We speak to three members of the LGBTQIA+ community on how make-up enabled them to embrace their identities
Pride month is the perfect time to reflect on acceptance, equality and applauding the work of LGBTQIA+ people everywhere. Here, we speak to three creators from the community who are eager to celebrate their stories through the medium of make-up. Whether it’s Scott Wells and the glitter eye that makes him feel empowered, Alex Odgen Clark’s fabulous take on what it means to be “a hairy lesbian” or Mikaél Frimpong’s ode to his inner child, each of these looks celebrates what it means to live authentically.
"I came out aged 21. I’m now 27, but I’m still learning who I am. I was outed in high school and I struggled with it. It wasn’t until during Covid that I had the time to sit down with myself and think about who I am as a person. I learned that through make-up, I could experiment and go beyond being confined to the thoughts inside my head. I’ve always been known as someone who loves glitz and all things sparkly, and this simple look almost gives me a new confidence – I imagine that the sparkly eyes feel like how a superhero must when wearing their masks. But it’s not about masking. It’s about discovering more of me. Each time I sit and do this look on myself, I always find myself smiling. It clearly makes me happy and it’s something that sparks joy. Even though it might just be subtle make-up, to me it’s so much more – it means everything."
Scott’s step-by-step guide to “Superhero Sparkles”
2. Next, focus on a flawless complexion. My favourite concealer duo is Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer, £25, and Sleek MakeUP Lifeproof Colour Corrector, £6.99, which are incredible for colour correcting under-eye circles. Finish by applying Nars Sheer Glow Foundation, £35.50 to areas that need a little more coverage.
3. I love to apply L’Oréal Paris Back to Bronze Matte Bronzing Powder, £8.99 across my lids. Take a fluffy brush, tap away the excess bronzer, then sweep the product all across your eyelids, blending in small, circular motions.
4. Now it’s sparkly showtime! Take Revolution Highlight Reloaded, £4, and apply it across your cheekbones and up into your hairline – more is more! A great trick to make your peepers pop is to apply a small amount of highlighter in the inner corner of your eyes.
5. Set your base with the Collection Primed and Ready Mattifying Setting Powder, £4.49, which is amazing for soaking up excess oil.
6. Next, use the shade Azula from the Morphe X Nikita Artistry Eye Palette, £30, to line underneath your eyes. I use a slanted eyeshadow brush as it creates the sharpest finish. You can then curl your lashes and apply mascara to only the outer corners for a subtle flutter.]
Alex Ogden Clark
"Growing up, it took me a long time to connect with my sexuality and come out. I didn’t see myself reflected in the homophobic ideas of lesbianism I was exposed to – that all lesbians are hairy and unfeminine. I thought I couldn’t possibly be that type of person. As I grew into myself, I existed as a lipstick lesbian, ultra feminine and glamorous, but that still didn’t feel quite right. Now, I am somewhere in between: lip gloss and lashes, but with my body hair unplucked and on display – a lip gloss lezza. For me, Pride month is about celebrating authenticity, embracing all elements of myself, without trying to fit into limiting and often homophobic archetypes. This is why I’m a rocking a classic Scouse beauty look with an unashamedly queer twist: glam halo eyeshadow and ombre lips with a full, bushy monobrow."
Alex’s step-by-step guide to “Scouse glam with a queer twist”
1. For this look, eyebrows are the star of the show, so brush them up and outwards with Schwarzkopf got2b Glued 4 Brows & Edges 2 in 1 Hair Gel, £4.50. Once it’s dry, this gel will secure even the unruliest of hairs.
2. Next, primed eyelids. Roughly pat a peachy shade from the BPerfect Cosmetics x Stacey Marie Carnival XL Pro Palette, £41.99, onto the outer and inner corners of the eye. I opted for this colour as a subtle nod to the lesbian flag, but you could choose purples for the bisexual flag, blue and pink for the trans flag or yellow for the non-binary flag. Follow by scribbling Urban Decay 24/7 Eye Pencil in Bourbon, £16, over the top of the peach, staying close to the lash line. Don’t be afraid to dip into your palette and add some more peach, or a mid-brown shade to make the transition between peach and dark brown more seamless.
3. In the centre of the lid, pack a light shimmery shade. I opted for the pinky duochrome colour from the same palette. To further intensify the look, throw on some glitter, such as Stila Magnificent Metals Glitter & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow in Rose Gold Retro, £24.
4. Next, apply mascara and a pair of false lashes. If I’m wearing an intricate eyeshadow look, I go for falsies that are long and wispy like Kiss So Wispy lash singles 05, £5.50. They bring drama, without obscuring my hard work.
