In his fifteen years as a makeup artist, Justin Tyme has put lipstick on people from nearly every walk of life.
His experience has culminated in the creation of Gender Fluid lipsticks by Tyme Cosmetics. One dollar from every lipstick sold will benefit Tyme's nonprofit organization, "I Wore Lipstick," with the mission to spread awareness of equality issues faced by lipstick wearers through education, entertainment, and art.
"I really wanted a cosmetic company to step in and support IWL the way we've seen some support causes in the past," he told A Plus via email. "Realizing it might be a while — if ever — before any cosmetic companies took interest, I decided to take it upon myself to create one."
Over the course of his career, Tyme noticed that most lipstick was geared only toward feminine glamour. But he believes everyone who wants to wear lipstick can — and should.
"I wanted my lipsticks to be the exact opposite of that stereotype," he said. "So many of the LGBTQ community are lipstick wearers, as are many of our allies." After the marriage equality act was passed last summer, Tyme decided to focus his nonprofit's efforts on advocating for women's and transgender equality.
Tyme has always viewed equality as a lifelong priority, as he believes it should be for everyone. Whenever he's witnessed discrimination, he has felt sad and angry — but also a strong desire to help in any way he can.
"I had to focus what I was feeling and decide what I could try to do to balance the scales," he told A Plus. "I knew I wanted to involve my passion for makeup, which lead to wanting to help lipstick wearers."
For Tyme, no object better symbolizes equality than lipstick.
Working for years in cosmetic retail hosting events, he would apply lipstick to dozens of different faces daily, often the same exact shade.
"The fact that the high powered Wall St. business executive, her child's third grade teacher, the teacher's US Army Marine best friend, and the Marine's transgender brother might all wear the same shade is mind blowing!" "
"It means something so different to each wearer, yet is important to each wearer nonetheless," he continued. "The attachments to lipstick run the full spectrum of human emotion for so many people. How could it not be a symbol for equality?"
In his case, lipstick isn’t just a symbol of equality, but a means of achieving it.
Though there is no biological need for gender-fluid lipstick (all faces can wear pretty much the same makeup, according to Tyme), there may be an emotional one. "For some, learning to do makeup is a part of their transformation. It's a new skill and a step towards leading an authentic life," Tyme told A Plus. "Shopping for makeup and learning to apply [it] is no easy task for anyone, let alone someone becoming who they were meant to be that may face negativity while doing so."
With Tyme Cosmetics, he hopes to use lipstick and makeup to help both transgender and cisgendered people find their true selves. "The first question I ask every client is: 'Who do you want to be today, and where are we going?'" he added. "It doesn't matter who the face is."
While cisgendered, heterosexual men may be the least likely demographic to wear lipstick — even if it's labeled gender-fluid — Tyme encourages them to go for it. "It's makeup, and you can wash it off if you're not feeling it," he said. "Just like with trying anything new, a moment's courage and it's done." He advises interested men to ease into color with something natural and complimentary to their skin tone, rather than a bright red.
Tyme recognizes many men are staunchly against lip wear, but he doesn't mind. "It's not for everyone to wear, and I respect that," he said, "Just as [a] man should respect that some people love to wear it."
And those who do won't have to wait much longer to love wearing Tyme Cosmetics.
The Gender Fluid lipsticks are set to release July 1, though the brand has already gained support from a notable celebrity, Miley Cyrus.
Having met her through his husband, Tyme sent Cyrus a box of his lipsticks as a gift, which she Instagrammed on June 22. "I wanted her to be among the first to have the lipsticks," Tyme told A Plus, "I never imagined she would post about it!"
Her support has had an immeasurable effect on Tyme Cosmetics and Tyme himself.
"It isn't possible to express the gratitude that I feel for her," he said. "The comments and stories I am getting from her fans are truly touching and inspiring." Since the post, both 'I Wore Lipstick' and Tyme Cosmetics have gained many new followers. In the future, he would love to collaborate more with Cyrus' Happy Hippie Foundation, which supports homeless and LGBTQ youth.
Because I Wore Lipstick and Tyme Cosmetics are both relatively new endeavors, Tyme still focuses most of his time and effort on setting up best practices. Nevertheless, he told A Plus, "The sky is the limit at this point, and I am ready to work."
Tyme aims to expand his gender fluid lipstick collection to include glosses, crayons, pencils, and liquid lipsticks hopefully by 2017. "I want to have Tyme Cosmetics be a symbol for equality and diversity in the beauty world and to help 'I Wore Lipstick' thrive," he said.
For now, his company will offer six shades of gender-fluid lipsticks, ranging from light pink to dark coral. But the color doesn't really matter — equality looks good on everyone.