How a Drag Queen Prepares

February 12, 2017




Another major component of being a drag queen is the transformation from a lay person to drag extravaganza. This transformation happens through costume, makeup, voice, movement and mentality. Like an actor taking on a role, being in drag means performing something that is both different than yourself yet should still hold connections to your own personality. It’s not enough to do basic beauty makeup. Drag is an exaggerated form of gender and so everything about you needs to transform.


“It’s all about the transition, that’s what it should be. It’s shouldn’t be like you put on some eyeliner so you’re okay. [It was] about an awesome change. [It’s] all production and pageantry”- Juan M. Wette, Chicago Drag King.


The transformation isn’t easy though. Full drag can be a huge commitment  timewise. Makeup can take anywhere from 40 minutes to 3 hours to put on depending on your expertise and design concept. Additionally there is also the time commitment needed to craft your outfit. Often times drag queens will allow several hours for their makeup to help mentally take on their persona, wearing a favorite robe or playing particular makeup to help set the mood.


“To get in drag, it usually takes me about three hours. I like to allow three hours just kindof as a general rule. I shave my body, shave my face, do my makeup. There’s usually two different kinds of tape, four different kinds of glue, attaching different things to my body. I don’t look like a woman, I kinda look like a drawing of a woman.” Violet Chachki, Rupaul’s Drag Race Season 7 winner


Drag can also rack up quite a bill when you total up the cost of makeup, clothing, and hair! But it is an investment well worth the cause. As stated on “drag is an art form and not just as easy as putting on a dress and performing”. You’re an artist who is creating something amazing with their body.


Face, Face, Face


Since drag is about transformation and larger-than-life personas, the makeup also reflects this. The makeup process often involves shaping the face to look more feminine. Some of the most common proponents being:


  • -Rounding out the Face: Men tend to have sharper features than women, so placing highlight along the nose, forehead, jawline, cheekbones and chin make those areas of the body pop more

  • -Big Eyelashes: Women will often apply mascara for basic beauty makeup, so an exaggerated form of that is large false eyelashes. Some queens even glue on three or four pairs for an extremely animated look

  • -Color: Color helps draw attention to the areas on the face you want attention to- the sexiest parts being the mouth and eyes. Playing with bold and vibrant lipsticks and eyeshadows can help complement the rest of the look.

  • -Blocking out Eyebrows: Women tend to have eyebrows places higher on the face than men, so using glue, wax, shaving them off can be options to cover or remove eyebrows. New eyebrows are then drawn on in a different shape and place on the face to look more feminine.

  • -Contouring: to balance out how much highlight is on the body, you also have to apply shadow to shape the face. Putting a darker color on the sides of the nose and under the cheekbone can help give a drag queen a more defined nose and fierce cheeks.


Baking a Face

Part of what takes a drag queen so long to do her makeup is allowing the face to “bake”, or set. It is a method that “vanishes fine lines, creases, and pores, giving makeup a flawless finish”. A phenomenon that has caught the attention of makeup lovers because of how simple it is. As Buzzfeed reports, applying a setting powder on top of your concealer (and,foundation, highlight and shadow) then “works with your skin’s natural heat to melt (aka “bake”) the concealer into your face, filling in any creases and lines.” While a queen let’s her makeup bake for 10-20 minutes (the more makeup the longer the bake time), she can use that time to apply other makeup around the eyes and lips or to find other activities to get into the mindset of their persona.



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