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Courtnei Lee is the founder of OYT Cosmetics, an all-inclusive makeup brand that offers beauty products to the LGBTQ+ community. As a transgender-owned company, OYT is focused on inclusivity in the beauty industry—and is breaking down barriers in the process.
It was Lee’s own personal experiences that motivated her to launch a brand built on inclusivity for all.
Struggling with the existing market, which lacked products the LGBTQ+ community could use comfortably, Lee took it upon herself to represent her community.
It started with a trip to Sephora. Lee was still male-presenting, and says she was clueless when it came to the techniques and products available in the beauty and skin care industry. Through the help of a wonderful employee who sat down with Lee and walked her through everything she needed to know, Lee began her journey of discovery and exploration in the beauty world.
“The respect and the validation that I felt from [that employee] was so empowering that when I walked out of there, I felt like myself,” Lee recalls. “I didn’t feel like somebody that was trapped in the wrong body, and at that moment, I didn’t feel like somebody that was scared of transitioning or scared of the world.”
Lee continued her journey through transitioning and experimentation with beauty, but quickly discovered a gap in the beauty market. There was a lack of products designed for the specific needs of transgender people as well as all LGBTQ+ people. “It is terrifying to have to go through a process of hormone change, where your skin is changing and breaking out and there’s nothing that’s being developed that can help you with that,” Lee says. Instead of waiting around for brands to become inclusive, she took matters into her own hands.
With a collection of products ranging from foundation to eyeshadow to lip gloss, OYT Cosmetics specifically curates items to be safe for all skin types, no matter the situation. Each product is also made from high-quality ingredients approved by Lee herself, and there are resources on the website to help walk customers through the products.
“All of our liquid foundation shades are custom, and it’s something that we can put our stamp of approval on because we’ve gone back and forth through a strenuous process in order to make that happen, and we’re really proud of them,” Lee says. “I would never launch a product that I wasn’t 100% confident in. I am completely involved in the formation of our products. I’ve spent thousands of dollars on foundation from makeup stores, and I took what I felt was missing from those and created it into my own, which is why I feel confident in these products.”
And OYT Cosmetics isn’t just about the brand or the products—it is about the movement to be inclusive. For Lee and the brand she built, inclusivity means expressing yourself however you see fit—all year long.