The Secrets Behind Orphan Black's Clone Makeup
This story originally appeared on Allure in celebration of the Orphan Black season 4 premiere.
Get ready, Clone Club! Everybody's favorite genetic incidentals are back to wreak havoc, rescue their sestras, and of course, look fabulous. (Insert disdainful Rachel hair-swish.) While makeup may not get a spot in the opening credits, cosmetics have always played a major supporting role on Orphan Black—when your leading lady could be playing half a dozen different characters at a moment's notice, those visual cues are vital. With the long-awaited fourth season premiering tonight, we sat down with the show's makeup designer, Stephen Lynch, to get the scoop on what goes into creating all of those Leda looks.
OK, let's start at the beginning. How do you go about crafting a new clone look?
"I think everything is dictated by character—in my world, anyway. I really like working from the inside out. We will get a breakdown of who the character is, some general notes, and then I talk to Tatiana [Maslany, the show's star], and I talk to the hairdresser, and we set up to work that way. Often, because things are happening so quickly and time is so precious, we're filling in our own backstory; they give us an outline, and then we go to work. In the case of Allison, I think it was the ponytail that defined her; they had said, 'suburban mom, soccer mom,' then the ponytail came up and I thought, OK, I know who she is. So I made my own little backstory for her. I presented it to Tatiana, and she really liked it. I thought, I bet Allison's mom put her in ballet, and tap, and jazz. Of course later it came up that she was in musical theater, but we didn't know she was going to be at the time."
So her backstory really dictated her look?
"Exactly. I thought, OK, her makeup is going to be retro, but not in a good way. I think she learned it from her mom or her tap teacher. I always put a little bit of tap-jazz-ballet in there, it's a little stagy, a little too much. There's always a lot of blush, and the blush says 'I'm fine; I'm just fine!' I just tried to pick the most middle-class colors and look I could come up with—the top liner, and her favorite color, purple, and the pink cheeks all the time, and the brightest, most 'I'm fine' lips. The eyeliner is called Psychedelic Sister. I didn't realize that when I bought it. It's by Urban Decay—I wish it were Suburban Decay."
Is that how you went about it for all of the characters?
"It depends. I try to give the characters room, because you don't want to impede. I'm more careful around someone like Rachel or Helena. Things have loosened a bit now that we know who they are, but the first year I didn't want to go near that. Helena is like a caged animal, pure id. I was very careful around her; I didn't want to intrude too much. Now Tatiana's got those women inside of her and can pull them out without such a torturous process, but in that first year, she would really put her earbuds in, and we didn't talk much or at all when she was in the chair. Same with Rachel: She would just stare straight ahead, and we would go for as much perfection as we could get, and as much control. That word comes up for several of the clones."
Which of the Ledas takes the longest to make up?
"Rachel and Krystal. There's a lot of work that goes into Rachel in terms of highlight and contour and soft shimmer. I kind of want people to wonder if she's had something done. There's something about her nose that is a little different, I think because of the shape of the hair and the jawline. I try to make the arch of her brow look a little different. I want it to be sophisticated, not too 'cosmeticized.' I've always said I think Rachel finds makeup quite vulgar. Other than immaculate skin, perhaps some injections, some masks, and certainly regular, brilliant, expensive skin care, she doesn't do much. I think that's her badge of honor: 'I don't need what you need.' Completely the opposite of Krystal. She has the biggest makeup bag; I can barely lift it. I carry a plastic makeup bag for each of the clones with a Polaroid in the pouch for easy identification, but you never have to search for Krystal's—she's wearing everything I've got. She's a Kardashian at heart. I use a dark-chocolate color for the contouring. It's practically black-and-white paint, but it kind of disappears with the lenses."
How long does that take?
"I usually get 40 minutes for each girl. I take longer with Rachel, and then for Krystal I'll get about an hour and ten minutes. I have to tan her whole body by hand—if she were playing just Krystal, I'd send her to the tan car wash. She has to get her fake nails and her little diamanté, a full fake tan, and full makeup. It's challenging."
All of that switching back and forth must be hard on the skin.
"Poor Tatiana. Her skin gets a little pink and sensitive. I have a lot of calming masks around, but we don't often have time to use them. Dermalogica has been really good with supplying their calming products."
Do you have any other hero products on set?
"I use a lot of M.A.C. products. I use the M.A.C. lashes, the individual ones and the strips, and M.A.C. Whole Lotta Love blush for Allison. Krystal is a Charlotte Tilbury gal. She likes their matte nude lips, especially the shade Bitch Perfect, and the Marlene Midnight liner. Sarah, I love to get that sooty, grungy, high-contrast look like she never cleanses it properly, puts it on with her fingers, probably licks the pencil. She has M.A.C. eye shadow in Beauty Marked. When I saw that I thought it was very her, and Hourglass eyeliner pencil. It's the blackest black I've ever found. The lip color I chose for her is really sort of cool and ghastly at the same time—M.A.C. Lipglass in Spite. She applies it, then wipes it off on the back of her hand. Something else I use on them all is the Dior brow pencil in Universal Brown. You can actually feather on individual hairs. That's a desert-island pick."