Tegan and Sara, Musicians


Tegan: We’re twins from Alberta, Canada, but right now Sara lives between New York and Montreal, and I’m living in Vancouver.

Sara: We'll be staying on a pretty civilized tour bus until the end of our tour in October. Our new album—Heartthrob—came out in January, and we’ve only been touring since last August, so we’re not that tired. It feels good—thank god we don’t have to tour in a van anymore. We spent years in vans, but now we share a bus, so we can still have a little space and get organized.

Tegan: Also, we get space from each other when we’re not on the road—we live in different cities, we have different interests. Because we’re twins, there's so much unspoken stuff. It’s like being married to someone for 25 years—when couples look at each other and they already know what the other is thinking. But we have separate taste in books, reading materials, and music, and that has influenced our music in subtle ways. It's funny—we used to write separately, but when we started collaborating with other artists, we suddenly learned how to write music together. Our old sound is like a Sara record and a Tegan record smushed together, but Heartthrob is the best example of us getting along musically that I’ve heard yet.

Sara: We do have our own distinct personal styles, even though we share a rolling closet on the road. We don’t share day-to-day clothes, but we do share stage and promotional clothes, because we get so bored with our own. [Laughs]

Tegan: We hover around the same planet, stylistically, but maybe Sara goes left and I go right. Sara describes me as a bit more sloppy and casual but maybe more on the 'rock' end of things—like a leather jacket over a t-shirt—whereas she irons everything and can be found in a skinny heel, an adult blouse, and very nice pants. [Laughs]  There’s an amazing company called Wild Fang that’s sort of like Urban Outfitters for tomboys that we get a lot of stuff from.

Sara: Our influences come in waves, too. We both like to be a little androgynous, but we’re ripping it off people like Annie Lennox and Patti Smith.

Tegan: Our makeup also walks this fine line between being tomboy and being feminine. Most of the time, I think people wear too much makeup. Our mom used to tell us to go as long as we could without putting makeup on, because it’s so hard on your skin. But we’re in a business where we’re constantly on stage or having our photo taken. We don’t want to alienate our young audience by being too made up, but we understand how to work our assets. After fourteen years of having our makeup done, we’ve learned a few things. [Laughs]

Sara: I really try to keep it as basic as possible—cover up, powder, a little bit of blush, mascara, and eyeliner. I never used to wear eyeliner, but my girlfriend wears it and she looks great, so I put it on every once in a while. She looks confused when I wear it. I think she likes the idea that she’s more of a girl than I am, but I don’t want her to repress the idea that I can look feminine. I use Studio Sculpt SPF 15 Foundation from MAC in a shade that I’m sure is almost albino, and then for powder, MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in Medium. If I’m going on stage, I’ll put on way more powder on than a normal person should, because I don’t want the sweat to show. I like MAC blush, too, to give me a little color. On stage, I don’t usually wear mascara or eyeliner since it can get so messy. It might look like a purposefully smoky eye from far away, but backstage you just look like a whore. [Laughs] When I do wear it, I like CoverGirl Mascara in Very Black and I just bought Rimmel Scandaleyes eyeliner.

Tegan: I am all trial-and-error when it comes to my standby products. To cover up my dark circles, I like Maybelline Cover Stick Concealer in Medium Beige, then I put on Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circles Treatment Concealer. I can also use it on my t-zone, then fade it out, and cover it with Maybelline Dream Matte Powder in Medium Beige. Our favorite makeup artist in LA suggested the rest of the things I use. She told me that all I needed was a good gloss, a good mascara—L’Oreal Telescopic in Blackest Blackand a good blush. With that stuff and my black-circle regimen, I’m fresh-faced! Sara and I actually have natural eyeshadow, so that’s it for my everyday look. And on stage, we have a lot of intimate moments where they bring the lights up on us, so I feel like if we had a lot of makeup on, we’d look terrifying.

Sara: For skincare, we both use Cetaphil to wash our bodiesfaces, and to moisturize, because you can buy it anywhere and we both have very sensitive skin. You could put Cetaphil on a baby.

Tegan: Our bus is rigged with hair dryers and hair products, too. We have a natural curl in our hair, but Sara blow-dries and brushes hers down so it’s nice and gets it cut perfectly. I might blow-dry mine until it’s maybe half-wet and then that’s the end of my hair routine.

