The beauty industry is always shifting and changing. New trends come onto — and fall off of — the scene at astonishing speed. But even within an industry that purports to encourage self-expression, the expectations put on folks to look and act a certain way is still often dictated by their gender. This limiting mindset can show up in a variety of ways: products that are considered “masculine” or “feminine,” heteronormative ideas of how to make yourself look more attractive to someone of another sex… even the influx of “gender-neutral” products that only come in stark black and white packaging arguably highlights the industry’s ideas of who should use what in their beauty routines.
In reality, makeup allows people of all genders to express themselves whatever way they see fit, and quite frankly pushes those boundaries of what others presume of us. As a part of the LGBTQ+ community, non-binary folks are typically at the forefront of expanding our ideas of what gender representation looks like. This extends to the beauty community, where many non-binary people remind us that the possibilities — for our hairstyles, for our makeup, for our nail art — are endless, regardless of our gender identity.
To celebrate their impact on the industry, Allure spoke to 11 non-binary influencers about themselves, their journey, and what being non-binary in the beauty industry meant to them.
1. Karol Rodriguez aka @karolscorner
Karol Rodriguez is a Peruvian/Dominican, first-generation American makeup artist and content creator with a love for glowy skin and bold eye makeup. From a young age, the New York City native says they always felt the pressure of gender norms within their culture, and always secretly defied them. It wasn’t until after college they learned to balance both their masculine and feminine side, playing around with their clothing style, hair, and tattoos. Now, Rodriguez is known on social media for their amazing curly hair routines and abstract makeup. When asking them about being non-binary in the beauty industry, they said they feel that they can be their true queer self while also being a successful entrepreneur. “That in itself is proof that you don’t need to shed or diminish parts of yourself to pursue your passions,” Rodriguez says. “It is incredibly important to me to use my platforms to humanize topics such as mental illness, gender, and generational trauma.”
2. Kaz Torres aka @kltorres
Kaz Torres is a makeup artist, model, and retoucher currently based in South Florida. They have been in the beauty industry for eight years, specializing in fashion and music productions. Kaz loves everything from a clean beauty look to an abstract one. With all of their combined experience, they have ambitions to become a creative director in the future, a job where they say they could put their full array of talents to work. Kaz feels that it’s only more recently that the industry has been more inclusive, but adds that visibility in the beauty industry is very powerful. “I would love to see queer POC & trans artists start to be in these positions of power,” they say, “As many of us use makeup as a way to explore gender and self-expression.”
3. Jacinda Pender aka @adultsdrink
Jacinda Pender is a makeup artist and creator currently based in Los Angeles. Pender told Nylon they’ve been drawn to makeup since they were a young teen, but in 2018, they turned to Instagram to share their signature looks and never looked back. They often use their face as a full-on art canvas, painting on graphic liner looks and bold, glossy lips. Pender values the creative freedom beauty gives them. “I refuse to place myself in a box or categorize myself to make other people comfortable,” they tell Allure. “I love that I’m able to convey whatever mood or feeling I’m experiencing during that moment and translate [it] into something artistically beautiful regardless if it makes sense to people.”
4. Autumn Cain aka @looksbyotto
Autumn Cain is both a visual and makeup artist, hailing from a few hours outside of Chicago. They say that art was a passion for them from a young age, as it was an outlet for their anxiety. It wasn’t until after high school that Cain says Looks by Otto was born. They began posting more of their looks and realized they had an affinity for editorial makeup, which often incorporates their own love for art and alternative fashion. “My makeup journey has not only introduced me to a diverse group of other non-binary creatives, but allowed me the strength to come out myself, and place emotions I’ve never fully understood my entire life,” Cain says.
5. Dee Sikora aka @deesikoramua
Dee Sikora is a makeup artist and content creator currently living and working in Montreal. Originally from Ontario, they have been working in the beauty industry for over 10 years. Dee says that although he’s best known for playing with color and glitter in the looks you’ll see on their Instagram page, they have a “massive passion for skin-care and fragrance” as well. In addition to making beauty content, Dee works on educating folks to not assume a person’s gender based on presentation, to respect pronouns, and celebrate femme and masc traits in everyone. “I can be a feminine trans masc person who looks and feels and smells fabulous, but that doesn’t mean I’m a woman or fulfilling a concept constructed by a cishet society that I have to tough and butch to be valid or taken seriously,” he says. “It’s about respecting people even if we don’t necessarily understand everything. It’s not another person’s place to project their ideas onto others.”
