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The way experts create wigs on some of your favorite shows is enough to make your head spin

It's even more involved than it appears.

blonde, blonde ana de armas

Ana De Armas transforming into Marilyn Monroe for "Blonde."

We know that there’s a painstaking amount of detail that goes into bringing characters to life on the big and small screen. But ever so often, a fascinating look behind the scenes will come along that’s so mind-blowing, one can’t help but feel a fresh level of gratitude (and awe) for the effort that goes into modern-day storytelling.

Take, for instance, the hyperrealistic wigs we see in so many films and television shows. Odds are, one of your favorite characters wears one—even when you would bet your life savings that the hairs you see are sprouting from their own head. This illusion is the result of dedicated hours upon hours from artists that are so much at the top of their game, we might as well just call them hair sorcerers.



In a video posted to YouTube by Insider, Rob Pickens, founder of Wigmaker Associates, takes viewers on a tour of the wigmaking process for some of today’s most iconic shows, from start to finish. As Pickens explains, since cameras have become more equipped to pick up every detail, wigs must become more detailed and precise to not only mimic real hair texture, but perfectly fit an actor’s head shape to look as natural as possible.

To do this, hair teams don’t just measure an actor’s head. They create a mold that completely replicates their skull shape using a headwrap made with cellophane and tape—lots of it—after which they trace over the hairline with a sharpie.

wigmaker's hands on a mold of an actor's skull.

Millie Bobbie Brown's skull mold.

Insider/YouTube

That headwrap then goes onto a canvas block (which more or less looks like a mannequin head), and that canvas block is filled with stuffing to match the actor’s exact head shape in a process that Pickens calls “padding the block.”

It might be a laborious endeavor, but once it’s done, that mold can be used for any production in the world. Cranium cloning, if you will.

Next, wigmakers must create a layer of superfine lace that will serve as the piece’s foundation. For very short hair styles, a silk base is used to create the look of skin that might be visible under the hair’s surface. This technique was used for later seasons of Netflix’s “Stranger Things” to create Eleven’s signature buzz cut, when actress Millie Bobby Brown couldn’t shave her head.

Actress millie bobby brown seated and having a wig applied by two wigmakers.

Millie Bobby Brown on "Stranger Things."

Insider/YouTube

When actors are portraying real people with different skull shapes and hair lines, the hair team must add an extra step of creating prosthetic pieces to go under the wig’s foundation. In Hulu’s “Pam & Tommy,” for example, a prosthetic forehead was given to actress Lily James to replicate Pamela Anderson's characteristic high forehead.

The next step is the ventilating process, where each hair is stitched into the lace one by one using a variety of knotting techniques. The key here is to match an actor’s natural hair patterns, like which direction the hair at their temples prefers to go, while keeping it malleable enough to part anywhere, just like you can with real hair.

As for the hair itself, the choices come down to either real human hair or synthetic. Synthetic hair, which is more durable but has more of a light-reflecting sheen, is usually used for background actors. But for “hero wigs” that must pass the close-up test, real human hair is required.

Pickens might even add mohair (a durable, resistant hair fiber made from angora goats) to hairlines to mimic baby hairs, which he did for Ana De Armas for her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in Andrew Dominik’s “Blonde.”

Wigs might evoke a sense of glamor, but in the world of realistic storytelling, accuracy takes precedence. When tasked with creating an aging and syphilis-ridden Al Capone (played by Tom Hardy), Pickens helped convey the story with hair that was “actually a bit sickly before we texturized it.”

Still of actor tom hardy playing Al Capone.

Tom Hardy as Al Capone in "Capone" (2022).

Insider/YouTube

But wait, there’s more. We are now to the coloring process, which, as Pickens puts it, is a blend of “alchemy and color theory and figuring out how that’s going to play on the final product.” Colorists have to understand how a scene might be lit and edited, so that they can make an educated guess as to how to color the hair so it has the desired shade in the final cut, rather than in real life.

