Chase Runaway isn't in the business of regret. It's been about eight years since she took the stage for the first time, which means nearly a decade of makeup looks that are intrinsic to her evolution. Often cringing at our Instagram archives and haunted by short-lived, ill-advised trends, we rarely look back fondly at who we used to be — but not Chase.
"Every time I do my makeup, it's a love letter to myself," Chase says. "I can go back and read it and love where I was at that time." She does experience self-criticism, even if only a little — after all, who doesn't question how they did their brows before? But even if Chase has leveled up her techniques, she's still proud of everything she's tried and mastered. In fact, she still cheers the old Chase on: she did it; she chose to turn out a look and step out of the house as confident as she could be. What's to regret about that? "Now, I'll be getting in drag, and I'll be like, 'This is as good as it gets,'" she says. "Then, in my head, I'm like, 'No, there are so many looks to come.'"
This approach to makeup — and drag in general — didn't always come easily. Chase (known out of drag as Chase Ingrande) grew up believing that boys couldn't wear makeup. "I was instilled with a lot of toxic masculinity that made it feel so wrong to do something like that," she says. But drag is everything that Chase already loves: singing, dancing, and acting. "It took me a long time to get there and to feel comfortable doing it," she says. "It was trying it out and feeling safe in those spaces that made me feel like this is something very identifiable."
Chase is also passionate about art — drawing and painting are big parts of her life. So, practicing her new makeup skills came easily: "In art, you're using a canvas; drag is using yourself as the canvas," she says. And like any good art, drag requires tools. While there are some mainstay products familiar to everyone in the community, Chase's routine includes some of her own staples, too.
It wasn't until she hit the stage that makeup became a part of her everyday life — but even before then, Chase knew the importance of skin care. You cannot, she repeats, cannot have a great makeup look without taking care of your skin first. She's devoted to one moisturizer in particular: the Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer. She's a fan of the SPF and how comfortably it sits underneath makeup — whether she's in drag or not.
She also relies on a primer before starting her base — usually the Milani No Pore Zone Mattifying Face Primer. She blocks her brows, color-corrects her facial hair, and then starts laying the groundwork for a clean contour and highlight. Her favorite face products are the Milani Conceal + Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation + Concealer and Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circle Treatment Concealer. The latter is a cult favorite in the beauty community, so it's no surprise Chase that likes it. The applicator — a tiny sponge that reaches even the smallest corners — is foolproof, and the formula is full-coverage. You won’t usually catch Chase doing her makeup with a brush; she prefers the Beautyblender Original Beautyblender.
While Chase credits YouTube as her makeup mentor, she also owes a lot of her skills to fellow performers. In fact, one trick she's adopted into her routine comes from another queen's personal tutorial, featuring the beloved Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit. Chase always set her highlight with a setting powder, but she never knew how effective a banana or pink powder could be for creating eye-catching dimensions. Now, she doesn't finish a look without swirling her brush through at least two of the powders in the contour kit.
Eyes are a crucial part of any Chase Runaway look, and for that, she typically uses the NYX Professional Makeup Epic Wear Long Lasting Liquid Eyeliner and NYX Professional Makeup Face and Body Glitter. A few years ago, Chase began to incorporate a white eyeliner into her routine, which now serves as a milestone in her beauty evolution. Something so minimal — a speck of white liner on the tip of her nose, a faint trace of it on the edge of her lips, or a swipe of it across her eye crease — makes a huge difference in every look. Finally, she sets her makeup with the Urban Decay Cosmetics All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray. Many people think a setting spray is a myth, but take it from Chase: it very much is not.
It's fitting that Chase describes her drag journey as an evolution. The concept of metamorphosis is one that she relates to — she’s even created a beauty look out of faux butterflies to illustrate it. Unlike the technicolor insects, Chase isn't giving herself just one opportunity to transform. During the height of quarantine and isolating at home, the drag community came to a halt. Without theaters and bars open to the public, where could they perform? Social media became a hub for all kinds of entertainers — let's never forget the litany of celebrity Lives on Instagram — and Chase noticed that many of her peers used the platform to reach audiences. But Chase knew she could create something bigger and better. "We're performers, we're artists, we deserve to create a space that is as amazing as going to a show," she says. So, she created a digital drag show on YouTube.
Some people learned how to make sourdough starter during the first wave of the pandemic; Chase taught herself how to edit videos on Final Cut Pro and create her own posters on Photoshop. She was a producer and showrunner, gathering friends and peers in the community to essentially create their own music videos, spliced together to create an hour-long hit. Of course, performing for an HD camera is very different from performing in person. That new level of professionalism and performance art changed how Chase handled her in-person gigs — forever. Being camera ready took on a whole new meaning.
Even with her success online, Chase is a show-stopper in person and knew that, even amid a pandemic, she could thrive in one place: New York. The wild bravery of the city's drag scene is what initially drew her in. Not only did her favorite performers call it home, but their stylistic blend of smart comedy and theater aligned with the brand she was building. It's the place where dreams are made of, after all — and if anyone can make a dream come true, it's a queen in one of the five boroughs.
The last two years haven't been easy for anyone — creating a drag show on a tight budget certainly isn't simple — but Chase emerged from the rubble of the drag scene with nothing but hope and gratitude. "It really told me that anything is possible with drag," she says. "The most amazing thing about this community is the resilience. You can't keep us down." Looking back now, Chase wonders what it would have been like if she'd been born a few years later — would her introduction to beauty and the drag community have come sooner? Maybe she could have bypassed some of the hegemonic stereotypes that made her think she didn't belong on the stage. But again, no regrets: just resilience.
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Credits: Photographer: Vanessa Zican Feng; Art Director: Becky Joy; Wardrobe Stylist: Dominick Barcelona; Makeup: Laurel Charleston; Wig Artist: Sean Bennett; Nail Artist: Juan Alvear; Producer: Hannah Lee