From contouring to cut creases, so many of today's makeup trends are heavily influenced by drag queens. While they haven't been given due credit by the industry the past, more and more queens are making their mark in the beauty industry, launching products of their own, and collaborating with big brands. The latest? RuPaul’s Drag Race’s Alyssa Edwards, who is debuting an eyeshadow palette with Anastasia Beverly Hills dropping May 29.
ABH, and its founder Anastasia Soare, have long been invested in the drag community as sponsors of RuPaul's Drag Race since season 7 (the winner gets a one-year supply of ABH makeup). Alyssa is a season five and All Stars alumnus and mentor to current Drag Race contestants.
As expected, the $45 palette is loud and campy in the best way, with 14 vibrant shades all baring clever names like the matte brown "Back Rolls" (a known Alyssa Edwards meme) the matte hot pink "Texas Made" (Alyssa is from Mesquite, TX) and the eggplant-colored "B.B.D.C." (short for Beyond Belief Dance Company, Alyssa's dance school and subject of the Netflix series Dancing Queen). The shades—including champagne gold, violet, yellow, pink, and blue along with neutrals—are a mix of mattes and shimmers. While the shadow selection may seem especially bright, it's actually versatile enough to wear day to day. Mix the white matte shade (Headliner) with any of the pigments to create a lighter, pastel shade, suggested Soare.
Alyssa likens the collaboration with ABH to "a right swipe on Tinder" (aka a perfect match). "Makeup has empowered me since I was a little boy, and this collaboration has given me the opportunity to share that with the world," Alyssa, who goes by Justin Dewayne Lee Johnson outside of drag, tells ELLE.com. "Creating this palette has been a two-year journey that has pushed me to stare in the mirror and ask myself: 'Who is Alyssa Edwards and what is my purpose?' What we’ve created is a true assessment of who I am and what I believe in."
"The palette is truly a kaleidoscope of Alyssa Edwards. It is the essence of who I am, where I’ve been, and where I’m going." Her favorite hue? "B.B.D.C." because of its connection to her dance company. "Along with makeup, dance gave me a voice when I didn’t have one, and through the art of movement, I was able to fully express myself," Alyssa says. "My dance students light up my life, and I channel that energy for every single stage that I stand upon."
As part of the launch, Alyssa filmed a superb music video called "The Supreme" shared exclusively with ELLE.com. In true H.O.E. fashion (that's "House of Edwards," for you), she showcases countless different beauty transformations: Marilyn Monroe-esque glamour, raver in a neon pink long wig, pageant queen, and more. Shooting it was "two days of back-back beat-for-the-gawds makeup, turning all the lewks," Alyssa recalls.
Come for the makeup looks, stay for the dance moves.
Kristina Rodulfo Senior Beauty Editor Kristina Rodulfo is the Senior Beauty Editor of ELLE.com—she oversees beauty across ELLE's digital media platforms and is an expert in product testing, identifying trends, and exploring the intersections of beauty, culture, and identity.