Beauty Secrets We Learned From Jem And The Holograms

Photos: Justina Mintz/Universal Pictures.
It’s showtime, Synergy. Or it will be, when Jem and the Holograms hits the big screen in live-action on October 23. So look out for the aforementioned Synergy — updated from an AI computer synthesizer/‘80s video vixen hologram to what looks to be a robotic webcam — Jerrica/Jem (Aubrey Peeples) and her sisters, and an absolutely killer array of performance hair and makeup looks that wouldn’t look out of place on a London Fashion Week runway.

Considering that the punked-out hair and electrifying stage makeup are like the fifth member of the band, it was only a matter of time that Manic Panic and Sephora would announce themed collaborations for hair color and makeup, respectively, that Jem obsessives can co-opt for themselves.

But in case you’re looking to recreate the authentic, updated looks from the big screen, the movie’s makeup department head Mary Klimek and department head hair Vanessa Price were more than stoked to share their pro tips — otherwise known as your guide to becoming Jem and the Holograms for Halloween.
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Photos: Justina Mintz/Universal Pictures.
Finding initial inspiration for the big screen Jem and the Holograms was easy for Klimek and Price, as they both grew up with the original ‘80s cartoon. But as you’ve probably heard, the movie isn’t exactly the same as the series “since this is a prequel,” Klimek explains. “Hats off to the original Jem, but still [this movie] is the beginning stage.”

To update Jem and girls’ looks, Price and Klimek did, ironically, look back to the ‘80s (and ‘70s) for additional inspiration. Klimek turned to her favorite theatrical music icons of the music video era, Cyndi Lauper and David Bowie. Price poured over photos of punk rock scenes in California and New York City and fell into a Pinterest k-hole (Hey, happens to the best of us) for more imagery.

Not to worry, one major element will not change from the small to big screen: Jem in her signature pink, Kimber (Stephanie Scott), highlighting her orange, Aja (Hayley Kiyoko) in blue-ish and Shana (Aurora Perrineau) in purple.

“We didn’t want to change that,” laughed Price. “That would just be blasphemy.” But she did make a little tweak with her custom hair colors. “We made [the shades] a little bit more pastel and washed out — not as poppy and bright as the cartoon,” she said. “We made them more contemporary.”
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Photos: Justina Mintz/Universal Pictures.
In the millennial version of Jem, once suburban Jerrica finds YouTube fame and is offered a contract by Starlight exec Eric(a) Raymond (Juliette Lewis), she and her sisters transform into Jem and the Holograms. Klimek used a subtle makeup trick to symbolize the socio-economic change, too. Before stardom, the girls wore “no makeup makeup looks” with the super-sheer and natural Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder. “Once they leave Aunt Bailey’s (Molly Ringwald) house, I wanted everything to have a more ethereal, just a very pretty glow,” she explains.

To create the iridescent complexions, Klimek mixed her own shimmery, light-reflecting concoctions of Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetic Glitter in Fae, Sugarpill Lumi Loose Eyeshadow, and Make Up For Ever Diamond Powder, all adjusted to complement each girl’s skin tone and signature hue.

Jem, Kimber, Aja, and Shana didn’t just have specially created makeup for their stage looks, they also rocked hair glitter gel in their own signature color. In a moment where fiction mirrors reality, Los Angeles-based celebrity stylist Daniel Moon, who also counts Nicole Richie and Grimes as clients, created custom glittery gels for the faux stars in his awesomely-named Major Moonshine Hair Gel formula. “It was a lot of fun,” said Price, in what we feel is a bit of an understatement.
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Photos: Justina Mintz/Universal Pictures.
Klimek opted for a diagonal hot pink facial stripe for one of Jem’s fairly epic stage performances. First, the makeup artist primed and protected Peeples’ skin with Heir Atelier Ultimate Makeup Prep (as she did with all the girls) and then started the layering with Make Up For Ever Aqua Cream Waterproof Cream Color in Fuchsia. Then, she scattered on Sugar Pill Love Buzz Neon Pigment and finished off with a dusting of iridescent Make Up For Ever Diamond Powder over the entire face.

Klimek admits to having “a lot of different tricks,” to drawing the stripe so precisely, but shares a quick hack for those of us trying this at home. “Get a piece of Scotch tape and line it up there so you get a really clean line,” she suggests, before applying the hot pink and first glitter layer onto a clean face. Remove the tape and clean up any shimmery detritus that falls outside lines, and then apply foundation onto the other side of your face. Then, dust Make Up For Ever Diamond Powder all over for that superstar shimmer — and done. Oh, and gluing on a couple Sugarpill Glitzy False Lashes for even more glitter can’t hurt either.

