The secrets behind Margot Robbie’s 'Barbie' hair transformation

Including a custom toner and more than 40 hair pieces…

BEAUTYcrew Beauty & Social Editor / August 08 2023

Chances are you’ve seen Barbie by now. And if you haven’t (what are you doing?!) you’ve no doubt been caught up in the Barbiecore movement and dripping in pink. But we’re still obsessing over every one of Margot Robbie’s Barbie looks – and they came down to more than just her curated skin care routine.

Ivana Primorac, the film’s lead hair and makeup designer, shared all the finite details on the latest episode of the Who What Wear podcast. And of course, we took notes.

“She had 18 different heads of hair with more than 25 different hair pieces and ponytails,” Primorac told Who What Wear. And honestly, we’d expect nothing less. Every tiny detail of the movie was meticulously thought out to bring Barbieland and all the dolls to life, from Barbie Margot literally floating into her car to the scale of her accessories.

“Her toothbrush is enormous; the ceiling in her house is always too low; she doesn’t bend her knees when she’s flying into her car,” Primorac said. “And also her hair is always the width of her shoulders and it’s always too long. But it’s not ginormous on top of her head. It kind of grows out naturally but then it's always really thick and wide and too long. But it has to be so luscious and perfect til you cut it all off and you get a Weird Barbie.”

It did help that Primorac and her team had access to every archival Barbie doll thanks to Mattel. And they used this intel to bring all the discontinued dolls to life and pay homage to the Barbie legacy – especially when it came to Robbie’s ‘Stereotypical Barbie’ looks.

Margot Robbie Barbie hair

So how exactly did Primorac decide on the right shade of blonde for Stereotypical Barbie? Well, it turns out that each one of Robbie’s 40+ hair pieces were custom dyed and toned, according to Robbie’s outfits. But landing on the final outcome was a process.

Primorac had “many sleepless nights” trying to nail the perfect shade blonde that suited Robbie as well as the costumes. 

“I first made all the prototypes in Barbie yellow. And Barbie yellow was too awful… it doesn’t harness anyone’s skin tones, it doesn't really suit anyone,” Primorac explains. 

“It has to be the best version of a blonde that would suit Margot,” she says. “We did have one yellow version which was for the original ‘50s first Barbie ever made. And we completely recreated that look with the blue eyeshadow, with the yellow hair, with the curly fringe and the high ponytail and the stripey swimsuit.”

“What we found very quickly is that it had to be almost peachy creamy blonde, slightly pink, to suit the pinks of the outfits,” she explains. “With the heat of any hair dryer or hair irons, it was very quickly the hair would become slightly yellowish and that would never have suited anything that’s got pink undertones.”

The solution? Primorac had a custom toner made “so that I could tone her blonde according to each costume.”

“Every night the hair would have to go and I had little formulas where we could put one scoop or two scoops or three scoops of this to make her hair just right,” she says. “And also every set had so much pink in it and we had the most genius lighting team and director of photography who had to learn how to light the skin so the skin doesn’t look pink... we had to adjust everything.”

Primorac also kept Robbie’s natural fawn-hued brows in mind, using the same colour for the roots of each hairpiece to match her natural brows and “give [her hair] the right depth with each costume.”

“I think [Stereotypical Barbie] had more than 30 different looks in the end,” says Primorac. “I’m very pleased with the fact that she could go to bed with long hair and wake up with short hair. I think that was very fun!”

Margot Robbie Barbie makeup

When it came to makeup, Primorac’s brief for Robbie was classic but timeless. Robbie’s makeup was inspired by “period-like simplicity and beauty that can work in a 1940s Grace Kelly movie and it would be fresh for every beautiful festival look you can possibly imagine today.” Simple, right?

But the devil’s in the details, and the makeup team worked overtime to ensure Robbie’s makeup was packed with tiny references, from the Grace Kelly-inspired brows to the classic Barbie pink lip.

“It was about the most beautiful skin but not too much makeup,” Primorac explains. “It was in sculpting and finishing the face and behind the ear and the elbow and the heel and having everything just smoothed perfectly with the perfect lighting and exciting costumes.”

And it turns out Robbie took part in the makeup creation process, too. “There was a whole shop of lipsticks and blushes and colours that Margot could choose from with each outfit, and that was great fun because that was kind of a present for her that she could feel however she felt that day,” says Primorac. “She could pick her shade of lipstick so it kind of grew in that sense it was great fun to have so many different shades of pink representing her Barbie-pink lipstick.”

Main image credit: Warner Bros.

Want more Barbie inspo? Here’s how to recreate Dua Lipa’s “Dance The Night” makeup

Georgia Nelson is BEAUTYcrew's Beauty & Social Editor and resident Euphoria obsessee. You'll find her hard at work putting the latest TikTok beauty trends to the test or perfecting her skin care routine. Her latest obsession? Nailing the glazed donut aesthetic (move over, Hailey Bieber).