Beat. Paint. Mug. Whatever you call a drag queen's makeup, it's damn hard to take off at the end of a night in full drag. Like a Ford, drag makeup must be built to last — and queens make sure it does with lots of adhesives, full- coverage foundations, setting powders, and long-wear lipsticks, among plenty of other smudge-proof products. If you think taking off your waterproof mascara at the end of the day is hard, multiply that process by about 20, and now you've got a vague idea of how much effort getting out of drag takes.
And, of course, wearing that much long-wear makeup so often can clog pores and cause all sorts of skin issues if it's not effectively removed before sleeping. That said, most drag queens have their makeup-removal and skin-care routines down to specific science. So we asked six of our favorite RuPaul's Drag Race contestants (both former and current) to give us the rundown on their favorite techniques and products.
Below, six drag queens reveal their post-drag skin-care routines.
Missouri-based queen Crystal Methyd, the runner up of Drag Race season 12, spends more time on makeup removal than anything else in her skin-care routine. After all, it takes a lot of work to get off the amount of glitter she must use for her whimsical and psychedelic looks.
"When taking off my drag face, I first remove all the glitter around my eyes using my fingernail," she says. "Then, using warm water, I rinse my face and remove as much of the makeup and glue as possible." Once her makeup starts to come off, she uses a few pumps of Little Journey Baby Wash, which you can find at Aldi grocery stores, to wash it away.
"At this point, there are still some areas where the makeup hasn't budged, so I grab a dollop of Great Value Unrefined Virgin Coconut Oil and smear it all over the face and neck," she continues. She'll use the baby wash once more to remove the excess coconut oil before using a Neutrogena Makeup Removing Cleansing Towelette to wipe away the last of the makeup, especially around her ears. "Don't forget to clean your ears," she says. Lastly, she moisturizes with LaCura Anti-Wrinkle Cream.
New York City queen Miz Cracker placed fifth in season 10 of Drag Race, but she's competing to become America's next drag superstar again on the fifth season of Drag Race All Stars, which is currently underway on VH1. Her skin-care routine is made of up drugstore staples you might already have at home.
She begins her makeup removal process with Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water and a Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelette. "Then I carefully wash my skin with Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Gel Cleanser," she says. "When it's all done, I treat myself to a nice layer of Sunday Riley Good Genes to turn back the clock on all the damage I do to myself with grease paint and duct tape."
Bob the Drag Queen, the New York City queen who won Drag Race season eight, keeps a routine that's a little rough around the edges — but hey, that's what happens when you're touring most of the time.
"After drag, I remove lashes, then remove most makeup with a Ponds Moisture Clean Exfoliating Towelette," she says. "If I don't have a moist one on the road, I will use a dried-out makeup wipe by rewetting it with water."
Then, Bob washes her face with Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo, "or hotel shampoo if we are on the road." Once the makeup removal is done, she moisturizes with Vaseline Intensive Care Cocoa Radiant Lotion.
The Vixen, a Chicago-based queen who competed on season 10 of Drag Race, uses multiple high-octane makeup removers to save time and energy — and to avoid harsh scrubbing.
"After a long night of drag, taking your makeup off can be exhausting," she says. To cut down the process, she begins by rubbing Ponds Dry Skin Cream all over her face. "This breaks up the layers of makeup and glue without harsh scrubbing," she explains. After wiping the cream off with paper towels, she uses Neutrogena Makeup Removing Cleansing Towelettes to remove what's left of her makeup. When it comes time to wash her face, she uses Dial Gold Hand Soap and hot water. "This ensures that my face is completely clean while keeping my skin from drying out from harsh chemicals."
Finally, she dabs cocoa butter Vaseline on her face and treats herself to a moment of self-care. "I massage it upwards into my skin, leaving me dewy, glowing, and ready to relax," she says.
Fellow Chicago queen Laila McQueen, who starred on Drag Race's eighth season, has developed an intensive skin-care regimen guaranteed to keep her skin free of clogged pores and leftover makeup.
"Before I really get into removing my makeup, I rip off my lashes and use scotch tape to gently remove any glitter I may have on," she explains. "That way, when I lather my face I don't rub glitter into my eyes or skin." At that point, she lathers plain coconut oil everywhere she applied makeup earlier. "It breaks down everything — even the darkest liner and mascara."
To remove the coconut oil from her skin, she wipes her face with a damp facecloth, then a Neutrogena Makeup Removing Cleansing Towelette. Fresh Soy Face Wash and Kate Somerville Exfolikate Daily Foaming Wash, are her favorite cleansers to use immediately after makeup removal, which she'll follow up with Kiehl's Facial Fuel Energizing Scrub when she needs to exfoliate.
"I then slather on some Skyn Iceland Pure Cloud Cream to get moisture back into my face and a few drops of Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil to help keep that youthful glow," she says. To get stubborn lipsticks off and keep her lips hydrated, she uses a combination of Lush Mint Julips Lip Scrub and Aquaphor.
"I don't like to overly cleanse my face with masks every single time I get out of drag so I'll wait a few days in a row to have a 'drag makeup detox day,'" she explains. "That entails a Lush Cup O' Coffee mask, a deep-cleanse with an Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay and apple cider vinegar mask — followed by Caudalie Glycolic Peel and then a Patchology x Kim Chi sheet mask for the ultimate rehydration."
To end her "detox days," she moisturizers with Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Face Cream, and mists her face with Lush Tea Tree Water while she wears Milk Makeup Cooling Water Eye Patches.
Naomi Smalls, a Drag Race season eight runner up, has an elaborate skin-care routine that's every bit as glamorous as her high-fashion drag.
"Thick, full-coverage foundation, layers of glitter adhesive, and Elmer's glue stick can be a process to take off," she says. "I'm a sucker for skin care, and even though it takes time to properly get out of makeup, I really don't like to ruin my sheets."
After taking off her lashes and removing her contact lenses, he sprays her whole face with Luster's Pink Glosser Spray, a hair oil Smalls says is great for breaking adhesives up easily. After removing her remaining makeup with Neutrogena Makeup Removing Cleansing Towelettes, she indulges in some high-end heavy hitters.
She uses Philosophy Purity cleanser and warm water to melt away any excess makeup and dirt before patting dry and applying Son & Park Beauty Water, a K- beauty essence that chemically exfoliates, with a cotton pad.
"Next is time for serums, treatments, and oils," she says. Her favorites right now are Glossier Super Bounce and Super Pure, Tata Harper Resurfacing Serum, Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Vitamin C Serum, Farmacy Honey Grail Face Oil, and CosRx Triple C Lightning Liquid.
"If I'm wanting to get to bed a.s.a.p. after a long show, I'll finish up with La Mer The Eye Concentrate and Sunday Riley Tidal moisturizer," she says. "But I highly recommend the Patchology x Kim Chi sheet mask before the final step."
This Drag Queen Used Makeup to Turn Into Drew Barrymore, and She Could Not Be More Thrilled
We Talked to Miss Fame and Sonjdra Deluxe on the Set of Sleek Makeup's GlowDown
Watch Valentina from "RuPaul's Drag Race" Apply a Full Face of Makeup
Now, watch Miz Cracker's full drag transformation:
Read more on: skin care routine
Start your journey to healthy skin in 2 minutes