It took a global pandemic for “RuPaul’s Drag Race” judge Michelle Visage to finally say yes to wearing black lipstick.
“I think I was a lot more open to trying new things,” admits Visage, who has been with the show since its third season.
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Her partner in crime and trusted collaborator is makeup artist Nicole Faulkner who has made a name for herself with more than 900,000 Instagram followers and is the co-founder of Pout Beauty Bar. Faulkner has been responsible for transforming Visage for more than six years, whether it’s applying a bold and daring lip or shimmer on the eyelids. The duo has an “open and growing relationship,” says Visage, who also notes that Faulkner understands her makeup rules well.
“If you give me a Nike swoosh, it’s coming off. I like it straight and geometric. I’ll say, ‘Nicole, you just swooped me, it’s coming off.’ She knows,” Visage says.
Faulkner was able to help Visage move past her PTSD of her past black lipstick experience from “when I was an emo girl in high school,” Visage says, but getting Visage ready every week is a collaborative process with hair stylist Tony Medina, as well. They begin with a group chat, in which they share inspirational pictures and ideas.
“We’ll pick out the look I’m going to wear for the next show the week before so we can prepare and start thinking about hair and makeup before we go into it,” says Visage, who is hands-on with her team. “I know how I like to look and how I like to present myself as a judge.”
That planning process helps Faulkner to come up with ideas and when to use them. She adds, “We’re not afraid to save moments and say, ‘This might be better for two episodes from now because of a certain guest.’ We can keep things calm and neutral one week and use orange eyeliner the next.”
Faulkner points out that Visage loves the glam process, which dedicates two hours to hair, another two hours to makeup and one more to putting the finishing touches together. Getting ready is something neither wants to rush. Visage respects the artistry, allowing Faulkner to take her time with her work so the look all falls into place. “Every makeup artist dreams that a client will give you your time,” Faulkner says.
Admittedly, their trailer time could be less, but Visage says, “That’s not what I want to do. We have the time, so why not let Nicole do her job in peace?”
Often, Visage will tell the queens on the VH1 competition series that they need to step up their looks, so she acknowledges that her looks also have to be “elevated.” Praising Faulkner for always having her fingers on the pulse, Visage says, “She’s always trying to push me in that aspect. She’ll say, ‘Let’s do a blue lip.’ I’ll say, ‘You can fuck off, it’s never going to happen.’”
Although Faulkner may challenge Visage to step outside her comfort zone, she knows her way around Visage’s face and can transform her every week, bringing drama and fashion to the palette.
“A woman of a certain age might think she couldn’t wear something. We’re here every week proving that you can,” Faulkner says.
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