6 former Bachelor contestants get honest about reality-show beauty
We chatted with six of our favorite ladies from seasons past and present to get behind-the-scenes beauty secrets from the show.
The Bachelor Season 17
Did you have hairstylists or makeup artists on The Bachelor?
Only on the first day and then the last day when there are two girls left for the engagement. For everything in between, we used our own stuff. Sometimes we did each other's hair. The Bachelorette gets hair and makeup for every date, though.
Was that stressful, considering you knew you'd be on national television?
Kind of—I didn't know how to apply makeup very well so I mostly cared about my skin. I didn't learn how to curl my hair until the day before I left for the show. I did a little mascara and eyeliner every day, and I wore lip gloss for the first time during rose ceremonies. The producers told me to put it on because it really does look better. I just wanted to look natural. I didn't want to mislead Sean on what I looked like or for him to think I was always made up.
What if you forgot or ran out of a beauty product?
You could request it and give the handlers cash. Handlers would go out and buy lotion or something simple, but if you wanted something specific, you could order it, but you might not be in the same place the week after because you're always traveling.
Did they provide any clothes?
You had to bring your own, but every season, when you move into the mansion, each bed has a gift bag on top of it. It was a piece of luggage with a ton of clothing, jewelry, and beauty [products]. There were bikinis, jewelry, and jeans. You could trade if they didn't give you the right sizes. It was nice stuff!
There are a lot of group dates where you're active or on the beach in the morning and more formal at night. What does the in-between process of getting ready look like?
You're brought to a location for 45 minutes to get dressed and do makeup but with minimal time and access: There could be two hotel rooms with four or five girls in each room. For example, on my season we did a roller-derby group date, and then the second portion was on a rooftop in L.A. We could take showers, but we had to be resourceful because there was not enough time to dry our hair. Most of what you saw was pretty natural or girls who were really good at doing their own makeup.
Did you ever go to a salon or gym?
Well, you can't leave the mansion or hotel you're staying at. We'd sometimes get 30 minutes of gym time. Actually, there was one time they allowed us to get our nails done, and it was a big deal. There are these things called "dark days" on the day after the rose-ceremony taping. Rose ceremonies last until 4 a.m. or 6 a.m. so the next day is dark. One time, they allowed us to watch movie. Another time, we went to a spa and could get two things done.
What else did you do during your down time?
We did each other's hair because there was nothing else to do. Selma [Alameri] brought her waxing machine, and she'd set up a little shop for the girls. "I'm only doing faces," she said.
What's the deal with the interviews? When are they filmed?
In reality television, these are called pickups. We had to do them days after filming a date if the producers didn't get certain phrases from us. You'd have to recall how you were feeling and go back into that state of mind in the heat of the moment.
So you'd have to wear the same clothes and makeup?
Yes. They want to make it seem like we're on that same location with a similar background, so they would tell me what my outfit was and what my hair and makeup was like and I had to do it. This was annoying when I wanted my hair to be straight for the night but had pickups during the day.
Any funny beauty stories or mishaps you can tell us about?
Kristy [Kaminski] was a model who left early in my season. Sock buns weren't a thing yet, but we kind of knew about them. Before one of the rose ceremonies, Kristy said she wanted a sock bun, so this one producer, who was so sweet and helped us with makeup and braids, gave her a sock bun. It was big and bulky, and she got cut. No one wanted to do a sock bun after that because it was like a curse. Unless you had a rose, you weren't going into a rose ceremony with a sock bun.
The Bachelor Season 19 and Bachelor in Paradise Season 2
How did you keep your makeup looking fresh, even in Paradise weather?
I hope that I kept it together [laughs]. In Paradise, we were basically camping for three weeks. It was 90-degree weather, and there was no escape. Everything was melting off, so the first week, when it was in the hundreds, I was such a slacker. But by week two, during the day I would do foundation and a little mascara, highlighter, and obviously lips. At night, I'd do eye makeup with contour.
How about hair?
I didn't touch my hair with an iron at all. Because of the humidity, the most I ever did was use texture spray—I went for the beachy look. I'm more of a makeup girl.
Take us through the process of getting ready.
The lighting in the mansion was really bad for makeup, so I did mine on the balcony every day. It was my moment to get away and be alone. There were maybe four mirrors in the house of 23 girls because mirrors make it hard for the camera guys. Wait until you see Paradise, though. I got an amazing makeup kit that has really good lighting. You'll see.
Since you are so good at your own makeup, did you ever help any of the other girls?
I taught Mackenzie [Deonigi] how to fill in her eyebrows, and she's been obsessed ever since. I would also contour some of the girls' faces. If they wanted me to do their makeup, I was totally cool with that.
Was there any beauty-related drama that went down?
