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RuPaul’s 12 Essential Drag Makeup Tools

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Apr 9, 2020 • 3 min read

RuPaul Charles, the host of RuPaul's Drag Race, believes playing with makeup is a chance to experiment with all the colors in the crayon box. It’s an opportunity for self-discovery, rebellion, and transformation.

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RuPaul Teaches Self-Expression and AuthenticityRuPaul Teaches Self-Expression and Authenticity

RuPaul teaches you how to find your inner truth to overcome hardship, gain confidence, and live your best life.

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RuPaul’s 12 Essential Drag Makeup Tools

Before starting your makeover, make sure your toolbox is well stocked with product recommendations from RuPaul and his Emmy-winning makeup artist Raven.

  1. Glue stick. For setting your eyebrows. Elmer’s works fine.
  2. Tape. Mark Traynor’s Miracle Face and Neck Lift Kit uses string and invisible tape to lift the eyes while smoothing the jawline and neck areas. Professional makeup artists even use it to create dramatic looks for fashion shoots and runway shows.
  3. Rubbing alcohol. Apply rubbing alcohol to the spots on your face where you’ll be applying tape, to take the oil out of your brow hairs, and to get rid of any excess sticky stuff. Find it at literally any drugstore.
  4. Foundation. RuPaul uses five different shades of foundation when putting his face on. To find the right shade, RuPaul’s makeup artist Raven recommends swatching your chest and finding a foundation that matches it. One of his favorite products is the relatively inexpensive Kryolan TV Paint Stick, which has been a favorite of stage performers for decades. Raven also loves Kevyn Aucoin’s Sensual Skin Enhancer, a full-coverage, buildable, waterproof concealer—helpful when you’re padded to high heaven and performing death drops.
  5. Highlighter. Highlighters are great for contouring, and there are lots of highlighters on the market. Stila Glitter & Glow Highlighter shimmers from a mix of color and glitter, creating a dazzling, illuminating effect when layered over your favorite powder or used around the eyes. RuPaul’s makeup artist Raven likes to use it on his lips. Anastasia Beverly Hills Amrezy Highlighter is an illuminating powder that can be applied wet or dry.
  6. Setting powder. Mally Beauty’s Face Defender is a sheer, lightweight formula that provides a finishing touch for makeup while reducing the appearance of fine lines, pores, and shine. You can also use it around the lip line to stop lipstick from smearing. Coty Airspun Loose Face Powder is a translucent powder that minimizes fine lines, wrinkles, and acne scars while giving your face a smoother, softer look.
  7. Blush. Ben Nye Fashion Rouge Palette is extra vibrant and can also be used for eye shadow.
  8. Glitter. Add a little extra glam to your look with a versatile glitter such as Lit Cosmetics Glitter in “Spark.” This white glitter can be used anywhere on the face—eyes and lips included—while casting “maximum light reflection.”
  9. Makeup sponge. The Original Beautyblender is a drag-queen essential tool for ensuring even foundation coverage and better penetration of primers, eye treatments, moisturizers, or any skin-care product.
  10. Brushes. Any queen worth her weight in wigs knows you need a quality brush set to put on your face. The five-brush Morphe X Jacyln Hill Complexion Master Collection is a great starter pack for your makeup collection.
  11. Eye makeup. Dramatic eyes can anchor a full face of makeup. For your eye makeup look, you'll typically want mascara, false lashes and lash glue, pencil eyeliner or liquid liner, and a vibrant eyeshadow palette.
  12. Lip makeup. Before doing his lips, Raven uses a primer by MAC to ensure the look doesn’t get “crinkly.” He then uses an angled brush to draw the shape of the lip before filling it in with two other shades of matte lipstick. To add a little shimmer, he’ll use Stila’s Glitter & Glow Highlighter, then he’ll apply Mally Beauty’s Face Defender to decrease the appearance of the natural lip crease and reduce shine. He’ll also apply additional foundation on the sides of the lip to help define the lip line.

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