Make-Up Tips

Crossdresser Make-Up Tips By Tiffany Club
Male to Female TV/TS/TG Makeup Techniques

Crossdresser Make-Up Tips is published on with permission of the Author. This article and photographs may not be reprinted without permission of the author.

I’ve just discovered I can copy things I’ve written in MacWrite into a news document… so you might be interested in the info I’ve written for a workshop for our local gender community.


There is a wide variety of makeup materials available. If your skin is beautiful and you don’t have to hide a beard, women’s cosmetic makeup may be all you need. You will have better luck matching your skin colour in a department store, because foundation makeup in a drug store tends to be so heavily packaged you can’t tell what colour you’re buying. Regular cosmetics tend to be light and sheer.  If you want an opaque makeup to even out your skin tone,and don’t perspire heavily, I suggest Kryolan Aquacolor makeup. It is a water based pancake type makeup which comes in a great many beautiful colours. Aquacolor has a matte finish when it dries, but after a few minutes the warmth of the body creates a beautiful soft, natural glow. All of the Kryolan makeup is heavily pigmented, so it will cover beards and dark shadows under the eyes without the use of other cover up products.   I’ve discovered that many beard cover sticks give you an unnatural orangy look.

If you have to cover a beard, minimize roughly textured skin or if you perspire heavily; I strongly recommend Kryolan Cream Stick plus Dermacolour powder. The cream stick is an oil base makeup and comes in a great many colours, so you should be able to accurately match your skin tone. It is opaque enough to cover heavy beard shadow without using a beard cover stick. The Dermacolour powder is pigmented so you need to buy an appropriate shade.  It sets the Cream stick so that it lasts through heavy perspiration. Several layers of Cream stick and Dermacolour powder will effectively smooth out acne scarred skin. If you don’t need the water proof qualities of Dermacolour powder, regular translucent powder will work very well to set the cream stick.

To minimize large pores, particularly on the nose, a second coat of foundation and a dusting of powder works very well.


No matter what type of foundation you choose, it should match your skin tone as closely as possible. Test the colour on your cheek and your neck. You want the makeup to blend down onto your neck without a visible line.   Hopefully you will only need a hint of foundation on your chest when you’re wearing a low cut dress.

If you are using a water base pancake makeup, it will probably go on easier with a small natural sponge rather than a synthetic one.  A natural sponge is only slightly more money and will give a smoother result. Be sure to apply the colour with as little water as possible, just use a damp sponge. If you get streaks, let the foundation dry before you try to smooth it out.  You will probably find the streaks will disappear as the makeup dries.  Pancake makeup doesn’t need to be powdered.

If you are using a cream stick makeup, apply it with a piece of synthetic sponge. I use a piece of fake foam rubber (flexible urethane foam), the kind you find in the upholstery section of your fabric store.  It’s easier to thrown them away than to try to wash them. After  applying the foundation lightly and evenly all over your face, you may want to add a bit more to cover your five o’clock shadow. If you are covering a heavily textured skin surface (like acne) you may want to blend cheek contour colour into the cream base before powdering. (Powder contour may emphasize the texture.)  Now you’re ready to powder to set the cream stick. Apply a little extra powder to the moustache area and forehead, because the perspiration is heavier here.  Allow the powder to sit on the foundation for a few minutes before brushing off the excess.  This is especially true with Dermacolour powder.  The instructions suggest waiting ten minutes, before removing excess to achieve the maximum waterproof quality.  I find about three minutes is sufficient.  A big, soft blush brush is ideal for dusting off excess powder.

Corrective Makeup

I don’t recommend a lot of heavy corrective makeup to change the shape of your face.  If you’re being photographed for a formal portrait, then go ahead and sculpt your face; but for everyday, too much corrective work can look artificial. There are a lot of books available to help you decide if you are oval, square or heart shaped.  I think it’s more important to create a feminine version of whatever shape you happen to be. Some men have a definitely square jawbone.  Trying to minimize it with makeup is risky.  You may inadvertently emphasize your five o’clock shadow.  A soft hairstyle is probably a safer way to underplay the jawbone.

A strong or prominent nose is another trouble spot. In general, don’t use corrective makeup on your nose.  You may over emphasize it without meaning to. Instead, focus attention on your eyes or mouth.  Some subtle work can be done to give yourself beautiful cheek bones, if it’s a little bit noticeable it’s O K, because it’s often obvious on women too.   To sculpt cheekbones, I use Mehron Starblend pancake makeup, dry, as a powder. A dry, clean blush brush will pick up the colour and allow you to contour the cheek as easily as brushing on dry rouge. Be careful to never get the cake of Mehron wet or it won’t pick up as powder.  For Caucasian skin, number 2B brushed on the top of the cheekbone as a highlight, and number 11B brushed on as a lowlight, works beautifully.  If your skin is a darker tone adjust the colours accordingly. I like 7C for slightly darker or tanned skin.  The highlight colour goes on the top of the cheek bone, and should blend up toward the hairline. (If you have a wide face, don’t go quite to the hairline).  The lowlight or shadow colour goes from the ear toward the center of the face, and should blend out into the foundation subtly.

The Mehron powder also works well to emphasize your cleavage.  Dust a bit of highlight on the top of the breast and brush a soft curved RYS shape in the cleavage.  Keep it subtle.


Select a rouge that is a soft pinkish shade similar to your foundation colour. You can safely dust it on your forehead, chin and cheeks for a healthy glow.

