After 10 years of RuPaul’s Drag Race bringing drag culture to mainstream TV audiences, the UK is getting its own version of the show, filled with British “charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent” – and, of course, makeup. Drag queens are known for their exaggerated makeup: false eyelashes, bold brows and extreme contouring are all commonplace. So, too, is a lot of glitter (and to do Drag Race shimmer sustainably see options here and here). Importantly, whether comical, cartoonish or comparatively subtle, drag makeup is always on point. Here are the tips and tricks that translate from the werk room into everyday makeup looks, according to former Drag Race contestants.
Courtney Act: ‘Press Sellotape on to glitter to remove’
It sounds like a cliche, but good makeup starts with good skin. The best makeup tip is to drink water – not just while you put your makeup on, but generally. It plumps up your skin and makes it glow.
Your foundation shade should always resemble your skin tone. Skin comes in different tones – this applies to all skin colours – so some people have warm tones, some have cool tones. One thing I often see is orange foundation with pink necks.
People always ask me how to apply glitter and sparkles. You can stick crystals on your face with eyelash glue, the same for glitter. The trick is taking your time, using a fine angled brush and being quite precise. Then there’s how to take glitter off – because if you just wash your face, then you will end up with glitter everywhere for days. Instead, get some Sellotape and press it on to the glitter to remove. That will leave you properly glitter-free.
The Vixen: ‘It baffles me that people use tape to draw on their eyeliner wings’
If you are in a rush, then pick up your black eyeshadow and don’t put it down until you are done. You can use it for eyeliner, eyebrows, your eyeshadow crease – so just do them all at once, using one angled brush.
I tend to do my brows using a gold liquid liner, which really adds a pop. I have even done it as a boy, when I have been going out to a club. It baffles me that people use tape or card to draw on their eyeliner wings – it’s not that hard to draw a straight line at a 45-degree angle! It looks manufactured and just makes me think that you failed art class.
Drag makeup is designed to pop. The minute you walk in a room you’re going to catch everyone’s eye because your features are so exaggerated. I love the transformation that I create using makeup and I love knowing that people in the back row can see every detail.
Alaska Thunderfuck: ‘You can also use liquid lipsticks for eye colour’
I call my face a Frankenstein face because there’s no one brand that I use on every single area. I use Kryolan and Mac foundation, all different kinds of eyeshadow, and liquid lipsticks from Anastasia. It’s a good idea to play and experiment.
I use liquid lipsticks because they stay put. I’m not one of these dainty queens who has to have a straw – honey, I’m using my mouth. I’m eating, I’m drinking, I’m talking and I need lipsticks that stay where they are supposed to. You can also use liquid lipsticks for eye colour.
Ongina: ‘You don’t have to paint with all the colours of the rainbow’
Your eyebrows should be at least close relatives – if possible, twin sisters. When it comes to eye makeup, you don’t have to paint with all the colours of the rainbow. I’ve seen a lot of people who have obviously bought an eyeshadow palette that has five colours, and then put all five colours on their eyelids without blending them. The main technique is to go from light to dark, from the brow bone down to your eyelid. Then just blend everything.
My go-to lipstick right now is anything nude – for me that means a muted, matt grey-toned pink colour. Currently I use Sugarpill Cosmetics Liquid Lip Colour in Trifle. It’s easy and it complements any makeup look. If you wear red and it bleeds out, you can look as if you’ve bitten into a red berry, but that doesn’t happen with nudes.
I take as much time on my makeup as I do in creating a look or preparing for a performance and I think that is why drag queens tend to look so good. Beyond makeup techniques, it’s really down to time and preparation.
RuPaul’s Drag Race UK starts on BBC Three on 3 October at 8pm and will be exclusively available on BBC iPlayer