As one of the original “Beauty Boys,” 27-year-old Patrick Starrr has played an integral role in transforming how we view—and talk about—men in makeup. Now, with over 3.2 million followers on Instagram, the social media sensation reflects on his humble beginnings and fight to end unfair ideals.
I started getting a reputation for being good at hair and makeup when I was around 15 years old. I loved styling my girl friends. In fact, I remember when I was a freshman, a senior asked me to do her hair for homecoming, and I thought, Oh my god, I have arrived. If I only I knew then! I’d take headshots for friends and Photoshop their pictures to smooth out their skin and add eyelashes, blush, contour, and penciled-in brows. I was an entrepreneur even back then.
It actually wasn’t until my early twenties when I started wearing makeup myself. I was still doing makeup for women as a side job—for weddings and events and such—and I wanted to understand how to apply it better by figuring out what worked on me. I couldn’t completely relate to my clients because I had never worn it. So I started to experiment, mostly with drugstore makeup. First I did my foundation and a little bit of mascara. I thought it looked really good on me. So then I added more, doing a crease, bronzer, liner, eyeshadow—I’d look at myself in the mirror and I’d feel beautiful.
Thankfully my parents have always been supportive. When I was a kid, I loved helping my mom blow-dry her hair before going to church. Inspired by Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and Little Mermaid, I was obsessed with transformation. I’d get into her makeup and convince my cousins to let me give them makeovers. We’d stage our own little TV show.
But as I got older and started wearing makeup daily, my parents asked me to stop. At the time, I thought that meant they hated me. They wanted me to focus on school, do nursing, get good grades, get a job, but I wanted to explore my creative side. I wanted to do makeup. Looking back, I realize my parents just wanted to defend me from negativity—the naysayers, the bullies, the gay haters in the world. But makeup isn’t hurting anyone. I’ve never understood why people feel so offended when men wear makeup or women wear “too much” of it. It’s a form of expression. I’m simply being myself.
The downside to growing up in Orlando is that all we had were Disney World and McDonald’s. There wasn’t really a curated industry for artists, so the closest thing I had to break into that world was the makeup counter. I applied to three of them and got three nos. It was totally disheartening. Then one day I went in to buy lipstick for a bride, ended up chatting with an employee behind the counter, and left with a job offer. That moment changed my life. Suddenly I had found this niche group of people like me—friends who were also artists who I could learn from. I really owe a lot to my peers and the family that I made there. It’s like I grew up at that makeup counter.