Behind the Scenes of Mad Men: MAC Makeup!

Published in: MAC Makeup

Joan Holloway, played by actress Christina Hendricks

Good morning, chicas! I know a few of you gals are fiends for the TV show, Mad Men. Did you know MAC’s the genius behind the show’s 60s-inspired makeup?


I love, LOVE the clean, fresh and elegant looks the three main female characters — Joan Holloway (an office manager at an advertising agency), Elizabeth “Betty” Draper (a housewife) and Peggy Olson (a copy writer at an advertising firm) — wear.

This morning my friends at MAC sent me an interesting Q&A with lead Mad Men makeup artist, Lana Horochowski. She discusses the creative process (always a fascinating thing to me), along with the MAC products used to create each character’s distinct look. I thought you might enjoy it while you sipped on your morning cup o’ java. 🙂 Enjoy!

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,


P.S. Since you’re here, it’s probably safe to assume that you like MAC Cosmetics as much as I do. 🙂 Have you seen my MAC Gallery? It’s a visual way to search for MAC reviews and looks on Makeup and Beauty Blog.

You’re the new department head at Mad Men for season three. Will you be making any changes to any character’s makeup?

Since we are moving a little forward into the future, we have changed up the color palette for each character to go along with the time period.

When you were preparing for this season, did you do any research for inspiration? If so, what most inspired you?

Weeks and weeks of meetings and research. I love looking through the old magazines. They are a great reference and a huge source of inspiration; however, we do try to keep the characters looking like real people that do their own makeup and not like movie stars with a makeup artist standing by. Magazines and old movies are a great guideline for a basic look and color selection.

Peggy Olson, played by actress Elisabeth Moss

How would you describe the looks of each one of the characters? How do they differ?

  • Joan Holloway: Always put together, very sassy and sexy.
  • Betty Draper: Although she is a housewife, she is an ex-model, so her makeup is clean but very current for the period.
  • Peggy Olson: Peggy is a young and fresh-faced business woman of that period; she [has] very clean, natural makeup.

What are your key products for creating the makeup looks for the main female characters?

  • Joan Holloway: We do a heavier eye on Christina [Hendricks], so the key products would be eyeliner and strip lashes.
  • Betty Draper: Betty has two distinct looks: her at-home look and her going out/evening look. For home she is very natural — basically a sheer foundation [and] black eyeliner and mascara. Evening Betty goes a little thicker on the liner and [does] a brighter lipstick, [and is always] coordinated with her clothing.
  • Peggy Olson: Since the key to Peggy’s look is to appear as though she is wearing no makeup, a great foundation is super important. Also, a natural cheek and lip stain [are] applied to give her a little color.

What are your favorite MAC products for each character?

Elizabeth “Betty” Draper, played by actress January Jones

Everyone always notices the lips on the show, but brows seem to play a very important part to the look. Can you talk about the brows on the show?

Women of the 60s had a stricter code of style and etiquette, so people tended to follow the trends closer to the book. Nowadays, women have a variety of different brow styles so we are constantly tweezing, shaping and filling the brows to recreate the look of the period.

Each character has the most perfect lashes framing her eyes. What are your favorite lashes to use to get that perfectly plump line of lashes?

We love the MAC individual lashes as well as the traditional strip lashes.

Do you collaborate with the hair and costume departments when coming up with a look?

Absolutely! We have at least three meetings per episode to create the look as a unit. I could not do this show without Lucia Mace (hair), Janie Bryant (costumes) and my fabulous key [makeup artist] Ron Pipes!

There seems to be a lot of making out on the show, how many times do you have to redo those red lips? Does it get messy?


We do what we can to seal the lip color, but we still have to go in every take to perform a minor clean up.

What can real women take away from the show’s look and incorporate into their everyday look?

Well, a great start would be lining the top lash line only with a gel liner like M·A·C Fluidline. We love this product for recreating the perfect 60s eye.

Also, replacing gloss and sheer or shimmer lipsticks with matte reds, bright pinks and corals help create a more retro look.

Lastly, instead of a powder blush try using creme in pinks and corals to create a flushed looking cheek. For evening, strip lashes are always a bonus.


Like this post? Tell your friends!

So far, 13 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Sunehra says:

    LOVE THIS SHOW! Thank you so much for putting this up!

  2. Livia says:

    Thank you for this post! Love the info 🙂
    .-= Livia’s last blog post… ON TWO-TIMING… =-.

  3. I haven’t watched this shoe yet but I like the classic look.Its a very sophisticated look 🙂
    .-= Blovet Beauty’s last blog post… AWARDS from Zoe & TAG By K ! =-.

  4. Jacks says:

    Hey Karen,

    Yay thank you for posting this, Mad Men is my absolute favourite show on the air at the moment. Joan is my homegirl! I didn’t know that MAC was behind all of this so it was really cool to read about it.
    .-= Jacks’s last blog post… How to Build a Wedding Day Emergency Kit =-.

  5. Stef says:

    What a great interview! Thanks for posting this Karen, we’re more than just a bit Mad Men obsessed around our parts…

    3 meetings a week about costume and makeup? This would be my dream job! And how gorgeous are those 3? Love this.
    .-= Stef’s last blog post… Jo Malone Kohdo Wood Collection review =-.

  6. DoDe says:

    GGGGAAAAA! I recently rented the first season. I love the show But I am in awe with the makeup. I have blu ray and there make up looks absolutely flawless. I like to play the game of name that lipstick on that character. Also the wardrobes and costumes are to die for. Thank you for posting!!!

  7. Karen B says:

    I love those looks. I’m looking for the perfect matteish coral lipstick. Any recs?

  8. Tanya says:

    I am a recent convert/addict to Mad Men- but I have practically worshiped Joan Holloway’s look since the first season. I want to dress like her every day of the year. Needless to say I have a HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE gril-crush 😀 Thank you for sharing!!!
    .-= Tanya’s last blog post… NOTD: Franken-Style!!!!! =-.

  9. I have a girl crush on Christina! She is so beautiful.

    .-= All Women Stalker’s last blog post… 51 Best Mascaras for Every Budget … =-.

  10. Karen F says:

    Thanks for the great Q&A! I would love to know what lipstick Betty wore in last night’s episode “My Old Kentucky Home” It was a gorgeous pink…she looked beautiful!

  11. Marisol says:

    I have only watched season 1 of this show and I am a total fan. I love the fashion during that time.
    .-= Marisol’s last blog post… Products I am Using =-.

  12. Elle says:

    Thank you so much for posting this, Karen! I’m a Mad Men fanatic (and I try to channel Joan when I can…nevermind that I’m not a redhead…or tall…or trapped in the 1960s) and I love reading about all of the work that goes into the show. The creative minds behind that show have such great attention to detail.

  13. The Fifties and Sixties style are my absolute favourite styles for both fashion and makeup. So classy and feminine…So gorgeous on everyone! Let’s get back to that!
    .-= Cassandra Rae Ferguson’s last blog post… Makeup for Men – Mandate or Myth? =-.

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