From The Set Of “Blonde”: How Prosthetics, Hand-Painted Hair, And Tri-Blended Foundation Helped Ana De Armas Transform Into Marilyn Monroe

The highly anticipated Marilyn Monroe biopic Blonde is now officially on Netflix. Whether you've seen the movie or just its trailer, there's no denying that the resemblance between the Hollywood legend and actress Ana de Armas — who plays her in the film — is striking.

Ana de Armas as Marilyn with her arm around a man and another man next to her holding a cigarette
Netflix, Getty Images

The film's hair department head Jaime Leigh McIntosh and makeup department head Tina Roesler Kerwin are the ones responsible for transforming Ana into Marilyn. Everything from perfecting the signature blonde wigs to re-creating Marilyn's brows and red pout on Ana was done by this talented duo.

  Netflix
Netflix

We spoke to Jaime Leigh and Tina about all things Blonde and behind-the-scenes beauty — including how they hid Ana's dark hair under the wigs without using bald caps, what specific foundation was used on set, the challenges they faced, and more.

1.Both Jaime Leigh and Tina used a variety of Marilyn Monroe references to really study her hair and makeup once they were signed on to work on the film.

The real Marilyn stepping out of a car wearing a strapless dress, stole, and opera gloves

"I think both Jaime Lee and I found [and looked] for every possible reference we could find. Reference books, movies, fansites — anything we could find to inform what we were about to take on," Tina told BuzzFeed.

M. Garrett / Getty Images

2.Ana's skin is more on the sensitive side, so Tina had to test out every product before creating a skin prep regimen for her — and both the application and removal processes were time-consuming.

<div><p>"<b>Because [Ana's skin is] sensitive, every product was tested beforehand. Early on, we [even] had to find a remover to get things off of her face — such as the prosthetics — that didn't cause her problems</b>,” Tina said. "So it was a lot of trial and error in testing products [and] trying to not irritate her skin too much."</p></div><span> Jaime Leigh McIntosh, Tina Roesler Kerwin, Jennifer Johnson / Via Netflix</span>

"Because [Ana's skin is] sensitive, every product was tested beforehand. Early on, we [even] had to find a remover to get things off of her face — such as the prosthetics — that didn't cause her problems,” Tina said. "So it was a lot of trial and error in testing products [and] trying to not irritate her skin too much."

Jaime Leigh McIntosh, Tina Roesler Kerwin, Jennifer Johnson / Via Netflix

Tina went on to explain: "At the end of the [filming] day, it was another 30- or 40-minute process just to undo and get all this stuff off her face and out of her hair." Tina emphasized that it had to be done extremely carefully — and with specifically selected products — so that it wouldn't irritate Ana's skin and cause a problem for the next day.

3.To avoid using a bald cap, Tina and Jaime Leigh used a combination of a wig cap and prosthetics on Ana so it would be more comfortable while filming all day.

<div><p>"<b>Bald caps don't breathe super well. We were shooting in August, and in September — it's hot</b>. There's not only the lights that we're shooting with, but all her costumes and her action and all that kind of stuff, and then having a wig on top of it is a lot," Jaime Leigh said.</p><p>"<b>So having her scalp be able to breathe a little bit more was a big thing for us and for her to just be comfortable that she didn't have a crazy amount of layers on her head," she said. "</b>So most of the head was covered in a skin-toned wig cap."</p></div><span> Jaime Leigh McIntosh, Tina Roesler Kerwin, Jennifer Johnson / Via Netflix</span>

"Bald caps don't breathe super well. We were shooting in August, and in September — it's hot. There's not only the lights that we're shooting with, but all her costumes and her action and all that kind of stuff, and then having a wig on top of it is a lot," Jaime Leigh said.

"So having her scalp be able to breathe a little bit more was a big thing for us and for her to just be comfortable that she didn't have a crazy amount of layers on her head," she said. "So most of the head was covered in a skin-toned wig cap."

Jaime Leigh McIntosh, Tina Roesler Kerwin, Jennifer Johnson / Via Netflix

"Jaime Leigh would prep her hair by pulling it back and putting on a wig cap and do her process. Then I would put on these prosthetic pieces that would basically create a bald cap," Tina said.

<div><p>"For the prosthetics: one was on each side of her head above her ear, and then back right at the hairline, one at the top of her hairline, and another one in further back — so they overlapped each other," she continued.</p></div><span> Jaime Leigh McIntosh, Tina Roesler Kerwin, Jennifer Johnson / Via Netflix</span>

"For the prosthetics: one was on each side of her head above her ear, and then back right at the hairline, one at the top of her hairline, and another one in further back — so they overlapped each other," she continued.

Jaime Leigh McIntosh, Tina Roesler Kerwin, Jennifer Johnson / Via Netflix

"It would basically create a three-quarters bald cap. It's more comfortable because it's more breathable. But it's also more durable because we will be changing the wigs multiple times on some days," Tina explained.

