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Glamour exclusive: Here’s what it takes to look like a Savage Beauty character

Savage Beauty is set to launch only on Netflix on May 12th 2022, and we’re inviting you to journey with us as we chat to Head hair and makeup artist,Theola Booyens, who takes us through the various character looks and where she drew inspiration from in order to nail their character roles.

GLAMOUR: Where did you draw inspiration from for the character looks?

THEOLA: This was really an opportunity for trend setting, but also ensuring that the different looks are relevant and classic down the line, so the aim was for it to remain timeless. Having Zinhle as this face of Bhengu we tried to channel alot of fashion and modelling skincare. Initially we wanted it to be high fashion then we decided to tone it down to more beautiful, classic skin. With having a powerhouse family we did delve into the more Housewives of everywhere, slightly over the top look, but in a contained manner to ensure it remained relevant.

Image: Neo Baepi/Netflix

How did you ensure that each look was timeless, but still true to the character role?

It was important for us to create looks that resembled a form of chameleon in different scenes. Having statement pieces for the characters to empower them to feel strong and bold was an important element and then at other times to showcase their true selves which would be the characters in their natural state, while watching the series you’ll be able to make reference to that and see the transformation.

Skin Lightening is a very serious and sensitive topic, how was this topic translated in the character’s makeup, especially Grace and the young woman who is seeking revenge from the Bhengu family?

So, she obviously has some Hyperpigmentation left from the test that they did on her. You can see its flashbacks going back and forth which she then covers. So there is this awareness of what it did to her as a child as well as her family that also got tested on. So all of them have this hyperpigmentation that gets pulled throughout.

Image: Neo Baepi/Netflix

How were the hairstyles chosen for each character?

Statement pieces were a very big part of the hairstyles that were chosen especially for the matriarch Grace who was fierce. So we used hairstyles such as sleek and straight to represent that or softer pieces to showcase her vulnerability. The hairstyles very much affect where she’s at in the story. So there are softer moments with shorter and softer hair, the hair is also telling a story vision at different times. You will see as the story unfolds, that Zinhle’s hair also takes on a look similar to Grace’s as she has influence on her. There are times where her hair is hard, then soft - until the point when she reaches savage beauty and becomes her true self. You’ll see as each character is transformed in the story so their hair does too, to add onto that artistic flair. A true depiction of the hair transforming as the story unfolds.

What does skin deep beauty mean to you?

It’s all about a healthy lifestyle. It’s being healthy and there is no way you can fake real beauty. It’s something that radiates from the inside out.

What challenges did you experience along the way during the creative process of each character’s look?

The most difficult thing was that this kind of genre had a very personal taste with lots of input from various individuals who all have different tastes and personal styles. The important part through all of this was to find a happy medium where everyone who finds what is happening is amazing. It wasn’t just me deciding and guiding but having an approach where everyone felt included and that the vision was being brought to life.

Image: Neo Baepi/Netflix

When people watch the series, what is the one thing that you hope viewers take away from when it comes to the hair and makeup?

That it’s timeless and that it works. We go through so many fads that we ultimately pull back to that, that is natural and beautiful. You’ll see that which you were born with enhanced.

How did you ensure that you did justice to the seriousness of the topic when it comes to makeup?

There were many small prosthetic pieces and scarring, and it hurts and you can see when it is stripped between the high fashion world and what transpired in the series.

What message do you have to the youth of South Africa watching this series when it comes to the health of your skin and what you put on it?

A healthy lifestyle, and embrace the true you. You don’t have to look like anyone else. Imperfections are beautiful.

What role of importance does hair play in today's society?

There are many stigmas when it comes to hair. Hair can be an extension of you or even be seen as an accessory but truth be told it does not identify who you are.

What important message can this series relay about loving the skin that you are in?

It puts a lot of attention on what people do to fit in and be different. Where ultimately being you, is the best version you can be.

How do you create radiant and luminous skin without using harmful products?

There are so many options these days such as vegan products and there is something for everyone’s needs. Skincare can be seen as your first step of makeup and foundation as your last step these days. It’s about what you see with your eye. It's not a layer above your skin when you do your makeup.

What is it about makeup that makes one feel beautiful?

We all look at ourselves in the mirror and there are always these little imperfections that we can do something about. For some it's putting on a bit of mascara and you can face the world, or a red lip. And it’s just that. It’s a personal thing for yourself and you should do some little tweaks to make yourself feel fabulous and a better you.

What is it about a good hairstyle that elevates the way you feel?

It’s just about feeling groomed and polished. It’s like wearing an accessory.

What is the most rewarding part of seeing the looks you created on screen?

It’s a dance. It’s beautiful when it all comes together. It’s when the crew comes up to you and tells you it looks amazing and just everything comes together knowing you’ve added to it.

Was it easy creating these looks? Please take us through the journey.

With hair and makeup we can prepare as much as we want because we all have our own vision. You have to learn to adjust and morph together your vision and the characters.

Skin lightening is a world-wide epidemic, how do you feel viewers will receive these hair and makeup looks?

We are portraying the topic in a positive light and I do feel we are living in an era where people don’t take these topics lightly anymore. We did not alter anyone’s look. We took what they came with and enhanced their looks. People do look for cruelty free options - where they are looking at what is better for them as an individual. They are also very educated, because they have access to this information. There are also various role models that fit different looks. So you will find someone that looks like you and they are beautiful. On the set there are very versatile individuals that we worked with.

What was the most challenging and rewarding part of heading up the hair and makeup of this series?

It’s also having your vision, being recreated by seven other artists and allowing them to add to the looks to make them look better.

What made you really want to be a part of this series?

It was a complete flip of what I've been doing for the last few years. I had the opportunity to enhance and embrace their natural beauty.

The best beauty advice everyone should follow?

It’s the same old story, drink a lot of water! And don’t sleep with makeup.

Don’t forget to catch Savage Beauty only on Netflix on May 12th 2022 - watch the official trailer here.

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