Nicola Coughlin Wears More Than $55,000 Worth of Wigs in “Bridgerton” Season 3 Part 1

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In The Scenario, reporter Kirbie Johnson takes readers behind the scenes of the buzziest movies and TV shows to reveal how the best wigs, special effects makeup, and more are created. For this edition, Johnson spoke with the hair and makeup team from Bridgerton’s third season, who used intricately detailed makeup and hairstyling to tell Penelope Featherington’s love story.

Season 3 of Bridgerton is upon us, dear reader—emphasis on “ton,” as this author has a ton of hair and makeup details to share about the show. The highly anticipated romance between one Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlin) and Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) comes to life this season, nearly two years since the show last aired. Part one has just been released with four titillating episodes (but between us, prepare yourselves for one of the most sizzling scenes in Bridgerton history when part two is released on June 13).

Penelope’s unrequited love for Colin has had viewers rooting for her, and they will be thrilled to see her take her power in this latest season. She certainly has a glow up for the ages, as does Colin. A stark change of from the childish curls and unflattering hairlines of Penelope’s past, this season’s look welcome shimmer, face gems, and more—modern makeup looks with a Bridgerton twist. Much like the orchestral arrangements of popular modern-day songs featured in the show, they work. “I feel in Bridgerton, it is beauty makeup,” Coughlin’s personal on-set makeup artist Jessie Deol says. “It’s not period in any way: it’s beauty. It’s high fashion.”

Ahead, Deol and Erika Okvist, the hair and makeup designer for season three, outline how Pen’s relationship with Colin—and Pen’s rise to power—is reflected through her beauty choices.

Pen’s Attempted Glow Up

You weren’t the only one who found Penelope’s old hairstyles unflattering—they were designed to be.Liam Daniel/Netflix

Penelope becomes the romantic lead this season, which offers a departure from her look from the first two seasons, wherein she perpetually wears citrus-colored clothing and pinned-up hairstyles designed to be unflattering (we know from the Julia Quinn novels that the Featherington daughters were often dressed in gaudy outfits with hair that appeared more juvenile compared to their peers’). In season three, Penelope declares to the modiste that she is swearing off fruit-colored garments to appear more ladylike and mature in attempt to find a suitable husband.

Okvist explains that in season one, all of the characters were younger, and you’ll notice in retrospect how the show’s hair, makeup, and wardrobe departments accounted for this. Back then, Coughlin’s features appeared more rounded, and her bustline was moved up to conceal some of her cleavage to provide a more childlike appearance, like her mother was responsible for how she looked. In season two, she’s a teenager experimenting with her own personal style, sometimes hitting but oftentimes missing.

Penelope before her two makeovers.Liam Daniel/Netflix

Come season three, it’s almost as if she has no other choice but to grow up and glow up. “She’s not going to get Colin because he doesn’t fancy her; that’s very clear from the end of season two,” Okvist says. “[Penelope] doesn’t want to be under her mother’s thumb anymore. She’s the [daughter] who’s left, they don’t have any money. Her mom almost wants to have her as a maid—so what do you do? You put your ‘warrior’ clothes on, which is what she does.” The goal? Seduction and, ultimately, marriage.

But Penelope ends up going so far out of her comfort zone at first that it becomes clear she’s trying too hard. In her first look at the ball after her makeover, she’s wearing an emerald green gown with long black gloves and “Jessica Rabbit” hair, as Okvist puts it, which is exactly what the modiste directed her to do—but it’s not authentic to Pen. “It was a little bit over the top with the makeup but still beautiful,” Deol says. “The makeup was like a smoky eye and glowy skin, but it still wasn’t Penelope.” During this phase, Deol says she used more gray tones and darker liner to create smoky, structured eye makeup looks. She loaded up on dense individual false eyelashes to show Penelope “meant business.”

Penelope at “phase two” of her glowup — she “means business.”Laurence Cendrowicz/Netflix

After being ridiculed at this ball, Penelope takes a step back. As Lady Whistledown, Pen makes her own money and uses it to eventually find her own style, something elegant but pared down. Okvist and costume designer John Glaser wanted the new looks to be rooted in old Hollywood á la Rita Hayworth and Marilyn Monroe. “If you look at old-Hollywood movies, a lot of times you don’t remember exactly what they were wearing and how their hair was,” Okvist says. “All you remember was it was beautiful.” Deol notes that Coughlin was also heavily involved in the development of these looks.

Penelope’s Final Form

The makeup for Penelope shifted from matte powders to dewy creams to create a more comfortable, lived-in feeling.Laurence Cendrowicz/Netflix

Beginning with the “Polin” kiss scene, Penelope’s look becomes warmer, softer, and more ethereal. “You start seeing the updos come down, and we shifted the [color] palette [for her makeup] to more pinks, nudes, and soft browns—fluffy lashes and less liner,” Deol says. The cat-like shape of the eye shadows diffused into something more rounded. The focus was no harsh lines—just a wash of color and glossy layers to emulate a “romantic” feeling and to show she’s become more comfortable in her own skin. Mostly creams and pencils were used once Penelope found her “look” to provide a natural-looking finish that looks lived-in.

