone and surface of your skin. These substitute moisturizer, some of them can be combined with moisturizers.
  • Fixing of blemishes / imperfections – if moisturizer / primer doesn't cover them, use special correctors (so called concealers). Color should be chosen according to skin type. Don't be afraid if your face ends up covered in concealers spots, it disappears after applying foundation.

Makeup procedure

What will we need? You might need following elementary items (click on images for preview):


  1. makeup - foundation
  2. corrector (concealer)
  3. powder
  4. eyebrow pencil
  5. eyeliner pencil
  6. eye shadows
  7. mascara
  8. blush
  9. lip-liner pencil
  10. lipstick


  1. cosmetic cotton pads
  2. cosmetic cotton buds
  3. makeup sponge
  4. sponge tip applicator
  5. wider brush for powder
  6. small brush for lipstick
  7. middle size brush for blush

Application of makeup (foundation)

Choice depends on color tone and skin type, as well as on usage (there is water-proof, long lasting, fixed / fluid, etc) Best you can do is ask a specialist for an advice, cause without experiences you hardly pick the correct color and type. In general, foundation color tone should be one tone lighter than skin. Moisten the sponge in warm water, rinse it, bend it in middle, hold it between your thumb and index finger. Apply a little foundation on the middle of the bent edge (sponge). With gentle, repeating moves start tapping the makeup into skin, starting from middle of the face outwards. If the makeup on sponge runs out, apply some more. Repeat until your skin is evenly covered. In case neck and cleavage is exposed it needs to be covered as well to avoid color inconsistency. If you plan to use eye shadows, make up and powder are not applied to eyelids and under eyebrows.

Video – how to apply makeup (foundation)

Application of powder

If you don't have experiences leave the choice to a specialist. Best way to apply makeup is with a middle sized brush with oval edge. Apply a little powder on brush, shake down the excess to avoid stains. Start tapping the powder into skin, just like you did previously with makeup. Cover all your exposed areas. Less is more is the golden rule in makeup.. Big quantities of anything make your look unnatural. Correct application of foundation and powder is the basic of good makeup. A famous stylist compared application of foundation and powder to good canvas when painting. If the canvas is bad, so will be the painting.

Video – how to apply powder

Eyebrow makeup

Plucked eyebrows are crucial, if it's not follow the advice in Depilation and epilation for trannies. Shape and color depends on several circumstances. Mark the basic points on one of the eyebrows, then do the same on the other side. Now connect points together, for natural look paint short thin lines in the desired shape. However, for thin eyebrow line a continuous line works just perfect. Eyebrow pencil should be harder than eye-liner pencils to avoid smearing. If you have problems holding a steady hand, rest your wrist against cheek. Make sure the pencil is sharp, this applies for eye liner and lip liner as well.

Eye makeup – eye shadows

Type, number of colors and drawn shapes are subjective. In most cases 2-3 colors are used, but some special looks may require up to 4-5 colors or even more. Apart from shadows you will need sponge tip applicators or flat thin brush. A good-quality brush is much better to work with and it will last for a long time. But for start sponge tip applicator would do just fine. Apply a little shadow on applicator and wipe the excess on your other hand between the stem of thumb and index finger. It's important to get rid of any excess cause it may get into your eye, on your face, etc. Now close your eye and draw the desired shape. Storing any material on your other hand is ideal – it's always at hand and you see how it looks on your skin. I store there everything from foundation to eye shadow, during each step of makeup. Use a separate applicator for each color to avoid mixing colors.

Eye makeup – eyeliner

For eyeliner you use pencil or fluid eyeliner with applicator. Follow the lines of the eye lid border, thickness and color is subjective. I recommend the pencil for beginners, fluid eye-liners are harder to work with. You can color you upper or lower lid border, apart from that either inner or outside line. Inside eye-lines can be can be a scarecrow for people who don't like objects near eyes, but believe me, you can overcome it. You should be careful during this step to avoid injury and smearing your makeup. If you can't draw a line well, tighten the eyelid by pushing your skin on your your temples away with your other hand.

Eye makeup - lashes

There are numerous products on market which promise amazing look, volume, etc. Shake the mascara to stir the contents and slowly withdraw the applicator. Make sure it doesn't have any paint excess (you don't store this on your other hand). Relax your mimics, close the desired eye, and move the applicator from inside to outside of your lashes. Open your eyes, repeat the same for bottom side of upper lashes. Your eyes should be open wide so you don't get any mascara into eyes. During this step it helps if you bend your head backwards, so you see where are you applying the mascara and it prevents mascara getting on your painted lids. Third step is painting bottom lashes, I paint only the upper side. When painting lashes I try to bend then, some mascaras fix the shape and thus make them look nicer. Be careful just like with eyeliner!