If you use a strong raspberry or red shade you may  have trouble being subtle. You can soften the effect of rouge by first dipping your brush in translucent powder and then into the rouge.  Rouge belongs on the apple of the cheek,(where you turn pink after you’ve been jogging).  Be careful to keep rouge away from any part of your face you are trying to minimize. For example, if you have a wide face; don’t brush the rouge all the way out to your hairline.  Keep it more central, so you won’t call attention to the width.


The shape of your eyebrow is probably the single most important element of your face.  Women’s eyebrows are usually thinner and more arched than a man’s.  However a masculine eyebrow can be very beautiful on a feminine face. Look at Brooke Shields.  Electrolysis or plucking will allow you to make a major change in the shape of your brow, but clever use of paint can do a lot.  Most people need to lift the brow slightly to give it a prettier arch.  For the stage you can block out the brow with a variety of materials.  For street wear you must be more subtle.  Lift the peak of the brow with a few strokes of eyebrow pencil, and blur them slightly.  You can bleach out a few hairs by painting them with foundation. You can pencil your brows lightly or use a small stiff brush and brown powder to get a soft brow.  If you use a pencil, it helps to brush the eyebrow with a tooth brush to blur and soften the pencil. You don’t want your eyebrow to look as if it was drawn on with a marking crayon, so be gentle.

To determine the length of your eyebrow, draw an imaginary line from the tip of your nose up to the outer corner of your eye and up to the brow. That’s where your brow should end. Remember, Eyebrows begin above the inner corner of the eye, and taper off to nothing.  They  should not be heavy at the outer end.


The eyes are the most fun to paint, but also possibly the most difficult to do well.

First, avoid brightly colored and frosted eye shadow. I know they’re fun, but they can age your eye.  Learn to contour your eye with neutrals like taupe, charcoal, brown and off white.

The  upper eyelash line should be defined with a brush and brown liner or an eyebrow pencil, and lightly smudged with a Q tip.  Even if you are older and don’t plan to wear much makeup, you should softly define the eye.  To NOT makeup the eye is aging. The lower eyelash line can be dotted with brown and smudged, or defined  more strongly with a blurred line.

To contour the eye, keep in mind the natural lights and shadows of the eye.  There is a highlight under the brow bone under the arch of the brow. The crease above the eyelid is shadowed, and the lid picks up some light and seems lighter.  This means the lid can be foundation color, the crease can be darkened slightly, and a bit of highlight added on the brow bone.  If you MUST use color, use colour the same value as your foundation, on your eyelid. This is the one spot you might get away with a frosted colour.  Use a deeper colour in the crease,(definitely not frosted,) but use off white on the brow bone.  This combination will seem more natural.  For major glamour you can use smokier colour on your eyelid.

If your eye is aging, and the upper eye is sagging, you have to be careful where you put colour; but you can very easily  make the eye look gorgeous!  Be careful that your browbone highlight doesn’t blend down so far that it highlights the sagging fold of skin.  Avoid shadowing toward the nose in the deepest part of the eye. That will sink and age the eye even more.   The important thing to remember, is to shadow the sagging fold of flesh and keep any frosted colours away from the eye. Frosted colour will spotlight the problem.  Your safest bet is a dark taupe or charcoal to minimize the fold of flesh.

This will give you a normal, pretty eye.  If you wish you can vary the look in keeping with current makeup trends; for example, 50’s style eyeliner.  If you’re going to wear false eyelashes, be careful to keep them medium in length.    If your false lashes droop at the outer ends, you must glue them ABOVE your natural lash line.


Keep your lipstick a soft red.  Bright fire engine reds can point up problems.

If you have a problem with lipstick blurring, try outlining the lip with a lip liner pencil, then filling in with colour. Powdering the first coat of lipstick then applying a second coat, will help it to last longer. Most men have thin lips and need to make them appear fuller.  Don’t hesitate to paint your lips slightly outside your upper and lower lip line. Women have the same problem.  But be careful to not overdo it.  If your new mouth seems a bit extreme, try increasing the size slowly, a bit at a time over a period of a few weeks, so you can get used to it. ‘sing a softer red will help to keep your lips from looking too showgirl.

The type of red you use can be coordinated with your skin tone and your clothing, (more peach or more raspberry); have fun playing with lipstick.  Its fun to mix your own colour by using several different lipsticks on top of each other. Try putting a neutral light pink shade on top of a deeper red.


You may want to tape to get rid of your naso- labial fold, overhanging eyelid or double chin. However  it is not ideal for all day wear. Taping is wonderful on some people.It depends on how elastic your skin is and whether you can place the tape so it will get rid of the fold and not show under the wig. It’s important that the tape be hidden by the wig, because it’s very difficult to cover tape with makeup so it doesn’t show.  However, sometimes just a wisp of hair from the wig will cover the tape so you don’t have to pull the wig to far onto your face.

The easiest way to tape, is to securely pin a stocking cap to cover your hair.  I like to be sure there are several pin curls at the front of your hairline. This gives you something to anchor the wig to so it doesn’t slip back and allows you to tape onto your head without pulling hair.  Johnson & Johnson surgical  tape works wonderfully.  The more complicated way is to use strips of silk gauze and spirit gum them to your skin, and anchor the other end to the wig cap. Experiment to see which you prefer.  They are both susceptible to perspiration, so are better suited to occasional use not all day wear.

Copyright (C) 1993 by WILLIAM STEWART JONES  All rights reserved.

I’d be happy to answer individual questions.

Bill Jones, Theatre Arts Department, San Francisco State University {}

“Sometimes it’s more important to be human, than to have good taste” Brecht “Being a good craftsman will in no way prevent you from having Genius” Renoir

Copyright – Tiffany Club

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