Chloe Anello writes about everything, from skincare to bedsheets. Most of all, she loves asking celebrities what they can’t live without.
Photo by Getty/FilmMagic
Earlier this year, when we talked to drag queen Shea Couleé about the things she can’t live without, she said that another queen — Farrah Moan — has become a sort of skin-care guru within the community. “You can ask her about any product and she’ll be able to tell you all about it,” Couleé told us. “I think Farrah single-handedly got the entire cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race season nine into Good Genes.” When we reached out to Moan about how she became her sisters’ skin-care savant, she told us that inexperienced (and even some experienced) drag queens can be “completely clueless when it comes to skin care because they’re spending all their time trying to get their hair and makeup right. If I’m really, really obsessed with a product, I tell at least 10 or 12 people about it.”However, she can’t give her blessing unless she actually tries it. “I started buying a new product every week and I never stopped — spray tans, sunscreens, body moisturizers, body butters, exfoliators, and so much more.” Below, Moan shares 18 skin-care products that she says she’s recommended to more than a dozen people, from cleansers to acids and exfoliators to serums and oils to face and body moisturizers to sunscreens.
Drag queens apply so much makeup to achieve the right look. You probably don’t see half of the makeup we use when I say we wear a lot of it. It is impossible to get rid of it with just one cleanse, unless you use something crazy like Dawn dish soap. That can ruin your skin’s microbiome, so I would never recommend anyone use it. A lot of queens tell me they hate taking off their makeup because it’s such a chore. I tell them to get this. When I discovered this cleansing balm, I no longer dread taking off my makeup. It instantly removes all makeup. Everything is gone in a flash. Double cleansing is a common practice, which makes it so much easier to do the second wash.
I recommend that everyone follow up with the balm after applying it. These two products go well together. Sometimes a scrub is necessary — and if someone is looking for one I recommend the Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Cleanser — but a good cleanser should get everything off and clean your skin without requiring exfoliation. Your skin should never be scrubbed until it is completely dry. I tell girls, especially newer queens who don’t know all the ins-and-outs yet, that if they have to scrub their face to get their makeup off, they need a new product. A little goes a long way with this — that’s also important when you have to take off your makeup every night. It lathers beautifully and cleans skin without leaving it feeling tightened or stripped, which can be a problem with many cleansers.
It’s true, I did get the entire cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race season nine into this product — and from what I’ve heard, most still use it. After watching a YouTuber who was involved in product development, Sunday Riley products were my first introduction to Sunday Riley products. She explained the science behind every ingredient. It’s a very expensive product, but it’s so great for drag queens. It’s great for helping with a variety of issues. razor burnYou should shave your neck and face as it is essential for what you do. When we are on tour, or performing a lot, we shave almost daily. Some are lucky and don’t experience quite as much irritation. I tell people with sensitive skin like me to be careful. razor burnIt’s easy to try it. It’s formulated with lactic acid. It is strong. Good Genes will make it more likely to get sunburns, so I always recommend using excellent sunscreens.
These are also very strong — I can only use them twice a week. They are recommended to queens with more experience with exfoliators. I got a lot of girls I’ve been on tour with to use them. They even attracted my mom. The peels do an amazing job at smoothing skin’s texture. Because my facial hair grows very quickly and is thick, I often get ingrown hairs and razor bumps when I shave my neck. They completely eliminate the bumps and make it much more comfortable. They are also great for reducing irritation around my bikini line. They say it when I tell my girlfriends. “That’s crazy. I would never put any acids in my bikini area.” And I’m like, “Okay, keep itching and burning then.”
This is probably the product I’ve recommended the most, even more than Sunday Riley. I can’t give a number of people I’ve told about it, but it’s definitely more than a dozen or two. I recommend the toner to anyone, but especially to those who complain about their skin texture. Your makeup doesn’t apply seamlessly if your skin is rough, so proper skin maintenance is the key to good makeup. This toner has alpha-hydroxy acids and hyaluronic acid — it’s more of a hydrating toner with just a little bit of chemical exfoliation. That makes it great for people who don’t know how to properly exfoliate because it’s easy to over-exfoliate. Over time, I’ve noticed a drastic improvement in the texture of the skin on my face and neck. I’ve heard similar feedback from people whom I’ve recommended this to. I recently bought five bottles because it started to go viral on TikTok, so it’s harder to find now.
I also convinced all nine season nine girls to use it. Shea still uses it. Sasha Velour still uses this. We drag queens try to use more oil-based makeup rather than water-based because if your skin has enough oil on it, it won’t want to produce more. This makes your makeup last longer and looks less oily. It makes foundation feel smoother and more comfortable. It will also heal any small dry areas. It’s one of the best primers for heavy makeup, which is why I tell a lot of queens about it.
Amanda Lepore recommended this to us when we were together on tour. Her skin is beautiful and always moisturized. I asked her what she used, expecting her to say Sunday Riley, but she told me she’s pretty loyal to this. I bought it. I’ve since recommended it to anyone who wants to try something like Sunday Riley but at a cheaper price. It is also recommended to queens who have not tried an oil before, but are interested in it. It doesn’t have retinol in it, so it’s a really good place to start. It’s a great trick to tell queens who shave frequently to use this shaving cream. It makes a huge difference in the overall experience.
