Objectively, the relationship between our complexions and makeup may seem superficial. Up until the moment a product comes into contact with our face (kind of like when a pen touches paper), makeup and our identity have nothing to do with one another. However, it's that magical moment when the two come together that self, message, and meaning can be enhanced. And while we're not saying makeup is necessary to feel complete or beautiful, we'd be remiss to ignore the role it can play in our identity as women.
For many of us, the way we wear our makeup (whether it's a full face or barely any) is rooted in some kind of intrinsic experience. Perhaps there was one aha moment that at one time or another inspired us to apply our makeup in a way that would forever make us feel "ourselves," confident in our skin, and beautiful—whether it's a particular product or simply our favorite way to powder our nose. In fact, ask just about any woman, and she'd probably have a story or experience that organically shaped her relationship with beauty and makeup regardless of her age, race, or gender.
It's monumental—finding the peace, happiness, and pride that resonates with who we are on the inside and then discovering a way to channel that on the outside, as well. Here, two transgender women share their first aha moment—the time, place, products, and feeling when makeup helped them feel like their truest self. Keep reading for their inspiring explanations.
Madison Werner, 20
"In high school, I tried lipstick for the first time. I felt comfortable enough to drive to Sephora in Calabasas, my hometown in Los Angeles, and ask one of the Sephora Pro artists to teach me about it. I remember how my eyes darted left and right, scanning the store to make sure no one from school would see me playing with makeup and exploring my gender identity.
"I was captivated by how strong I felt after applying the lipstick. Afterward, I remember picking up my first tube from MAC and beginning to experiment with other kinds of makeup as well—testing foundations, concealers from Nars, and a mascara from Marc Jacobs.
"After I began to feel more comfortable with different kinds of makeup, I became fascinated by false lashes. Every beauty guru was wearing them, and many girls around me would rave about how life-changing their extensions were. I took note, and I finally went out to buy some strip lashes: Lilly Lash 3D Mink Lashes in Miami ($30), which are these long, dramatic mink lashes.
"At the time, I thought they'd look natural even though I didn't know how to apply them. In fact, it never even crossed my mind to trim them to fit my eye shape. Regardless, I put them on, walked outside, and felt like I could take on the world. All of a sudden, I felt more in touch with my femininity and incredibly beautiful in my own skin. Now, a year later, I can't leave the house without throwing on a pair of Lilly Lashes (the 3D Mink Lashes in Monaco, $30, are my go-to) just to feel a little more myself before I walk outside each morning to take on the day."
Kyla Stallman, 34
"For me, the first time I ever truly felt like myself was Halloween of 2009. I was 25 years old, and it was the first time I ever dressed completely as a woman from head to toe. I was wearing a wig, my costume, and, of course, makeup.
"I can't say there was one certain product that resonated more than the others, and to be honest, it was just cheap drugstore makeup. However, it was seeing how everything came together (the lipstick, the eye shadow, liner, lashes, the blush, everything) on my face for the first time that made me feel beautiful.
"It was amazing. Plus, after watching countless YouTube videos, I had done it all myself, which made it an especially proud moment—it looked pretty dang good! That Halloween was also the first time I was ever told I looked 'beautiful,' and all day long, I just felt so completely me. It was surreal and crazy and wonderful. I'll never forget it."