"It's silicone so it's closer to actual skin. The feel, texture, and look of it are a little bit more translucent compared to what a normal bald cap is made out of," Jaime Leigh added.

4.Jaime Leigh had to hand paint some of Ana's brown hair in case any of it stuck out of the handmade cap she and Tina created.

Ana filming a scene

"I even would go so far as to the hair that was still visible at her nape, I would hand paint [it] to be more flesh toned as well because I just couldn't afford any kind of pops of super dark [hair] coming through at any time," she said.

Matt Kennedy / Matt Kennedy/NETFLIX

5.It took a full 2 to 2.5 hours in the hair and makeup chair to transform Ana into Marilyn.

Two people working on a costume on a mannequin

"Once she [Ana] left us, she had to go to costumes and she had to put on all the undergarments that were of the period — and then the costumes. So her morning was often just [getting into character] with hair, makeup, costumes, the whole line," she added.

/ Netflix

6.Tina used specific makeup techniques on Ana's lips and lashes to make her look more like Marilyn.

<div><p>"<b>Ana’s lips and Marilyn’s lips don't have the same shape. So we definitely redrew her lips to make them look similar</b>. It was also the look of the era — drawing the lips in a certain way to look a little bit more bowed," Tina explained. </p></div><span> Matt Kennedy / Matt Kennedy/NETFLIX</span>

"Ana’s lips and Marilyn’s lips don't have the same shape. So we definitely redrew her lips to make them look similar. It was also the look of the era — drawing the lips in a certain way to look a little bit more bowed," Tina explained.

Matt Kennedy / Matt Kennedy/NETFLIX

"And the lashes — there were enough lashes on Ana's eyes to sort of weigh them in a certain way that created the illusion of the more 'sleepy eye' that Marilyn had," Tina said.

<div><p>"Those were two things that in discovery [we] figured out. <b>I think every time we came to a new look, we just jumped in and tried to see how close we could get [to Marilyn's look] — and Ana was fully on board</b>. Jaime Leigh, Ana, and I were just all helping each other find the best thing that works. I'm grateful for the team that we have," she said. </p></div><span> 2022 © Netflix</span>

"Those were two things that in discovery [we] figured out. I think every time we came to a new look, we just jumped in and tried to see how close we could get [to Marilyn's look] — and Ana was fully on board. Jaime Leigh, Ana, and I were just all helping each other find the best thing that works. I'm grateful for the team that we have," she said.

2022 © Netflix

7.Minimizing Ana's natural brows to look more like Marilyn's was a challenge.

<div><p><b>"I think some of the biggest challenges is trying to <i>find</i> Marilyn, and not just duplicate Marilyn's makeup</b>. At the very beginning, when we were testing some of the things that are the techniques that Marilyn would use, they didn't really work that well on Ana," Tina said. </p><p>"<b>Initially, we knew we were going to have to minimize her brows and dye her brows. And that was one of the very first things [we did] in the process of the prepping</b>. That was a bit of a shock for all of us until she put the wig on and then it made sense — the pale blonde wig with the lighter brows worked.”</p></div><span> Getty Images</span>

"I think some of the biggest challenges is trying to find Marilyn, and not just duplicate Marilyn's makeup. At the very beginning, when we were testing some of the things that are the techniques that Marilyn would use, they didn't really work that well on Ana," Tina said.

"Initially, we knew we were going to have to minimize her brows and dye her brows. And that was one of the very first things [we did] in the process of the prepping. That was a bit of a shock for all of us until she put the wig on and then it made sense — the pale blonde wig with the lighter brows worked.”

Getty Images

8.A specific foundation was used to mimic a beauty technique Marilyn used to reflect light off her face.

Ana in a sundress holding flowers while Adrien Brody leans behind her in a scene from the film

"I tried several foundations, but a new foundation that had just come out at the time was Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter in shades 1, 3, and 4. And that was maybe the fourth foundation that we had tried. It created that really perfect reflection that looked very period," Tina said.

2022 © Netflix

"Marilyn Monroe is known for having put Vaseline on her face — and that gave her sort of this reflective quality. That's not something I would do on Ana every day, but this [foundation] was the perfect amount of reflective quality for that. It just bounced back light so nicely."

<div><p>"<b>There were 1,000 lip colors, just endless amounts of lip colors. And some were mixed, some are straight from the tube to get that perfect shade," </b>she said.</p></div><span> Netflix</span>

"There were 1,000 lip colors, just endless amounts of lip colors. And some were mixed, some are straight from the tube to get that perfect shade," she said.

Netflix

9.Ana wore five wigs throughout the film — and it was a very involved process to make some of them.