Painting your lips

One of the final steps, which helps you to change features of your face. You will need lip-liner pencil, lipstick and thin flat brush for the more precise work. Open your mouth and gently tighten your lips. Mark the outlines of desired shape with lip liner – create points which you should connect as smoothly as possible. If you are satisfied with the shape, fill also the inside of each lip, don't forget the corners. Apply a little of lipstick to brush and with the flat side apply it on your lips, first the borders then inside. When both your lips are ready, push the lips together and move them just a little bit against other to distribute the lipstick evenly. Prepare a paper napkin, put in between your lips, close them gently, open and remove the napkin – you just removed lipstick excess . After these steps I continue, what may not be necessary in your case: I put a little of powder on my index finger and apply it on the lips, then I apply the second layer. Powder helps you to fix lipstick for longer time ( harder to smear while eating or drinking). Some trannies over-size their lips by drawing contours far behind the natural lip lines. You can extend your lips this way, but be careful! If you overdo it you may end up looking unnatural in worst case tragicomic.. At the end you can apply a little of lip shine in the middle of your lips, it makes them look wider.

Blush makeup - cheeks

Emphasizes / suppresses cheek bones and ads a "healthy" look to cheeks. On a middle sized brush apply small amount of blush color and shake any excess (or use your other hand to tap off). Smile and your cheek comes forward – small pit appears. With mild strokes paint your cheek from that point towards your temples. Avoid any vibrant colors, the more natural transition, the better. Red cartoon-like cheeks are really NOT in 🙂
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Highlights and shadows - or dark and light tones

You may already know from other areas that dark colors (shadows, I don't mean only eye shadows by this, but dark colors in general) suppress features, while light colors (highlights) make them stand out. This applies only in correct application of both, they don't do anything without the other. Very simplified, I can demonstrate it on an example: are your eyes set too deep? Paint the inner lid with light color, and outer border with dark color – your eyes come forward doing so. By proper usage of shadows and highlights you can significantly change features of your face without expensive plastic surgeries.

Don' forget some transitions should "fade away", it means there should be no clearly defined line. This applies to makeup of the whole face, fixing of some mistakes, etc. Fade away transitions can be created by finger or a brush by smearing mildly outwards. Fade aways apply to general techniques and methods, not just highlight/ shadow makeup.

In my opinion one of the most advanced techniques in makeup is using 2 tones of foundation and 2 tones of powder, which allow you change your appearance very much. You see a sample on left, in "raw" state, that means without evening out/ smoothing out the transitions and applying powder. It's an extremely demanding technique which requires lot's of experiences and skills. You have to apply the correct color to the correct place and create natural transitions. Result is amazing, but I have to admit I gave up after the first try :).

Fixing mistakes

  • Everyone makes mistakes– even a professional stylist can make one. In such case, don't loose your head, even big mistakes can be fixed. Your angry cries can scare others, in better case amuse them, but surely they don't help your looks. So relax, take a deep breath and calm down.
  • Makeup fixing - how and what with– from my experiences the cotton buds are best tools for this. They are easy to work with, you can remove excess of anything and you can use them for small modifications. Most of the mistakes is applying product beyond the desired borders (eyes or lips). If you make a mistake, method is simple:
    • gently wipe off the material at "defected" area 🙂
    • apply a little makeup on a bud
    • use bud to put draw corrected line – cover what you have over-painted by eye shadows, lipstick, etc.
    • apply a little powder over it
  • What mistakes happen while fixing other mistakes 🙂
    • always check if buds don't contain any color – you can smear it and make it look even worse. Ideally use a new one for each fix.
    • don't push or you smear the mistake – move from outside towards the defected area, you avoid smearing it even more
    • apply only small amounts – or you risk creating ugly spots

Cleaning / after-care

I know you are tired after a party, but it's important for your skin really to get cleansed after such a heavy load. Besides you don't want to paint a Picasso with your face on the pillow, so even while you are lazy or dead-tired give yourself 15 minutes for make up removal and skin cleansing.

Makeup (foundation) and powder can be easily removed with makeup cleansing tissues, for eyes use special eye makeup cleanser, because eye shadows and liners are harder to remove. After that you can use cleansing milk or special nutrifying milk which regenerates your skin.

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I hope my advice can be of any use for you, but remember that only by testing and practicing you achieve the needed experiences and skills. Don't get put off by initial failure, beginnings are always hard for trannies. Also my beginning were hard / stressful and the results were really tragicomic 😀 Don't forget how important conditions are – without good lighting you can hardly do any makeup, not mentioning well positioned and lighted mirror. Light should illuminate your face evenly, so you can see imperfections, but it shouldn't be too intense.

And a small advice at the end – don't worry about unnecessary details. For an example: if you go to a dance club, it's not very probable the light will be very intense, so no one will notice micro mistakes. The same applies for viewing distance – sure you see tons f mistakes if you are "glued" to mirror, but realize people will not be watching you from that distance. And one last advice.. If you wear glasses, don't be scared of contact lenses. After I got used to them the whole makeup was easier and more comfortable.

So prepare everything you need, put on your favorite tunes, make yourself a good coffee (my makeup ritual 🙂 ) and go for it..
Good luck and steel-steady nerves wishes from Betty 😉

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