Beauty Secrets Of Bridgerton Revealed: £8,000 Wigs, Amazing False Lashes And How To Get Perfect Skin

Erika Ökvist, Bridgerton's hair and make-up designer, lets us in on the beauty secrets we've been desperate to know.

bridgerton series 3

by Hannah Banks-Walker |
Updated on

Bridgerton Season 3, Part 1 arrived on 16th May, offering fans a lot to process in just four episodes. From the joyful (and rather raunchy) coupling of Polin (finally!) to Eloise's unlikely friendship with Cressida, questions abound ahead of Part 2 which lands on Netflix today. Some of the biggest talking points, however, have pertained to the characters' hair and make-up, which is even more spectacular than we've seen in Seasons 1 and 2.

From Penelope's glow-up to Colin's fresh-from-my-Grand-Tour-tan to Queen Charlotte's spellbinding wigs, just how did Erika Ökvist, Bridgerton's hair and make-up designer, along with her team, create such incredible looks? And more importantly, how can we all achieve that perfect Bridgerton skin, for which the word 'glowy' feels entirely understated? I put all of these pressing questions – and more – to Ökvist, hoping to complete my full transformation to Regency cosplayer. (I'm kidding, I think.)

What you need to know about Penelope's 'glow-up':

'In Season 1, Penelope was dressed by her mother, she was also a younger girl. And so in that look, everything is round, you know, like curly hair, very centered around eyebrows, lips, she looks childish. Then, in Season 2, she becomes this teenager. I don't know if you did it but I certainly tried loads of different things at that age, and some worked and some didn't. And it tended to be connected to the person that you're in love with. Now, in Season 3, it's very clear to her that she cannot get Colin, but she also can't stay with her mother, who is driving her insane.

Penelope at the beginning of Season 3 with her new look
Penelope at the beginning of Season 3 with her new look

'In this world, a woman had to get married to be able to leave home. So, what can she do? She thinks that if she gets a really good look, a 'glow-up', that's her weapon to try and get herself a husband. After going to the Modiste to ask for help, during the season she realises that she is quite an elegant lady – and she is also intelligent. So she maintains this elegance, but she makes it her own. And I think that's a really true sign of understanding yourself, when you find your style.

'The idea for these looks are the sort of old Hollywood glamour, where it doesn't matter what century you're in, whether it's Rita Hayworth or Marilyn Monroe, they're always going to be sexy. And they're also celebrating all the female shapes in the face and in the body – celebrating it rather than shaming any of it. I think that that was why we went towards that kind of Hollywood iconic siren look, really. That look, regardless, is always sexy and sultry, which is what she needed. That was her weapon to catch herself a husband.'

Colin's Grand Tour glow is actually not fake tan:

Convinced Colin was sporting the very best fake tan of all time, I asked Ökvist exactly how she and her team achieved such a believable glow. Laura Sim, hair and make-up artist, interrupted our conversation to say that they didn't use fake tan at all.

'We don't fake tan him!' she said. 'We used contour, skin tint using different shades but we don't fake tan him unless he's nude and then we use Ben Nye body tint. Fake tan I think is a dangerous game, especially with all those white shirts. We want to stay friends with the costume department.'

Who had the most expensive wig?

As Ökvist explains, Penelope has a lot of wigs for Season 3: 'In Season 1 she had one wig. Season 2, we made another. So two wigs, but obviously identical. Then for Season 3, because she's in so much, she's got seven wigs. The colour of each wig is exactly the same, because it's all based on that first wig from Season 1.'

Of course, Penelope is not the only character with a wig wardrobe in Bridgerton. And in fact, the most elaborate designs aren't necessarily the most expensive:

'The wigs range from five to seven or £8,000,' says Ökvist. 'They're all hand knotted and they all have to match the hairline exactly – it has to look like it grows out of [the character's] head. So each week takes maybe two to three weeks to make, plus two or three fittings after that to make sure it is really perfect. But the Queen's wigs are synthetic, really cheap wigs for maybe about £75.

