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Interview: Carleigh Herbert Talks ‘Minx’ and the Most Challenging Makeup Looks She Created

Awards Radar got the opportunity recently to interview Carleigh Herbert, the makeup department head for HBO Max’s Minx. For the series, Carleigh created diverse character-driven looks that were accurate to the time period. 

Set in the early 70s, Minx follows a young feminist and her publisher as they create the first erotic magazine for women. The comedy series stars Ophelia Lovibond, Michael Angarano and Jessica Lowe

In this interview, Carleigh dives into the looks she created, her research process and key products that were used for the series. 

Tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into makeup design?

My original career goal was to become a dance choreographer, but after having neurosurgery before my first semester in college I could no longer pursue that path. I gravitated to hair and makeup design from my interest in doing it for previous dance productions. I took out a loan, moved to Los Angeles, and started makeup school. A few weeks into school I got my first job doing a ghost makeup on a college film, and I kept pursuing jobs from there. Working my way up from indie films is where I first started designing characters, looks, and gags. I really love being a part of the process of helping create a character and bring a story to life and I really fell in love with the designing, collaborating with other departments, and all the research throughout. 

How did you get involved as the makeup department head for Minx? 

My involvement as the makeup department head for Minx began with Rachel Goldenberg. Rachel is a director and producer I have had the insane pleasure of working with throughout my career, beginning on my very first indie feature I department headed. She began working on Minx and thought of me and asked me to speak to showrunner Ellen Rapoport and Paul Fieg’s producers. I was given quick descriptions, made a couple of look boards for Joyce and Doug, interviewed, and was lucky enough to jump on this project. The mixture of period, beauty, character, and prosthetics was something I really wanted to keep pursuing in my wheelhouse.

Do you have a favorite or most challenging look you created for the series?

One of the challenges I loved was designing looks for all the different characters, differing their styles and makeup choices depending on their personality, where they came from, their current environment, how they liked to express themselves day to day versus how they would change their appearances for different special occasions. Several of the characters had influences and styles that would evolve and change throughout the season, including Joyce and Shelly. For example, when we meet Joyce she is very reserved and natural with her views and makeup, but as the show goes on and she becomes more spontaneously confident in herself you see her start to pop colors on her lid and dress up her lips, bumping up her looks but keeping it in realistic confines of what her character would do. We also went back to the 60s and saw how Joyce used to present herself and what influenced her to care less about fitting in. Tina’s look is always confident and well put together, hair done, soft smokey eyes, lashes, nails perfected, etc. She would change her makeup daily to compliment her clothes and closet of wigs, but would always stay in the style of smokey earth tones, light shimmer, or light pastels like blue, purple, greens, etc. Bambi was a creature of habit, still doing her makeup like she did when she modeled, always having a perfectly tanned body, with lots of bronzers on top, and the same shimmery, smoked eyeliner and gloss, which ends up influencing Shelly’s makeup style later in the season. Another thing when designing period looks is the men and their facial hair and how it defined them. Richie was well put together, very artistic, and bold with his style choices, so we opted for clean-cut large sideburns and a mustache.. playing with the more free fun look of the 1970s. I wanted to make each character’s individual personality show through their makeup and compliment their lives but also stay within the looks, style range, and tones of the early 1970s/late 1960s.

With Minx being set in the 70’s, what was the research process like for you?

The research process for Minx was never-ending. For creating the initial character designs, I threw myself into early 70’s pop culture, models and celebrities, old yearbooks, photos from the late 60s/70s in Los Angeles, old makeup company’s products and advertisements (Yardley, Revlon, Boot 17, etc), and tons of catalogs including Playboy, Playgirl, Sears, and popular magazines of the time. Depending on what looks were needed I also researched old porn videos and alternative makeup looks from the time period as well. 

What are some of the key products that you used for this series? 

During the production of Minx, I had a handful of key products I gravitated to. Armani and Koh Geh Do were the main foundations I would use lightly with a beauty blender on the face mimicking the less is more look of the 70s. Because tones of pigment were much duller than now, I gravitated towards eyeshadows that were a bit more chalky or allowed for sweeps of color buildup softly or pastel bumps/shimmer of brands like Senna, Anastasia, and Mented. We used a lot of bronzers and highlighters, my favorite for Joyce ended up being the soft powder Kosas Bronzers, while the pick for Bambi’s cream bronzer was Tom Ford. When needed, specific lashes and nails were used from Ardell and Kiss. I would either apply liner with an eyeliner pencil from MAC or Urban Decay or smudge out a cream liner with a dry brush for a more charcoal look using MAC Blacktrax. I fell in love with a lot of lip glosses last season from brands Armani, Kevyn Aucoin, Fenty, and MAC. My favorite pops of colors for cream blushes were from La Prarie and Kosas, while powder blushes used included Dior, Cargo, and Mented. 

Could you tell us a little bit about your work with creating the penis prosthetics? 

Creating the prosthetics began with meeting with Ellen (showrunner) about what look and feel was needed for the prosthetic (and sometimes what the prosthetic could do!). From there, Autonomous FX led by Jason Collins would step in and help design from chosen photos and notes, sculpt, mold, and create a silicone piece that would either strap around the waist or be glued to the crotch of the actor, depending on what was being shot in the scene. I would meet and talk with the actors beforehand, getting measurements or having life casts by Jason made for beginning the design, and talking through the entire process and addressing any concerns, and test fits needed with the actors wearing them. Once prosthetics were made, we would glue them with a medical adhesive, adjust color with paint, lay pubic hair as needed, and off they went to set. Each prosthetic made was different and challenging throughout the season, and I had a great team of artists come to play including Sioux Sinclair, Mark Neimen, and Gabe DeCunto. 

What’s next for Carleigh Herbert? 

 As for the luxurious life of freelance, I have a few projects up in the air and am excited to see what comes to fruition next. I just finished the new Teen Wolf Movie, Minx Season 2 production is coming up in the next couple of months, and I am excited about the possibility of designing makeup for a showrunner I love working with’s next stylized series. As always, I hope to continue to work on projects that are creatively challenging, forward-thinking and push me as an artist. 

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Written by Betty Ginette

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