Frat parties, step aside. Nowhere on earth hosts as many makeout sessions, dusk-to-dawn drinking binges, and teary admissions as the house on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. And while some people rely on Reality Steve to spill the tea on the contestants’ sordid pasts and reveal the winner months ahead of time, all we really want to know is one thing: how everyone keeps their makeup looking so good through it all.
Think about it: There has to be a reason why we can’t go more than three hours in an air-conditioned bar without our forehead reaching a level of shine that merits its own cameo on Friday Night Lights, but Rachel Lindsay, Kaitlyn Bristowe, JoJo Fletcher, and every other Bachelorette look like Disney princesses after kissing in the sand for hours in humid Costa Rica. Turns out, there is a secret — and her name is Gina Modica.
The Bachelorette‘s makeup artist since the beginning, Modica has been behind the scenes blotting, touching-up, and reapplying like a beauty fairy godmother. “When [the show] first started, we only did makeup on rose ceremonies and special dates,” she says. “The girls did their own makeup for regular dates. Now our Bachelorettes get their makeup done every day.” So we obviously know she’s busy, but what’s it really like working on the set?
For starters, Modica says there are a few beauty rules of showbiz she had to learn early on. One, you do not — under any circumstances — use shimmery bronzer on the contestants. “Everyone ends up looking orange and shiny on camera, and it gets on your clothes and everybody else’s.”
Second, there is no such thing as “makeout-proof” lipstick. “I’ve been really fortunate that the only makeup crisis I’ve ever really had to deal with, and I wouldn’t even call it a crisis, is people crying and kissing too much,” she says. “And when that happens, I just run in and fix the liner and reapply the lips.” As for her go-to formulas? Before a big date, Modica sometimes reaches for lip stains and tints (“Armani has one that is good; so does Too Faced”) but for the most part, she prefers to just use lip liner. “I really like Besame’s — they stay really well and aren’t too drying,” she says. “I don’t really worry about it. It’s normal: When you’re kissing, you lose lipstick. It’s job security for me.”
WHEN YOU’RE KISSING YOU LOSE LIPSTICK. IT’S JOB SECURITY FOR ME.
As for finding eye makeup that won’t streak despite the tears — and damn if there’s not a lot of them — that takes some strategy, too. “Luckily for me, Rachel didn’t cry a lot, but I’ve found that water-resistant products as opposed to waterproof work best,” she says. “I do mix Makeup Forever’s Aqua Seal with eyeliners so they won’t move. It’s a great product to have in your kit if you have problems with a product staying put.”
Speaking of staying put: If you’ve wondered how the hell contestants keep up appearances while doing yoga in a room heated to 100 degrees on a one-on-one, you’re not alone. Modica says, “I have worked on many, many islands throughout the years, and I have found that if a person sweats, they sweat — and there’s not a lot you can do about it.”
That’s not to say there aren’t some things you can do to humidity-proof your makeup. “Stick to creams and go light on the face product. Foundations that claim to be waterproof are very drying. I use an airbrush system by Temptu that works great in any environment, and lasts for hours with very little touch-up.” Cream eyeshadows and blushes, she notes, are also better for eyes and cheeks because they’ll last longer. “As long as you don’t touch your face, they will stay in place,” Modica says. “It’s better just to blot lightly. I never reapply powder in humidity — I’ll just use blue shop towels to blot and absorb the sweat.”
And it’s not just the connections with the men that the Bachelorettes walk away with — they also form strong bonds with the crew. “I’m lucky all the girls have had great personalities and a sense of humor — that’s probably why they became the Bachelorette,” she says. “We always keep it light in the makeup chair. It’s the one time of day where they can joke around, talk about how excited they are for their next date, or just chill.”
So yes, the women of the reality series do always look ridiculously good on camera, but it’s comforting to know there’s a lot more that goes into it than what we get to see. Kind of like the work you have to put into a fairytale whirlwind romance formed in front of millions of viewers if you want to outlast all the tabloids betting on your demise.