After singing, Adam Lambert is arguably most known for his hair, which has evolved from classic emo side swoop to gravity-defying fauxhawk — Adam Lambert would never call himself a hairstylist. “You don’t see me doing any blowouts,” he jokes over the phone. “I don’t know how to do that.” The title he proudly will “claim,” however, is makeup artist. The singer, who just released his fifth album, High Drama, has always done his own makeup, a skill he tells Allure he taught himself out of what one could fairly call an obsession — one naturally born through his love for performance. 

As anyone could see, it’s a skill well-learned and well-developed throughout his career, which (as you likely know) started in earnest on American Idol in 2009 and has since included touring globally, appearing in dozens of TV series, championing LGBTIA+ pride, and, fittingly, performing with Queen.

Below, Lambert tells Allure the story of how he discovered the art form of makeup, how his signature look has changed with him, and what his favorite products are today. 

Allure: When did you first discover makeup?

Adam Lambert: I did a lot of musical theater as a kid, and so obviously with that there was makeup you had to do. The first musical we did where I was really putting on makeup was probably Peter Pan, and I was just going to town on some real editorial look for a pirate in the back. He had, like, smoky eyes with blue lipstick and a mustache and a beard. I was just having a good old time, and no one said anything. No one stopped me, so I just kept doing it. 

Also every year for Halloween, I would get way too excited about creating a look. I think I started off with a stage makeup kit and some books from the library about stage makeup. I started reading about special effects makeup as a kid and trying to do things with latex and hair and mustaches, and all this stuff.

Then as I got into my teenage years, I started getting really interested in fashion. I was buying a lot of magazines. I was looking at editorials and was so into what I was seeing, and I was like, “I want to try to do that. I want to be able to do that.” The first cosmetics brand that I dove into was MAC. I remember I would beg for something from MAC. And then at some point, my parents were like, “Well, we’re not going to just buy you this shit. You have to buy it yourself.” So I got a job and I had some spending money, and so I was buying stuff for myself. Unfortunately, the job was not at a makeup counter. I was 16, I was working at Starbucks.

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