By cushy reality TV standards, competing on Bachelor in Paradise is tough. Not only do you have all the stress of The Bachelor (simultaneously feeling the pressure to look good for potential S.O.'s and millions upon millions of viewers), but you also have the added challenge of doing it all in a tropical location without air conditioning. We chatted to a few women from the current season to find out how they handled the heat, humidity, and Twitter trolls — and came out with roses and Instagram sponsorships, to boot.
Prepping For Paradise
Since bikinis tend to be the primary wardrobe on the show, many contestants got a bit more involved with their beauty prep. “I got a Brazilian wax and lasered my mustache and armpits,” says Alexis “Shark Girl” Waters. Another contestant used the show as an excuse to finally lose her bikini wax virginity. “I actually waxed for the first time for Paradise!” says Dominique Alexis. “It was quite the experience.”
Most of the women also scheduled pre-Mexico haircut and color appointments, with some asking for a particularly forward-thinking dye job. “Before Paradise, I made my dark brown hair an extra shade darker, knowing that once I spent some time on the beach, my hair would get really light, really fast from the sun,” says Lacey Mark. (Waters actually employed the same trick.)
But not everyone went over to the dark side. Kristina Schulman — whose hair was a deep chestnut when she appeared on Nick’s season of the Bachelor — showed up to Paradise with a noticeably softer, highlighted shade that worked with the harsh rays, rather than against them.
Others considered the weather reports — and planned strategic hairstyles around them. Dominique Alexis, who straightened her natural hair when she appeared on the Bachelor, decided to get her hair braided before Paradise. “My number one concern with filming on the beach was how my hair would stand up to the humidity, and braids are a protective style I usually wear during the summer to give my hair a break from heat damage,” she says. “It ended up saving me so much time and effort because I didn't have to straighten, curl, or style it.”
There were also the usual pre-show gel manicures, lash extensions, spray tans, beauty product stock-ups, and last-minute tutorials. “I went to Sephora and was like, ‘Help me! I’m going on national television and suck at makeup!'” laughed Waters.
For some, the show was an added incentive for more permanent procedures they were already considering. “I decided to get breast augmentation before I decided I was going on Paradise — I wanted to have curves and feel womanly,” contestant Danielle Maltby says. “But I will admit that the thought of being on TV all summer in a swimsuit was making me uncomfortable, because it was so hard for me to find swim tops that I felt comfortable in.”
Maltby was open about her decision and spoke publicly about it prior to the premiere, but she still braced herself for the haters. “Of course I was nervous for the public response!” she says. “I was criticized for wearing a deep V on Women Tell All because I didn't have the ‘right’ amount of chest for it. But had I had a chest and worn that same outfit, I'd have been criticized for having them out there! You're dammed if you do and dammed if you don't.”
Once on the show, it’s all about trying to look great on camera and for prospective dates — when the elements (and, really, the hotel itself) are working against you. Not only was it hot in Sayulita, Mexico, but the rooms where they stayed did not have air-conditioning. While getting ready, the women would stake out a spot in front of one of the many fans scattered around the open-air resort to try to keep cool.
And since that heat came with a thick helping of humidity, styling their hair for a full day of filming became an issue. “I have really thick, frizzy, wavy hair, so the humidity was a tough battle and anything related to taming my mane was the most important for me,” says Mark. “My Chi straightener, Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum, and Sebastian Shaper Hairspray were godsends.”
Others eschewed blow-drying entirely. “I'd shower at night, then put Bumble and Bumble sea salt spray in my hair, and let it dry overnight,” says Maltby. “Can you imagine using a hair-dryer when it's 90-plus degrees?" In the morning, she’d work Kevin Murphy Free Hold Styling Crème through it for a piecey, undone look. "Then, I’d use a wand and a curling iron, and pray the humidity didn’t undo everything,” she adds.
And for those long days on the beach, dry shampoo became a staple for the cast. “Dry shampoo was the answer to all of my problems,” says Waters, who relied on Batiste’s version for brunettes.
But those who had planned ahead were in the clear. “The hot weather didn't affect my hair at all since it was braided,” says Alexis. “I just used Creme of Nature hair lotion and edge control gel to keep the braids neat and moisturized in the heat.”
Humid weather — and the sweaty skin that results from it — affected pretty much everyone when it came to makeup, though, leading them all to discover a few hero products. “My Ulta setting spray and Makeup Revolution loose banana powder were my go-tos,” says Alexis. “They worked really well to keep my face looking fresh and matte despite the extreme humidity.”
Others beat the heat by MacGyvering their own makeup cocktails. “I mixed Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray with Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra 24H Foundation and my face makeup stayed flawless through the sweat and tears,” says Mark.
Besides making makeup last, the other challenge was striking a balance between wearing enough of the stuff to look cute on camera, while not wearing so much that you looked like you were headed to da club rather than da beach. “I always aimed to put on a moderate amount of makeup. I used neutral shadows on my eyes and balanced it out with a pop of color on my lips, so I would look put together but not overdone,” says Alexis, who found that tinted lip balms worked particularly well in the Paradise environment. “I wore tinted balms during the day as a happy medium, so my lips wouldn't be dry but would still have some color,” she says.
Of course, special occasions required a little more presence and staying power. “For interviews, dates, and cocktail parties, I opted for long-wearing matte lipsticks,” Alexis says. “My favorite lipsticks were all from Colourpop Cosmetics, with the exception of Ashton by Anastasia Beverly Hills, which was actually pretty much every girl’s favorite lipstick in the house. We all wore it during the second rose ceremony!”
Others put down their foundation, backed away from their Beauty Blenders, and embraced a more minimal approach. “I was hot as balls the whole time, so I honestly didn't wear makeup that much,” says Waters. “I would constantly use Clean & Clear oil-absorbing pads instead.”