As Jerrica evolves into Jem, she employs an arsenal of punked-out wigs to symbolize her rapid rise to fame. One of Price’s favorite Jem looks involve a faux side shave inspired by an artist, who was, well, born in the ‘80s at least. “One day I was looking at a picture of Ellie Goulding and I was like, I want to do that, but with a wig,” she said about a bubblegum pink, braided, and faux-side shaved coif — accented with matching glitter gel, obviously. “We would wash the whole side of the hair with silver glitter first, and on top of that, we would take their signature color and put that on top, so it really pops,” Price explains.
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Photos: Justina Mintz/Universal Pictures.
Kimber sticks with an orange and gold glitter-accented palette, but stepping outside of the box was allowed — and actress Stephanie Scott was totally into it. “I was like, ‘What about some blue eyebrows?’ and she was like, ‘Awesome!’" says Klimek.

The makeup artist again reached into her trove of Obsessive Compulsive products and drew in Scott’s eyebrows with an electrifying aqua blue eye pencil that Pizzazz would have definitely stolen from the makeup trailer when the girls weren’t looking.

Ever the dedicated actress, Scott actually dyed orange streaks into her hair for the role. But for certain scenes, Price would work her magic to pump up the hues. “I custom colored a lot of wax that we would put in,” the hair stylist explains. “We wanted to give it a little more of a pop.”

She also looked to the old fave Manic Panic (such synergy and pun totally intended) and Bumble and bumble’s colorful Spray Chalks for assists. “There were a lot of kitchen concoctions,” Price also admits.
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Photos: Justina Mintz/Universal Pictures.
“Aja was my ombré lip, which I love,” says Klimek. To create the inventive design, she used a series of “mostly Obsessive Compulsive” pencil liners on the actress. She started with “a darker blue, into a baby blue, into a white, into a pale pink, and then added cream lipstick just to give a little smoothness to it.” Then Klimek “ombréd it out” by blending and smoothing the colors with a dry lip brush. Another at-home pro tip from Klimek: Use a gloss instead of a cream lipstick.

“For her role as Aja, Hayley Kiyoko also committed and dyed her dark hair teal green, but leaving the roots, because it’s rocker. The extreme contrast made for a rad bouffant updo with the green ends dangling down." To create the look, Price “pulled her hair into a high pony and braided the tail in several braids using Davines This Is A Strong Dry Hair Wax.”
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Photos: Justina Mintz/Universal Pictures.
Shana is more the fashionista of the group, so we could get away with a lot, as far as creativity,” Klimek says. Obviously, that called for gold leaf glued onto one eyelid (thanks to the apparently multipurpose Too Faced Shadow Insurance Glitter Glue), which lead into a rainbow of “hot pink, purple, orange, and yellow,” which flawlessly transitioned right into her custom purple glitter gel slicked over pulled-back hair. (Also, a stellar example of Klimek and Price’s seamless hair and beauty teamwork.)

The key makeup artist used a mix of highly pigmented Obsessive Compulsive Creme Colour Concentrate and Make Up For Ever Aqua Creams for the rainbow stripes and sprinkled glitter over the finished product. “It was sparkle headed into more sparkle,” Klimek says.

Actress Aurora Perrineau opted not to dye her hair to play Shana, but Price worked in lots of colored extensions for pops of purple. For her cascading curly faux side-shave, the stylist looked to Davines This is a Strong Hairspray to keep the updo through the headbanging drum sessions on stage.
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Photos: Justina Mintz/Universal Pictures.
It probably goes without saying, but transforming into Jem and the Holograms is fairly formidable process — taking up to 45 minutes per girl for makeup alone. “We’re talking about something that’s incredibly high maintenance for every day, but it looks killer on screen,” says Klimek.

So the girls needed to be really careful with maintaining their skin in-between shooting, too — especially since one day’s work could entail multiple iterations of the performance makeup looks. “It was wear and tear,” says Klimek. “I was adamant on good skin care for these girls.”

The makeup artist looked to Kate Somerville and Mario Badescu products, depending on the needs of each actress. Kate Somerville Gentle Daily Wash was mild for multiple cleansings and Mario Badescu’s acne products helped fight pesky blemishes.

To remove such theatrical, heavy makeup, Klimek and her team also used Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Wipes first — or reached into the dependable hot towel machine on set. “We went through so many hot towels. For these girls, it was spa day every darn night for them,” laughs Klimek.
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