Pride
Elite Daily's Beauty Court

Meet Elite Daily’s Beauty Court: 10 Iconic Influencers Breaking Beauty Boundaries

These LGBTQ+ beauty icons are here to stay, slay, and remind you to wash your damn face.

Julius Barnathan, Zak Taylor, Steven M. Koch, David Martinez, Christian Perez, Johnny Ross.

The beauty industry is always evolving, thanks in large part to folks who are willing to start a revolution. LGBTQ+ performers and artists are often responsible for injecting new life (and new looks) into beauty’s mainstream culture and, TBH, they’re owned thanks and a major round of applause for helping shape the exciting, vibrant, and expressive space beauty now occupies IRL and on social media.

Throughout Pride month, I had the lovely opportunity to connect with 10 individuals who have, each in their own way, changed the beauty game and continue to push its buttons and its boundaries. It’s my immense pleasure to introduce you to Elite Daily’s Beauty Court, a collective of artists who are challenging the tired and outdated definitions of beauty through artistry, advocacy, and self-expression. These models, content creators, and performers entered an industry that wasn’t, historically, made for them and remade it in their own beautiful images.

Each member of Elite Daily’s Beauty Court has become a force of nature — fronting campaigns for the likes of NARS Cosmetics and competing on RuPaul’s Drag Race — but it didn’t happen overnight. Ahead, our Beauty Court members weigh in on their ride-or-die beauty products, biggest influences, major moments, and how makeup has been an outlet for each of them in different and unique ways.

DeJa Skye

Courtesy of David Martinez

What’s your earliest makeup memory?

My earliest makeup memory was going to Sally's Beauty and thinking that I could cover up my entire five o'clock shadow. That was not the case, but when I started doing drag, almost 11 years ago, it was not a mainstream thing. You couldn't go on YouTube and find 5 million drag makeup tutorials so the only things that I knew were from my lesbian friend that went to Sally's. And I was like, “OK, yeah, let's go to Sally's and let's get everything.” I remember asking the people there, “What do I need for this? What do I need for that?” and them looking at me crazy, but I just remember buying whatever I could.

What’s your ride-or-die beauty product?

I don’t think I could live without my Juvia’s Place I Am Magic Foundation ($22). It’s got amazing coverage, an amazing shade range, and it gives you that satin finish. I’ve tried plenty of foundations and this gives the coverage of a queen but can be sheered [out] and a little goes a very long way.

What are some beauty brands you're loving right now?

I love Juvia's Place. It's a Black-owned company and we obviously need more of those, but it’s not only that. They make quality eyeshadows, foundations, concealers — you name it, they deliver it. And they're so reasonably priced. I also have to shout out Ms. KimChi Chic Beauty. She has a ginormous range of products, she’s a drag artist in the industry, she’s an amazing makeup artist, and the price point is so low for amazing products. I was a poor child and I still have a poor mindset, so if I can cut corners and I can get an amazing product for a very low price point, we've made it and we are here.

What boundaries does the beauty industry still need to break?

I just think that the beauty industry shoes should be a lot more open to every type of skin type and every type of influencer. What we're still seeing in the beauty industry is one type of beauty. That one type of beauty is mainstream, polished, flawless, good brows, skinny. There is a makeup artist Naezrah and, oh my God, she's amazing and everyone is copying her trends, but yet her followers are not going up. If you put her looks on, say, James Charles, then it gets millions of views. People are going to fall in love, blah, blah, blah, but someone with a darker skin tone that is more talented than a lot of influencers [isn’t getting] the time of day. It's very sad and it's very annoying, but I'm hoping that changes.

Emira D’Spain

Courtesy of Vin Riportella

What does beauty mean to you?

To me, beauty means expressing yourself through a physical medium. There is no right or wrong way to do it. It's about showcasing how you feel in the moment through hair and makeup.

How do you use makeup to express yourself or different aspects of yourself?

