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We Talked to a Sephora Makeup Artist Teaching Classes for the Transgender Community

“I want people to feel inspired and not feel ashamed, because we’re an amazing community and we should feel proud of who we are.”

A makeup class for transgender clients at Sephora.

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Last week, Sephora announced a new initiative in which it will offer free 90-minute makeup classes for people who identify as transgender and nonbinary. The beauty retailer has offered classes in categories like teen makeup and no-makeup makeup for a long time. There’s even one specifically for Fenty foundation.

But these new classes, which started this week and are available throughout the country, are different. They’re part of the retailer’s Classes for Confidence initiative, which it says is designed to make a “social impact.” In the past, Sephora has sponsored sessions for people reentering the workforce and classes for people undergoing cancer treatment.

“We stand with all members of the LGBTQA community and are committed to providing these individuals with the tools they want to feel confident and beautiful every single day,” Corrie Conrad, the head of social impact and sustainability for Sephora, said in a press release.

The instructors are Sephora cast members (as they’re called), “some of whom have their own personal gender journey.” (It’s important and laudable that Sephora has included them in this way; please see Ipsy’s latest controversy for what not to do as a brand.)

Jayde Sandoval, a Sephora cast member.

One of these is Jayde Sandoval, a 24-year-old Sephora cast member who has been with the company for three years. She has several transgender clients and will teach the group classes in her Bay Area store. Sandoval spoke to Racked by phone to discuss her experience with makeup and what it means to the transgender community.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed.

What’s your background, and who taught you how to do makeup?

I was always interested in makeup. I remember when I was a kid, my mom used to sell Avon and I used to always steal her lipsticks and her eyeliners. I would always play around with makeup, but it wasn’t until I was a teenager that I really found that passion for it. It’s funny, because the first time I ever actually tried on makeup fully was when I first went to my local Sephora, which is where I work now. I went in and got a little mini makeover, and ever since then, I was like, “Okay, this is definitely something I want to pursue.”

Once I finished high school, I was already doing my friends’ prom makeup, I was doing their formal makeup. I wanted to be a makeup artist. [My high school counselor] encouraged me to be a cosmetologist, so that’s what I did.

Did you go to school for that?

I went to beauty school, but a lot of what I learned, honestly, was from my own trial and error. My school was really heavily focused on hair and nails. They literally had one makeup class, and the instructor had me teach it!

What are some of the challenges transgender people face when it comes to makeup?

I think probably one of the biggest challenges in the trans community with makeup is really learning how to properly apply it. A lot of us have never played with makeup until we were finally ready to transition, so it’s pretty overwhelming. That’s probably the biggest question I get from my trans clients — proper application techniques. A lot of them know that they need a mascara, they know that they need an eyeliner, but they don’t know how to apply it.

Have you ever had an experience where you walked into a store or tried on makeup and you’ve experienced people not understanding or saying something negative?

I did — when I was first starting to wear makeup when I was a teenager. I walked into a store one time and I remember vividly, I was trying on a red lipstick, and this person walked by and she gave me the meanest stare and she was like, “You shouldn’t be wearing makeup.” I remember I told her, “I’m allowed to wear anything I want. If I want to wear red lipstick at noon, I feel like I should be allowed to wear red lipstick.” She didn’t respond and she just kept walking.

A demo makeup class for transgender clients at Sephora.

How will you run the classes?

For the first class, we’re really going to tailor it to complexion. I feel like for the trans community, that’s probably our biggest opportunity, learning how to perfect a really flawless complexion. A lot of us are going through so many transitions internally and physically.

We’ll start off with proper skin care. Then we will go in for color correction, like how you cover up the five o’clock shadow from a beard. We’re going to walk them through foundation, blush application, a little bronzer. Just really complexion-based.

Are there other certain techniques that are important for trans clients to master?

I also want to go over contouring and highlighting. That’s probably the biggest thing that we hear about right now in the beauty world. Specifically for the transgender community, contouring and highlighting is where it’s at. We really want to highlight those features that are going to make us look super soft and super feminine, and we want to contour or hide some areas, such as where maybe we have a stronger jawline. Those types of things.

A makeup class at Sephora.

Can you tell me a story about how makeup has made a difference for a trans person you’ve helped?

Just a couple of months ago, I was helping these two girls from Arizona who were visiting and I had just clocked in. They were browsing and I could see them from the corner of my eye, and they were just staring at me. They approached me and they asked me if I could help them apply lashes and eyeliner, because I was wearing these huge lashes and a winged liner.

I sat them down and we started off with a mini makeover, which is a 15-minute application; then after a while, we got comfortable with each other and they shared their story with me. I shared mine with them, and then I gave them both a full makeover and they were super happy. They kept thanking me and letting me know how amazing they felt.

And a couple days later, they came back to my store and one pulled me aside and were like, “Hey, girl, you have no idea what you did for me. You made me feel as beautiful as I feel on the inside, on the outside. So I really want to thank you.” And that just made me feel really great. I’m making a difference.

Have you ever helped someone in the trans community who was just getting started with makeup?

A month ago I had this client come in, and I’d helped her a couple times, but this time she opened up to me, letting me know that her son had just expressed that he wanted to start wearing makeup and he was ready to transition. And she felt like she was on edge because she was like, “I don’t know how to help him. I don’t really know a lot about makeup in general.”

We set up an appointment for him to come in and he had never worn any makeup at all. So I started him off with the basics. We went over everything. It was really nice because you could see him transforming, not only with the makeup — you could see his attitude, his shoulders started to go up, I could see him in the mirror starting to smile and feel it. This is exactly what we want. We want people to feel empowered.

What do you hope people get out of these classes? What is the message you want to send?

I just really hope that people feel welcome and they feel safe after these classes. I really hope they gain a lot of knowledge and just feel inspired. I wish I could have attended something like this back in my day. I remember I used to feel almost embarrassed to walk into a makeup store or walk by a makeup counter and ask for help. So to actually have these classes and feel welcome is just amazing. I want people to feel inspired and not feel ashamed, because we’re an amazing community and we should feel proud of who we are.