Kim Petras is No Stranger to Makeup Transformations

Getty / Kristy Sparow

Kim Petras holds many titles: platinum recording artist, Grammy winner, Sports Illustrated cover model, gay icon, trans trailblazer, to name a few. Now, she’s ready to make history once again as the face of the 30th Anniversary MAC Cosmetics’s Viva Glam campaign.

“I have dreamt way too much about this,” Petras tells PS. “Growing up, I was always obsessed with the shoots for it, the packaging, and the people who have been the faces of Viva Glam; a lot of them are very iconic to me and people that I really look up to.”

Petras’ childhood dream of being a part of the campaign began long before she started collecting awards, collaborating with industry heavyweights, or creating chart-topping music. Instead, it started when she was a kid living in Cologne, Germany, where she turned to makeup as an outlet for her creativity.

“I started using makeup as a form of self-expression when I was like 5,” Petras says. “I would go into my mom’s room and try on everything. It just felt beautiful, even though I didn’t know how to apply anything and I just smeared stuff all over my face.”

Image Source: MAC Cosmetics

As time went on, she began using cosmetics to express herself as an artist. From an early age, Petras aspired to become a singer-songwriter, and as she began writing music, she used makeup as a way to get into a creative headspace. “If I was feeling emo and in the teenage phase, I would have really dark eyeshadow and just kind of let it out,” Petras says. “When I started writing and sitting down to make demos, I would always put on some kind of makeup and outfit, so that I could feel in a place where I would wanna write and where I felt good about myself.”

Feeling good about herself held deeper meaning for Petras, who growing up experienced gender dysphoria and struggled to understand her identity. Makeup became one of the first means for Petras to explore herself, and ultimately, led her down a path of self-acceptance.

“I used to have to go to school as a boy and then at home, I would put on my makeup and be like ‘Finally, I can exist and not hate myself,'” says Petras. “It [got me] through the transitioning and judgment of other people; it’s what’s always made me feel true and real to myself.”

“I used to have to go to school as a boy and then at home, I would put on my makeup and be like ‘Finally, I can exist and not hate myself.'”

Petras entered her first era of music as a fully realized performer with her 2017 single “I Don’t Want It All,” coupled with an uber-feminine aesthetic, complete with doll-like lashes, pink lipstick, and her then-signature blond bun. But like any true pop star, she wanted to reinvent herself with every project she released. Over the next few years, Petras’ musical eras would see her shifting from bubblegum pop princess to Halloween seductress to 60s romantic to butter-blond California girl.

However, her biggest transformation in sound, style, and beauty would come in early 2022, when Petras debuted her sexiest project yet: “Slut Pop.” With it, Petras used tracks like “XXX,” “Throat Goat” and “They Wanna Fuck” to play out her X-rated sexual fantasies and accompanied the EP with a look that was just as much of a re-invention.

“I shaved off my eyebrows and drew them on really skinny for a long time,” Petras says. “I got spray tans, had streaks in my hair, and was wearing contacts all the time because ‘Slut Pop’ is this conceptual, really slutty version of myself, which I love writing from.”

This came on the precipice of her biggest hit to date, “Unholy,” alongside Sam Smith, which won her the award for “Best Pop Duo/Group Performance” and made history as the first openly transgender artist to earn a Grammy. This was quickly followed up by two back-to-back albums, “Feed the Beast” and “Problématique,” during which Petras continued to flex her versatility with her beauty looks.

“‘Feed the Beast’ was very all over the place, but kind of minimal, and I just wanted to reintroduce myself as just me after doing crazy makeup looks for a while,” says Petras. “Then for ‘Problématique,’ I was always wearing blue eyeshadow and we were really obsessed with that. Everything was kind of this blue, Marlene Dietrich vibes because it was set in France.”

After winning her first Grammy and releasing two albums within months of each other, all eyes were on Petras to see what she’d do in 2024. And considering her propensity to change her style on a dime, there was no predicting where she’d go next. That’s what made her unexpected return to her sex-positive era with the release of her fourth EP, “Slut Pop Miami,” all the more exciting for fans.

Not unlike its predecessor, “Slut Pop Miami” features a host of songs that are inspired by sexual fantasies – this time with a uniquely Miami flair. And with her MAC Viva Glam campaign trotting out three new lipsticks, it had us wondering which of these tracks Petras would assign to a shade if given the opportunity. “‘Butt Slut’ would be a lipstick I’d definitely get,” Petras laughs. “Honestly, I think ‘Can We Fuck?’ and ‘Whale Cock’ are pretty good. I’d also wear ‘Slut Pop Reprise’ all day. And then I think ‘XXX’ from the original ‘Slut Pop’ is an amazing one.”

While “Slut Pop Miami” will hold us over through Pride season and the summer, it will only be a matter of time before Kim Petras metamorphosizes yet again. And while she won’t spill the details just yet, Petras promises that her next era will be something entirely new that no one has seen from her yet – a “rebirth of sorts.”

“I’m starting to find different sides of myself; life has kind of changed for me and there are personal things that I’m ready to talk about for the first time. I don’t want to repeat myself and I want to get better with every move that I make.”

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