I use makeup to convey how I feel. When I want to feel unstoppable, I will go all out with full glam, dramatic eyeshadow, and a heavy lash. When I want to feel dainty and sweet, I'll wear minimal makeup with freckles. I often use makeup to showcase my emotions. It's like setting the tone for the day.

What’s your ride-or-die beauty product?

My current ride-or-die is the Dior 001 Blush ($39). Ever since Miss Kylie Jenner revealed that she used it (and then the controversy around her saying she never [said she used it]), I have been obsessed. It gives you such a beautiful babydoll look! Also literally anything Charlotte Tilbury makes, I'm buying.

Who’s your biggest beauty inspiration, the queen, king, or nonbinary monarch you absolutely bow down to?

Pat McGrath is hands-down one of the most talented people in the industry. Her story is beyond inspirational. I think her work and products are just so incredible and such high quality.

What’s the one product you’re obsessed with right now?

Another product I am obsessed with is Patrick Ta's Major Dimension 2 Palette ($68). It's perfect for medium to deep skin tones with those rich mauve and chocolate hues and the glitters are to die for.

Bismuth Arsenide

Bismuth Arsenide

What's one thing you wish you knew in your teens about beauty?

Beauty is subjective. The only person’s opinion that matters on the subject of your beauty is your own.

How do you use makeup to express yourself or different aspects of yourself?

I use makeup mostly to enhance my natural features, but sometimes I do more artistic looks to showcase emotions and my creativity.

Who’s your biggest beauty inspiration, the queen, king, or nonbinary monarch you absolutely bow down to?

My biggest beauty inspiration right now is Nick Knight. He is a famous fashion photographer and I find so much inspiration in his work.

What’s the one product you’re obsessed with right now?

My current product obsession is definitely the NARS Light Reflecting Foundation ($49). It gives the most gorgeous and stunning glow ever and I do love a good glow. The finish is also incredible and it wears amazingly.

Mr. Johnny Ross

Johnny Ross

What's your earliest makeup memory?

Probably when I was in cosmetology school. Everybody wanted to do hair and I just gravitated towards makeup. It was actually more special effects at first and I just always felt like I could be more creative with makeup than with hair. That was probably, oh my God, 11 or 12 years ago now.

What does beauty mean to you?

Beauty to me has nothing to do with vanity and everything to do with confidence. If you're struggling to feel your best on the inside, starting with the outside is a great way to show yourself love. Beauty should be synonymous with "taking care of yourself,” and that's why I think beauty is genderless.

How do you use makeup to express yourself or different aspects of yourself?

I use makeup to take care of myself. Externally, mentally, creatively, and socially. I wear it to feel confident and to embrace my creativity. Yes, I identify as male, and that's where my obligation to define my masculinity to the world ends. My father taught me how to change a tire, tile a floor, and build furniture, but I also like to wear makeup on the internet to teach people how fun it can be! That's why I love makeup. Like me, it's an amalgamation of things you wouldn't believe go together to create one hell of a beautiful result if I do say so myself!

What’s your ride-or-die beauty product?

The Kim Chi Chic Beauty Puff Puff Pass Setting Powder ($18)! People don't understand the importance of powder when making makeup last and making skin look smooth. Leave it to a drag queen to create some of the best makeup products on the market, but just look at Kim and you won't be surprised.

What’s the one product you’re obsessed with right now?

The Fenty Beauty Pre-Show Glow Instant Retexturizing 10% AHA Treatment ($40). I'm telling you, I can't live without this! Once a week, or before applying makeup, I use this treatment, and my skin looks and feels like absolute glass. Remember people, the makeup can only look as smooth as the canvas!

Indigo

Indigo

What does beauty mean to you?

Beauty can be so many different things. You can find beauty in everything if you look hard enough for it. It’s more like an experience and admiration that you have [within yourself].

How do you use makeup to express yourself or different aspects of yourself?