“Reds can be quite the nightmare sometimes,” Pickens shared. “If we create a red wig and they put a blue filter over the entire thing, it could look brown.”

And just to make matters more complicated, the looks don’t just get created for the main actors. Anyone performing as a photo double or stunt performer also needs a matching (usually synthetic) wig. Stunt double wigs in particular are tricky, as they need to be durable enough to endure take after take of literally rolling with the punches, yet still be easily removed for when a stunt might go wrong. But also they must look exactly like the hero wig. No big deal, right?

Still from the movie atomic blonde showing actress Charlize Theron and her stunt double in a street fight.

Charlize Theron and her stunt double Monique Ganderton on the set of "Atomic Blonde."

Insider/YouTube

To say that people were floored to learn some of these things would be an understatement. Just check out some of these comments:

“I'm amazed by what they can create to make us believe that their wigs are their real hair because it looks so natural..So many times I've just assumed that the actors must have changed their real hair to look a certain way because it looks too real to be a wig. It was interesting to see what the process looks like.”

“I love learning stuff like this. I never would have thought about how much went into wigs. Unsung masterpieces are everywhere.”

“This is so cool. I honestly had no idea so much detail went into this. I'm impressed.”

More content is being put out now than ever before, causing many shows to have to create costumes and wigs on a mass level (read: faster and cheaper). This undoubtedly leads to a drop in quality that can sometimes take us out of a story—something we covered in a previous article. However, when artists are given the opportunity and resources to really work to their highest potential, magic happens. Kudos to the pros who completely immerse us into a story, strand by strand. Your labor of love is appreciated.

You can watch the full video below, which has even more fascinating info:

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10 anti-holiday recipes that prove the season can be tasty and healthy

Balance out heavy holiday eating with some lighter—but still delicious—fare.

Albertson's

Lighten your calorie load with some delicious, nutritious food between big holiday meals.

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The holiday season has arrived with its cozy vibe, joyous celebrations and inevitable indulgences. From Thanksgiving feasts to Christmas cookie exchanges to Aunt Eva’s irresistible jelly donuts—not to mention leftover Halloween candy still lingering—fall and winter can feel like a non-stop gorge fest.

Total resistance is fairly futile—let’s be real—so it’s helpful to arm yourself with ways to mitigate the effects of eating-all-the-things around the holidays. Serving smaller amounts of rich, celebratory foods and focusing on slowly savoring the taste is one way. Another is to counteract those holiday calorie-bomb meals with some lighter fare in between.

Contrary to popular belief, eating “light” doesn’t have to be tasteless, boring or unsatisfying. And contrary to common practice, meals don’t have to fill an entire plate—especially when we’re trying to balance out heavy holiday eating.

It is possible to enjoy the bounties of the season while maintaining a healthy balance. Whether you prefer to eat low-carb or plant-based or gluten-free or everything under the sun, we’ve got you covered with these 10 easy, low-calorie meals from across the dietary spectrum.

Each of these recipes has less than 600 calories (most a lot less) per serving and can be made in less than 30 minutes. And Albertsons has made it easy to find O Organics® ingredients you can put right in your shopping cart to make prepping these meals even simpler.

Enjoy!

eggs and green veggies in a skillet, plate of baconNot quite green eggs and ham, but closeAlbertsons

Breakfast Skillet of Greens, Eggs & Ham

273 calories | 20 minutes

Ingredients:

1 (5 oz) pkg baby spinach

2 eggs

1 clove garlic

4 slices prosciutto

1/2 medium yellow onion

1 medium zucchini squash

1/8 cup butter, unsalted

1 pinch crushed red pepper

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

bow of cauliflower ham saladGet your cauliflower power on.Albertsons

Creamy Cauliflower Salad with Ham, Celery & Dill

345 calories | 20 minutes

1/2 medium head cauliflower

1 stick celery

1/4 small bunch fresh dill

8 oz. ham steak, boneless

1/2 shallot

1/4 tspblack pepper

1/4 tsp curry powder

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp garlic powder

3 Tbsp mayonnaise

1/8 tsp paprika

2 tsp red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp salt

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

tofu on skewers on a plate with coleslawPlant-based food fan? This combo looks yums. Albertsons

