“I can’t do my job without it”: Kim Petras on how makeup empowers her

By Linnéa Pesonen

Photo: MAC

As the mega-star is named Viva Glam’s newest global ambassador – commemorating the lipstick line’s 30th anniversary – we catch up with the singer to discuss how makeup helps her conceive new music and feel her best

Makeup is a powerful tool. It can serve as a catalyst for confidence, a means for artistic expression, and a portal to explore diverse personas and identities. For singer-songwriter Kim Petras, who has just been named the global ambassador for MAC’s iconic lipstick line Viva Glam – which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year – makeup remains a vital medium for self-expression.


“[Makeup] is very much an extension of my art,” Petras says. “I think my songwriting and music videos, and how you build the story of a song through makeup, goes very hand-in-hand. I can’t do my job without that.” Often rocking up to the studio donning a full face of makeup – which she has done herself – Petras feels it helps her to get into the right mood. “I have to do it, you know, I can’t really get into the writing and the artist part without having something going on,” she says. “So I feel like it [makeup] inspires me to write the music and lets me explore different characters.”

Photo: MAC

Photo: MAC

Photo: MAC

Take, for instance, Petras’ blockbuster 2022 EP Slutpop, which saw the artist transform into an early aughts Christina Aguilera-esque vixen with the magic of makeup. “[The album] has the most sexual songs you’ve ever heard. And we did like a really skinny brow and a spray tan and just really built a character,” she says. Then there’s her dark, Halloween-themed 2020 album Turn Off the Light, where the artist embraced a look far from the sultry Slutpop universe. “There, I have crazy spider lashes and insane eyeliner and almost no brows,” Petras says. “There’s just so many things you can do with makeup and so many different ways that you can express your mood. Like, if I’m having a day when I’m pissed off at everything, I put on so much dark eyeshadow.”

Like many of us, Petras’ earliest makeup memories are connected to her mum. “My mum would always have this MAC eye shadow with silver particles in it – I’m not sure what it was called, it might have been ‘Gunmetal’ or ‘Smog’, it had an iconic name, but she would always do her eyeliner with the powder eyeshadow, and I thought it was so amazing,” she recalls. And, of course, rummaging through her mum’s makeup bag was par for the course, with the occasional ‘lending’ of products. “I would sometimes steal it [the eyeshadow] and go way too crazy. And then she would know I used it and I would get in trouble,” Petras laughs.

My songwriting and music videos, and how you build the story of a song through makeup goes very hand in hand. I can’t do my job without that.

Kim Petras

Photo: MAC

Today, Petras can dive into her own beauty arsenal, including some of her favourite products like Farmacy’s Green Clean, a cleansing balm that melts away makeup and that Petras “has to take everywhere.” Another go-to is MAC’s Hyper Real Skincanvas Balm, a moisturiser the star is “obsessed with.” “I have a thing for balms, and it [MAC’s Hyper Real Skincanvas Balm] is really, really hydrating,” Petras says. Her beauty must-haves also include Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado, K18 Leave-In Repair Hair Mask, MAC’s Fix Plus mineral water mist, and, of course, the brand’s Viva Glam lipstick in a delicious scarlet shade. “Whenever I feel like I need a push in my life, I’m wearing that,” Petras says.

In fact, MAC’s red lipstick has become a sort of lucky charm for Petras, tracing back to her 2023 Grammy win when she scooped the prestigious award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance with Sam Smith. The pair simultaneously made history as the first nonbinary and transgender artists to nab the accolade. “Winning a Grammy in MAC red lipstick was a very memorable MAC moment, I will forever cherish that,” Petras says. “Good things happen when I’m wearing a MAC red lip.”

As a MAC Viva Glam global ambassador, Petras stars in the brand's latest, 'Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is' campaign. Photo: MAC

Petras’ partnership with MAC is a perfect continuation of this treasured relationship. “It feels incredible. I said yes in, like, one second,” Petras beams. The ambassadorship sees Petras starring in Viva Glam’s latest 30th-anniversary campaign, dubbed 'Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is', which introduces a revamped lipstick line. Additionally, it carries on the brand’s crucial mission of raising awareness and giving back 100 per cent of the purchase price to local organisations worldwide working to advance equal rights and healthy futures for all ages, races, and genders.

“I love that lipstick can change the world in a positive way – it’s such a beautiful story to me,” Petras says. “And I love that MAC cares about all kinds of equality: sexual equality, gender equality, racial equality, and environmental equality. I stand behind that … I feel like the luckiest girl ever.”