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Style > Beauty

You Can Thank Drag & Ballroom Culture For These Viral Makeup Techniques

Is this June the epic comeback of online makeup tutorials? It sure seems that way with Chappell Roan’s recent looks taking over TikTok. While Kim K and Kylie Jenner may be seen as makeup icons, don’t be fooled by the Kardashian Klan’s makeup superiority. Now, just between us bestie — many of their beauty trends are straight-up borrowed from the fabulous world of drag. Mama, Kudos for saying that, for spilling because drag culture is the real queen bee in the beauty industry, known for slaying with bold, dramatic looks that will leave everyone gagging.

Brands like Anastasia Beverly Hills and NYX have proudly featured drag queens in their campaigns, and fabulous queens like Kim Chi and Trixie Mattel have even launched their own successful beauty brands. While drag styles may vary widely in their charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent, drag kings and queens have long been legends in makeup trends, pioneering styles that explore gender and makeup artistry. From dramatic contours to glittery highlights, these looks are all about transformation and performance.

One of the fiercest ways to celebrate drag culture this June is by spending some time slaying the day away by supporting drag artists. Additionally, it’s also important to recognize drag’s roots in Black and ballroom culture — without these artists, drag wouldn’t be what it is today! In honor of Pride Month, here are seven iconic makeup techniques we owe to our fave drag icons. So, grab your brushes and get ready to beat that face because these techniques are all tea, no shade.

Baking

Don’t worry bestie, we promise this isn’t actually about baking. Setting your skin is an essential part of daily makeup routines. Using loose powder to set foundation and concealer, let it sit (or “bake”) on your skin to absorb natural oils and enhance how long your makeup lasts. This technique ensures that your look remains immaculate under intense lighting and throughout long days. While it can seem a bit cakey at first, its crease-free, airbrushed finish is sure to leave you looking decorated for any occasion.

Color-correcting Concealer

We owe the magic of concealer to drag culture for its flawless ability to cover up even the toughest of shadows, like beards and five-o’clock stubble. But concealer isn’t just for covering up flaws — in the world of drag, it’s essential for creating flawless looks. From covering beards and brows to achieving that snatched contour, drag queens have shown us how to use concealer to redefine our features and slay the makeup game.

Title

The cut crease technique is now a staple in makeup artistry. By carving out a sharp line in the crease of the eyelid, drag queens elevate their eye makeup to theatrical heights, enhancing the drama and intensity of their performances. People everywhere are channeling their inner drag diva, and whether you’re getting ready for a night out at the club or a fancy event on campus, mastering the cut crease will take your glam game to the next level.

Drawn-On Eyebrows

Drawing on thick eyebrows isn’t just a trend, it’s a statement. Drag queens have long understood the power of bold brows to command attention and express personality. By shaping and filling in their brows to perfection, drag performers create a strong, defined frame for their eyes, elevating their entire look to legendary status.

Heavily Contoured Cheeks

Drag queens have been sculpting their faces for decades, using contouring to define their features under the stage lights and bring their characters to life. From high cheekbones to chiseled jawlines, drag queens know how to werk those colors like no other. So when you’re reaching for that blending brush and adding that bright pop of blush color, remember to channel your inner queen and slay like you mean it.

Highlighter

We absolutely owe this radiant essential to drag. Queens have been serving up blinding highlights long before it became a mainstream makeup trend. They knew the power of a fierce glow to catch the light and command attention on stage. From the legendary club scenes to the spotlight of Pride parades, drag culture has been lighting up the way for all of us to shine bright like a diamond.

Overdrawn lips

No, Kylie Jenner’s lip kit did not start the overlined lip trend. Drag performers have long understood the power of exaggerated features to command attention under the spotlight. By skillfully overdrawing their lips, they create a pout that’s not just plump but also bold. So, pump those lips up, kitty girls!

Lily Brown

Emerson '25

Lily Brown is the Wellness Intern for Her Campus Media. She writes for the Culture, Style, and Wellness verticals on the site, including Beauty, Decor, Digital, Entertainment, Experiences, Fashion, Mental Health, and Sex + Relationships coverage. Beyond Her Campus, Lily is a rising senior at Emerson College in Boston, MA, majoring in Journalism with a Publishing minor. She works as the Creative Director for the on-campus lifestyle publication, Your Magazine, where she establishes and curates the conceptual design and content for the entire publication ranging from style, romance, music, pop culture, personal identity, and college experiences. She has written and photographed for Your Mag along with several other on-campus magazines. Lily was recently recognized for her work on YM and awarded two EVVYs for Outstanding Print Publication. In her free time, Lily maybe spends a little too much time keeping a close eye on captivating red carpet and runway fashion, and binge-watching her favorite shows. She also enjoys expressing her thoughts through creative writing, exploring new destinations, and blasting ABBA, Dua Lipa, Harry Styles, and Lady Gaga on Spotify. Additionally, she actively contributes to fostering a sense of community among college residents as a dedicated Residential Assistant.