TV and movie characters have always had an impact on mainstream beauty trends. Take for instance “The Rachel” haircut from Friends, or the maximalist makeup in Euphoria that brought rhinestone-studded eyes to the mainstream. Sometimes, a particular beauty product that’s worn by a fictional pop culture icon is catapulted to astronomical popularity after becoming a viral TikTok sensation. This, of course, happened with Clinique’s Black Honey after it was identified as the exact lipstick that Liv Tyler wore in Lord of the Rings.But the latest pop culture–inspired makeup that’s got the TikTok girlies hastily filling up their Sephora carts takes its cue from the dark side. It’s the goth-inspired makeup seen in Wednesday, the Addams Family spinoff series that stars our recent cover star, Jenna Ortega, in the titular role.
Since Wednesday’s November 23 debut, it has earned the record for the most hours viewed in a week for an English-language TV series on Netflix. It has also spawned an enormous number of #Wednesdaymakeup tutorials on TikTok (reaching over 43M views) with users re-creating the main character’s subtle smoky eye and muted plum lips. The lip look, which uses MAC Cosmetics Lip Pencil in Nightmoth ($21), quickly sold out after the brand’s executive director of global trends, Cat Quinn, shared the details on the app.
(Urban Decay’s 24/7 Glide-On Lip Pencil in Blackmail, $22, is another nice alternative!)
While Ortega’s Wednesday shares the same penchant for braided pigtails and Peter Pan collars like Christina Ricci’s in the original Addams Family movies, her makeup is much more distinct. According to the show’s head makeup and hair designer, Tara McDonald, the character brief for Wednesday was edgy, modern, and current. “I wanted Wednesday to have a strong, distinct lip but natural—almost a ‘just bitten’ look,” she tells us. “This can be achieved with tinted balms, sheer lipsticks, and lip stains, but in this instance after trying numerous colors and applications, we settled on the MAC’s Lip Pencil in Nightmoth and Dr. PawPaw’s Multipurpose Soothing Balm ($6).”
Other products used for Wednesday’s “half-dead” look consisted of MAC’s Eyeshadow in Brown Script on her lid, crease, and under-eye; then Carbon, an intense rich black, underneath her eyes; and Glitch in the Matrix, a gray metallic, in the upper lash line. (Brown Script is no longer available, but we like the shade Soft Brown as a substitute.)
For complexion products, McDonald says they used various matte foundations that were always applied very sparingly with a damp beauty sponge on Ortega’s face, neck, and hands in a shade or two lighter than the actor’s skin tone. “Wednesday was to look matte at all times,” she explains. “The application was so sheer—I wanted her freckles visible.” McDonald also used MAC’s sculpting powders in Sculpt and Shadowy for contour.
For the hairstyle Wednesday wore during episode four’s now-iconic dance scene, McDonald found inspiration from an unlikely, non-goth source: Alexa Chung. The model wore milk braids in a 2013 L’Oréal hair campaign, and McDonald found it perfect for the scene. “That look was etched in my mind,” she says. “I took some inspiration from that for Wednesday’s look at the Rave’N.”
Wednesday wasn’t the only character to have a modern makeover. Anjelica Huston’s ’90s-era Morticia was known for her red lipstick, but McDonald opted to “change the palette,” using darker makeup for Catherine Zeta-Jones. “I wanted to add more purple, mahogany, and plums,” she says. “These colors made Catherine’s dark eyes pop beautifully and look so sultry.” McDonald says she only had one day of tests with Zeta-Jones to get the look right; together, they decided to go with a warm plum tone for lips, using the now-discontinued Tom Ford Bruised Plum lipstick. (Though, we’ve provided two similar options you can shop below.)
For Morticia’s waist-length hair, daily clip-in hair extensions were used. “Catherine is a great collaborator and very knowledgeable about makeup, so together we created this modern Morticia,” says McDonald.
Anyone missing Morticia’s crimson pout may be satisfied with Principal Larissa Weems’s look. Weems, played by Gwendoline Christie, was “a Hitchcock blonde all the way!” according to McDonald. She’s always seen in a statement red lip, which was attributed to Code8’s Opera, at least for the first couple of episodes until McDonald ran out of the product.
“We were filming in Romania during the pandemic,” she explains. “Lisa Eldridge sent me a selection of reds to try on her. We settled on her stunning Velvet Ribbon. MAC’s Redd Lip Liner worked perfectly with both.”