This week I thought I would share my makeup routine – give you all a bit of insight into what it takes to get my Julie on. Of course, the day starts with a close shave using a 5 blade razor, followed by a liberal amount of moisturizer. On the way to the hotel (I almost always get a room for a night out, even if I’m not planning to stay the night), I’ll usually stop at the nail salon to get myself 10 pretty digits.
Once at the hotel, the first part is to glue down my eyebrows. That part actually begins a couple days earlier with some plucking and trimming. No shaping, but enough grooming to make them easier to cover. The glue I use is Elmer’s school glue – disappearing purple (see the pic).
Here are the steps: Alcohol wipes to clean the brows of any oily residue. This step is essential.
With the back of a little spoon, scrape off a little ball of glue and put on my index finger.
Using both index fingers, knead the glue to warm it up and get it to a soft consistency, leaving about the same amount on each finger, one for each brow.
Smear the glue on the brows going against the grain to get under the hairs. You don’t need to cover the entire brow, the outside half is probably sufficient and might look more natural to have the inside part (nose side) uncovered. It’s fine to cover the entire brow, but we’re mostly interested in covering the outside half so that we can draw on a nice arch in that area.
Using a brow comb (or any fine comb), comb through the glue, up and out, but try to follow the grain of the hairs so they’ll lay flat.
Using the remaining clean fingers, smooth the glue down and wipe off any excess glue. If need be, wet a q-tip with hot water and clean up any excess glue around the brows.
Dry with the dry end of the q-tip.Clean glue from hands using warm water and dry thoroughly. Although you should have a very thin layer of glue, it’ll take about 10 minutes to dry thoroughly, you’ll know it’s dry when it’s no longer tacky.
To reduce the drying time and give it more durably, I add a layer of makeup setting spray, the same industrial strength drag queen setting spray I’ll use at the very end (see the pic for the brand I use, the aerosol is better than the pump). I spray a bit on my finger and smooth on top of the glue. This along with the glue should dry in about 2-3 minutes.
While waiting for it to dry, I’ll use some warm water to rinse the moisturizer off my face (the liberal amount left from shaving). Dry and then add a very thin layer of new moisturizer. Using the handle of a small makeup brush, roll over the brows to further flatten and smooth.
Then, add a second layer of glue using the same steps as before. This time, apply only in the direction of the hair grains and maybe a little thicker of a layer. While waiting for the setting spray to dry, apply some pore filler to my problem areas, under the eyes, tip of the nose and forehead, but also where facial hair might hold pores open. Again, kneading a bead between the fingers to warm it up before application is essential. Pore filler is not essential and I sometimes skip this step.
Back to the brows. After some more rolling with the makeup brush handle, the next step is a layer of foundation, just on the brows. I use a TV paint stick for foundation, so it gives pretty good coverage. More importantly, it’s kinda waxy and will not dissolve the glue, which might happen with a liquid foundation. After applying the TV paint stick, dab vigorously with a makeup sponge (dab, but don’t wipe). Another layer of setting spray.
While that dries, I apply makeup primer (MAC) to my face, making sure not to get any on the brows. This step is essential, especially in warm weather, it’s the ‘glue’ that will make the makeup stick to your face. Be especially liberal on the tip of the nose. Another layer of foundation on the brows and while that dries do eyeliner and first layer of mascara (Better Than Sex). Throughout the process, I’ll keep adding mascara, whenever I remember.
We’re finally done with covering the brows and ready to start with the beard cover. But, first remember to remove my T-shirt so that I don’t get makeup on it when I eventually take it off. My beard cover is an orange concealer (LA Girl), apply generously and smooth with finger. Remove from finger with a tissue (don’t try to rinse with water, it’ll become a goopy mess).
The essential step with beard cover is to dry with a liberal amount of loose powder. Use lots of powder and vigorously rub in with a stiff blush brush. Without this step the orange will bleed through your foundation and you might end up looking like our former Orange President. Wisp away any excess powder with a fan brush.