6. Ali aka @sweetmutuals
Ali is a model, makeup artist, and content creator, currently living and working in Atlanta. They have been working as a makeup artist since 2018, and have been featured in Vogue, Teen Vogue, and on Solange’s When I Get Home album. Ali’s looks are otherworldly: She often uses props to transform her own face, everything from jewels and stickers to fake flowers and even birthday candles. They say that makeup helps them to express how they are feeling in day-to-day life. “Makeup helps me truly embody my emotions and let them feel liberated, rather than feel conflicted about conforming to any social standard,” Ali explains. They go on to say that makeup helps them empower themselves: “Sometimes I like to say that my gender is otherworldly or ethereal, because it is,” they say. “I’ve always aimed to be true to myself, and makeup gives me that opportunity to be true to all that is me.”
7. Jupiter Umana aka @real_sick_puppy
Jupiter Umana is a Latinx digital and makeup artist from Los Angeles. They started wearing makeup as “an insecure teen,” using it as an extension of their style and identity. As for their beauty looks, Umana utilizes their talents as an artist, as they often use makeup to draw designs on their face. “Being non-binary in the beauty industry means having a safe space to express myself and connect with and be inspired by other queer people,” they say.
8. Shavonté Dill aka @shavontedill
Shavonté Dill is a 24-year-old content creator, living and working in Nottingham, U.K. Their content mostly surrounds beauty looks, with a focus on experimenting with liner and eyeshadow. Between their dynamic makeup looks and their ever-changing style, Shavonté bends the rules and shows that there is no one way to look non-binary. They say, “I’ve never felt masculine or feminine growing up, and often described myself as a tomboy who liked ‘girly things.'” Shavonte also shares that existing outside of the gender binary is freeing for them and “…allows me to explore all sides of me. I use the pronouns she/they as I still present more feminine.”
9. E. J Seem aka @yourmajestyej
E.J Seem is a Filipino makeup artist, living and working in Brisbane, Australia. Seem has been in the beauty industry for the last six years, specializing in creating dynamic full-face looks. (Their makeup also works well for the stage: Seem has been working as a drag performer for the past two years.) E.J often shares their looks, start to finish, on their social media, wowing their followers with the amazing transformations. “I like to think that beauty is in the brain of the beholder,” Seem says. “Beauty is all about perception. I like to use makeup to challenge people’s ideas of beauty…[and] to help people have a better perception of themselves and ultimately see their own beauty.” Seem aims to expand the definition of beauty, “which has been gate kept for a very long time.”
10. Chris Bill aka @chrisjbill
Chris Bill — or Cut Crease Chris — is a beauty and lifestyle content creator from Tzaneen, South Africa. They began their journey within the beauty world in 2019 when they began to do makeup as a way to experiment with their gender expression and explore gender nonconformity. In their makeup looks, Chris has an affinity for cut creases — hence the nickname — and often plays with bright colors. When asked about being non-binary in the beauty industry, Chris says, “[It’s] about changing the narrative to show people that makeup and beauty have no gender [and] are for everyone that is interested.” They go on to say that a lot of people think anyone who is non-binary has to have a certain look and that wearing makeup equals wanting to be a woman. Chris hopes that their own visibility can help to break down the stereotypes and assumptions of the non-binary community.
11. Ayan Vasquez-Lopez aka @makeupmariachi.media
Ayan Vasquez-Lopez is a mariachi musician, makeup artist, media producer, and drag performer, based in Los Angeles. When looking at Ayan’s beauty looks, it’s obvious that their background and experience are a huge influence on their makeup. They often sport a bright lip and match their eyeshadow to their outfits when performing mariachi. Ayan says that through her work, they are trying to create genuine representation for queer, brown, gender non-conforming Latinx people, in both the media and in the real world. When asked about being non-binary in the beauty industry, Ayan says that it’s both terrifying and empowering: “It’s my daily form of expression and creating representation for the other Trans and Non-Binary Brown Latinx Beautyachis is the cherry on top!”
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