Gender Dysphoria Make-Up Guide

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Gender Dysphoria Make-Up Guide

The NHS describes dysphoria as, “a sense of unease that a person may have because of a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity.”

Which is quite simplified; dysphoria can manifest itself in many different ways – a nagging feeling that shines brighter than your reflection in mirrors or shop windows or sometimes it’s almost like a suffocating blanket.

Dysphoria is quite literally that – suffocating.

Although the ultimate “cure” is gender affirming surgery/hormone therapy, this is quite obviously not always possible for most of the trans population for various reasons. Which is why we have compiled this guide to help you feel more comfortable and confident as well as increasing your quality of life and hopefully cause gender euphoria!

In spite of all this, please bear in mind you should never feel pressured to pass – you are valid in your identity no matter how you look.

As someone who struggles with feeling like I don’t look “androgynous enough” for a fluid person, these methods have really helped me:

For looking more masculine:

Here are the methods with a visual guide and tutorial too (Make sure to blend well!): 

  • Masculine faces often have a defined facial bone structure especially around the jaw and eye socket area. It’s obviously no secret that shadows create visual depth, they can hollow out a face pretty well for this reason. Using contour this can be achieved.
  • Masculine eyes often are smaller, with more square brows, this can be done using eyeliner and brow pomade. 
  • Masculine noses are also often wider and more square, this can also be done through contour 
  • Masculine faces are also less pink, making your skin one shade with foundation is helpful too.
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To make it look more natural, instead of using powder to contour, use a concealer or foundation that is darker than your skin tone! It’s best that it’s not high coverage though so that it isn’t too strong – shadows are always subtle.

This is labelled by number in the illustration.

Contour in straight lines rather than curved to achieve a more square look. 

  • 1) Apply contour in a straight line starting from near your ear under the cheekbone stop near where the cheekbone ends and go straight down (as shown in the picture).
  • 2) Using brow pomade make the ends of your brows slightly more square and fill them I’m, don’t worry so much about individual hairs, thickness is the goal. 
  • 3) To make eyes look smaller ; use black eyeliner and apply on the lower waterline as well as a little on the end of your top eyelid. Create a sunken look by making eye bags using the contour too, you can use purple eyeshadow for this as well. 
  • 4) Create squares! Contour your smile lines (make sure to blend), that little bit that sticks out of your chin? Contour that too using straight lines again. 
  • 5) Widen the nose by applying contour near the either side of the bridges and on the tip of it, also causing it to look more square.
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Masculine contouring front view, by Iris

And here it is from the side:

gender dysphoria

Masculine contouring side view, by Iris

For looking more feminine:

  • Feminine faces are usually more round and soft with less sharp edges, a lot of lines are curved. 
  • Feminine noses are usually thinner with a defined tip
  • Feminine eyes are usually wider with long lashes
  • Feminine faces are usually a lot more pink and dewy. 
  • Feminine brows are usually more arched and individual hairs can be seen. 
  • Finally, feminine lips are usually fuller with a more visible Cupid’s bow.
gender dysphoria
  1. To create a more curved/soft face shape use contour on the outer edges of the forehead to bring down the hairline and make the face look a little shorter/rounder, rather than square shaped.
  2. To narrow the nose apply a highlighting shade/lighter shade down the middle of the nose bridge and a darker shade either side. If you want you can also put a highlight on the tip of your nose for a more youthful appearance. 
  3. For eyes we want to make them look bigger so putting a white eyeliner on your lower waterline will widen your eyes appearance, you can also add a nude/pink eyeshadow for the pinky/dewy look. You can also use mascara for lashes!
  4. Speaking of colour, using blush is a great way to make your features look more feminine. To look naturally sun kissed, apply the blush horizontally along the cheekbones and across the nose, you might want to use a lighter pink rather than red but obviously this depends on your skin tone. 
  5. For jawline and cheeks, we want to intensify cheekbones and slightly soften the jaw. Apply contour beginning at the centre of the ear going down diagonally till it almost reaches the corner of your lips. Also apply the contour above the jawline to make an oval-ish shape. 
  6. Make sure to blend !
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  • It’s a good idea to also apply highlights to the tear duct area, as this creates a more doe eyed look!


  • Adding highlighter to your cupid’s bow (the arch in the middle of the lips) is also a great way to make them look plumper. 


  • Freckles are often seen as feminine, if you don’t already have them you can use a brown eyeliner, eyeshadow or even fake tan to create fake freckles!


  • For brows there’s an excellent way to make them look feminine without filling them in using a clean mascara brush (a spoolie) and a bar of soap! Here is a tutorial on that


For a more androgynous look, you can mix the two up, for example having a more masculine jaw and feminine eyes. 

While this is an excellent method which can also help you feel a lot better about yourself, please remember that you are valid in your identity no matter what you look like externally

And cis allies reading; please bear in mind that trans men don’t owe you masculinity, trans women don’t owe you femininity and non binary/gender fluid people don’t owe you androgyny.

About Post Author

Henry Tolley

(he/him) Henry a previous Editor-in-Chief of Chapter Z magazine. He specialises in LGBTQ+, film and in-depth community/cultural features.