Courtesy of Netflix
Courtesy of Netflix

Amid the terrifying villains and Kate Bush-fueled soundtrack that defined Stranger Things’ highly-anticipated fourth season, an unlikely star emerged from the Netflix series’ latest installment: The makeup team’s unique portrayal of ’80s glam.

Instead of heavily tapping neon shadows and massive updos to capture the essence of the decade, Stranger Things’ lead makeup artist Amy L. Forsythe took a different approach, using ’80s trends to distinguish Hawkins, Indiana, from the series’ new setting of Lenora Hills, California. 

“We got to define what high school was like in Lenora, California,” Forsythe explained in a recent interview with Bustle. “It’s similar to Hawkins, but the colors are more vibrant. It gives this sensory overload that makes you want to live there for the rest of your life, and everyone happens to look flawless,” she continued, adding that the makeup team was “trying to tell the story of California as a place that looks like a movie.”

And it seems the series’ beauty experts managed to achieve this lofty goal. The West Coast teens —  including Eleven’s bully, Angela — looked as though they were pulled straight from the pages of an old Seventeen magazine, sporting bright, cool-toned eyeshadows, frosty lipglosses and bold pink blushes spanning from the apples of their cheeks up to their temples.

Meanwhile in the Midwest, the general approach to beauty was notably less glitzy. Though Hawkins did have its moments of classic ‘80s glamour as evident through Nancy Wheeler’s perm and cheerleader Chrissy Cunningham’s already-iconic pastel blue eyeshadow, the small town boasted a much more subdued color palette, a conscious decision Forsythe said was designed to further differentiate these two worlds.

“We did more plums, hunter greens and navies — those kinds of duller, darker colors in Hawkins, Indiana,” Forsythe told Netflix’s companion site, Tudum. “Then the pastels and the vibrant colors ended up being used in California.”

So when Forsythe teamed up with MAC Cosmetics to create a line of Stranger Things-themed products, the dichotomy between California and Indiana — alongside that of the human world and the show’s underworld, dubbed the Upside Down — seemingly played an integral role in inspiring the two-part collection.

“The production teams would fill us in on the major settings and themes of this season to ensure we layered those into the collection,” Drew Elliott, the brand’s Global Creative Director, explained to StyleCaster. “Every single formula has really been worked through Amy, as well as our friends at Netflix, to make sure it is authentic to the show.”

The collection — which consists of two eyeshadow palettes, two blushes, six lip glosses and two makeup brushes — is divided into two sets, a split Elliott told Teen Vogue highlights “the juxtaposition of the two worlds.”

The first half is inspired by the world of Hawkins High. Primarily consisting of the subtle, yet quintessentially ‘80s hues seen on our favorite Indiana teens, the collection occasionally nods to the neon world of Lenora Hills as evident in the rich purple “Palace Arcade” shade featured in the Hawkins Class of 1986 Eye Palette.

The second half cites the Upside Down as its muse, boasting a dark, dramatic eye palette and several edgy lip glosses, including the bold, yellow Marvelous Max and the edgy, black Skull Rock.

“We really leaned into the Stranger Things world,” he told the magazine. “We were also provided artwork from the show, and that’s built into the packaging as well.”

But beyond simply mirroring the series and its aesthetics, Elliott said there was yet another benefit to creating such a diverse collection — allowing makeup enthusiasts to glean their own inspiration from this versatile set.

“We don’t make finished products,” Elliott said. “We make products and then it’s left to the artist or person to put it together. What I love about this collection is whether you’re an optimist that likes sun and shiny and you wanna go out, you have that palette. Or if it’s a little bit of the darker side and you want a bit more glamour, you have the Upside Down.”

He continued, “It’s been super fun to bring this to life and it’s a really hard one to keep a secret.”


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