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Hair & Makeup Artists Vie for Emmy With the Right Look for Challenging Shows

Eyelashes and body makeup and wigs, oh my!

The hair and makeup departments on fast-moving television shows often turn around dozens of looks in a week and create new ones at a moment’s notice. Depending on the show, it doesn’t always have to be beautiful, but it sure has to look good on camera.

“When I started on ‘Saturday Night Live’ we had a lot more leeway and it was OK if the edge of a bald cap was little hard,” says Louie Zakarian, makeup artist for the NBC show and a six-time Emmy winner. “But now not only are they watching in HD, they’re watching on huge screens, so when I turn Kate [McKinnon] into Jeff Sessions, we have to work the details and I have to be able to do it all in two minutes.”

“SNL” hair designer Jodi Mancuso, also a six-time Emmy winner, is under the same deadline pressure and maintains a library of wigs that she can use whenever needed, so, for example, frequent host Tom Hanks can slip right into his portrayal of David S. Pumpkins.

Hairstylists Gabriel Villarreal of VH1’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and Mary Guerrero of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” also work in wigs and hair appliances that give their contestants performance-ready looks that won’t deteriorate.

“We use fans and everything we can, but sometimes it’s just going to be hot underneath a big wig,” says Villarreal.

Guerrero, a four-time Emmy winner, also braids and ties in hair appliances so they’ll stay put while the contestants dance and spin. She’s also had to soften and loosen the looks as HD became the standard so that the hair on the show doesn’t look so stiff.

Makeup on competition shows also needs to stay on and in place. Two-time Emmy winner Zena Shteysel often covers dancers in makeup for “Dancing With the Stars” that will resist just about anything.

“If someone is going to lift up their partner during a number, you can’t have an ordinary makeup on them because it will come off one person’s body and onto another,” says Shteysel.

“RuPaul’s Drag Race” makeup artist David “Raven” Petruschin designs for specific demands. The makeup must work for men’s skin and for the performance.

“I think everybody should just be HD-ready all the time,” says Petruschin. “We know what the camera can pick up and how hard we’re going to work so it can’t start to run if you’re sweating.”

Hair and makeup can also be complicated when a contestant might want one thing and hair and the makeup department wants to help them pump up their image on such shows as NBC’s “The Voice.” “Sometimes you’ll see something for [a contestant] and they’re surprised when it works,” says Jerilynn Stephens, “Voice” hairstylist and five-time Emmy nominee. “It’s a discovery process.”

Darcy Gilmore, “Voice” makeup artist and two-time Emmy nominee, wants artists to have their own brand in mind when they come to her. “What we do is different because we’re trying to make each person as votable as possible within what they want for themselves,” says Gilmore. “So we can take them to the edge but we won’t cross it.”

(Pictured above: Makeup and hair transforms Alec Baldwin into Donald Trump)

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