Pride Month is one of my favorite times of the year. Not only is it a time to celebrate my identity, but it's also a great opportunity to express myself with makeup (especially lots of glitter). No one quite understands the power of makeup—especially during Pride—like drag queens.
For most queens, June is the busiest month with back-to-back gigs that require them to be in a full face that'll last without budging in the summer heat. Whether it's a drag brunch or Pride march, queens need makeup that'll be long-wearing and looks good.
I wanted to find out what makeup and skincare products drag queens rely on for Pride (and beyond). To get answers, I spoke with some local New York City queens and a few from RuPaul's Drag Race about what they keep in their beauty bags. Read ahead for their product secrets (apologies to your bank account in advance).
Novaczar, New York City's "Empress of the Galaxy" and contestant on Season 1 of Queen of the Universe, has a few products she cannot survive Pride Month without, from setting spray to eyeliner. To ensure her makeup base is secure, Novaczar uses Alcone Stop the Sweat Primer ($14) before applying the rest of her face. "The primer helps me not sweat through my makeup in the intense summer heat," she says. Once her makeup is on, Novaczar sets it in place with Premiere Products Inc. PPI SeLr Spray ($25). "The setting spray is used on film sets to keep makeup intact when exposed to harsh bright and hot lighting, which is perfect for the blazing sun."
Novaczar's go-to foundation is Juvia's Place I Am Magic Velvety Matte Foundation ($22), which she says is excellent for dry skin. "Not only is this brand Black-owned, but the formula works well with my skin type, and it's super full coverage," she says. To play up her eyes with intricate, bold looks, Novaczar uses Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner ($23), which she says doesn't move for hours despite having watery eyes.
Of course, glitter is a regular part of Novaczar's routine, and her shimmer of choice is Unicorn Skin Cosmetics Loose Mermaid Biodegradable Glitter ($7). "It's an aloe-based, biodegradable, cruelty-free, plant-based, and recycled formula," she says. "I always get compliments when I stack the different glitters where my highlight normally goes. It gives me a galactic look that goes right along with my drag persona."
Kim Chi, queen on RuPaul's Drag Race season 8, is no stranger when it comes to makeup. She is the mastermind behind her namesake KimChi Chic Beauty line, and she's created hundreds of makeup looks that take the art form to another level. When celebrating Pride, Kim Chi has a few makeup must-haves that she can't survive without.
Kim Chi's first order of business is not neglecting her skin prep before wearing makeup. "I use the Soko Glam Then I Met You Essence ($50), which is super hydrating and perfect for the pre-makeup application," she says. "Your face is a canvas, and you gotta take care of it." Once skin prep is done, Kim Chi uses her Puff Puff Pass Set & Bake Powder ($18) to keep her makeup looking filtered. "Day drag means you want flawless skin; my setting powder will give you that look. It's a holy grail for many influencers and makeup artists for a good reason—it works." Kim Chi likes following up with her brand's Stage Proof Matte Setting Spray ($16) to set her makeup. "Pride gigs are during the day and are usually so hot, so we need an iron-clad setting spray to keep makeup in place and refresh our skin."
For color, Kim Chi loves the Sugarpill Luvbug Liquid Lip Color ($18) for a bold lip that stands out. "This is one of my favorite liquid lippies," she says. "It's a perfect shade of red with pink sparkle pigments."
While putting makeup on is equally important, having an effective product to take it off is important to Kim Chi. She swears by One/Size Makeup Remover Wipes ($15) to cleanse her skin. "This works to conceal mistakes and remove makeup at the end of the night," she says.
Gina Tonic is a drag queen and live vocalist from New York City who celebrates Pride by showcasing her vocals and constructing vibrant looks from head to toe. To achieve her bright eyes, Gina uses Makeup A Murder Poison Neon Pigments ($43), which she says is excellent for rainbow looks. Gina likes Chaotic Cosmetics Retro Rainbow Hydro Liners ($10) to line on top of her color. "These liners easily glide on the skin for smooth and vibrant lines," she says. For lips that won't budge, Gina recommends Wet N' Wild Liquid Catsuit Matte Lipstick ($6) which lasts for hours and comes in seven shades.
You may recognize Shuga Cain from Season 11 of RuPaul's Drag Race where she took the competition by storm with her colorful looks and exquisite headpieces. Her Pride essentials include Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion SPF 50+ Sunscreen ($49) to keep her skin safe. "If you're performing during Pride month, you're in the sun at some point. This protects my skin and keeps my face looking youthful," she says.
Once her skin is shielded from the sun, Shuga Cain likes to use MAC Pro Longwear Liquid Foundation ($38), and MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation ($36) for coverage lasts. "During Pride, my mug needs to stay stamped," she says. "I use the foundation and set with the powder because it's long-wearing, provides full coverage, and melts into my skin for that flawless finish." To top things off, Shuga Cain dusts Melt Cosmetics Digital Dust Duo Blush ($39) on the high points of her face for a double dose of shimmer and color.
Marilyn Monhoe is New York City's "Blonde Bombshell" musical theater queen known for her ravishing red wardrobe and Broadway-inspired numbers. Monhoe's Pride-makeup essentials include Juvia's Place Warrior II Contour Palette ($20), which she uses for sculpting her face. "This palette is my go-to for contouring, and the warm tones are perfect for filling in brows—a true must-have for BIPOC artists and performers," she tells us.
Monhoe also keeps this LaRoche Posay mascara ($25) stocked for volume and length. "This mascara is thick and filling, and I have four tubes in my makeup bag," she says. Monhoe also tells us that she usually keeps her glitter combination secret, but she swears by Ben Nye Sparklers ($7). "This brand is my bread and butter," Monhoe reveals. "Dab a bit onto a liquid lip, and you'll be set all day.
Known as "The Drag Chanteuse" of NYC, Castrata has gained a dedicated audience thanks to her high-energy performances and larger-than-life looks. During Pride Month, Castrata celebrated with her fellow queens and used Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray ($33) to keep her makeup in place. "This is perfect for this season because we often find work multiple shows in a day during Pride," she says.
Castrata always has Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit ($40) in her kit to contour. "I bring this to every show for touch-ups," she says. "I have super oily skin, and I love that this helps keep me matte." Before Castrata leaves the house, she also sprays on Jafra Cosmetics Double Nature: Peace ($27), which she calls her signature scent. "Every queen needs a signature scent. Mine is a combination of essential oil and this perfume. I always have it on me for a quick spritz."