It may seem that Orange Is the New Black would be a show without hair or makeup — since, well, how much do you need in prison? — but creating beauty looks on the hit show, which returned to Netflix last Friday, is actually a complex art.
Angel De Angelis and Michal Bigger, who lead OITNB’s hair and makeup teams, respectively, say they had to forget everything they knew in order to transform the show’s 60 principal characters into prison inmates. Turning a beautiful young actress into a meth-head, for example, is a lot harder than it looks. “We are just doing terrible things to these people!” Bigger told the Cut. “And all the time we see things written about how there’s no makeup on the show. It is so far from the truth.”
It takes some nice products to make everyone look so horrible, though; you definitely won’t find this stuff in the average prison commissary. Bigger swears by Dolce & Gabbana’s Perfect Matte Liquid Foundation, which she says is sheer enough to not look like the actresses are wearing any makeup, but that could also serve to both “correct and mess them up.” Chanel, Bobbi Brown, and MakeUp ForEver are also in heavy rotation on set.
For hair, De Angelis uses wigs and extensions on a few characters, but mostly employs them in flashback scenes. Her biggest concern is conditioning, because while she has to make the characters’ hair look like they haven’t conditioned in weeks, “I can’t let their hair suffer!” To combat backcombing, heat tools and other frizz-inducing styling techniques, De Angelis plies the actors with professional-level conditioners like Goldwell, which is a favorite on set.
By season two, each character’s signature look is pretty firmly established — or, as Bigger told the Cut, “in that dun-colored environment with the ugly florescent lights, we’ve really tried to have one thing that will distinguish a character and make her stand out.” If you spent the weekend binge-watching the new season (or if you’re still catching up) click through our slideshow to read DeAngelis and Bigger explain how they created the looks for ten of the show’s principal characters. (Slight spoilers ahead.)