Ana speaking to the director

"I contacted my wig maker, Rob Pickens, and I started just by sending him reference images of Marilyn's natural hair texture. So anything I could find of her where it looks like she hadn't had it set or manipulated in any way that it was her own texture coming through. I sent him that because that's what I wanted the wig to be made out of — something closer to her actual texture," Jaime Leigh said.

"Then we looked at color references. [Marilyn's] blonde a lot of the time but depending on the lighting and her hair length, those blonde shades change, so we just needed to find a middle ground for that."

Netflix

10.Every detail about Marilyn's hair — from her hairline to the baby hairs around her face — was included in the wigs.

<div><p>"We also were studying her hairline like crazy. <b>So her widow's peak and in so many images of her, she has all these little fluffy baby hairs and stuff around her hairline</b>," Jaime Leigh said. </p><p>"I don't know if it's through just naturally having them or possibly chemical damage from breakage from the bleach. But we wanted to incorporate that, so Rob used a little bit of mohair mixed in [to the wigs]. It's a lot finer, kind of like little baby hairs around the hairline."</p></div><span> Netflix</span>

"We also were studying her hairline like crazy. So her widow's peak and in so many images of her, she has all these little fluffy baby hairs and stuff around her hairline," Jaime Leigh said.

"I don't know if it's through just naturally having them or possibly chemical damage from breakage from the bleach. But we wanted to incorporate that, so Rob used a little bit of mohair mixed in [to the wigs]. It's a lot finer, kind of like little baby hairs around the hairline."

Netflix

11.Marilyn had a lot of hair, but since it wasn't very long, the wigs made for Ana were lightweight.

<div><p>"Rob's wigs are incredibly lightweight. <b>And especially these ones because we're trying to make them look as natural as possible. Marilyn had a lot of hair but she didn't have an insane amount of length or density, so they were pretty lightweight</b>," Jaime Leigh said. </p></div><span> Netflix</span>

"Rob's wigs are incredibly lightweight. And especially these ones because we're trying to make them look as natural as possible. Marilyn had a lot of hair but she didn't have an insane amount of length or density, so they were pretty lightweight," Jaime Leigh said.

Netflix

12.Jaime Leigh used specific products on the wigs to give them movement and shine.

<div><p>"I normally wet the hair down to prep it to put under the wig cap and under the wig. <b>I like to — if the actors are up for it — put on a conditioning treatment or mask, so their hair is getting this bonus repair and moisture all day, which is fantastic</b>. I alternated between two conditioning treatments: one was the <a href="https://go.redirectingat.com?id=74679X1524629&sref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.buzzfeed.com%2Ffabianabuontempo%2Fblonde-beauty-secrets&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.sephora.com%2Fproduct%2Folaplex-hair-perfector-no-3-P428224%3Fom_mmc%3Dppc-GG_6558426665_78386320283_dsa-432326859273__426708416380_9003674_c%26country_switch%3Dus%26lang%3Den%26gclid%3DCjwKCAjw4c-ZBhAEEiwAZ105RXEP5iwk0UI86nv5ibnLGCYKoRe0ZHGZbWuGhAv9oH0QfJhkCVsXGBoCVjAQAvD_BwE%26gclsrc%3Daw.ds&xcust=6321514%7CBF-VERIZON&xs=1" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector" class="link ">Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector</a> and the other was <a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000BOA2B2?tag=buzz0f-20&ascsubtag=6321514%2C21%2C23%2Cbf-verizon%2C0%2C0" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Masque à l’Orchidée by Leonor Greyl" class="link ">Masque à l’Orchidée by Leonor Greyl</a>," Jaime Leigh said.</p><p>"When I'm working with wigs — which are an incredibly firm structured hairstyle that is designed not to move — <b>I want the wig to move because re-creating [or] mimicking nature is one of the hardest things there is to do</b>."</p></div><span> Netflix</span>

"I normally wet the hair down to prep it to put under the wig cap and under the wig. I like to — if the actors are up for it — put on a conditioning treatment or mask, so their hair is getting this bonus repair and moisture all day, which is fantastic. I alternated between two conditioning treatments: one was the Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector and the other was Masque à l’Orchidée by Leonor Greyl," Jaime Leigh said.

"When I'm working with wigs — which are an incredibly firm structured hairstyle that is designed not to move — I want the wig to move because re-creating [or] mimicking nature is one of the hardest things there is to do."

Netflix

"I want [the wigs] to be able to move, see movement, and be touchable. I don't want to use too much product in it. I'm a big fan of TRES TWO Extra Hold hairspray and René Furterer Shine Mist for added glossiness," Jaime Leigh said.

"You don't get the natural oils from the scalp, so they can get a little dull sometimes, so just a really light shine mist can kind of bring it back to life."

What are your thoughts on Blonde? Share them with me in the comments below!