Since Rupaul’s Drag Race became an international sensation, the influence of drag queens on the makeup world is becoming more and more obvious. Looking back, it’s no coincidence that contouring became such a big trend after Raven’s run on the show, or that everyone was wearing so much highlighter after seeing Farrah Moan. Since the influence of drag queens has been so overlooked over the years, it’s time to give a “yas queen!” to the ones have been changing the makeup game.
One of the queens that I love seeing on my Instagram is Trixie Mattel. My favourite thing about Trixie is that she’s not remotely trying to look like a woman; her overexaggerated look is well-known for being something that people either love or hate. When I first saw her face I had no idea what I was looking at, and I think that was the point. From the insane cheek contour to the ridiculous amount of eyeliner, Trixie’s Barbie-doll aesthetic both celebrates and mocks femininity at the same time. Even after following her for a while the strangeness of her face is something so magnetising to me and that’s why her makeup is so cool.
Another queen I want to give some love to is Pearl Liason. I’m going to be honest, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Pearl on season seven of Drag Race, but in the last couple of years her look has completely transformed and I’m living for it. While queens like Trixie tend to paint a similar face every time, Pearl’s feed is a compilation of completely different (and equally flawless) makeup looks. Her signature look resembles a porcelain doll with long lower lashes and beautiful blended brows, but her alter-ego, Roxanne, has huge fake-looking lips and high up brows that make her look both hilarious and impressive. Her hair also deserves a shout out: while drag queens traditionally wear huge voluminous wigs, Pearl often wears these Daisy from Great Gatsby-esque bobs that make her look elegant and sleek. She looks unlike anyone else I’ve ever seen and for a drag queen that can only be a good thing.
It would be a crime to talk about drag makeup without talking about Kim Chi. When she walked into the workroom on season eight, she promised to “destroy everyone with (her) makeup” and that she did. Kim’s Korean heritage is clearly a huge influence on her work, and her huge signature eyes make her look like she stepped out of an anime into real life. She’s another queen who experiments a lot with her face, using it as the focus of her entire look; her black and white runway from Drag Race was mind-blowing. To me, her level of skill when it comes to makeup is pretty much unmatched by anyone else who has been on the show, and I’m in awe every time I see her.
Getting into Drag Race was the first time I was ever really excited about makeup because drag queens aren’t painting to look more socially acceptable, they’re doing it to explore different sides of themselves and push makeup as an art form. Following these queens helped me stop viewing makeup as something that made me look better and used it instead to explore other sides of myself. And for that, I tip my wig to them.