Beauty Journal: Shakina Nayfack

What better way to dash away the Monday Blues than with a brand new edition of Beauty Journal! Today I'm talking to the incomparable Shakina Nayfack about her beauty journey, and I'm so grateful that she took some time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions! Shakina is an incredible performer, director, producer, writer, and social activist. She recently joined the cast of one of my favorite new shows, Difficult People, and I can't wait for the new season to start! In 2015, she became the first trans woman to win a Lilly Award which recognizes the awesome contributions from women in American Theater. She's also the Founding Artistic Director of Musical Theatre Factory (MTF), a volunteer-based organization dedicated to helping musical theatre artists develop and present new work. Check out their site for more info! Shakina is a serious Renaissance woman and I feel so lucky to know her; she inspires me to work hard and kick ass. Let's get to it!

Tell us about yourself!

"Hey, do you want to know if I can act? Gimme a scene to read, I'll act, I'll perform. but I can't just talk." - Diana Morales, A Chorus Line.

Were you into makeup while you were growing up?

Was I into it? Yes! Was it allowed, no! I used to steal makeup from the drugstore, do my face in the girl's bathroom a la Ricki from "My So-Called Life," then sneak off to the Rocky Horror Picture Show on Saturday nights. Afterwards, I'd wash my face in the restroom at the movie theater with hand soap and paper towels. I was "gothic" in high school, but really I was just depressed and looking for a way to wear nail polish and eyeliner.

When did you start wearing makeup or developing a skincare routine?

For the first half of my life, wearing makeup was either covert or confrontational. It wasn't necessarily coupled with self-love, as that was something I was still a long way from finding. Learning how to care for my skin was part of the bigger journey of learning how to care for and about myself. It really wasn't until I was in my early 30s and beginning my official gender transition that I started developing the skincare routine I have now. It's not that deep, but I don't think I had the wherewithal to care for my skin while I was still secretly hating the body it covered.

What are your skincare and beauty priorities?

First and foremost, I'm a feminist. So while I enjoy looking glamorous it's always important for me to question whose standards of beauty I'm trying to live up to, and why. My number one beauty priority is to feel powerful in my own body, so sometimes that means not wearing makeup and being proud of my natural presence, giving my skin a chance to breathe freely, and sometimes that means being beat for the gods and showing up fierce.

What's your daily skincare routine?

Confession: I still have to shave my face. Not every day, but I still do most days. Even after a year of laser and 15 hours of electrolysis! I use Headslick by Headblade for everywhere I shave, because that's what it says on the bottle, "Use everywhere you shave." I love that product, I've used it basically since it came on the market. I use an oil-free daily scrub from Neutrogena, and Keys Eye Butter for under my eyes (my mom recommended it to me and we both use it religiously.) I like custom mixing affordable products to get the results I need, so before I put on makeup I'll use a mixture of Clean & Clear Dual Action Moisturizer with Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15. For body I use Shea Moisture's African Black Soap Body Lotion. It goes on rich and smells divine. I don't wear makeup every day, but when I do it's a pretty involved routine: color-correcting under the eyes, concealer on nose and chin, foundation, contour, blush, blending, brows, liner, shadow, lashes, shimmer... It sounds like a lot but I get my whole face on in 10 minutes! Someday I'll be famous and brand-loyal, but for now I'm usually working with Nars, Bare Minerals, Makeup Forever, and Mac. For taking everything off at night, I'm an old-school showgirl and I keep it classy with cold cream and cotton balls.

What's your signature beauty look?

Somewhere between Punk Rock Goddess and Glamazon Warrior Princess!

What's your secret weapon?

A friend just turned me on to Champagne Pop by Becca from Jaclyn Hill. It's a shimmering skin perfecter that comes in a pressed powder and you can only get it at Sephora (they're nearly always sold out.) It's an incredible product. You literally brush the lightest stroke on your cheeks and your whole look is suddenly radiant and flawless.

What's your favorite pizza topping?

Jalapeno and pineapple, though that's asking a lot for most people to handle. (Lourdes' note: Have I finally found my pizza soulmate?!?!)


I had a shaved head for 15 years. I'm only just now learning how to deal with hair. It's complicated, because I started going bald as a dude in my early 20s and I don't have a lot to work with. After my gender confirmation surgery (a year and a half ago) I wanted some way to show the world that things had changed, that I was a different person, so I started wigging. I've been growing my hair out since, but without cover I look sort of like a mad scientist, bald on top and long on the back and sides. I guess you could say I have the ultimate mullet. I tried weaves a couple times, but have settled on wearing human-hair full lace wigs that I can either sew in, glue, or tape down for long-term wear, or take on and off daily. I'm still learning how to take care of them, and honestly it's something that has been an emotional issue for me. In my ever-unfolding quest to challenge my own body image issues, I've recently started un-wigging very openly at the gym, hanging it up in my locker and walking around freely with my mad scientist look, throwing the hair I've got into a ponytail and working out with a baseball cap on. I figure I'll go back to shaving my head fully one of these days, probably for a show, but for now I really love the feel of my own long hair, even if I keep it hidden most of the time.

Do you have any bad beauty habits?

I still bite my nails sometimes, when I'm stressed or nervous.

If you have one, who or what is your favorite beauty inspiration?

There's this quote I love and I've repeated it to myself forever, but I can't for the life of me remember where it comes from: "If you're old enough to date, you're old enough to have a beauty regimen." If anyone knows where that line is from please remind me, I've googled it, it's not traceable.

If you were stranded on a desert island with three beauty products, what would they be?

Hawaiian Tropic Sunscreen, because sunblock would be essential and the scent of their product reminds me of happy times growing up by the beach. Headblade and a Gillette Fusion razor because even alone I like to stay smooth. And Keys Eye Butter because it's the best and could totally double as a lip balm (again, thinking practically.)

How do you pamper yourself?

I'm a sucker for a spa day! If I can afford mani-pedi and a massage I am in heaven!

And lastly, what's the worst beauty trend you ever tried?

When I was in college there was this stone-like thing that was supposedly a hair epilator that you were supposed to rub on your skin in the shower without shaving or anything. I tried it once and when I got out of the shower and dried off I had abrasions literally all over my body. I looked like I had gotten hit by a car while riding my bike, and I didn't even have a bike. From then on, Headblade!


Thank you so much for chatting so candidly with us, Shakina! It's an honor to have you be a part of my little corner of the internet!