Queen Charlotte Bridgerton
Queen Charlotte in one of her incredible wigs

'But hers are so big, she might have a couple of wigs in one. She has the cheapest wigs in terms of purchase, however then creating the final wig out of that can take more than two weeks to do. So, you have to add on the hours worked on it to the initial price, probably making the Queen's wigs the most expensive overall.'

How on earth did they make the swan wig?

After the first four episodes of Season 3 dropped, much conversation online was dominated by discussion of Queen Charlotte's 'swan wig', a huge construction which featured motorised swans 'swimming' around. This was entirely Ökvist's idea, one which she'd had since Season 2:

'I wanted to do it because I also work on set designs, I do costume, special effects and other things as well – not everybody knows that I do that, so I just wanted to make a wig that was a little bit different. I 3D-printed this clockwork, which is historically correct. We all know that clockworks existed, even before medieval time. So, it's perfectly plausible that she had swans like that! But there was no real ball or events that it would work on, so therefore I didn't use it. Whereas now, it came to the Queen's ball, which is like the biggest one this season. The reason I chose swans – I know people are saying it's because female swans are called pens, as in Penelope – but it's actually because the swan is the Queen's bird in this country. Also, of course, it's a nod to Swan Lake, as they're watching the ballet.

'The only thing that I was limited with was that it had to be clockwork. Even though Bridgerton isn't historically correct in any shape or form, some things have to be rooted in history for it to be believable.'

Bridgerton's inclusive approach to beauty made Queen Charlotte cry:

In an interview with Refinery29, Golda Rosheuvel, who plays Queen Charlotte, spoke of how moved she was by Ökvist's sensitive approach to make-up and hair, which she wanted to be as representative as possible. 'On our first meeting, she made me cry,' Rosheuvel said. 'Because it was the first time that I had been in conversation with a head of a department of that calibre — or anybody —  discussing the fact that she was going to incorporate my own hair into the looks and that it was very important for her to deal with different Black textures to really celebrate my Blackness through the wigs of Queen Charlotte.' For Ökvist, she can't imagine doing it in any other way.

'We're in a world that needs to change,' she says. 'It is changing, but maybe too slowly. So I think we should talk about this as much as possible, and it has to be approached as much as possible. We have got to celebrate all the different hair textures and what you can do with it, and celebrate all the different skin tones, and what you can do with them. I think the one thing with Bridgerton is that it really does do that. We can, regardless of what period we're in, translate all different hair styles into any type of textured hair. And also prove that different textures, different hair types are all as beautiful as each other. That was really what I wanted to give. But obviously, I am not a woman of colour. And I'm not a woman with textured hair. So, I wanted to have that conversation with [Rosheuvel] to make sure that she was represented in a way that she felt was valid.

Simone Ashley as Kate in Bridgerton
Simone Ashley as Kate in Bridgerton

'Let me just say that if you're not prepared to deal with different skin colours and tones and different textures of hair, you're not an artist. I feel very, very upset that there are still make-up artists in the world who don't know how to mix colours properly so that they can create foundation for everybody. If you don't have the kit, don't come. If you are an artist, you should know that if you take the prime colours and mix that up together, you get a basic brown. If youthen add white to that you can make it into any colour you want in terms of very fair skin. If you then add in black, you can make it into any colour you want to suit very deep coloured skin. If you don't know how to do that, then I'm sorry but you're not a make-up artist. That is basic knowledge.'

What's the secret behind that glowy Bridgerton skin?

Well, as it turns out there isn't a one-product answer to achieving the perfect skin we see on screen. But that doesn't mean that Ökvist doesn't have her secrets that she's willing to share with us..

Know your skin

'What is really interesting is that all of the make-up and hair artists who did Season 3 also did the same characters in Season 2. They already know this person's needs, whether they come in one day with extra dry skin or they're tired, you can't use the same types of method every time. There are always new problems but, because the artists knew the person's skin, they knew how to solve those problems.'

