“[Skin care] is really a great moment to just focus on yourself,” a bare-faced Janet Mock says in Vogue’s latest Beauty Secrets. “It reminds you: this is who I am, this is my face, love myself, here I am…” Today, the Pose writer and activist, who made history for becoming the first trans woman of color to direct a television episode, is pulling back the curtain on her everyday above-the-neck routine.
“I started really struggling with acne when I was in the 10th grade, probably right after I really went hard and deep into my transition. You know, dealing with hormone therapy, it can kind of do a number in addition to being in puberty,” she recalls. These days, the 38-year-old has exchanged the three-step Proactiv routine of her teenage years with what she calls an “indulgent” arsenal of complexion heroes, such as an exfoliating peel pad, a feel-good peppermint- and patchouli-laced facial mist, and a hyaluronic acid ampoule that she slathers across her skin quite generously. “As Elektra says on Pose, ‘I don’t want to be little; I want to be more!’”
Picking up her go-to Benefit Magnet lengthening mascara, Mock continues, “When you take care of your skin, you don’t have to wear as much [makeup].” Instead of piling on products, she now opts for a more breathable equation, which begins with a combination of Laura Mercier and Charlotte Tilbury bases followed by a lightweight concealer from Pat McGrath Labs. “When I was growing up, there weren’t many cosmetics brands that were making colors and hues for all kinds of different ranges of skin tone,” she says. “I’m so glad that we now have Pat McGrath and we have Fenty Beauty, which I also love, out there doing this important work of inclusive beauty and making us all feel like we’re deserving of taking up space not only in the world but in the little things—like in Sephora, at Blue Mercury, at any kind of makeup counter…that we matter and we belong here and we deserve to have products that reflect our range of beauty.”
Such a sentiment marks just how far she has come in loving herself: “I used to struggle so much with just accepting myself and looking at myself and saying that who I am and how I am and how I’m presenting right now is the truth to me, and it feels correct and it feels right,” she shares. “Today, we’re struggling so much with this idea of giving space, specifically for trans youth [who are] currently under attack. It’s disappointing that adults are using them as wedge issues in political stuff and not knowing those little intricacies of the struggles that young people, period, go through, [like] accepting themselves, and being a young person that’s also trans, trying to just navigate puberty and childhood and adolescence and all of that stuff, and trying to accept yourself in a culture that’s constantly telling you you don’t belong and we don’t want you there…so the presence of folks like Laverne Cox and MJ Rodriguez and Indya Moore and all of these amazing Black trans women, specifically in media, I think really helps elevate the lived experiences that I think a lot of people are missing in this [world].”
Putting her best face forward, Mock then reaches for Milk’s creamy pigment stick—a.k.a. her “MVP” and one of the few products she absolutely must, she notes with a smile, apply before leaving home. “I feel like blush…and bronzer…and mascara…and skin care…and everything, just wakes you up!” she says, breaking into a laugh. A high-shine duo—courtesy of Lancôme’s plumping lip gloss and Glossier’s Haloscope Highlighter, dotted down the bridge of her nose and across her cheekbones—provides the finishing touch. As for her parting words? “Be well, love yourself, take your time, be present, love your body—it’s important! Take care.”
Filmed at Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills
Below, shop Janet Mock’s Beauty Secrets.