My lash extensions were falling out rather quickly on Paradise—faster than usual because I was in the ocean. I had the handlers get me individual lashes from Target, and I glued them into the little bald spots.
Did you have acrylic nails on the show?
On The Bachelor, I had tips, but they looked gross by week three. On television, they looked fine, though. In Paradise, I thought I'd do the same thing—I cry a lot so my hands are on my face a lot which means it's important that they look good. But on the second week, a few broke off, so I had to take them off completely. If you look very closely on this season of Paradise, you'll notice one week where my nails are all different sizes.
What was your one hero makeup product during filming?
Becca Ultimate Coverage Concealing Crème in Banana. In Paradise, Clare [Crawley] had a problem finding one that didn't crease or look cake-y, and I gave her this. It's amazing.
The Bachelor Season 13 and The Bachelorette Season 5
What was it like doing your own makeup for television?
I didn't know the tips and tricks back then. After taping, I saw myself on the show and was like, "What the hell is wrong with my face?" I never knew about mattifying powder, eyebrows, false eyelashes, primer, or contouring. I looked like such a grease ball. I think that back then, they liked that it was reality, but I wish I knew what I was doing. Beauty has evolved in the last five years.
Did you have to do anything to prep for the show?
Right before you start filming, there are three weeks where you do fittings and meetings. They allowed me to get my own Pilates trainer, order whatever food I wanted, and do Crest Whitestrips. Apparently they didn't like my Canadian accent so they had me go to speech therapy, but after three or four classes, the producers realized I was losing my quirkiness so they cancelled the classes. I wasn't offended because I was the show's first out-of-country person. They were just afraid Americans wouldn't be able to connect.
How did you go about shopping for clothes for the show?
I spent close to $5,000 on clothes, makeup, and shoes, not even knowing how long I was going to be there. I didn't have that money. And then when I was the Bachelorette, I found that a lot of the clothes they gave me were kind of beauty pageant-y, so when we got to Canada, they let me go to Aritzia, and I spent $3,000. I knew it would pay off to be comfortable. They did supply rose-ceremony dresses, though, and they were amazing.
Did you learn any beauty tricks from the producers?
Well, Chris Harrison, who became a good friend, taught me this one: Midol with caffeine. I'd take one on days that I was tired and bloated. It's a diuretic. If my face was puffy, it would debloat me, and it has a painkiller so it made my feet feel better in heels. Now, before I go out at night, I'll take one an hour before. It's really no different from taking Advil.
What was your mental state like during the show? A lot of the ladies (and men!) seem to get super-emotional.
When the cameras aren't rolling, they don't want you to talk to anyone. And there are no phones, computers, newspapers, nothing. Only producers. Your body becomes starved for a connection with anyone, which makes it easier to fall in love. You're starving for that intimacy. It was like Stockholm syndrome, but it's a TV show.
Do you regret doing the show?
It's a business but it's brilliant—that's why there have been so many seasons. I have no regrets. I chose to subject myself to that, and I've grown from it, but it also destroys you in a lot ways. I lost hair, got down to 92 pounds, and formed an anxiety disorder.
Does talking about it bring back all of those emotions?
It was traumatic, but I barely have any memories from a year before, after, and in between. My mom told me that I said I wouldn't sign the show's agreement unless I talked to her once a week, but I don't even remember that. Because I watched the show, I remember certain things. It seems like another life. Like an out-of-body experience.
How are you doing now?
I'm such a go-getter and entrepreneur, and people see me as a business person, but I have this obsession about getting married and having kids. I just want that so badly. If it's a business thing, I will make it happen. But in a relationship, it takes two. It's not your call. Over the past few serious relationships, I kind of am the guy in the relationship—the breadwinner, taking the lead, making decisions. This is not easy on men. I'm trying to learn how to change that but still be myself.
The Bachelor Season 9, Bachelor Pad Seasons 2 and 3
Did you have any hairstylists and makeup artists during the show?
Only on the first night. Otherwise, we did everything ourselves. Or if there was a girl like Michelle Money on your season—she is a hairstylist and makeup artist—sometimes she'd help out. If you weren't used to doing your own makeup, it was tough.
You always had a fresh face of makeup. What were your tricks?
A lot of girls had eyelash extensions. You could be in the water or do anything and always look like you're wearing makeup. I also used airbrush makeup that seemed to last well in the water and look good on camera.
Did you use self-tanners? Everyone looks so glow-y!
Yes—a bunch of us got spray tans before we got there. The producers also gave us self-tanning towels. A lot of the dates are outside, so we are in the sun a lot, too.
What about hair?
We were responsible for our own hairstyles, so I got clip-in extensions. They did give us Sultra curling wands, though. I still use mine!
And nails? It seems like it would be hard to maintain a perfect manicure.
Gel only lasts a few weeks, and we weren't allowed to go to the salon so we'd paint them ourselves. Light colors were best so you couldn't tell if they chipped.
