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“If in doubt, more glitter” – A makeup pro shares the secrets of drag

In her weekly column, Zoe Scheltema looks at an issue or trend in the world of beauty. This week, she unlocks the secrets behind some of the most dramatic looks at the Pride Parade, with the help of drag makeup artist Sam McGregor.

The annual Pride Parade took over Ponsonby Road on Saturday evening, as 65 floats celebrated 30 years of LGBT pride.

Yes, it was temporarily stopped by ‘No Pride in Prisons’ protesting police involvement, but I was unfortunately too far away to know what was going on. All I had was dancing dudes in my line of vision for a little longer than anyone expected. I saw one guy backflip no less than 11 times.

The parade was a real cross-section of society: politicians, emergency services, universities, large companies, and at least four dogs. It was also a fantastic opportunity to check out some outstanding fashion and makeup – bright, loud and really, really great.

<> on February 16, 2013 in Auckland, New Zealand.

What people often don’t realise is that a lot of makeup trends these days have stemmed from drag makeup. With drag techniques accentuating facial features and lasting all night long under lights and on-stage, it’s no surprise that celebrities have adopted these tips and tricks. Think: over-drawing your lips like Kylie Jenner.

I spoke with makeup artist Sam McGregor, a pro when it comes to drag makeup, about just how the fabulous drag queens would have prepared for the likes of the Pride Parade.

“What I love most when it comes to drag is the transformative aspect of it. Most people in drag look nothing like themselves at the end.”

“I’m also obsessed with eyebrows and contouring so blocking an eyebrow with wax and redrawing it is my favourite part.”

“At the same time, you are creating an entirely new face, so figuring out where to draw the brow or the best contouring and highlighting spots for that person would be the biggest challenge. If you get it wrong, you need to start again or the end result will look too ‘drawn’.”

drag 1

It definitely is no mean feat. Girls will know all too well the involvement of doing their makeup, so just how much more involved is drag?

Sam says most people don’t realise, when you want to conceal something dark like eyebrow hair or facial stubble, you need to cancel out the colour first with a peach tone.

Drag queens also need to “block out their brows”, basically concealing their eyebrows and then drawing them back on somewhere else.

“Most also use layers of gluestick to block a brow, however I personally use a derma-wax that smooths over the brow with a brush, then smooth it down with a tiny bit of Vaseline.”

That’s right, gluestick ladies and gentleman. Just a little more complicated than your typical brow pencil.

“Drag queens also completely redraw the socket of the eye, so it’s much larger and can be seen from miles away. Most of the lipliner is actually outside the real lip and has an ombre effect to create the illusion of bigger lip. You can even draw realistic cleavage using contour powder and highlighter.”

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“I always do the brow block first, then I only apply a base (foundation) to the eye area at the start, so the end result is cleaner. Then I draw my new ‘false’ socket as a stencil. I always start my brow next, which would begin where the natural brow starts (so it’s even) and sits just higher than the natural brow. If you get this right everything else flows much better.”

drag 4

Sam says that drag can teach you a lot about makeup. It’s no wonder that drag queens are some of the best makeup artists around.

“Remember you can never have too much black, and if in doubt, more glitter”

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