YouTube beauty gurus may be too busy airing out their drama on social media to focus on getting glam right now, but thankfully RuPaul’s Drag Race season 10 winner Aquaria can always be counted on when it comes to a flawless mug. Aquaria may be a fashion icon and legendary performer, but she’s always been known for her unparalleled beauty skills. So it’s no surprise that NYX Professional Makeup tapped Aquaria to design her own eyeshadow — their first ever drag queen collab — which launches May 30 on NYXCosmetics.com and in stores nationwide.
Earlier this spring, Out visited the set of Aquaria’s NYX campaign shoot to get all the tea on every single shade on her palette
What inspired this palette?
The inspiration was centered around the fact that I want to be able to use it on the road. I wanted to make sure that it was something that I could use often and be able to do lots of different looks with. For a palette that only has 10 shades, you have to make smart decisions, and choose colors and finishes wisely. I knew I wanted a really stark white, a really deep black. Some greys for in the middle, some silvers to blend things out with, and then a couple of pumps of color. Thematically, I was really inspired by punk noir and the dark city.
What have you learned about the way that you do your makeup, being on the road so much since Drag Race?
Every time I go to do my makeup, I love trying a different technique, or using something different. There's always new shapes you can make, new ways to incorporate color, and that really helps develop my creativity. However, what I have learned is, sometimes if you are in a rush, please don't do all that. Just bang out your basic boring eye, because your basic boring eye is not basic or boring to nearly anyone else in the world. And that's the most efficient and effective way to do makeup.
Are you looking forward to seeing the looks that people are going to create with it?
I'm extremely excited to see the looks that my fans and just makeup lovers in general create. It's fun because an Aquaria t-shirt, you're probably going to wear because you're an Aquaria fan. But you don't have to even know anything about me to get the palette and play around with the creative options here, so I’m super excited to see the looks that my fans will create. And I'm also really excited to see everyone's reaction to the campaign in general, all the imagery. The fact that we are even doing this at all. It's a very cool thing to be doing with a brand that I remember from the beginning of my makeup career. Always incorporating their products into my routine, to this day. So to have that all come full circle and for me to now be the product is really awesome.
The beauty industry has exploded over the past few years, but drag queens being involved on this side of it is still relatively new. So how does it feel to be pioneering that?
It's super cool. This is the first NYX drag queen palette, so I'm very honored to be recognized for my love for makeup and to be a part of that. And it's pretty much one of the more integral parts of our job. There's some drag queens who choose to never really bother too much [about] their makeup skills or choices. But for me that's always been at the forefront of my creativity, and my passion for the art form. Everything starts with a first impression and if you have a fantastic mug or you feel super confident in whatever you've drawn upon your face, it's presented that way to the world. Makeup is all about confidence, so if you're confident about what you're putting on it will definitely show.
Do you have a favorite color in the palette?
Right now I'm really enjoying color number nine which is the shimmery mint. That color was something that I wanted, a very specific color but I couldn't really say how I wanted it to come out. But the way that it swatches, the way that it applies on the eye is fantastic. The orangy red that we've created is extremely bright and vibrant. And whether I even use it often or it's not necessarily my go to color, I'm just really proud of how “wow” that looks. So that makes me really happy.
What are some tips you have for people using your palette, or doing their makeup in general?
In the most open minded sense I would say, do whatever makes you happy and what works for your face. A lot of the times when I do my more androgynous looks, I really rely a lot on the bone structure that I have and my eye and making the shadows work with that. There is a very generic concept of makeup where it's like, dark on the outside, light on the inside. The shading and highlighting of the eye. There's that basic formula for doing makeup, but if that doesn't work for you then you don't have to do that or if you don't want to do that, don't do that.
Do you think in the world of influencers and YouTube tutorials that people get too hung up on replicating what they see online instead of doing things that work for them?
Yeah and sometimes the replication is great like if you're trying to do a very specific makeup look ... say a super, super thick eyeliner, you might be going for that same shape that most people commonly go for, but if that shape isn't working for you then you're not required to do that. And you're more than welcome to alter it to something that is more flattering to you or relates to your perspective of yourself.
NYX is in every drugstore, Target, mall in America. So what does it feel like knowing that your palette is going to be so available to people who might not be able to come see your show or go to your tour, and they get to have a part of your experience?
Being involved in this and using the same makeup that they know that Aquaria's using is really cool especially for my younger fans. I'm young myself, and a lot of my fans are either underage or just young in general, or not able to come to my show. So for them to be able to share the shadow fantasy that I'm living in is super exciting and makes them feel that they can relate to a part of me, physically.
We're almost a year out from your Drag Race win, what has it been like?
It's been just such a blessing — it's been fantastic. But it's been a blessing with a lot of the opportunities that I've been able to have whether it's designing this palette for NYX or having the opportunity to perform in beautiful spaces — or even dingy ones. Just being able to share art with the world and share my newfound love for life with the world is very exciting. With all the excitement comes plenty of ups and downs, but I've been really enjoying the positive and not even really bothering with the negative anymore.
With the mainstreaming of drag, do you think we'll see more opportunities like your NYX palette for queens?
Queens should do whatever they're passionate about doing. I've always had a strong love for makeup and that's why I'm here right now. As for fashion, I'm so grateful to be included in so many fashion opportunities because that's something I've always had a really strong passion about. If a drag queen is a fantastic comedian or a musical performer and makeup is not really their thing, they don't have to feel like they need to come out with the custom drag queen highlighter because it's not in their realm. But makeup's something that I really enjoy and should there be drag queens who are also really inspired by makeup, I hope that more brands are open minded to using them as models or influencers for the face.
If you were to create another makeup product after a palette, what would the next one be?
A makeup remover, because I want to take this shit off!
Aquaria’s NYX Professional makeup Color Palette will be available May 30 on NYXCosmetics.com and in stores nationwide.