5. It’s important to prep the skin so that your foundation sits as nicely as possible. I love using MAC Strobe Cream, £26. It imparts a beautiful-looking radiance, while also hydrating. My go-to foundation is Nars Light Reflecting Foundation, £37.50, as it provides medium coverage that hides my blemishes without looking heavy.
6. To amp up coverage and sharpen the edge of your eyeshadow look, apply a lighter concealer under the eyes, angling up towards the temples. You can also pop the lighter concealer in any areas of the face you want to push forward.
7. Next, bring some definition to your face by tapping a cream bronzer on areas the sun would naturally hit, such as temples, the tip of the nose and along the cheekbones. Then place Revolution Superdewy Liquid Blush in Flushing For You, £5, along the bridge of your nose and on the apples of your cheeks.
8. It wouldn’t be a scouse make-up look without lip liner, so outline your lips with a mid-brown shade, such as NYX Professional Makeup Lip Liner Pencil in Nude Beige, £3.50.
9. To finish the mouth, use a dot of your liquid blush, and top it off with lashings of lip gloss.
10. I completed my look by emphasising my brow hairs, using the NYX Professional Makeup Lift And Snatch Brow Tint Pen, £11, to fill in any gaps and draw tiny hairs for volume. This step may not be for everybody, but it is empowering to me. For Pride month, I throw away my shame and embrace my iconic, thick brow. Being a hairy lesbian? It’s so cool.
"There was a point in my life when I believed I’d never be able to live my truest, most authentic life. Now, things are different. The fact that I can wear make-up without shame is such joy. This bright, bold, colourful look is an ode to my inner child. It’s an expression of joy for the little African boy in me. In Ghana, where I used to live, boys didn’t do make-up. And when I moved to the UK, I needed to find a way to express my creativity. Through the vibrant hues I’ve chosen here, I’m reminded of the elation I can take in the fact I’m truly free to be who I want to be – and I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks. This Pride look is about celebration. It’s an opportunity to be loud, proud and, ultimately, unapologetic. The important part? Dragging your inner diva to the surface!"
Mikael’s step-by-step guide to “Unabashed colour”
1. Begin by moisturising your skin. It’s so important you don’t skip this step. The Liz Earle Skin Repair Light Day Cream, £25, helps create a hydrated complexion. Next, apply a primer, such as Smashbox Photo Finish Control Mattifying Primer, £29.50. This helps create a smooth surface to apply the products on, as well as ensuring the longevity of the make-up.
2. While the moisturiser and primer set in, start on the eyebrows. These are a crucial part of the overall aesthetic. Use an eyebrow pencil, such as Rimmel London Professional Eye Brow Pencil, £4.49, to fill in any sparse areas, then apply Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer, £25, underneath your brow bone for a flawless, sculpted brow look.
3. Now it’s foundation time. Matching this product to your natural skin tone is vital. Depending on the outcome of the look you're trying to achieve, it is up to you to decide how much or how little you’d like to use. You can use a brush or beauty blender to apply, or even just the warmth of your fingers. I like Nars Light Reflecting Foundation, £37.50, for its flawless finish.
4. When selecting a concealer, the industry standard is to find a shade two tones lighter than your natural skin or foundation. Apply NYX Professional Makeup HD Photogenic Concealer Wand, £6, to areas that catch the light, such as under the eyes, the bridge of the nose and across the forehead.
5. There’s two techniques that are useful when it comes to powdering. You can either dab or bake. If using the dabbing technique, dip the brush in the powder and shake off any excess before dabbing onto the face. The baking technique is placing the setting powder into the areas of the concealer and leaving the powder to sit for between five to 10 minutes. Huda Beauty Easy Bake Loose Baking & Setting Powder, £31, is great for this.
6. This is the step where you become human again! Use Revolution Love Island Mega Bronzer, £5, to add warmth and colour to the skin. For blush users, start applying from the ball area of your cheeks and work your way outwards toward your ears. You can use red, pink or orange tones. Or if you’re extra like me, explore the rainbow!
7. The main attraction! It’s all about those eyes. Outline the shapes you’d like to make with a white pencil, such as Collection Precision Kohl Eyeliner White, £1.99.
8. Use the full colour spectrum of the NYX Professional Makeup Ultimate Eyeshadow Palette, £16, to go wild with your imagination! It’s not about perfection, just about unlocking your creativity and having fun! You can use black liner after to make the colours and designs really pop. Finish with some falsies and you’re good to go.
Here’s to authenticity and being our most true selves, via beauty and beyond. Here’s to Pride 2022 and all who help make it what it is.