Androgynous Beauty: How To Get Ambiguously Sexy Hair And Makeup

I'm feeling inspired by David Bowie, Tilda Swinton, and other androgynous icons. That, and I'm feeling lazy.

Part of me has kind of wanted to be a boy ever since I was a kid. It just seems like they have it easier. Sure, societally speaking, women have more options for getting dressed and changing their look through makeup, but with fewer options comes less stress.

Imagine all the surface space you’d save with all those beauty products gone! Imagine the time you’d save in the morning getting ready for work, and all the time you’d save in the shower! You just shampoo and soap up, and you’re done! I’d grow a beard out of laziness, and because beards are awesome.

For those of you who also sometimes feel that the grass might be greener on the other side, I’m going to demonstrate how to pull off the androgynous look.

It’s a little different from the sexy tomboy style you often see in magazines. We won’t be pairing menswear with long hair and lipstick and heels. I love that look, but it doesn’t really work with short hair. If you’re dressing like a boy with short hair, chances are you’ll look like… a boy.

For this look, however, you don’t want your gender to be easily discernable. The key to androgyny is to find that middle ground between male and female and exploit it. Think of David Bowie, Tilda Swinton, Leonardo DiCaprio (in his skinny, floppy-haired phase), Agyness Deyn, and my current favorite androgynous beauty, Rooney Mara. Generally, these people are so striking that it doesn’t even matter what gender they identify with.

The best part about this look, in my opinion, is that it doesn’t take a lot of work. I broke it down into two parts: face and hair.


Your face is going to be a blank canvas onto which people can project their hangups about rigid gender norms. There’s not going to be a lot of distraction in the form of fancy eye makeup or bright lipstick, so make sure that canvas looks flawless.

I’ve been using Revlon ColorStay foundation in Buff recently, which has really strong, long-lasting coverage. I also dotted some of my Maybelline Fit Me Concealer on top.

One note: I do recommend using a BB cream instead of foundation for this look if you can swing it; it will even out your skin and give you a nice dewy glow without making it look like you’re wearing a lot of makeup.

The main part of this look is strong brows. If I’m not wearing a cat eye or red lipstick, I need some kind of drama on my face.

Don’t try to make your brows too angular, as I think that reads as too feminine. Just lightly fill them in with a powder and maybe some strokes of an eyebrow pencil.

Finally, I did a little contouring. I didn’t want my face to look flat after foundation, nor did I want my dark brows to be the only contrast on my face, so some bronzer was necessary.

I took my e.l.f. Contouring Blush and Bronzer Powder and simply blended a dark line under my cheekbones with the bronzer, starting from my temples. I used my fingers and my e.l.f. Kabuki Brush to blend.

It helps to suck your cheeks in to find the hollows that you’ll be contouring. You can also use a darker shade of foundation instead of bronzer. I have to be careful to find a shade that’s not too dark or orange on my pale skin, but this powder from e.l.f. does the job.

That’s it for your face--just three simple steps! No lipstick, mascara, blush, etc. Doesn’t it feel good to simplify?


The hair is even simpler. I did three different hairstyles that look hot for both sexes. I demonstrated these with my pixie cut, but I’ll explain how you can do them with longer hair, too.

For authenticity, I borrowed my boyfriend’s hair gel. He only uses American Crew Light Hold Styling Gel; in fact, I’m pretty sure it’s the only product he owns besides a toothbrush and deodorant. I can get behind that minimalism… for a day.

First, I had fun with the most complicated style: the pompadour. It's actually not complicated at all. I took my mini straightening iron to the front section of my dry hair, curling up and away from my face. The gel helped it stay in place, and bobby pins can help with that, too, if needed. You can easily change this look into a fauxhawk if you want.

To do the pompadour with long hair: tie your hair back but leave a good portion of the front of your hair out. Make sure that the sides of your hair are slicked flat. Then take the front portion of your hair, tease some volume out of it by back brushing it, and then pin it to the top of your head.

Next, I did a hairstyle favored by lazy boys and girls alike: messy bed head.

Your hair should be a little damp, or at least greasy; just rub some gel or pomade in it and arrange your bangs artfully in front of your face so that it looks like they just happened to fall that way.

To do the messy bangs with long hair: Put your hair in a tight, low ponytail and let your bangs fall sideways across your face. If you don’t have bangs, fake them with a deep side part, letting the front of your hair fall diagonally across your forehead before pulling it into the ponytail.

For the last hairstyle, I snuck into a Starbucks bathroom (glamour!) and generously wet all of my hair. Then I used the gel and a comb to slick it back.

To do slicked back long hair: Basically do the same thing, or check out Abby's tutorial.

I think I’ll be doing this whenever I get tired of perfectly applied hot pink lipstick and smoky eyeshadow. It’s simple but attention-grabbing.

Would you do the androgynous look? Who’s your favorite example of androgyny?