Emma Naomi as Alice Mondrich
Emma Naomi as Alice Mondrich

Prep your skin

'You have got to find a skin prep that works with the make-up that you are going to use. I think at home, people need to be reminded that some products just won't mix, for instance silicone bases you can't mix with a water-based product. You've got to figure out what is what it is that you want to use, and then stick with that through the whole process.

A lot of the actors also use skin tech, which I think now is incredible in terms of what you can get at home for very little money and it does work. It all depends on what the result is that you want – is it the skin you want to treat? Is it the muscles in the face you want to treat? There will be skin tech that you can use. But for most of the actors, we used facial massage, which really wakes up the skin.'

Always use SPF

'Never miss out on this. I've got a scar where a big piece had to be taken out of my skin due to a cancer scare. And we don't want that for anybody. You should use at least SPF30, even on cloudy days.'

Don't be afraid to layer products

'After the skin prep comes an incredibly elaborate way of applying make-up, depending on the character. If we start with primers first of all, we might not use just one. We might have one for the cheek bones, so that it's a little bit dewy, then maybe we have a pore-perfecting one on the chin. Then, maybe we use a mattifying one on the nose. Another on the eyes... do you see what I mean? It starts there with layering on lots of different products to get the best effect.

penelope bridgerton series 3

'Then we can do the contouring, we'll do maybe two or three different foundations. And on the special day, maybe we need to use something that's a little bit richer. And then another day, we don't still have the same look as it was yesterday. I think that the Bridgerton make-up is very much like how you would paint an oil painting. You know, you've seen your colours and you layer it on very skilfully. And that's how you get that kind of melted butter effect.'

Shop: The Ultimate Bridgerton Beauty Kit

Says Ökvist: 'This is something that was used a lot on Nicola [Coughlan]. I love it and I think almost everybody in my team now has it. It's got both colours of foundation, and also blusher and highlighter in it. The cream blush can also be used on the lips and one trick we used for Bridgerton was to use a powder blush on top of this. There'll be some colours you don't necessarily want to use in the palette but I really do think it's worth having this in any kit.'

'If you want to go for a budget, under-eye concealer, I actually really rate No7. It doesn't come in enough shades at the moment but then I've already discussed what we need to do about that!'

'These are fantastic. Just really, really good. In terms of applying them, I think the most important thing is just to look at your eye shape. A lot of times, people put really long lashes just about the iris and it can close down your face a lot and make the eyes look smaller. Eyelashes can weigh you down, so I would always choose eyelashes to create the shape you're aiming for, which is usually coming up at the side.

'Look at your own lashes to create a natual-looking lash line – the longest lashes can't be at the very end because it just doesn't work. So, obviously use lashes longer than your own but make sure they're getting longer or shorter in the same way your own lashes do on your eyelid.'

Ökvist cites Charlotte Tilbury as one of the brands she loves for skin-boosting products. Several make-up artists on her team have said that they use the Hollywood Flawless Filter in their kits, which boasts smoothing, brightening and glow-giving properties.

Jessie Deol, Bridgerton make-up artist, told Cult Beauty that this eyeshadow is one of her essentials while on set. It's not surprising – the mix of powerful pigments and seamless coverage make it one of the best eyeshadows around. All of the shades are great but Aura is particularly pretty.

Another product mentioned by Deol, this lip balm not only offers an antioxidant-rich formula to nourish lips, it delivers a really beautiful, subtle colour, too. There are two shades to choose from, so you can find your perfect colour.

One of the skin products mentioned by Deol, these under-eye masks are ideal for quickly boosting complexion, giving you that glowy, illuminated Bridgerton vibe in just 20 minutes.

Hannah Banks-Walker is Grazia's head of fashion commerce. She has previously written for the likes of Harper's Bazaar, The Financial Times Glamour, Stylist, The Telegraph, Red, i-D and The Pool on everything from fashion to curly hair (hi!) to the patriarchy. Not necessarily in that order. Find her on Instagram and Twitter. But please don't look for her MySpace profile, which until now was the last time she wrote about herself in the third person.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us