Asking a beauty professional—whether it’s a celebrity hairstylist, a makeup artist, or an Instagram influencer (hi, 2020)—for advice is always a safe bet. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll find there are plenty of other people out there who are legitimate authorities in their own right. In our column Unlikely Experts, they’ll give real reviews and recommendations. Whether it’s surfers on the best conditioners, bikers on the best cleansers, or ballerinas on the best foot creams, it’s fair to say these people know best.
Have you ever worn about five pounds of foam padding, a few inches of makeup, three pairs of tights, and eyelashes big enough to be a small beach visor, and then perfectly lip-synched a Lady Gaga song while commanding the attention of a packed bar? I can’t say I have either, but drag performers do it almost every night of the week.
In addition to being entrepreneurs, comedians, and activists, their relentless schedules have, in effect, made them experts on all things makeup—from gloss to eyeliner to glitter. That last one is of particular interest right now, during Pride season—however different it may be this year—when even us non–drag queens are experimenting with our looks.
Even if you don’t plan to get on a stage any time soon, a good glitter is an excellent tool to have in your arsenal for festivals, birthday parties, or a trip to the grocery store (why not?). We asked nine drag performers to share the glitter they rely on for every performance.
Despite being only 20 years old, FKA Twink is already a staple of the Miami drag scene thanks to her stunning makeup looks and campy performances packed with pop culture references (like performing Katy Perry’s “Bon Appétit” dressed like a cheeseburger).
For her signature dramatic eye look, she relies on two glitters, which she says “can be adapted to any kind of style or vibe, whether it’s grunge, super-high glam, sleek editorial, or even ’90s club kid.” The first is Iron Throne by Glam Goth Beauty, “which is this super-reflective silver cool-toned glitter that compliments my signature blue eye like no other,” she says. “I’ve used it since I started drag.” She also loves Fluide’s Aura Glitter in Silver, since it’s “crazy holographic and looks insane on stage.”
If you want to play with loose glitter, she recommends investing in a cosmetic glue specifically for your eyes. “Lots of people use lash glue, and that can be very uncomfortable to wear throughout the day (or night in our case) and even more uncomfortable to take off,” she says. “All in all, that could easily scratch your eyelid and damage the lashes you’re wearing, and will make the removing process harder.”
$8.00, Glam Goth Beauty
A runner-up on the most recent season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Crystal Methyd is a self-proclaimed “supermodel clown.” Crystal quickly became a fan favorite thanks to her unique sense of humor, incredibly wholesome personality, offbeat runway looks, and unwavering dedication to glitter. (In a challenge where the queens were tasked with participating in a presidential debate, her platform was simply, “Make America glitter again.”) So if there’s anyone who knows glitter, it’s her.
“One of my staple products would have to be my 16-ounce container of iridescent craft glitter. It is roughly the size of a jar of peanut butter,” she says. “I’ve also been loving Willam’s Suck Less Glitter Gelly. You don’t need any kind of primer or adhesive. I like to press loose craft glitter on top of it, just to make it pop! Martha Stewart has a really amazing line of glitters, by the way.”
It should be noted that craft glitter is not recommended for use near your eyes, but it can make fun body glitter if worn carefully.
$12.00, Suck Less Face and Body
“I became interested in drag because of RuPaul’s Drag Race,” says New Jersey queen Luxx Noir London. “I started wearing beauty makeup in 2018 but started doing drag when a best friend of mine put me in drag for the first time a couple months later, and I never looked back.” She describes her style as “enigmatic eclecticism” and draws inspiration from so many sources that her looks are never the same.
What does stay constant is her love of the Miss Fame Beauty Experimental Glitters as well as the Anastasia Beverly Hills Loose Glitters, which she says are “amazing in every shade and add a stellar pop of shimmer to any look.” She prefers a clear lash glue to apply her glitters, since she finds glitter glue can dull the shine. “Plus, it makes the removal process a lot easier. You can just peel it off, almost like a sticker!”
$15.00, Miss Fame Beauty
$15.00, Anastasia Beverly Hills
Olympia, a drag queen in Montreal, has been playing with makeup since she was a teenager but just started performing over the past year. “I was attracted to the fantasy of fashion and being a club kid,” she says. “I love classic looks and being a little tacky and campy, but I also insist that femininity can look like many things, including having body hair! I like that contrast.” She particularly likes to take makeup cues from Jessica Rabbit: “Most often, I stick to rosy, mauve tones, sparkle and desperation!”
