“We’re going to take it all the way from the top so y’all have got the complete VIP Alyssa Edwards. Sharing secrets, stories, and charades. And all things beauty, of course.” Justin Johnson, also known as RuPaul’s Drag Race star Alyssa Edwards, kicks off the breakdown of her signature beauty look with a bang. But first skincare: “As a young baby queen, I did not realize the importance of taking care of my skin and the regimen that was necessary,” Edwards says. “So I’m having to double-time now.” Face wash and exfoliator are followed by a lip scrub and gold eye mask.
“What I love about drag is being onstage in front of all the people and looking out in the audience, and seeing them smile and clap and be involved with what you’re doing,” Edwards says while moving on to the eyes, which begin with a layer of primer. “I want the people in the cheap seats, all the way in the balcony in the very back,” she says, “to see the pigment and enjoy the show.”
Since today’s makeup look is all things pink, Edwards dips into her cult palette, created with Anastasia Beverly Hills. “The pigment is so real,” she coos while switching between the vivid magenta, the pink shimmer, and a deep violet that she calls “the purple people eater when it comes to pigmentation.” Next Edwards moves on to her complexion, grabbing a mélange of formulas from her seriously curated kit. “I like my freckles, but this full-coverage foundation covers everything,” she says, creating a flawless canvas and building out her super-sculpted cheekbones.
Next up, brows, for which Edward takes a moment. “Every time I pick up this brush, I close my eyes,” she says while reciting a little prayer. “ ’Cause if the brow is jacked and whacked, the gig and the jig is up!” A stray mascara flake on her upper eyelid inspires a showstopping idea: “Let me get my rhinestones out,” Edwards says, proceeding to pop on a light pink stone. Lashes, along with a swipe of bright fuchsia lipstick, bring the whole look together. “I find doing my makeup very therapeutic,” she explains. “This is my quiet time.”
The final and perhaps most important step is securing the wig. Edwards tapes her cap down to prevent the hair from slipping or coming off midshow then glues down the wig. “Malfunctions can happen when you’re onstage, and I like to stay locked and loaded—literally.” After all there’s power in that wig: “I’m like this nerdy, everyday kinda guy, and I’m proud of that,” Edwards says. “And then it’s like I put this wig on and I’m some kind of power ranger.”
Directed by Rebecca Fourteau
Filmed at The Standard, High Line