Finally, we’re ready for the TV paint stick foundation (Kryolan). Remember that less is more. Don’t forget about your nose, but you can probably skip directly under the eyes, we’re gonna get that part later with concealer. To blend it out, I have a foundation brush, which has tons of short, really fine bristles and is intended to give a smooth finish. Work the foundation in using a circular motion. I’ll add the final layer of foundation to the brows, but no brush on the brows, always dabbing with a makeup sponge in that area.
Almost done with the canvas. The last step is eyeshadow primer (NYX). Yes on the lids, but also on the covered brows. The powder of the coming eyeshadow will give the final clean texture of the covered brows, so we want it to stick and not fall off halfway through the night. I’ll also be using a black powder to paint on my brows, so the eyeshadow primer should be above my natural brows, which is where I’m gonna paint on the new ones – see the before and after pic.- The eyeshadow primer takes some time to dry, so I’ll typically take a makeup break and put my hip pads, a process that includes a pair of high waisted Spanx, all covered with a bra and panties. At this point, I’m now officially feeling girly.
Okay, we’re back to the makeup and the next step is eyes. There’s gonna be a lot of dark colors and I don’t want it to fall onto my clean foundation. So, before getting started I’m gonna put a liberal amount of loose powder on my cheeks, so that if anything falls, the foundation will be protected. As a bonus, I’ll add some moisturizer under the powder which is essentially the drag queen trick of baking – the combination of the moisturizer, powder and your body heat will create a tough, but smooth layer under the eyes. – I’m now ready to paint on my brows.
I’m all about dramatic brows, so this is a crucial step for me. I have this little pallet of pressed powder intended for brows (some drugstore brand, maybe Covergirl) and use a small angled brush that’s relatively stiff but not too stiff. Starting at the center and a little lower than my natural brow, I’ll work up and out until I reach the intended peak – Google to find where your brows should peak. From there move down following the top of the natural brow. The hard part is trying to get the two sides to match – it seems like the left always ends up with more arch than the right, so I try to make the arch on the left smaller and the right larger, which tends to get them to be about the same.
I also start with a brown layer and finish with a black, which gives me an opportunity to fix any initial mistakes. Now to the eyeshadow. It was just this past year that I figured out how to cut a crease, so I’m not sure I can explain it. The only thing I can say is that money invested in quality eyeshadow palettes makes a big difference in terms of pigment and going on smoothly. I also found that having proper eyeshadow brushes helps quite a bit. I can say that getting highlight just under the brow arch is essential – gives the so called pop to the eyes.
That highlight is gonna be on top of the covered brows, so as I said earlier, it’s important to use a good quality shadow to get good coverage, texture and adhesion. Remember that the point of eye makeup is to make your eyes look bigger, wider and more oval. This is why we have a big arch on the brows with highlight underneath and why we have darker colors on the outside corners of the lids along with giant eyelashes on the outside corners of the eyes.
Finish by using a fan brush to wisp off any excess powder, brush off the powder on the cheeks and maybe add a quick spray of setting spray just on the eyes. This is a good time to apply those giant lashes, although I’ll usually wait until the end to see if I have time. Getting false eyelashes on quickly requires a bit of luck and unless it’s a special night I’m fine with just mascara.
Finally, add some black eyeliner just above the lashes, making it thicker on the outside corners. You could use a liquid liner here, but I have an inky pen that works well and requires less skill than the liquid.
Next is contour, basically dark brown pressed powder on the cheekbones, outside edge of the jaw, top of the forehead and a little on the sides of the nose. Then some highlight. Using a light colored concealer (about two shades lighter than foundation) apply on the bridge of the nose, the upside down triangle between the brows, under the cheekbone contour, above the cupids bow and middle of the chin. The most important highlight is under the eyes, an upside down triangle under each eye and extend to the top of the ears to widen the face. I figured out this highlight under the eyes trick many years ago and it was a major turning point for me.