For the aforementioned sparkle, she loves Stila’s Glitter & Glow liquid shadow; “the applicator makes it easy to apply on your eyes, and since it’s a liquid product, there’s no fallout or corneal injuries.” She likes to use it as a base for larger glitter—she’s been eyeing the eco-friendly, plant-based BioGlitz since “a drag queen’s carbon footprint is bad enough as is”—and rhinestones to add plenty of dimension.
“Professional cupcake” Creme Fatale is known for her high-concept performances and candy-color-makeup skills. “My signature makeup is very colorful, playful, and almost ethereal,” says the Los Angeles queen. “I love to switch up my skin tone to shades of blue, pink, green, and beyond, with lots of added sparkle.”
Creme loves the Anastasia Beverly Hills glitters. “Their glitters have a great fine texture that is even comfortable on top of lipsticks,” she says. She also loves the indie brand Shroud Cosmetics. “The owner gifted me many glitters at Drag Con a while back, and I adore them. The color combos and color shifts that their glitters have are unreal looking!”
$10.00, Shroud Cosmetics
$15.00, Anastasia Beverly Hills
If you’re on the lookout for someone who’s a bodybuilder by day and lip-synchs as the monster from Big Mouth by night, you’ll find all that and more in Chicago queen Miss Toto. “I like to do my makeup with a lot of angles to make it seem like my face is pulled back,” she says. “As far as my style, I like to accentuate my proportions and wear things that make me feel beautiful.”
Her glitter of choice is by GlamGoth Beauty. “It’s a black-owned beauty brand! I love the quality of the glitter and the cohesiveness of the collections,” she says. If she's wearing glitter on her eyes, she prefers to use a concealer as a base to keep the glitter pressed down, but for a really long night sheÆll go with a clear lash glue.
$8.00, Glam Goth Beauty
$8.00, Glam Goth Beauty
“I grew up in the small town of Burlington, Vermont, so there wasn’t a huge scene to jump into, but drag is ultimately what helped me realize who I am—it gave me so much more self respect and courage,” says Marjorie Mayhem, who currently lives in New York City. “Drag really taught me how to know and love myself better. It helped teach me more about our culture as queer people and the power that drag queens hold in our family.”
Her true passion is makeup, so she loves experimenting, and no two looks are ever the same. “I would say a signature of mine over the years has been real ’70s and ’80s big, bold colors, like blues, purples, and pinks," she says. “I also love playing with textures.” Her must-have product is Duo’s eyelash adhesive, since it dries clear and stays put, and Anastasia Beverly Hills’ glitter which is “so gorgeous it speaks for itself.”
“When working with glitter, I like to do my eyes first before my skin or anything else,” she says. “When it’s looking just as you want it, clean up the fallout under your eyes with a makeup wipe and go about your business with the rest of your face. It also goes without saying, but take your time and don’t rush—the last thing you want is glitter in your eyes, and practice will always make perfect.”
“I've been doing drag for about five years now, and it was an absolute mistake that I got into it,” says drag queen and podcast host Meatball. “I realized I loved playing with makeup when I was young. My mom had human-hair wigs because she had cancer, so it just came naturally as an adult to do what I did when I was a child. But my wigs will never be as good as my mom’s, and she won’t let me forget it.”
The Los Angeles queen describes her style as “loud and clowny” and says, “I think my signature look is 100% over-the-top, too much, make it STOP, but also sexy and inviting.” Meatball recently teamed up with Hipdot to create the Hipdot x Meatball Diamond Diva Palette, which is perfect for creating her trademark giant eye shadow look. Her other essential? Duct tape. “We all know glitter can fall out and get everywhere, but it’s almost impossible to get off without smudging your foundation,” she says. “So just use duct tape to lift off the glitter or any loose eye shadow fallout.”
“I’ve been doing drag for about 16 months,” says Scarlet Vaschkyna, a 22-year-old queen in Reigate, in the U.K. “Before drag, I was in art school majoring in art and design. As an artist I’ve always been inspired by female figures, so I feel like drag was just the natural next step for me.”
Her looks are rooted in traditional glamour, with an experimental twist. “I don’t like to look like just ‘a pretty drag queen.’ I’m always reinventing and challenging myself and my style,” she says. Her staple glitters are the Miss Fame and the Kryolan Polyester Glimmer Glitter. “I like them because they both have such intense reflects and come in some gorgeous colors.” While she usually uses clear lash glue as a glitter adhesive, when she’s in a rush, she finds setting spray works just as well.
$15.00, Miss Fame Beauty
Bella Cacciatore is the beauty associate at Glamour. Follow her @bellacacciatore_.
Originally Appeared on Glamour