Lisa Armstrong is one of the most in-demand TV makeup artists in the UK, with a job many would dream of as the hair and makeup designer on Strictly Come Dancing. And recently, she delighted fans after giving a rare interview to talk about how her team created the recent Halloween looks on the official Strictly Confidential podcast. Talking to hosts Amy Elizabeth and Scott Mills, she said of a typical working day: "It is absolute chaos. It's always non-stop. As soon as we walk through the door at 8:30 in the morning until we finish on the results show it just doesn’t stop."
Lisa Armstrong is the hair and makeup designer on Strictly Come Dancing
On the Halloween special, Lisa explained that there was double the work to do because it wasn’t just the women that needed full faces of makeup, but the men too! She said: "For a normal show, guys would normally take say 20 minutes, basic boy makeup, but for Halloween, they all have full-on looks as well and are in the chair for an hour. Some of the looks we were doing on the girls were longer for an hour. With Charles Venn, it took longer than an hour as we put a bald cap on him and we had to paint it and then stick to the hair to it."
The incredible hair and makeup looks created by Lisa and her team
It takes a lot of behind-the-scenes planning to ensure that all the hair and makeup looks are perfected on the day, but Lisa and her team do it with ease. Explaining just how little time they have to plan, she said: "They give us a brief idea a couple of weeks before the show, but it's always changing. The concepts are not signed off until the week before, and then we have a planning and design meeting on a Tuesday when all of the looks start coming together. And then we do our 'show shopping' as I call it where were get everything like the contact lenses, glitter and glue. Then it is born on the day. I can't do anymore than have the image of what we have, the products we need and a bum on the seat. Then we execute it for dress run."
Things don't always go right straight away either. Faye Tozer wowed with a long plait for her street commercial dance on Halloween, which was part of her choreography so essential to get right. Explaining how long it took to perfect, Lisa said: "We had it today with Faye with the long plait. She used it like a prop and it was essential for the dance, but how we attach it is born on the day. The first time we did it the plait was too heavy, then it wasn’t secure properly. Then eventually, keep your fingers crossed it does what it was told to."
Praising her talented team, which includes five hairdressers, five makeup artists and four assistants, Lisa added: "It can be overwhelming because you think 'oh did I remember that, did I remember this,' it’s just ongoing. But the assistants on this show are incredible, and we couldn’t do what we do without them. You could literally just shout 'where is such a thing' and they come running up."
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