We have had a long-standing influence over the beauty and grooming industry…
By Adriana Ermter
It’s safe to say that the beauty and grooming industry has undergone a long-overdue makeover since David Bowie drew on a little guy-liner in the ’80s. While hetero-stereotypes remain, there’s a new ease and confidence with which beauty and grooming brands can now openly identify with and connect to LGBTQIA+ communities. Topics such as covering a five o’clock shadow, embracing male baldness as beautiful, and spritzing perfume for its scent rather than its feminine or masculine notes are becoming more commonplace as queer-friendly brands make their presence known. Here are a few of our favourites…
FOR TRANSGENDER WOMEN:
Why we like them: Television and film makeup artist Jessica Blackler is the founder of this line, which is not only vegan and cruelty free, but gender free. What started as YouTube-based makeup tutorials teaching transgender women how to properly and expertly apply foundation, eyeshadow, blush and more has, since 2015, morphed into a full-blown makeup brand. Currently, Blackler is a transgender-community advocate hosting makeovers at the London Transgender Clinic, with a portion of her proceeds going towards Mermaids UK, an organization supporting gender-diverse and transgender children and youth.
Must-try product: Correct & Conceal Palette. This hero item, the brand’s first offering, covers blemishes and beard shadows for a flawless finish.
FOR THE ENVIRONMENT:
Why we like them: The brand is committed to self-identification and expression, and to the environment. Noto’s website states, “Self identity should be fun, radical, unique and protective to the environment and our communities,” while its founder, Gloria Noto, is quoted on the site saying she created her line of small-batch, vegan, clean and gender-fluid, multi-use skin and body products to “celebrate queer bodies, nonbinary bodies, trans bodies, and more BI-POC bodies.” Noto also puts her money where her mouth is, donating more than US$25,000 of her products’ proceeds to the LGBT Youth Center LA, the Okra Project and more.
Must-try product: Agender Oil. Fuelled with hemp seed oil, vetiver and lavender, this hair and skin product promotes hair growth, while calming and soothing whichever body part, from head to toe, it’s massaged into. Plus, its subtle, herbal, smoky scent is addictively good.
Why we like them: They’re rooted in Canadian cosmetics history. Since their debut in 1985, M.A.C Cosmetics has retained their status as one of the first beauty brands to break down makeup barriers, remaining loyal to the LGBTQ+ community. Initially created by Canuck co-founders Frank Angelo and Frank Toskan as a pro makeup line for both female and male models, the brand has long since been the go-to spot to shop for makeup, with wearable hues for all genders and skin tones. With the tagline “all ages/all races/all sexes,” today the label is as renowned for its cult following as it is for its progressive and often cheeky ad campaigns, which have featured RuPaul, Lady Gaga, Queen Latifah and many more.
Must-try product: Viva Glam 26 lipstick. This new, limited-edition, fiery red matte lipstick is both bold and meaningful. Every single cent of each lipstick’s sales goes towards supporting the company’s AIDS Fund.
FOR MEN’S SKIN AND SCALPS:
Why we like them: They’re honest about hair loss for men. According to the Canadian Dermatology Association’s website, 50 per cent of men are affected by male pattern baldness, which can negatively impact self-esteem. While many brands gloss over that fact, Mantl addresses scalp and skincare issues head on to empower all men. Founded by television’s Queer Eye star Karamo Brown, the California-based brand promotes hair-loss acceptance while demolishing negative stereotypes through website statements such as “bald is fearless” and “we choose to build community.”
Must-try product: Invisible Daily SPF 30. The gel-based formula absorbs easily and quickly into skin and scalp to protect against the sun’s harsh UVA and UVB rays. Plus, it doesn’t leave a chalky or sticky residue.
Why we like them: Since 2015, Sigil Scent’s queer founder and perfumer Patrick Kelly has been mix-mastering gender-neutral fragrances inspired by ancient and esoteric traditions, such as purification and dissolution, the spirit of the soul and the circle of life. With a motto on the website that states, “We believe fragrance has no gender, and your choice should be based purely on personal preference,” inclusivity is clearly at the heart of this brand.
Must-try product: Prima Materia Eau de Parfum. This intense blend opens with fresh citrus, sweet neroli blooms and herbal sage before being absorbed into an elixir of earthy oak moss and woody vetiver. The overall effect is sparkling and warm, grounded yet effervescent.
ADRIANA ERMTER is a Toronto-based, lifestyle-magazine pro who has travelled the globe writing about must-spritz fragrances, child poverty, beauty and grooming.