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How to Wear Makeup with a Beard

How to Wear Makeup with a Beard

By Just JP

I started playing with makeup a few years ago, after a friend dared me to dress up as Adele for Halloween. I wasn’t sure what to do, but the one thing I knew for a fact is that I had to shave my beard. And I did.

 It wasn’t until a good year or so later that I realized that I could keep my beard when I played with makeup, and I only understood that after seeing local bearded performers like Sham Payne and the Boston Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and famous bearded beauties like Conchita Wurst. 

The Boston Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and Conchita Wurst, looking so fabulous!

Makeup is a way for many people to express themselves, explore and affirm their gender expression, create art, and/or all of the above. That’s why it’s important to say, right off the bat, that makeup and beards go together! Many folks use their beards as ways to also express themselves, explore and affirm their gender expression, and/or create art.

We will go over many different techniques and styles, which can be a good starting point for anyone who is interested in exploring makeup while rocking a beard. This is not a comprehensive guide to makeup and beards, as both evolve and change overtime and I encourage everyone to find their own personal touch.

Let’s start by stating the obvious: Every body is different, so every beard and skin is different. To be able to have the best makeup application, taking care of one’s beard, and skin underneath, is paramount.

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Mr. Makeup, Coco Flannel & Stefan Boström (Madame Heinz) rocking short, long and longer beards!

Some beards and skins need more support than others. However, that doesn’t mean that one needs all beard products to take care of our facial hair. The amount of dryness or oiliness in one’s beard, as well as how dry or oily the skin underneath it is, should inform the products and treatment that we use in our beards.

It’s also important to stop using a product that isn’t useful anymore. Many folks form habits that are tied to brand names or products that, over time, aren’t beneficial anymore. It’s essential to, every once in a while, try new products and regimens. Many stores can provide small samples for customers to try before purchasing full-sized products. Take advantage of this!

Beard Shape

Facial hair is sometimes considered as another type of contour, since it can change the perceived shape of one’s face. Contouring, in makeup terms, is to create shadow where there isn’t naturally one, and it encourages the creation of highlight points to accentuate the new depths and peaks.

For example: a long beard with short sideburns can make a face look longer. A fuller beard can make a face look slimmer, while a beard without a mustache can make a face appear rounder. 

However, when we add makeup in the mix, all bets are off. Some artists extend their facial hairline into their faces and create intricate, colorful designs, some color their beards with cream makeup to match their wig color, and others accentuate their natural hair color by creating sharper edges to their beard styles. 

Axel Andrews extends their hairlines into their forehead and cheeks to create new, cool shapes.

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Just thinking about how I'm gonna stir the pot later... 💇‍♀️: @joeystonee (courtesy of @thequeenatlas) 👗🎨: Me 📸: @helixpinecombphotos for @gaymafiaboston 💙💙💙 Products used: - @kryolanofficial TV Paint Stick in 0B2, DE, Ivory - @bennyemakeup Creme Color in Cosmic Blue, Neutral Set Powder - @strobecosmetics Eyeshadow in Cold Shoulder - @sugarpill Eyeshadow in Tako, Liquid Lip in Zero - @inglot_usa AMC Gel Liner 77, Duraline - @maccosmetics Roller Liner in Blue, Highlight pan - @nyxcosmetics Liquid Liner in Black, White 💙💙💙 #makeup #makeupideas #unconventionalmakeup #dragqueen #dragqueenmakeup #bostonqueen #militaryball #camo #marcelwaves #beardedqueen #beardeddrag #gaymafiaboston #clubkid #mua #strobecosmetics #sugarpill #bennyecosmetics

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Sham Payne colors her sideburns, that makes her face appear longer, to match the hair color they're wearing.

Milo de Mix rocking a big mustache and a contour style that makes his face look more masculine.

Many of these artists found their signature beard shape after trying many of them out. Usually, facial hair that is shaved will grow back. Depending on what one’s goal is, I encourage folks to try as many different styles and shapes of facial hair.

There are lace front beards, lace front mustaches, and even lace front eyebrows in the market for people who want to alter their facial hairline with 3D hair, compared to makeup which is 2D, creating shapes, depth and shadows with special skin-safe paint. Some artists use their own hair trimmings and glue them to their faces to create new 3D facial hair 

Jayden Jamison KA St. James glues his own hair trimmings to create a realistic stubble.

Buddy Bing styles their beard in many ways. Here he is with a long goatee.

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🌿The year is 3309, the elvish mages have taken over, I’m still stunning and could probably put the game controller down cause Dragon Age Inquisition has me by the throat🧝‍♂️🍂 — — the lovely folks at @raywigs sent this beautiful unit over (olivia in classic black) and 😍 it has so much volume and is super soft. Can’t wait to wear it out more often 🥰 ✨ You can use the code “Andro” at checkout and get 20% off your next order ur welcomeee ✨ — — ⭐️products used⭐️ — @nyxcosmetics : Pore Filler Primer — @bennyemakeup : Clown White, Neutral Set Colorless, MagiCake Fantasy Palette, Precision Eyeliner in Ink Black and Gunmetal Gray, Lumiere Ultra Luxe Glitter, and Final Seal Setting Spray, — @strobecosmetics : Creepy Cute Palette — — . . . . . . . . • #drag #dragking #dragkings #dragkingsofinstagram #miamidrag #dragmonster #dragvillain #rpdr #dragrace #dragula #wlw #makeupartist #makeupart #mua #bennyecosmetics #nyxcosmetics #gothicfashion #miami #dragmakeup

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Andro Gin is sometimes seen with graphic facial hair, painted with eyeliner. So fierce!

