"Beauty didn't just affirm my gender... it also offered me a tool to forgive myself"
Meet Cyrus Vessi (he/they), a multi-hyphenate creator and writer that lives in New York City. We asked Cyrus about why they create, what heals them and, of course, their skincare routine.
You said in one of our favorite posts on Instagram that makeup is personal, that it’s a tool that helps you heal old wounds. How do you hope to use makeup to Dieux You and do you have any advice for anyone that isn’t kind to themselves?
Makeup can be both a form of expression, but it can also be quite personal. Each of us have our own unique relationship with makeup. Each look represents a feeling, an emotion, a reality that we’re living. And despite the fact that many of us use makeup as a tool of outward expression, I’ve always found makeup to be a healing process for me — something quite personal actually.
Diving deep into the world of beauty didn’t just affirm my gender and allow me to explore everything divinely feminine — it also offered me a tool to forgive myself for every horrible thing I used to say about my face, my body, and even my identity.
There is something profoundly powerful about recreating the looks you were socialized into believing weren’t beautiful once you’ve reached a place in your life where you can unapologetically accept yourself.
We can unlearn the behaviors we’ve been socialized into adopting. I always think about the fact that we were born into a world that taught us what to see and not see as beautiful.
I remember looking in the mirror and truly believing that I needed to change, otherwise, I would never be deemed as beautiful. I think that’s why a lot of us who have grown up and become public-facing in beauty are so unapologetically ourselves. I think a lot of it is to make up for the time we lost.
How has creating content on beauty changed as you get older?
I think everyone deserves beauty. And everyone deserves to use and feel confident in makeup. As I've gotten older, I’ve definitely realized that beauty is truly such a subjective experience, and I found this fully started to resonate when I started getting positive comments about the aspects of my face and body that I felt most negative about. How odd? I’m always seeing something different than what others are. And for better or worse, it’s made me realize that at the end of the day, my opinion is the only one that matters.
And then, on the other side of things, I’ve started to get negative comments about the aspects of my body and face that I am MOST confident about. I think age has taught me that beauty goes beyond what you see. It’s deeply ingrained in how you feel. For me, it’s this sudden burst of energy and joy that hits my body the moment I look into the mirror and see the version of myself that I love.
I think as you get older, your priorities change. I have no interest in staying or looking young forever. I think aging is something that’s very sacred, especially as someone who always used to worry about the future. I look forward to it and doing so MY way.
As I get older, I think a lot about what I would tell my younger self. What advice would I give them? What would I do differently? It comes down to one simple expression: I just hope they know that I’m finally at peace.
How do you address negative comments?
Each negative comment is a cry for help. It truly is. I never attach myself to that negativity, because I’ve learned that another person’s hate or disdain has nothing to do with me. I don’t feel that way, so why would I attach my emotions to it? I see negative comments this way: when someone says something rude or hurtful on my platform, it’s never about me. Maybe in their mind it’s an attempt to locate my trauma, but in reality, what they’re doing is identifying their own. And that has nothing to do with me.
Someone I look up to a lot is Alok Vaid-Menon. They have taught me so much about leading with empathy, and leaving room for comedy. I try, as much as possible, to respond to negativity with compassion, because I’ve learned that everyone needs to feel seen, even my biggest haters. I don’t think anyone who’s comfortable and confident in who they are would ever tear somebody else down who’s just living their life if they weren’t battling some demons on the inside.
If I listened to what people told me, I wouldn’t be even an inch close to the distance I’ve traveled, and the milestones I’ve achieved. I dedicate a lot of my success to the resilience I’ve forced myself into adopting, until the point at which it started to just come naturally.
Why did you get into creating content on beauty and skincare?
I really just needed to see a version of myself thriving and taking up space. I think at the start of my career, I was super focused on “making it,” on landing major campaigns and proving that I could live out the fantasy that I believed I deserved. Once that happened, I wanted more and more and more. I soon realized that one needs to be super cognizant of their intentions and why they’re doing something. At some of my highest highs career-wise, I felt lowest mentally and emotionally.
I’ve learned that one of my boundaries is keeping some of my beauty/skincare/wellness journey private. I don’t need to record every BTS experience. That’s actually why I don’t vlog. I feel like it’s a breach of my privacy. I think it took a few years for me to slowly create the proper boundaries to which I would find some sort of emotional stability working in this industry. And I’m still working on it :)
If you enter an industry like beauty for external validation, you’ll find yourself in a very tricky and often problematic space. I learned that the hard way. My goal is no longer to just be seen and praised, it’s to leave a footprint behind that inspires my younger self, and all the younger versions of me out there.
Your mom (icon) and dad (also icon but this post of your mom!) are featured a lot on your Instagram. What part do they have to play in how you approach beauty?
Funnily enough, this took…a while. I love my parents, and I think coming out was the easiest and most nurturing experience I’ve ever had (super lucky about that too). I do think, however, it took them a bit longer to unpack gendered norms around beauty.
At first it was like, “you don’t need makeup, you’re beautiful!” which I found super sweet and endearing, but it was more so trying to get them to understand that makeup was more so of a validation of my gender fluidity, not my appearance.
We’ve also had some very transparent conversations about language that I feel comfortable and uncomfortable hearing when it comes to my appearance, and they respect that fully. For example, being called “handsome,” to me is not my fave expression. It makes me think of all the times when people called me handsome when I was younger, and how dysphoric I felt about my gender at the time, and how all that did was just reify that I was a “man.”
How does skincare play into your makeup and beauty routine? And yes, we’d also like some of your favorite products both in skincare and beauty.
Incredible question. I only recently (oops) started to truly prep my skin properly before doing makeup — like fully going in on moisturizing, hydrating, and any other prep before applying a look.
I also think the fact that I’m literally applying SPF every 2 hours (YES every 2 hours) has dramatically uplifted my skincare/beauty routines.
TOP 3 FAVE SKINCARE BRANDS/PRODUCTS AT THE MOMENT
- TULA Protect + Glow Daily Sunscreen Gel: LITERALLY leaves the most beautiful glow on the skin
- Shiseido ANYTHING: I am such a fan of their formulas and my skin reacts in a super positive way to their moisturizers and eye creams
- Dieux eye masks, of course: Truly a game changer, and I like to travel with them, too and have a little self care moment on the plane/train
TOP 3 FAVE BEAUTY BRANDS/PRODUCTS AT THE MOMENT
- The NARS light reflecting foundation: INSANELY iconic and literally melts into your skin
- The DIORSHOW Mascara: I can’t tell you how unbelievable this makes my lashes look — the volume is crazy but it doesn't clump
- The new FENTY Cherry Treat Lip Oil: throw every other lip oil away; this one wins