When I first started doing makeup, I took a more serious approach and I used it to convey more serious, art-driven special effect looks or glam looks. But now, and I think this is also a self-reflection overall, I tend to use it to make more humorous, outlandish makeup looks that are fun for me to make and are fun for the viewers to watch.

What’s your ride-or-die beauty product?

Dr. Brenner's Vitamin C Serum ($20). It’s a dupe for the SkinCeuticals Vitamin C and it only costs $20. It completely saved my skin from all the makeup I apply. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I had a serious blemish.

Who’s your biggest beauty inspiration, the queen, king, or nonbinary monarch you absolutely bow down to?

I love Billie Eilish. I think she really changed the scene and direction we were going pop culture-wise. There’s also no denying her influence in the beauty industry and I think her style is so different and a fresh take on what you can do when you don’t just follow trends.

CT Hedden

Roy Rochlin/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

What's your earliest makeup memory?

My earliest makeup memory probably would have to be when I was in elementary school, my mother and I would go all-out for Halloween time. I always tell everyone that my mother created the drag queen that I am today. We would plan our Halloween looks out like three months in advance.

How do you use makeup to express yourself?

It always reflects, for me, the mood that I'm in. If I'm having a bad day or a bad week or I'm upset, or breakups or whatever it may be, it reflects on how I end up painting. The beauty of makeup is that it's just temporary. So if I'm having a dark moment, or a happy moment, or whatever it may be, it's constantly changing and evolving. I think that's why I love it so much because I get bored so easily and I'm constantly changing my aesthetic. The fact that all you have to do is just take a makeup wipe and remove it and then go do something different keeps it fresh and invigorating and very exciting.

What beauty products or brands are you obsessed with right now?

Right now, I love Plouise Makeup Academy, a U.K. brand. It's kind of a smaller company, but for artistry work, I'm really loving it. I love Sugarpill. The founder’s name is Sprinkle and she lives in Los Angeles. It’s also a smaller brand, but definitely makes good drag makeup. Honestly, though, MAC is definitely the number one.

How have you seen the beauty industry evolving?

I was always a huge fan of the NARS brand and I always wanted to work at counters. That was always my jam, but at the time men were not allowed to wear makeup at the NARS counters. Then, it just so happened that the stars aligned and I ended up doing campaigns with NARS. I knew I was going to Bora Bora for this to actually shoot the campaigns and I wanted to ask [François Nars] myself, even though I knew he probably had no idea, why men were not allowed to wear makeup at the NARS counters. With him being one of the biggest makeup moguls in the world, I just couldn't see why that was a thing.

I'm a Taurus, I'm very bold, definitely not afraid of anything, or asking anyone anything, and I completely asked François Nars and he had no idea, but then he reached out to Shiseido and changed that rule globally because I asked. I always also say to ask everything because you never know unless you ask. Look at that, just by inquiring, I changed a global, worldwide rule. It’s very exciting that we're changing and being more accepting. It's about time. I just wish we had started earlier, but I think it's getting there.

Derrick Davis

Derrick Davis

What does beauty mean to you?

Beauty to me is an expression of who I am and all the trials and tribulations of where I came from. Growing up in the South as a minor, I wasn’t always allowed to celebrate my truest self. However, I always held true to my personal beauty values.

How do you use makeup to express yourself or different aspects of yourself?

I use makeup to express the inner glamour child I’ve always known I was meant to be. I have two styles of makeup: my everyday simple glam and my bombshell glam. Either one is going to express who I am to the fullest extent.

What’s your ride-or-die beauty product?

One product I cannot live without is the FRECK OG Freckle Pen ($22). I have small freckles here and there, but I’ve always admired and appreciated people with freckles. FRECK’s OG Freckle Pen makes my admiration a reality because it’s so easy to use for creating an everyday freckle look.

What's one thing you wish you knew in your teens about beauty?

One thing I wish I knew as a teen is to keep experimenting with beauty. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you haven’t found your exact niche or look. Have fun with it. Your time will come.

What’s one product you’re obsessed with right now?

