Meet Your Driver: Long Nguyen

Long Nguyen - Aug 1, 2023
Illustration by María Jesús Contreras

I studied studio art for drawing and painting, but I didn’t want to do it for the rest of my life. One day, I saw my local community college was offering a special-effects makeup class. I watched shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race and Face Off. That was all my experience with makeup. I had no clue about foundation, lipstick, mascara. But it sounded interesting, so I signed up.

On our first day, we learned how to make people look much older. Because of my art background, I had some knowledge of realism in painting. Applying makeup was like creating a 3D painting. I made myself look really old. My work wasn’t good enough that I could go walk around and fool people, but it looked good on camera. I sent pictures to friends. They were like, “What happened to you?” 

Being in that class felt kind of like fate. I fell in love with the magic of makeup that day and decided I was going to become a makeup artist.

I decided to branch out into beauty-based makeup, which is a whole different universe from special effects. I have friends who work in the beauty industry, and they helped me learn how to do things like basic eyeliner and blush. I really love creating the no-makeup makeup look because people still look like themselves, but it brings out their natural beauty.

People think that because I’m a makeup artist, I go around looking super glam all the time, with lashes and a full face. But I actually don’t really care about wearing makeup too often. I like applying makeup on other people.

My proudest moment so far was being the key makeup artist at the Golden Scissors Fashion Show. I had to come up with one hair and makeup look that would work with the clothing of five different designers. I supervised a team of about six people, and we worked on 15 models. 

My dream is to move to New York and work in the fashion industry doing makeup for runway and magazine shoots. But I also really like doing drag makeup. People think that drag-queen makeup means making the person look like a woman. But nowadays, you don’t have to look a certain way. You can do whatever you want. It’s a form of expression. I love that.