Grilled Chili Tofu Skewers with Ranch Cabbage, Apple & Cucumber Slaw

568 calories | 20 minutes

1 avocado

1/2 English cucumber

1 (12 oz.) package extra firm tofu

1 Granny Smith apple

3 Tbsp (45 ml) Ranch dressing

1/2 (14 oz bag) shredded cabbage (coleslaw mix)

2 tsp chili powder

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp salt

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

frittata in a cast iron skilletSometimes you just gotta frittata.Albertsons

Bell Pepper, Olive & Sun-Dried Tomato Frittata with Parmesan

513 calories | 25 minutes

6 eggs

1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted

2 oz Parmesan cheese

1 red bell pepper

1/2 medium red onion

8 sundried tomatoes, oil-packed

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

1/4 tsp salt

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

plate with slices of grilled chicken and a caprese saladCaprese, if you please.Albertsons

Balsamic Grilled Chicken with Classic Caprese Salad

509 calories | 25 minutes

3/4 lb chicken breasts, boneless skinless

1/2 small pkg fresh basil

1/2 (8 oz pkg) fresh mozzarella cheese

1 clove garlic

3 tomatoes

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

4 3/4 pinches black pepper

1 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

3/4 tsp salt

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

four stuffed mushrooms on a plateThese mushrooms look positively poppable.Albertsons

Warm Goat Cheese, Parmesan & Sun-Dried Tomato Stuffed Mushrooms

187 calories | 35 minutes

1/2 lb cremini mushrooms

1 clove garlic

1/2 (4 oz) log goat cheese

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

2 sundried tomatoes, oil-packed

1 1/4 pinches crushed red pepper

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp Italian seasoning

2 pinches salt

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

plate with open English muffin with goat cheese and sliced baby tomatoes on topMove over, avocado toast. English muffin pizzas have arrived.Albertsons

English Muffin Pizzas with Basil Pesto, Goat Cheese & Tomatoes

327 calories | 10 minutes

3 Tbsp (45 ml) basil pesto

2 English muffins

1/2 (4 oz) log goat cheese

1/2 pint grape tomatoes

3/4 pinch black pepper

2 pinches salt

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

pita pocket on a plate filled with veggies, meat and cheeseThis pita pocket packs a colorful punch.Albertsons

Warm Pita Pocket with Turkey, Cheddar, Roasted Red Peppers & Parsley

313 calories | 20 minutes

1/4 (8 oz) block cheddar cheese

1/2 bunch Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

4 oz oven roasted turkey breast, sliced

1/2 (12 oz) jar roasted red bell peppers

1 whole grain pita

3/4 pinch black pepper

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tsp mayonnaise

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

plate with toast smeared with avocado and topped with prosciuttoDid we say, "Move over, avocado toast?" What we meant was "Throw some prosciutto on it!" Albertsons

Avocado Toast with Crispy Prosciutto

283 calories | 10 minutes

1 avocado

2 slices prosciutto

2 slices whole grain bread

1 5/8 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1/8 tsp onion powder

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

bowl of chili with cheese and green onions on topVegetarian chili with a fall twistAlbertsons

Black Bean & Pumpkin Chili with Cheddar

444 calories | 30 minutes

2 (15 oz can) black beans

1/2 (8 oz ) block cheddar cheese

2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes

2 cloves garlic

2 green bell peppers

1 small bunch green onions (scallions)

1 (15 oz) can pure pumpkin purée

1 medium yellow onion

1/2 tsp black pepper

5 7/8 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp cumin, ground

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp virgin coconut oil

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

For more delicious and nutritious recipes, visit albertsons.com/recipes.

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