I am obsessed with the Coloured Raine Rebellious Nudes Palette ($25). It has literally every colour I need to achieve my everyday look. It also contains the colours I need to step my look up into a full-on glam moment. I’ve used it consistently and I have deemed it an essential part of my makeup collection.

Zak Taylor

Zak Taylor

What’s your earliest beauty memory?

I've literally loved makeup since I was a little boy. I've always thought it was the best thing ever. I remember being a 4-year-old, I grew up with all girl cousins, and on holidays, they would get the cute little Disney lip gloss sets and I would be so jealous. Literally, I've always loved makeup, but when I was 15 years old, I found a concealer in the bathroom and stole it. I would put it on before I went to sleep at night so that I would have it on for school because I was too embarrassed to do it in the morning. Eventually, I just got the confidence to start buying my own makeup.

How do you use makeup to express yourself or different aspects of yourself?

I love to use makeup to transform into the different creations of my mind. I’ve never been much of an artist who can paint or draw on paper but I’ve always been super creative so I was left feeling empty in some ways, never felt artistically fulfilled, until I got into makeup. Whether I wanna just do a Kardashian glam or paint myself blue and glue butterflies to myself, makeup has given me the power to become those creations and it fulfills me so much to now be able to share it with the world.

What’s your ride-or-die beauty product?

I’m forever trying new makeup products and switching things up but the one thing I cannot live without is the e.l.f. cosmetics Total Face Sponge. It blends out foundation, concealer, cream contour, and liquid blush. I’m seriously so obsessed with this makeup sponge and it’s only $6. I’m always gifting it to friends and talking about it on my Instagram stories. Everyone needs it!

What's one thing you wish you knew in your teens about beauty?

First, I wish I knew not to shave half my brows off and depend on ABH Dip Brow, but, seriously, I guess I wish I knew that all these beauty gurus and celebrities are always under these amazing lighting and using filters and just to not compare yourself to that. Texture is real and we have pores!

What’s the one product you’re obsessed with right now?

My go-to beauty product recently has to be the about-face Matte Fluid Eye Paints! They are an artist's dream product. They dry down matte and stay where you put them, you can mix them to make your own color and, personally, I also use them for blush or face paint. Obsessed.

Holly Hazmat

Courtesy of Steven M. Koch

What does beauty mean to you?

To me, beauty is simply an extension of your genuine self. How we choose to express our inner beauty is totally up to us and that's the fun part.

How do you use makeup to express yourself or different aspects of yourself?

As a drag artist, I find makeup helps me express certain aspects of myself in an unconventional manner. I'm a firm believer that makeup and beauty products are simply tools to help enhance the beauty we already have, but I choose to take it a few steps further. I adore straying away from what is societally deemed "beautiful" and finding beauty in things that are a bit more macabre. The world isn't all sunshine and I want to inspire others to find a little sparkle in the darkness.

What’s your ride-or-die beauty product?

I truly cannot stress this enough, but the absolute phenomenon that is Jouer Cosmetics' Powder Highlighter ($25). It’s. Bonkers. Every single time I apply this highlighter, I have to take a moment to “oooh” and “ahhhh.” If you want your skin to look like absolute glass, this product is unmatched. I've used dozens of highlighters and this takes the cake every time.

Who’s your biggest beauty inspiration, the queen, king, or nonbinary monarch you absolutely bow down to?

I'd have to say my biggest inspirations include both Johannes J. Jaruraak who goes by the name Hungry and Sasha Velour. Both artists are genuinely themselves and use their art to bring us into their unique worlds.

What's one thing you wish you knew in your teens about beauty?

I think the biggest piece of advice I wish I knew as a teen is knowing that there's truly no one else like YOU and that there is immense beauty in the uniqueness that is YOU.

What’s the one product you’re obsessed with right now?

I'd have to say my current obsession is the Makeup Forever Flash Color Palette ($99). The formulation is so easy to manipulate and blend. Not to mention the pigment is truly *insane.*