Basically, it flattens the face and make the eyes look less sunken in. I do the under the eyes part last, so that I can blend it in before it dries. To get a better idea of where to contour and highlight, I recommend Googling for some YouTube videos – keywords f2m contour. And, don’t be afraid of the drag queen videos, they’ll show you the basic technique (the science of it) and then you just need to tone it down to get a more natural (i.e., less drag) appearance.
I blend with my foundation brush, so the first step is to clean off the old foundation using some tissue (aka tp). After blending, I might add just bit more concealer (lighter than before) to get a more dramatic highlight, of course followed by more blending. We’re now ready for the lips, starting with a lipliner and trying to get a good cupids bow, the struggle is real. I’ve kinda given up on traditional lipstick and almost exclusively use a liquid lipstain which lasts longer and doesn’t cake off while I’m eating dinner. I’m doing lips at this point in the process because I’ve found that I can get cleaner lines with the lipliner, if I do it before applying powder, which is the next step.
Blush is essential to give color to the contour with only the brown of the contour, we will look like the undead. Start with an orange on the apple of the cheeks, to give them roundness and a more feminine appearance. Blend that in with some pink and work up into the cheekbones and finish the cheekbones with a maroon or even darker purple. Also add a little bit of color to the contour on the forehead.
Using a pressed powder highlight, hit all of the highlight points again (this step is optional and not recommended for daytime). Finish everything off with a good amount of finishing powder. I love the Translucent Loose Powder from Laura Merceir, so fine and shear, which gives a smooth texture to the finish, but I’ll use anything in a pinch. This step will dry everything, remove the shine and further blend the highlight and contour. Sometimes it is too much, so don’t be afraid to brighten up with more blush and pressed highlight. It’s at this point that I feel like the makeup is finally coming together. If you think the makeup is looking garish before the finishing powder, that’s actually expected, so be patient.
The final step is a liberal amount of setting spray. Given that I still have plenty of male hormones and I’m about to put on a heat trapping wig, I expect that sweat will be a problem at some point in the evening. So, a good setting spray will be essential. I’m convinced that this stuff is the greatest invention ever bestowed upon humanity.
I’m now ready to get dressed. I usually bring a couple of backup outfits just in case I’m not feeling it with the original plan. So, there might be a little fashion show going on at this point. Of course, part of that process is deciding on accessories – earrings, necklace, bracelets, purse and shoes. Like I said, there’s usually a plan, but it could all change at the last minute.
Wig is the last step. This is the part that finally brings Julie into full fruition. Will almost always require a bit of brushing and styling. Mostly just some hairspray to get a round framing of the face. I’m actually quite particular about my wig style, because it has such an impact on creating a feminine face shape. We’re definitely going for roundness, which is why I avoid sharp bangs and center parts. In my opinion, a side part with a sweeping bang is the most feminizing style.
With the hair done, and maybe a little more blush, I’m just about ready to go. Oh wait, still need to pack my purse. Move my credit cards and cash from my guy wallet to my Julie wallet. Change my phone case from boring black to a sparkly pink. Bring a little makeup bag with lots of stuff I’ll never use, but cannot seem to leave behind. Phone charger and backup battery (can’t get an Uber home with a dead phone), umbrella and don’t forget emergency flats, cigarettes and the all important room key.
Okay, finally ready to step out that door and show the world some fabulousness. The final ritual is the first drink of the night – always a cosmopolitan, because you deserve it Julie!! Cheers to all and thank you for joining me on this journey of narcissism.
You can also read this story on TG Forum!
Julie, that is a LOT of description for your makeup routine! I know I don’t do half that much when I have the chance to go out. I do use most of the types of products you mention, just not as much. It still takes about 30 minutes to get the look “right”! I can’t argue with the results, though, you always look fabulous. ❤
Oh yeah, it’s definitely an involved process. It typically takes 2 hours from guy to Julie out the door. I can get it to just over a hour if I need to, but I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I like to take my time. Of course, everyone’s different. I know girls who just do their makeup in the car in 10 minutes and still look great.