Photography courtesy of Amazon Prime Video
From a custom lipstick shade to what facial mist makes everyone look good, we got the goods on the beauty looks behind everyone’s current favourite show from lead makeup designer Pippa Woods.
Season 2 of Fleabag dropped last month and since that time, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s series based on her one-woman play has inspired love letters, a sudden obsession with pre-mixed cans of G&Ts, and theories about the meaning behind the fox. Fans have also been searching for ways to look like Fleabag herself, from buying her black jumpsuit, to copying her haircut and trying to recreate the exact shade of her signature brick red lipstick.
Unlike the celebrity makeup artists and hairstylists who prep their clients for red carpet appearances, or the ones who work backstage creating runway looks for fashion shows, film and TV artists have a different task: using cosmetics and hairstyles to communicate something about the characters on screen, from where they shop (Boots vs. Harvey Nichols ) and what brands they use, to their imagined lifestyle and income.
We tracked down Pippa Woods, the lead makeup artist and hairstylist for both seasons of Fleabag, to ask her about everything from the meaning behind Fleabag’s different hairstyles (speaking of, we love the amazing tote Woods’ girlfriend gave her when the show wrapped) as well as the unfortunate cut her sister Claire (Sian Clifford) got to what makeup she used after the family dinner fistfight.
Did you and Phoebe talk about the overall makeup and hair profiles for Fleabag and Claire before filming, and what did you want their hair and makeup to communicate about their characters?
“Their beauty routines were briefly mentioned in Season 1 when they go to the retreat. Claire had so many products for all different parts of her face and body, while Fleabag just had one that did everything. We didn’t really follow through this theory though as there are just too many products we love to one use just one. We did try to keep Fleabag as minimal as possible though. She’s a mascara and lipstick kind of girl rather than someone who would use loads of fancy eye shadows.
I think the sisters’ hair definitely reflected their personality traits. There is so much pressure on women to look a certain way because of how the media promotes beauty, that our emotions do manifest in our hairstyles. Fleabag’s hair always looks done, as we all feel the need to hold things together and promote a certain image to show that we are ok. It’s something we can actually control. I also think that’s why we make such drastic changes to our hair when we feel we need to change things in our life, just like Claire.”
Claire’s extreme hair transformation in Season 2 involved a wig. Who decided on the reference for the style she got?
“We worked closely with Sian and Phoebe on the style for The Haircut. We needed to find something that was so drastic but could actually be something that Claire would think was a good idea. That was the trickiest bit. I spent ages gathering and narrowing down a selection of styles which could look amazing on the right person (hence Claire choosing it in the first place), but would never be right for Claire. These images then bounced back and forth between Sian and Phoebe until we all agreed on the same one.”
What products did you use to create Fleabag’s look?
“Phoebe’s hair is naturally very curly so to achieve the style we blow dried it with a hot brush to lengthen out the curls a little to give them more freedom and movement. We used Shu Uemura Essence Absolue Nourishing Protective Oil, and the Bumble and Bumble City Swept Finish to give her hair a ruffled texture so it didn’t look too perfect.”
Did you use anything special on The Priest and Martin?
“We used a pomade for Martin’s beard to keep it under control for the top of the series when he seems more together. It’s a high-shine pomade from the company Layrite who do fantastic men’s hair grooming products. After the family dinner scene in Season 2, we used a wax-based makeup brand called Maqpro from Paris to create the bruising around their eyes. We also use Maqpro’s foundation, concealer, blush—just about everything. It’s my go-to range for most things.”
What were some of your other go-to products on set?
“Chantecaille‘s Future Skin. And Augustinus Bader, a super hydrating cream, which worked so perfectly on Phoebe’s skin. It also has a certain gleam to it, which just makes the skin look gorgeous. We also absolutely love the Stila Convertible Color cream blush in Peony on Phoebe, but we use it on most people because it looks good on everyone.”
Can you tell us about Fleabag’s signature shade of red lipstick?
“We custom mixed her lipstick from scratch. We took oils, waxes, butters and other natural ingredients and mixed them with natural pigments to get that perfect Fleabag shade. We used it for both seasons; it was so popular in season one we thought, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’”
Did you do anything differently with Phoebe’s skin for that scene in Season 2 when everyone is complimenting Fleabag at her mum’s funeral, and she’s worried people will think she’s had a facial?
“[We used] glowy skin primers and lots of Trilogy Rose Hydrating Mist Toner. That stuff makes everyone look better.”