How Pretty Little Liars Uses Makeup To Transform Its Adult Cast Into Teenagers

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As Pretty Little Liars enters its fifth season, it’s getting harder and harder for its grown-up cast to pass for high school students. While the writers are experts at distracting the audience from the fact that they’re supposed to be kids (they rarely mention college or birthdays or curfews), the hair and makeup team deserve even more credit. Through magic and foundation and suspension of disbelief, they manage to morph four adult women into passable teen girls… and here’s how they do it.

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Here’s Troian Bellisario, a 28-year-old woman who pays taxes and probably makes a monthly car payment.

troian bellisario as spencer hastings

And here’s Spencer Hastings, a high school student with a prescription pill-popping habit. Their efforts to age Troian down are the most obvious– laid-back hairstyles, no eyeshadow, no lip color– and the four main cast members will often appear in group shots in which Spencer’s the only one not wearing eyeliner. She wears the loosest-fitting clothes, and they rarely place her directly next to Alison (who’s played by 18-year-old Sasha Pieterse).

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Here’s Shay Mitchell being (and dressing like) a 27-year-old woman.

shay mitchell as emily fields

And here’s Emily Fields, a high school senior who’s already dug up, like, way too many graves. Just like they do with Troian, the makeup artists avoid circling Shay’s eyes with dark liners, and they rarely play up her chiseled cheekbones. She wears a lot of neutral colors and solid t-shirts, which I guess is their best effort to make her look like she came out of an American Eagle catalogue.

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Here’s 24-year-old Lucy Hale, looking every bit as gorgeous as you’d expect.

lucy hale as aria montgomery

And here’s Aria Montgomery, a teenage girl who can’t stop hooking up with her English teacher. Aria’s style is completely over the top, which they accomplish with young-looking hair accessories and chunky earrings. They play up her wide eyes to make her look innocent, and her hair is almost always styled to frame her face and make it look cheekier.

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Here’s Ashley Benson, a 24-year-old actress whose grown-up style we totally admire.

ashley benson as hanna marin

And here’s Hanna Marin, a teenage shoplifting enthusiast whose best friend keeps trying to murder her. Their strategy for aging Ashley down is almost the complete opposite of how they do Shay and Troian. Instead of keeping her neutral, they load her up with dark liners and pink lips to make her look like a high schooler with too much access to Sephora giftcards. Hanna wears a lot of blush, too, which keeps her face looking young.

We can’t wait to see what’s in store for this season (is Ezra really dead? IS EZRA REALLY DEAD?!), and we’re even more excited to see how a cast of twenty-somethings is going to look in graduation caps.

Photos: @sleepinthegardn, Getty Images, ABC’s Pretty Little Liars

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    • Alana Vincenza

      I’m like the “teenage” version of all of these photos. I need to transform my makeup into actual woman makeup.

    • YarghMatey

      The supposed “teenagers” all look like they are in their early 20s. Not bad, but their make up artists are not precisely magicians either.