Charlie’s Pre-HRT MTF Transition Tips | Makeup

So, makeup … there are literally millions of online tutorials dealing specifically with feminizing the face. If you are like me, majority of these online tutorials are just hella confusing and overwhelming. And although most people will tell you to just keep practising, there are some basics you can focus on. That said, everyone’s face shape and skin tones are different, and it all really does come down to practise makes perfect.

I follow @josephharwood, who is a YouTube vlogger (amongst a zillion other prominent makeup artists) because I found Joseph’s tutorials the easiest to understand and follow. For me anyway. So a lot of what I am about to whisper in your ear as tips, comes straight from Joseph’s own tips and tricks.

If you’re just at the start of your transition, and you’re not on hormones, and you haven’t had facial feminization, then your makeup process will be focused more on downplaying your masculine features. Basic right? Maybe not.

  1. Ditch the contour
    Wtf? Every video you have ever watched talks about contouring. Now you tell me to ditch it? Yes. If you haven’t already softened into your features through hormones or fillers, then a contour will actually highlight the male bone structure more visibly. Instead, use highlighter to create the illusion of a softer, plumper face. Cream highlighters are best.
  2. Don’t fear concealer
    Joseph suggests, If you’re working with a more masculine starting point, use a concealer with a peach or orange undertone, because you have the double benefit of being able to use it to color-correct your beard and neutralize any under-eye circles.
  3. MATTE baby, MATTE
    Joseph suggests finding a matte, full-coverage foundation that you can press and stipple into your beard line without it looking cakey. Avoid dewy foundations, as these will draw attention to every nook and cranny on your skin. And use a setting powder after to get a smooth texture.
  4. Embrace the GLOW
    Just because you’re using matte formulas, it doesn’t mean you’re now relegated to a life of matte, flat skin until you finish transitioning. But rather than grabbing a strobing powder and slathering it across your face like a disco ball, stick to a blush with a bit of iridescence. Just pick a formula that matches your skin tone and swirl it around your cheeks and the temples to brighten up the face a bit.
  5. Play with shadows
    You can fake a softer, more-feminine hairline, without resulting to hair transplant surgery, as long as you have some matte eyeshadow that matches your hair color. It’s honestly so easy – just swirl a short smudge brush in a matte shadow, then gently fill in and round out the sparse areas around your hairline using smooth strokes.

And if all of the above tips just sounded like anxiety-producing jargon, don’t freak – @josephharwood has a slew of feminizing makeup videos on his page, including one that demonstrates a bunch of the tips and tricks above. Watch them, study them, and then try these tricks on yourself; I’ll be happily waiting for the pictures.

Disclaimer: These TIPS will not fit everyone’s journey and are by no means a must on your path. Take it for what it is, a suggestion. If a tip does not fit your idea of what feminine is, then don’t do it. Simple as that. These are just the things that the broader community have done to make their journey easier.


Pronouns: She/Her/Hers I am a 45yo transgender woman (HRT) documenting my journey, and sharing the tips that worked for me to date.

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