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Mean Girls Makeup: Creating Iconic Looks For A New Generation

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Mean Girls has made its return to the big screen with a new cast, a musical soundtrack and all-new makeup looks. It’s been 20 years since the release of the original film and since then a lot has changed in the beauty world. We spoke with the film's makeup department to learn about their inspiration, product recommendations and behind-the-scenes fun. 


Regina George: Transforming Reneé Rapp into North Shores Queen Bee

Designing Regina’s makeup was all about "creating a timeless look that was a little more elevated than in the original film" shared Key Makeup Artist Shannon Renee. Renee’s 3 staple products used on Rapp’s version of Regina were a Dior Lip Oil, KVD Pomade in Graphite for winged eyeliner and the Rare Beauty Positive Light Liquid Luminizer.

As Queen Bee and head Plastic, Regina is a trendsetter who stands out from her peers. A notable moment is the 'wet look' in which Cady, Janis and Damien attempt to ruin Regina’s makeup at a Homecoming event but instead create a new trend of dewy skin and runny mascara. Renee’s vision behind the look was "a version of her [Regina's] everyday makeup but drenched in water. I wanted the skin to look like it was glowing". Bringing this look to life required using Evian Spray Water "while mascara was still wet to create the running look". 

Makeup artist Doria Tremante helped replicate this look on the ensemble by “creating tears using eye drops and mascara in dropper bottles…making it quick and easy for artists applying the look on multiple shoot days”.

For the updated version of the iconic Winter Talent Show scene each of the Plastics have shades of gorgeous gold shimmer on their eyes. To recreate this look, Renee recommends applying "a glitter glue first on the eye as a base/primer" and then using a "stiff spatula style makeup brush to press the glitter on top of the glue as this will keep the glitter in place for hours without any movement". 


Janis 'Imi'ike: Using Your Face As An Artistic Canvas

Makeup plays a significant role in the expression of Janis’ character in the 2024 version of Mean Girls. Actress Auli’i Cravalho collaborated with Department Head Jorge Nelson to bring her colourful, artsy makeup looks to life. Nelson shares that "the inspiration for Janis came from the youth of today who express themselves with makeup". Products from brands like Pat McGrath, Danessa Myricks, Hip Dot and For Art's Sake were the go-to’s when designing looks for Cravalho’s character. 

"Auli’i’ was probably my fave person I’ve ever developed a character with and together we came up with new looks that felt right for Janis. We felt Janis expressed herself with colors and makeup as if they were her art supplies. She and I would be in a frenzy of doing things at the same time. I’d be sticking on crystals while she was drawing her lip liner.. we had so much fun" says Nelson. 

Janis’ makeup is an extension of her personality from blue chrome eyeshadow and geometric eyeliner to a red thread meticulously placed along the curves of her face. Nelson explained that Janis’ art showcase look was "a big leap of faith" that incorporated her character's view of "threads as feelings" in her art to create something dramatic for her confrontation with Cady. "We didn’t tell anyone… I was biting my nails waiting for the reaction" revealed Nelson who was relieved when the directors were "ecstatic and completely supportive of the vision" 


Cady Heron: From New Girl to It Girl

Cady is the fresh-faced new girl who transforms throughout the film as she becomes more involved with the Plastics. Department Head Jorge Nelson also worked with actress Angourie Rice for the film and described the process of evolving Cady's makeup look. The keys to creating Cady's makeup were the Dior Forever Glow Veil to add a sheen to her skin, Benefit Cosmetics Boi-ing Cakeless Concealer, Ogee Lip Tint in Petunia for just bitten lips and Charlotte Tilbury Setting Spray to keep looks in place during dance numbers and filming outdoors. 

"I really wanted to start as flawlessly clean and minimalistic as possible. She wouldn’t even be thinking of makeup in Africa and I wanted to translate that on-screen". "As the Plastics start to embrace her we added a small amount of shimmer to her eyes and a brighter shade of lip colour to show her confidence." Cady's look culminates at her house party where "she has a bold look and I applied makeup to her at this stage in the way she would have learnt from the Plastics including contouring and wear brighter pinks."


Working As A Makeup Artist in Film

Nelson and Renee refer to each other as "set wives for life". It was important to them both that the makeup department was diverse and inclusive with Renee sharing that "even with almost three decades working in this industry, I am still often one of the few makeup artists of color to hold the roles of a department head or key makeup artist". 

For those interested in pursuing a career in film/TV makeup artistry, Renee encourages you to "take a risk and reach out to artists you admire; you will be surprised how many artists at high levels will take the time to message you back". Seeing their hard work translate onto the big screen is highly rewarding. "Kids online copying my looks for Janis is something I’ve never experienced before and it is such a lovely feeling.. my first Art teacher would be so proud!" says Nelson.  


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