Hairstylist Camille Friend Shares Details on Halle Bailey’s Enchanting The Little Mermaid Transformation 


Hairstylist Camille Friend Shares Details on Halle Bailey’s Enchanting “The Little Mermaid” Transformation

With over 20 years in the business, celebrity hairstylist Camille Friend is no stranger to designing unforgettable hair looks for some of Hollywood’s biggest sets. 

The Oscar-nominated hairstylist is best known for her work on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Us, The Help, Dreamgirls, and much more. Recently, Friend was the visionary behind Halle Bailey’s custom red Ariel locs, which made quite a splash in the hit live-action remake of The Little Mermaid

The Tease had the pleasure of connecting with Friend to discuss the process of transforming Bailey into Ariel, the challenges of styling hair for underwater scenes, and what it means to be part of a historic hair moment for film. Keep scrolling for the inside scoop!

Reimagining Ariel’s Look for Halle Bailey

When developing Ariel’s  signature red look, it was key that Friend understood the importance of using Bailey’s natural hair in the film. Luckily, Friend had the opportunity to have conversations with not only the film’s director Rob Marshall, but also with Bailey and her family to discuss the meaning of her locs and the important role they played in telling the story of The Little Mermaid.

Even with Bailey being as star-studded as she is, Friend and the rest of the filmmaking team knew that although they were making progress towards inclusivity when casting the first Black Ariel, they still needed the character to elicit somewhat the same feeling as the original Ariel in the classic animated film. 

“Designing the Ariel character for Halle Bailey was a great opportunity. I started to re-imagine what a mermaid would look like,” says Friend. 

After the news broke that a live-action remake was in the works, the question many had was whether or not this modern-day version would live up to the original. With The Little Mermaid being such a beloved film, there were concerns for how viewers would react to the new interpretation of the animated hairstyles and how they would be translated to live-action. Friend says, “You always take a chance when you do a movie and create a look for an iconic character.”

Designing Mermaid-Worthy Hair

When it comes to designing and crafting various hairstyles for actors, Friend starts her process by considering facial shape, skin tone and undertone, and what the most flattering hair color and length would be for said individual. Beyond appearance, it’s also important for Friend to take into account the time period in which the film is set — in The Little Mermaid’s case, the 18th century.

As the design process for Bailey’s hair began, Friend picked which hue of red made the cut based on what complimented Bailey best. “I started with designing her look with golden-orange-red hair color which is the base color of her hairstyle and then I added a medium golden-red tone and light reddish-blonde color for the ends,” says Friend. From there, she wrapped Bailey’s locs with custom 30-inch permed and colored hair. In addition, Friend added loose strands to Bailey’s hair so when she was filming water scenes, the hair would dance and float around her.

From a creative arts perspective, filming in water definitely has its perks, but the same cannot be said by Friend and her hairstyling team. She says, “The biggest challenge is working in water because you have to respect the natural force of it.” To prevent Bailey’s hair from floating into her face, Friend and her team sewed Bailey’s locs into place to ensure that her hair was floating and staying out her face while shooting was occurring. In order to keep Bailey’s locs looking fresh and tamed during the underwater scenes, Friend relied on three key products: Kevin Murphy Hydrate-Me Wash, UNITE Hair 7SECONDS Leave In Conditioner, and GHD Classic Wave – Oval Curling Wand

Now, Ariel can’t be a mermaid without some sea bling! In some scenes throughout the film, Friend chose to elevate Bailey’s red locs with hair accessories like cowrie shells, gold rings, sea glass, and various jade pieces. Just the right amount to make our favorite Disney princess sparkle!

A History-Making Hair Moment for Film

With this film, Bailey has made history as the first Black Ariel and the first Disney princess with locs. Since its premiere, the film has been extremely well received by audiences. Thanks to Friend and her team, Bailey’s look has not only resonated, but empowered little girls and women who look just like her all around the world. 

“I am happy to be a part of such a historical film and creating a character like Ariel is a dream come true,” says Friend. 

For more information on Friend and her work on The Little Mermaid, be sure to check out her Instagram!

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Corbin Woessner

Corbin Woessner is currently a Graphic Design/Editorial Intern at The Tease. Corbin loves thrifting, all things crafts, and adding eye gems to spice up her eye makeup. To keep her hair looking healthy, strong and soft, Corbin adores using her favorite brand Eva NYC’s products.

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