The Nonbinary PM on: no make-up make-up

Regarding makeup, I have two central beefs that I keep returning to.

  • Why – at least up until the efforts of the last year or two – has make-up only ever been marketed at women? It seems like the stupidest form of capitalism to wilfully and purposely exclude 50% of your possible total customer base.
  • In an age when we have this idea of individuality pitched at us all the time through every advert and product imaginable and yet most of us buy the same few clothing pieces to follow the same few trends from the same dozen or so vendors, why is makeup ignored by men when by definition (in the way it’s applied) possibly the ultimate form of artistic self-expression and individuality?

I’d like to say that I got into wearing makeup as a result of such noble concerns and a willingness to issue a good solid genderfucking, but I’d be lying somewhat. I got into makeup because I don’t sleep very well and don’t take care of my skin and I had dark circles the size of crop circles. It was like having a monochrome RAF insignia around each eye. When light waves passed close to my dark circles, they were warped in such a way that they resembled the light waves seen close to black holes. My dark circles were not just dark; they were so dark they bent the very fabric of the universe.

I have related elsewhere the time that I walked into a Boots to find something to cover up my dark circles (see: ‘Coming out: my journey‘) and it would be otiose to rehearse it here. With the able assistance of an impossibly patient female friend and around quarter of a million questions that all began “but what if”, I came to the slow understanding that there were different types of makeup at large in the world.

Consider the following paradigms.

At one extreme, there’s Trixie Mattell, country music’s unlikely pink poster princess.

View this post on Instagram

Oh wow. BLOOD SUGAR by @jeffreestarcosmetics

A post shared by Trixie Mattel (@trixiemattel) on

Somewhere in the middle, there’s make-up as an art form, as self-expression.

View this post on Instagram

HAPPY CANADA DAY🇨🇦 Who wants makeup deets? 👇🏼

A post shared by ALINA (@makeupbyalinna) on

Then there’s the sort of make-up that you might see sported on a night out or special occasion.

And then, I slowly came to learn, there’s a thing called ‘no-make-up make-up’.

This apparent oxymoron refers to make-up best described as ‘you, but better’. Your skin is a little clearer and less mottled; your eyes, a little brighter and less tired; your lips, a little fuller and less chapped. It’s not fraud; you’re not trying to convince anyone that you haven’t got any make-up on, it’s more like you might look if you had a month away from work in somewhere with impossibly good clean air, where you ate the healthiest food and drank the purest water, and you slept a solid ten hours a night every night, and received a jolly vigorous rogering as required. It’s you, but the healthiest, most glowing version of you possible.

My eyes were opened (literally) via the industry of the gifted ladies in the Brighton Bobbi Brown Studio. They do a lot of completely free tutorials where they explain how to apply make-up to suit different circumstances, from how to get ready for a night out to how to put together a 10-minute, getting ready for work make-up routine.

I asked them to show me how to correct the flaws in my complexion and over the space of twenty minutes they gave me a lot of helpful tips. How to make sure my skin stays hydrated; how to apply just a dab of corrector to even out the dark circles; how to make the skin appear more luminous; how to make the eyes appear bigger; how to give a little definition to the cheekbones to make my face look thinner. None of it was particularly difficult, it could all be done in less than ten minutes before work, and (much to my then naive surprise) it didn’t make me look like Trixie Mattel.

Since then I’ve experimented (in some cases quite badly) with lots of different products to achieve that same, no-make-up make-up look. I thought it might be helpful for people with the same NANO (Nonbinary, AMAB, New to this, Older) perspective as myself to explain how they can use make-up products in the same way – to improve their appearance – but also to help satisfy the feelings that they have for exploring different forms of gender expression whilst still remaining discrete (i.e. not accidentally going to work looking like Trixie Mattel because you don’t really know how to apply make-up). Over a series of posts I will review some products that I have found helped me (and some that didn’t) and discuss ways that you can wear them to look like you, but better.

Let me know in the comments if there are any particular questions that you’d like to have answered, and any products that you’d like to know more about!


  1. Thank you very much, you have an engaging blog … keep it up

    BTW, I have been trying to feminize my voice. I did a research and discovered that it is possible to feminize your voice without another excruciating surgery. I searched around and found this tutorial: (Sorry I don’t know if I am allowed to post links or not). It is a set of easy to follow at home exercises. It looks interesting and the testimonies are inspiring. I like to know your opinion, do you think it is useful? (I did study some research papers and their claim seems legit)


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