Makeup Techniques

Having any type of facial hair will alter the way contour and highlight is applied to one’s face. Therefore, it’s important to account to this reduced space to fit contours and highlights to create some dimension on one’s face. Without any highlight under the cheek contour, one’s face can look bloated or swollen.

Some artists acknowledge this by simply painting a white line with a flat angle brush right above their facial hairline. Other artists, especially those with shorter beards, are able to contour and highlight similarly to make up artists who don’t have beards.

Onyx contours within her beard. She keeps her facial hair short and is able to give her face some shape while still rocking full facial hair.

Lucy Stoole enhances the dimensions of her face by drawing a sharp highlight line below her cheek contour to separate her cheeks from her beard.

Blending is very important to some styles of makeup, since blending will conceal where makeup ends and where bare skin/beard starts. Some artists blend their foundation into their beards and then later use a bristle brush or a toothbrush to remove product from their hairs while keeping it on their skin. 

However, sharp lines are also important to other styles of makeup, especially those that use makeup to create the illusion of a beard. Sharp lines can be accomplished in many ways, some of the most popular ones are using cream makeup and a flat brush. Or, using powder makeup and a stencil or a piece of paper to create a sharp line by covering part of the skin.

Sharp lines can give the face additional structure, which is helpful when creating stage or Drag makeup when beards are in the mix. Dark facial hair can also make faces on stage hard to read as it absorbs light, having sharp highlights can help an audience see the exaggerated features of a full face of bearded makeup from a distance.

As we’ve discussed, some artists choose to color their beards. These can be accomplished with different techniques, one of the most popular ones is using cream makeup and then applying neutral setting powder over it. 

Myss Myka sports a bigger highlight gap between their beard and contour which makes her facial features pop from further away!

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#beardeddrag #gay #haraldligtvoet

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Wim Soet matched their pink beard with a pink wig. Love!


As when applying makeup to skin, the same rules apply to makeup in beards and other type of hair: wet (creamy) products first, powder products last. Some artists, especially those who have very short facial hair or have no facial hair and are painting it on, would use non-toxic finger paint — yes, the arts and crafts one — and set it with neutral set powder or with eyeshadows.

Most artists would paint their beard or facial hair last, doing their foundation and face first. However, some folks may do their facial hair first, especially if they’re incorporating intricate designs and optical illusions. Most artists seal the color in their facial hair by applying a generous coat of hairspray.

Gaby Di Zitti with a minimalistic mustache

Madame Madness has rocked many different beard shapes and consistently changes it up!

Nüqueer Power showing off their colorful bearded look, ready for summer!

Glitter and Glue

Glitter beards are very popular, giving many people a starting point to the world of makeup. Makeup is nothing but paint that is designed to be skin-safe. Since makeup is another type of pigment, it makes sense that some non-toxic paints can be used to color facial hair, and craft store glitter is often used to complete a colorful beard.

The best way to apply glitter to facial hair is to first add color using paint or makeup. This will create additional stickiness to which the glitter can adhere to. It will also allow the color of the glitter to shine through; a green glitter on a black beard will not likely show at all, yet green glitter over a green beard will shine bright.

Glitter is normally bad for the environment, so I recommend getting eco-friendly biodegradable glitter.

The style of glitter also matters: chunkier glitter is likely to look messier on shorter beards, however it will make longer beards look like beautiful galaxies. Finer glitter will likely not even stick to longer beards, but to shorter beards, it will create a smoother finish and a really sparkly glitter beard.

Craft store glitter is usually on the chunkier side. Finer glitter can usually be purchased at makeup stores or online.

Regardless the type of glitter, to keep it on, it’s important to seal it in with hairspray. As time goes by, there will be glitter fallout, which is inevitable. By reapplying hairspray every so often, some fallout can be prevented. Be prepared to be one with the glitter, since it will get everywhere. 

Styling and Makeup 

Practice may not make perfect (because there’ll be that one thing that’ll never be symmetrical. it’s ok, no one will notice if you don’t point it out) but practice will help with learning one’s facial structure and how to apply makeup and glitter better or quicker.

Just like with hair and wigs, accessories can be used to tie in a makeup look with a beard. Some artists add flowers, bows, or jewelry in their beards that compliments or contrasts with other colors used in their look. For a holiday theme, some artists have even added ornaments and blinking lights to their beards. 

Becca and her beautiful flower beard!

Prozac shines bright with a diamond beard.

Mz Asa Metric’s mustache can’t be missed!

Incorporating facial hair care into our daily or weekly routines can also help with styling our facial hair in ways that complement our looks. By conditioning and brushing our facial hair, we are helping to clean and maintain a healthy beard.

 

Everyday Beard, Everyday Makeup

 

As we explore artists who make exaggerated bearded makeup looks, we can take bits and pieces to create more “everyday'“ looks and pull out all the tricks for special occasions. 

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Sometimes I'm pretty!

A post shared by Vic Sin (@vicsinnyc) on

Vic Sin and their beautiful face with a full ginger beard

Silas Zelny with a subtle, yet effective makeup mustache

 

Lachrymose wearing a mesh over their face, with some beautiful and subtle eye makeup

FINAL THOUGHTS

Last but not least: If it’s not fun, it’s ok to stop and try something else. Makeup and beards go well together, and it’s ok to focus on one or the other, as long as whatever is making you happy. Whatever you choose to end up doing, remember that air kisses are the best kisses when one is wearing makeup, especially bearded makeup.  

Air kisses for everyone!

Just JP is an educator, drag performer, community organizer and writer, as well as the winner of the first cycle of Worcester Drag Wars. Just JP uses any pronouns. Born and raised in El Salvador, JP moved to Massachusetts in 2012, and has been doing drag since June 2016. You can follow them on all social media, including venmo, at @dragqueenjp. 

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