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Up Education

Breaking the mould of the beauty industry

31 Oct 2022

Gee Pikinga is proudly takataapui (non-binary), with a clipped beard and beautifully applied makeup as a way to express this.

“I grew up in a time when people were very closed-minded. When I would wear makeup as a teenager, it wasn’t accepted by some,” says Gee.

Dedicated to breaking the mould of conventional beauty standards, Gee has been the head of the industry high table as the New Zealand Makeup Director for Maybelline New York for the last five years.

“As an artist, there is no more valuable a canvas than yourself.”

“I see makeup and fashion as a mechanism for breaking down and re-establishing identity.”

“My aesthetic is very androgynous which may spark conversations around what is fashion relative to gender, and challenge these perceptions.”

Gee experimented with makeup from childhood and bravely began to wear makeup openly when they were still at high school, before studying fashion makeup and hair at Cut Above Academy. After fourteen years in the industry, Gee returned to Cut Above Academy as a mentor to harvest the next generation of talent who aren’t afraid to embrace their individuality.

As a role model and a natural teacher, Gee was selected to be the lead makeup artist for the New Zealand edition of Project Runway. Gee would later be recruited to be the judge for TVNZ show Glow Up, based on the BBC format where talented makeup artists battle it out as they navigate inspiring and creative challenges.

Now as the face of international beauty brand Maybelline New York, Gee is driven to showcase the brand’s diversity as its New Zealand Makeup Director.

Gee is hopeful about the progress being made: “The diversity represented by the individuals at the forefront of fashion and beauty in New Zealand gives me hope that we will continue to set a standard in the industry and society that is world recognised.”