This product is great for people with acne or redness. Glow Recipe seems to have jumped on this buzzword by naming the product niacinamide. Although the ingredient has been around for a long time, people are now more aware of it. If you look at the ingredients of your favorite beauty products, I bet you’ll see niacinamide in some. It’s an incredible anti-inflammatory ingredient. My face has more of a pink complexion than the rest of my body does and I’ve seen a difference in the tone of my skin since I started using this. I recommend this product to friends who have the same problem.
This product is used daily by me. I keep it in my fridge so it’s extra cold when I apply it. It cools me down and because it has a lot of hyaluronic acid in it, it’s very hydrating. But I also use the mist for another makeup trick: When I powder my face, I apply this before applying a longer-wear setting spray because it adds the perfect amount of moisture so my face doesn’t look too powdery.
This contains very little retinol. Sensitive skin can’t tolerate a lot of retinol because it can be very irritating, but this has just enough that sensitive skin can handle it. When you put it on at night, you’ll wake up in the morning with really refreshed-looking skin. A lot of queens get Botox and plastic surgery, so anti-aging isn’t much of a problem for us — we’re not so interested in retinol reversing fine lines and stuff, so most don’t really need a high concentration.
I used Sunday Riley’s Flora Oil until the brand discontinued it. This product is the closest to it in its current range. It contains vitamin C. Every year, people are obsessed with trendy ingredients. This year, it was vitamin C. You don’t necessarily need it to have healthy-looking skin, but it does help with hyperpigmentation. It made a huge difference in my skin immediately. I recommend it to any girl with sun damage and dark patches. This works very quickly and is much more affordable than the other options.
I’ve tried so many moisturizers and this is the only one that I keep coming back to. Kim Chi swore by this moisturizer when she was on tour. Her skin looks like baby skin. It is so soft and beautiful. It was recommended by my mother and I purchased it. It is now a product I recommend to everyone I speak to about products. It was a favorite of all my friends. Kim Chi deserves all the credit. The brand makes a product called the aqua bomb that looks exactly the same — same packaging, same colors, just different words — and if you’re not paying attention, you might grab the wrong one. The aqua bomb is so watery that it can contaminate oil-based foundations and cause makeup separations. It’s a nightmare. Pay attention to the packaging!
This has fragrance in it — a sweet citrus scent — but it is a very, very, very small amount, just enough to be pleasant but not overpowering. I can’t stand very fragrant body lotions. If you have sensitive skin, there’s also an unscented version that really helped my ex’s eczema. A while back, Shea wanted to take close-up photographs of my hands. I gave her my hand cream when she asked. She fell in love with it and she still uses it. I also know she’s since recommended it to a lot of other people.
I have tried every self-tanner available. I’ve tried the flaky formulas, the crunchy formulas, the sticky formulas. I’ve stained everything in my house. I have spray-tan marks all over my walls. I can tell self-tanners from the back of my perfectly tanned hands. This is the holy grail of spray-tanners. It must be ordered from the U.K. so it can take some time. But it is well worth it. I used to love St. Tropez’ self-tanner, and thought there was nothing better. I’ve gotten every single drag queen I know who regularly self-tans or gets spray tans to use this — which, as you can imagine, is a lot. Spray it directly onto your skin, then blend it with a mitt. It dries in ten second so blend quickly. The result will look natural: it is not too dark, not to light, not to orange. It fades beautifully, and it doesn’t stain your sheets or clothes.
Editor’s note: B Perfect Cosmetics lists all prices in British pounds, so the price shown is an approximate conversion in U.S. dollars.
This is my top-recommended sunscreen. I have made it a habit to recommend it to more than a dozen people. There were many friends who didn’t like sunscreen and refused to use it. They thought sunscreens were all sticky, greasy or left a white cast. They fell in love with it. It’s mattifying, completely invisible, and easy on the eyes. There is no better option for anyone who doesn’t like to wear sunscreen.
Anyone with sensitive eyes like mine will love this sunscreen. Many sunscreens can burn your eye area, especially if it drips into your eyes. I use this product almost exclusively on my face. It takes three weeks for it from Asia to arrive, but it is worth it. I just got Shea and her boyfriend to try it because they’re going to Puerto Vallarta and wanted a good recommendation. This was the first time I saw it on TikTok. This one product developer has reviewed every sunscreen available and this one stood out to my eyes because she used it heavily around her eyes, almost like it was an eye cream. I was sold. It has eight different types of hyaluronic acid in it, so it’s extremely moisturizing and glowy. People don’t want to wait three weeks to get it, but I swear, the patience is so worth it.
I keep the large jug at my front door. I tell everyone to do so. It is impossible to find sunscreen that isn’t too thick for people who are lazy about applying sunscreen to their bodies. Play has a slightly more glowy feel than the Unseen sunscreen so I recommend that people try it on their faces if they prefer a glowing look to their skin. It shines as a body sunscreen.
Before I knew about lip balms with SPF, I used to just apply sunscreen to my lips. But then it mixes with the stuff you’re eating and you get a weird taste in your mouth. This is what I bought at Sephora years ago and have been using it since. I don’t only recommend it to people, but also gift it to everyone in my life, from drag queens to family to non-drag friends. It’s flavorless, clear, and feels like adding Vaseline to your lips. I buy two to three tubes at a stretch.
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