Emily MacCulloch
Emily MacCulloch

The Need-to-Know Makeup Tips I Learned from Cast Members of RuPaul’s Drag Race

So I have a not-so-secret obsession with RuPaul’s Drag Race. I’ve been a diehard fan since season four aired and I’ll talk to anyone who will listen about my fave queens—I may or may not have converted a few other Glow staffers into becoming believers in the church of Ru. So when RuPaul’s Drag Race Battle of the Seasons (BOTS) tour stopped in Toronto this summer, I knew I had to get backstage to meet some of my all-time fave performers. Not only did I want to get all the gossip from the cast but I also wanted to get a closer look at what their makeup looked like IRL. Luckily, I was able to pick the brains of season four winner Sharon Needles, season five winner Jinkx Monsoon and that season’s Miss Congeniality winner Ivy Winters and season seven runner-up and current All Stars member Ginger Minj. Here are the genius makeup tips I learned from drag queen royalty.

Powder is your BFF
If you want makeup that (really) lasts, setting sprays and primers are all well and good, but it’s powder that you really can’t skimp on. Jinkx walked me through her primping routine where she does all of her foundation, highlighting and contouring with stage makeup first and then goes to town with the powder to keep it all in place for 12+ hours. “You have to pack the powder on,” she says. “The way I know how to do my makeup is until sunrise, Manila [Luzon from season three] says ‘I paint for the Hubble telescope.'” While you don’t have to become a walking powder cloud, throwing on a bit—especially through your T-zone—will ensure your face doesn’t budge.


The trophy for best makeup remover goes to…
Neutrogena wipes! Almost all of the queens I chatted with mentioned these gentle yet super-effective wipes. But it’s not just any Neutrogena wipe. “It’s gotta be the original blue bag, it has to be,” Ginger told me. “One wipe and everything is gone. I’ve used it all and none of it works like those Neutrogena wipes.” She’s referring to the Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes, ICYMI. And these queens are wearing MAKEUP, so you know their remover recos are legit.


Don’t feel pressure to follow beauty trends
I love hitting up Instagram, YouTube or glossy mags to get inspired when I want to switch up my makeup, but Sharon talked to me about how you shouldn’t feel limited by what others are doing on social media when it comes to beauty and I loved her advice. “A lot of people say ‘find your inspiration online’ but I say stay offline, stay off Instagram. There’s no need to follow these beauty trends. You don’t need to wear the matte brown lipstick, you don’t need to have the super highlighted cheeks, you don’t have to warm contour everything on your face. I say look at the makeup in front of you and let the story go from there.” In other words, do what’s right for you and what you’re feeling at that particular moment, don’t wear something just because it’s trendy. Listen to Jinkx’s advice: “When you’re doing your own makeup you’re 100% in charge, nobody else.”


The major key to a natural contour every time
Anyone that’s tried contouring knows that the trick to having it look über-natural is blending blending blending, but that isn’t always easy. Thankfully, Ivy has a tip for getting perfectly seamless chiselled cheekbones and defined features that’s super easy to recreate. Instead of using a brush, use a Beauty Blender sponge. “Blending is key. Oh my god I love that sponge.” Ivy uses it dry to ensure it doesn’t move any of her other makeup, and she swears it works like a dream every time, no matter what product she’s using it with. Consider this brush fiend a sponge convert.