Sara: Here's a story: we cut our hair short when we were five. Our mom was very foxy and very fashion and she couldn’t believe what we were interested in. She wanted us to be all hair and clothes and whatever, but she finally gave up and let us cut our hair. I look at pictures and I’m like, ‘Mom, you should have seen the signs!’ We wanted to be our dad desperately. We had one earring each, like he did, and short hair, like mullets... I truly believe a lot of gender identity is about chemical impulses and recognizing almost on a subconscious level what you see in yourself. My dad resembled that [vision] more closely, so I wanted to look like he did. As we got older, I think for social reasons and for comfort, we naturally gravitated toward more traditional, long hair. We passed as normal, average straight kids with boyfriends and everything. But once we were 18, we were like, ‘OK, fuck, we’re out of school now, so we can just be exactly who we want to be.’

Tegan: We graduated, we were playing music, we were empowered, and we started recognizing things in ourselves. Aesthetically, we started swinging away from trying to emulate the male figures in our lives and toward appreciating that our mom is a babe, and we realized that we could push those assets in ourselves to be attractive to both women and men. Our mom’s sense of fashion was so cool and cutting edge. We started to capture the other side of it. I mean this so sincerely—I’m not afraid of our being gay affecting our audience in any way. I think we’ve come to terms with it, both professionally and personally. It’s not even so much about sexuality as it is how you present yourself in terms of your gender identity and your sex. For Sara and I, we started maximizing our audience by connecting with them, being on social media, talking with our fans. I don’t want people to idolize me so much as I want them to connect and think we could be friends. I want you to walk around and listen to my music and think, 'This person is me.'

—as told to ITG

Tegan (R) and Sara (L) Quin photographed by Emily Weiss in New York on July 23, 2013. Download their latest album, Heartthrob, here

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Poonam

    It is fucking AWESOME to see these women on ITG. More content like this, please!

  • eastvillagesiren

    Great musicians, and funny, engaging women. Realistic beauty and skincare advice to boot. Loves it!

  • claire

    OH MY GOSH!!!!!!!!!!!!! T&S!!...that's all..

  • gillianliyan

    I agree with all of the above. This piece was unexpected and refreshing.

  • Guest

    I have no idea who they are. What type of music do they play?

    • EMR

      There's a google for that.

    • kneelbeforetigers

      Zzzzzzzzz music. Not a fan, obvs. But an interesting read.

  • http://nothingspaces.com Carina

    AHHHHHH! Yes!

  • Hannah

    Man, it's so nice to see fellow Albertans on ITG. They never pop up on fashion-y websites

  • Chantel

    Great interview.

  • bluesky557

    Fabulous! I love their take on gender identity. All the make up in the world won't make you feel beautiful unless you can feel comfortable in your own skin.

    • Lana


  • annerzgosteady


  • lynn.h

    This is the best thing I've ever read on ITG

  • Sofia

    This was really interesting. I'd LOVE to see Sara with her natural curly hair.

  • Leah M

    God I love them so much. And I definitely always thought they'd be awesome bff's lmao. So Im right there with you Tegan hah

  • nicole

    love love love seeing musicians on ITG! especially these two. great pick!

  • http://www.vibrantbeautyblog.com/ Jennifer Monforton

    Fantastic ladies! They do Canada proud. Great feature! xo

  • Jess

    fuck peta

  • Jess

    Love this article! It's nice seeing them on fashion-y websites. Great advice as well!

  • DoctorTeganLover

    I love them so much (especially Tegan hehe), I am so happy that they are finally getting the recognition that they deserve.

  • Bee

    I LOVE Tegan and Sara!!!! So amazing to see them on ITG!

  • overanalyzer


  • Claire

    Since Charlotte Ronson and Annabelle Dexter-Jones have been interviewed for The Top Shelf it would be nice to see Samantha Ronson on the site...

  • Gina Carpellotti

    What is the damn allure with Cetaphil?


Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
Cetaphil DailyAdvance Ultra Hydrating Lotion
MAC 'Studio Sculpt' SPF 15 Foundation
MAC 'Mineralize' Skinfinish Natural Medium
MAC Cremeblend Blush
Rimmel ScandalEyes Waterproof Gel Eyeliner
Maybelline Cover Stick
Maybelline Cover Stick Waterproof Concealer, Medium Beige
Maybelline Instant Age Rewind
Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circles Concealer Treatment
Maybelline Dream Matte Powder
Maybelline Dream Matte Powder Compact, Medium