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Transgender Women Get Confidence Boost with Makeup Workshops

Volunteer Makeup Artist Works with Transgender Women

For many women, applying makeup is second nature. But for transgender women who undergo gender transition later in life, makeup application can be a daunting prospect.

“It can create significant anxiety,” said Maurice Garcia, MD, MAS, director of the Transgender Surgery and Health Program at Cedars-Sinai, one of only two academic medical centers in the Western U.S. that offer gender-affirming genital surgery.

To help alleviate that anxiety, the program now offers makeup lessons—an important piece of the transition process, Garcia said.

“Our program lets women ask any and all makeup-related questions and learn from a professional how to best use makeup to present their true selves to the world, with pride and confidence,” Garcia said.

Cisgender women — those whose gender and personal identity correspond with their sex organs at birth — learn makeup skills earlier in life from family and peers, Garcia said. “But women who transition as adults miss that confidence-boosting experience. I’m proud that Cedars-Sinai is at the forefront of changing that,” Garcia said.

Maurice Garcia, MD
Our program lets women ask any and all makeup-related questions and learn from a professional how to best use makeup to present their true selves to the world, with pride and confidence. 
Maurice Garcia, MD

In addition to providing hormone management, voice and speech therapy, fertility preservation and mental health services, Cedars-Sinai offers two makeup services: a personalized, post-sugery makeup lesson before a patient leaves the hospital, and workshops with other transgender women after a patient heads home.

­“Our top goal is to treat the entire patient uniquely and offer services and support for them far beyond surgery,” Garcia said.

That goal is shared by Kris Jorgensen, a professional makeup artist with MAC Cosmetics and a Cedars-Sinai volunteer. He helps transgender patients navigate the makeup aisle, learn how to apply cosmetics and feel comfortable with their new look.

While no one makeup tip is universal, Jorgensen said, there is one piece of advice he always offers first-time clients: “Stay away from rules! Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t wear blue eyeshadow or that eyeliner should be applied only for evening events.” Makeup application should be, he says, as unique as the person applying it.

To help guide his new makeup students, Jorgensen has compiled the following tips:

  1. Employ a color corrector cream (for dry skin) or liquid (for oily skin) to decrease the appearance of darkness around the eyes and any area with facial hair.
  2. Use a foundation primer to help disguise large pores. A primer also helps foundation last longer.
  3. Apply foundation before applying concealer. It looks smoother, especially around the eyes.
  4. Find a makeup artist and a store you can trust.
  5. Remember that makeup merely helps achieve your personal vision of your best self – so have fun with it and be true to yourself. If you want to wear sparkly eyeshadow, go for it. And if you want a more natural look, that’s fine, too.

“Makeup is for everyone,” Jorgensen says. “Some women play with it from the first moment they see their mother put on lipstick. Others might not get to it until adulthood. But every woman deserves to look as good as she feels.”