For alluring eyes, Deol used Patrick Ta Major Dimensions Eye Shadow palette in both the original and rose color scheme as well as the Tom Ford Nude Dip Eye Color Quad. Deol used plenty of cream and liquid eye shadows too, including Chanel Ombre Première Laque, Armani Beauty Eye Tint and Charlotte Tilbury Eyes to Mesmerize. For liner, Deol’s product of choice was Armani Beauty Smooth Silk Eye Pencil.

One thing from the series you won’t be able to forget is the way Coughlin’s skin glows. To achieve the “Penelope Cheek,” Deol combined Pat McGrath Skin Fetish Highlighter + Balm Duo, a now-discontinued Becca powder highlighter, and a Dior highlighter quad for a “glass” finish before topping it off with Make Up For Ever Blush Palette. To contour her face, she applied Westman Atelier Face Trace Stick in Biscuit.

Penelope’s “kiss curls,” AKA those little swirls sculpted flat to her temple.Liam Daniel/Netflix

As for her lips—which do a lot of kissing this season––Deol said she prepped Coughlin’s lips with By Terry’s Rose Baume de Lip Care. Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Lip Liner in Pillow Talk is a personal favorite of Coughlin’s, so her lips were usually lined with that or Bobbi Brown’s Ballet Pink. The go-to lipstick for Penelope happens to be a discontinued light peach shade from MAC’s limited-edition Mariah Carey collection called “A Bit of Bubbly;” Deol applied it to the middle of her mouth and then feathered it outward. The finishing touch was a soft pink gloss, either Pat McGrath Lip Fetish Sheer Colour Balm in Blow Up, NYX Butter Gloss, or Victoria Beckham Beauty Posh Gloss in Bikini and Bungalow.

Deol used Fenty Body Sauce Body Luminizing Tint to make Coughlin’s body shimmer during the ball scenes; she placed it on Coughlin’s high points such as her collarbone and the tops of her shoulders.

Penelope’s genius trick for drawing the eyes of suitors? Glittering eye makeup.Liam Daniel/Netflix

Okvist also wanted Penelope’s hair and makeup to send subtle messages to her potential suitors. In episode three, for example, while dancing with Lord Debling, she wears tiny rhinestones on her eyes, a tool designed to draw attention. “She’s going to dance with somebody, [they’re going to] look into her eyes and see how sultry they are, then look down at her lips,” Okvist says. She also wears “kiss curls” in pivotal scenes with Colin, a historical hairstyle made popular by Josephine Baker and Clara Bow in the 1920s. A “kiss curl” is a loose curl that lies flat on the forehead or cheek to draw attention to the face. (It’s been said the number of “kiss curls” a woman had represented the number of men she’d kissed, which isn’t the case for Penelope.)

A Hair Affair

Pen’s hair and makeup because less tight, less harsh, and more soft.Liam Daniel/Netflix

And on the subject of Penelope’s hair, there’s been much online fodder about it since season one: it’s never been the most flattering, nor has there been much variety in its styling. We know now that was a specific choice to reflect the innocence and youth of the character. This season, however, no hairstyle was repeated. Okvist says the costumes were more extreme, meaning they could go more extreme with the hair; if there was a new gown, there was a new hairstyle. Penelope gets a lot of accessories this season, including but not limited to sparkling bows, fanciful ribbons, and bulbous, pastel pins.

Also, Coughlin wears wigs the entire season, seven to be exact. Some hairstyles could take a whole day to construct, and given schedules and time constraints, it was not realistic to expect Coughlin to sit in a chair for hours on end having her real hair styled. Plus, continuity was a factor: some shoots required Coughlin to wear up to three different looks in a single day; interior shots for certain scenes were filmed on a completely different week than the exterior shots. Wigs allowed for details to remain consistent. Okvist shares that Pen’s wigs, which were made custom for Coughlin’s hairline, run between $8,000-$8,500 each.

That’s $16,000 worth of hair, Lady Whistledown.Liam Daniel/Netflix

Colin Bridgerton gets a makeover of his own, too, and all we have to say is: Hubba hubba. Okvist says that Colin has “found himself” in season three and he knows who he is, which plays into his new appeal. “He’s been away, he comes back home with a swagger and sort of ‘rough and ready’ sex appeal,” she says. “When you’ve got that security, you become sexy.”

Okvist details Colin’s journey from season one to now, reiterating how the Bridgerton crew has used “roundness” to emphasize youth in the past. “In the costumes in season two, the ruffles [of his top come] up under his chin, and that softens his very square jawline,” Okvist says. “His hair is rounder—it’s not as round as it was in season one, but it’s round. [In season three], what we’ve done is that we enhanced all the masculine aspects of his great head of hair.”

Colin is ready to be a ladies’ man.Liam Daniel/Netflix

The hair is all Newton’s — no wigs here. Okvist also says eyebrows play a role: they brushed Newton’s eyebrows up to resemble “seagull wings,” similar to how Superman’s are supposed to look, according to Okvist. And because his neckline is lower, you can see the more structured, masculine jawline.

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