Why do you wear makeup? Of course we all pray at the concealer altar, thankful for its ability to cover that irritating spot, and love the way foundation can simply make us look more awake—even when we're actually hungover. But beyond its practical uses, I'm sure I'm not only talking for myself when I say that makeup is just another of the weapons in our self-expression armoury—and we wear it to show the world exactly who we are and what we stand for.
So imagine never being handed that weapon. If you're a cisgender female, it's likely you won't truly be able to empathise. Makeup is practically thrust upon girls at a young age—whether that's in a physical form (like the friends at school who sniggered at your un-mascaraed eyes and foundation-less skin) or more subconsciously, through the bombardment of beauty advertising across every channel of communication. While this expectation that women will wear makeup for the benefit of others is troublesome in itself, once you navigate the war zone, you soon realise that with the right mind frame and intentions, makeup is just another form of empowerment.
But what if makeup has never really been on offer for you? Well, there are so many people out there who would love to benefit from makeup's confidence-boosting ability but have never been offered this schooling and you're about to hear from someone who fits this bill.
Well, that's exactly where Kohl Kares steps in. If you haven't heard of this charity, you'll want to pay close attention. It's the brainchild of makeup brand Kohl Kreatives (which, may we add, makes some of the best makeup brushes going) and aims "to bring the basics back to beauty for men and women, so they can feel good about themselves on a daily basis."
Their clientele? Primarily individuals transitioning from one gender to another, whom they help to re-create features cosmetically as well as teach "simple techniques to improve their self-esteem and help them reintegrate into society."
To do so, the charity offers free workshops internationally that teach men and women everything they need to know—and have never been taught traditionally—about makeup so they can head out into the world wearing their most confident face.
Here, we hear from Alicia, an 18-year-old trans teen on why makeup and the Kohl Kares sessions play such an integral part in her journey.
Alicia via Kohl Kares
"On Wednesdays, I would go to an LGTQIA+ meetup, and at a session around a year ago, one of the people who works there mentioned Kohl Kreatives and told us about the Kohl Kares sessions, and I knew I wanted to sign up.
"I didn't have any experience with makeup and wanted to learn the basic skills. I loved makeup and finding out what other people used and so I would spend a lot of time looking in my friends' makeup bags at college and using their products, but I didn't have any of my own. I didn't know really how to do makeup, and so I wanted to find out everything.
"I would spend a lot of time watching YouTube tutorials and on Pinterest looking at inspiration. They're really useful but they lack human interaction, and so that's why I found Kohl Kares such an interesting concept.
"I've now attended five to five sessions, and the standout skill I've learned is how to do eyeliner. It was so tricky at first, but it just takes a lot of practice, and now I can do it. Now it's probably the most important step in my routine. I don't really have any tricks; I just practice and experiment with lots of different styles. I like to use liquid eyeliner because it's similar to a pen, which goes hand in hand with my pastime of drawing. I've also learned things like how to apply blusher and contour, which is stuff I never had access too before, but now I feel like I've really learned how to do it all.
"Makeup has definitely brought on a massive life change for me: It really helps me with my confidence and how I interact with people, as well as reminding me that I can feel badass and beautiful.
"I actually now like makeup as a way to stand out. Not in a weird way, but to make myself feel good.
"Because I'm a really creative person, makeup is also just another way to express myself in an artistic way. I love to draw, and it's just like that—it's another art form, in my opinion, which we can use it to express ourselves, just like how we dress and present ourselves.
"Makeup expands our identities and helps us feel so much more confident. Of course that's not always the case with some people because they find other ways to feel beautiful and love themselves, but makeup just helps a lot of us find what makes us beautiful—everyone has their own way.
"Kohl Kares has definitely boosted my confidence when shopping for makeup and generally talking about makeup because I know what exactly everything is and what I like. I really think it's important that other young trans kids that are interested in makeup seek out Kohl Kares because places like this can really help to drastically boost your confidence which is the main objective when experimenting within a group."