Every year I’m grateful for RuPaul’s Drag Race, the television show that gives rising drag queens a taste of fame.
The pop culture phenomenon gifts the general public with TV gold and sassy one-liners that I steal to impress my heterosexual relatives at family events. With the series’ 10th season in full swing –now in HD, putting extra pressure on the contestants to look flawless on and off the runway – I wonder how these queens are able to maintain such clear skin. More importantly, how they’re able to consistently get such close shaves.
Drag queens depend on a flawless close shave so that their skin can serve as a smooth canvas for heavy makeup. As someone with a fairly minimal skincare and grooming routine – I went through a natural phase where I decided to let nature run its course whenever I had a breakout but have since come to my senses – I still can’t perfect shaving. A combination of sensitive skin, thick facial hair, shaky hands and a lack of patience, has led me to routinely struggle with razor burn.
Meanwhile, these queens lather their faces in makeup on the daily, have impeccable skin, and no visible ingrown hairs. Puzzled and intrigued, I reached out to a drag queen named Noodles, for some tips for the elusive “perfect shave.” Noodles is a Cincinnati-based drag queen and designer who’s been doing drag for the past 4 years. Here’s the tips he gave Very Good Light on his perfect shaving regimen.
- Double shave. “I use an electric razor first to get as close of a shave as possible,” he explained to me in an Instagram message.“I use a Wahl Electric Razor ($45). Use without a clipper to get as close to the skin as possible, but don’t overdo it and stress your skin.”
- Wash thine face. “A daily face wash does wonders, but exfoliate on shaving days. It removes dirt and excess oils for a smooth, bump-free shave. I use GlamGlow YOUTHMUD ($60) on my face and neck.”
- Condition your beard. Arty Chiffon, a British drag queen I found during a YouTube k-hole, mentions the importance of softening the stubble by applying conditioner on your beard, allowing for an even more seamless shave.
- Lube it up. Noodles recommends using Jack Black Beard Lube ($35). It’s a light ultra-hydrating formula that acts as a pre-shave oil, shaving cream, and moisturizer, which is good for people who shave often.“I use TONS of shaving cream,” he emphasizes. “I don’t have as much facial as hair as you though so that also helps lol.”For those with thicker facial hair (me), try Aveeno Positively Smooth shave gel ($4) – it’s inexpensive (available at most pharmacies) and soy-based. Soy has moisturizing qualities and also slows hair growth, allowing for fewer shaves. Use just a bit so you’re able to see which areas of your beard needs the most attention.
- Tread lightly. Shave in light, short strokes without pressing down on the skin. “I use a Gillette 3-blade razor for sensitive skin,” Noodles says. “Once you shave an area, softly rub any remaining cream onto the area and go over it again for an even closer shave.”
- Grain game. Whether or not you shave against the grain is up to you (I’ve heard mixed things), but to be extra safe, this author goes with the grain. Thank me later.
- So cold. “When you’re done, rinse your face with cold water to minimize any inflammation,” Noodles says. Softly pat your face dry with a clean towel and moisturize — Noodles recommends Burt’s Bees Aftershave ($10). “Sometimes I’ll even use a GlamGlow THIRSTYMUD mask ($25) post-shave to hydrate and moisturize,” he adds. Moisturizing is the key to maintaining your twenties long into your thirties. Good skincare truly is the best shaving tool.
When all’s said and done, Noodles is perfectly smooth, with a flawless shave. But he, like all of us, is only human and sometimes gets the occasional razor burn. Not that he’s worried, there’s always a solution.
“I still get razor burn on my neck,” Noodles admits. “But that’s what makeup is for.”
Robert Quick is a reporter at Stylus, a trend forecasting company. He graduated from the New School and is from London.