The Bachelor Season 17 and Bachelor in Paradise Season 2
Take us through night one. How were you feeling?
I'm the girliest of my friends, but when I joined The Bachelor, I was like, "I don't even compare to these girls!" I met Michelle Money in Paradise, and when she arrived, she showed up with three suitcases full of makeup and accessories alone. It was all categorized and labeled in Tupperware. I was like, "What am I getting myself into?" I had a breakdown because the girls put so much effort into their appearance and I do not. It's not my thing.
Yeah, I remember feeling really overwhelmed because I literally showed up with my travel-size makeup bag with one compact of bronzer, a blush, mascara, and eye shadow. I didn't put makeup on every morning before going to the beach. At the beginning, when I wasn't hitting it off with any of the guys, I got insecure, thinking I wasn't wearing enough makeup, but I'm not that kind of girl. I wish the show could embrace more natural girls who are not so afraid of being themselves.
Did you have everything you needed? What happened if you wanted to buy a lip gloss, for instance?
In Paradise, you're far from any convenient store, so you have to share. I got stingy about sharing my hair spray because that stuff is expensive and everyone in the house started using it. But then I got so tan that my makeup didn't match my face anymore so the girls let me borrow their darker foundation and bronzer. The producers always had sunscreen and aloe for us, though.
What did you do with your hair?
This was the biggest problem in Paradise. It's so humid and hot and sticky. I never wear my hair up so I just embraced it and went with natural waves. I'm a huge Moroccanoil girl. Now when I smell it, it reminds me of being there.
Apart from the weather, how was Bachelor in Paradise different from The Bachelor?
When it's your first time on The Bachelor, you have full makeup to-the-nines on all hours of the day. Like in Chris's season, Britt [Nilsson] wore makeup all through the night. But in Paradise, you are more comfortable. With that being said, when you get a date card in Paradise, you have 30 minutes to an hour to get ready, so if you're out in the ocean, you book it to your room as soon as possible.
Were there any funny makeup mishaps that went down?
I don't fill my eyebrows, and one day, Michelle [Money] was like, "Will you let me work on your eyebrows?" So she did one and not the other. The one was on fleek, as they say, and so I went to get a producer's opinion, and he liked the nonfilled brow better [laughs].
Can you explain how pickups worked?
Pickup shots were horrible. You sometimes did three at the same time, and you had to pretend you were back in that moment in the same outfit. Like, they'd say, "You were wearing this top with red lipstick with hair half up." All things considered, you had nothing else to do.
The Bachelor Season 16
How did you feel about doing your own makeup?
I had been modeling for 10 years at that point, so I'd learned so many great tips from makeup artists along the way. A one-on-one date is an all-day affair, just like a photo shoot is. I kept a little makeup bag with me so that at the end of the day I could freshen up. We start so early in the morning and also have to do an interview before every cocktail party and rose ceremony, so if everyone had their own makeup artist, it would be too crazy with so many girls.
How did you deal with makeup on beach dates?
The tropical locations were really tough. I had my eyelashes permed before I left so I didn't always have to wear mascara if we were in the water. Also, I have really shiny skin, in general. Constantly in my interviews, the producers would give me a tissue to dab my forehead. And one time, on an outdoors-y date with Ben, a mosquito bit my face and it looked like a pimple. Not good.
What about hair?
Hair was difficult for me because mine is really fine and I wash it every day. I knew I had to decide if I was going to wear my extensions every day or not, so it wouldn't look different on different days. I committed to wearing clip-ins the whole time, and it trashed my hair. When I came home, I had bald spots.
Any behind-the-scenes beauty stories you can share?
Well, we were always sitting around painting our nails. There was not that much else to do, and you always want your nails to look nice. Jamie Otis, who's now on Married at First Sight, was so funny. We'd be getting ready to walk out the door for a rose ceremony, and she'd have her Crest Whitestrips in right up until filming.
Speaking of teeth, what's the deal with the food situation? It seems like there's always uneaten food at the end of dinner dates.
When you get to dinner, the food is already sitting there, but you don't eat while you're on camera. Well, you could eat—they don't tell you not to—but you're trying to have a conversation so shoving food down your face is hard. And it's funny because they are your favorite meals because they know what you like.
So when do you actually eat?
I made a point to eat while getting ready. I had a Think Thin bar on me at all times. Also, there's a lot of alcohol involved so some people can get into trouble with this. I definitely lost a little weight on the show, but when you're not filming, you're at a beautiful hotel and you wake up to a buffet of food.
Yum. Besides food, did you get any other good freebies?
They gave all of us gift bags that had these amazing Sultra curling wands along with a lot of other beauty products. The wand was life-changing—I still have mine, and I know all the girls were using them.