‘Skinhead Helen’ From ‘Orange Is the New Black’ Looks NOTHING Like This In Real Life

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When you’re on a prison drama like Orange Is the New Black, you don’t exactly get to look like a glamorous star most of the time.

Just ask Francesca Curran, who plays “Skinhead Helen,” whose transformation is one of the most shocking of any of those on the show.

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The numbers 311 are tattooed across her right hand, a 100% symbol is displayed prominently on her neck, and a series of stars trickle from the top of her left brow and around the side of her face. No, the tattoos aren’t real.

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Curran gets her head re-shaved every morning on set in order for the team to apply all of her tattoos. “I’d come in, in the morning, and I was always the first person in and the last person out of the makeup chair. I would see the whole cast come and go,” Curran told Business Insider. First, she starts off in the hair department where they reshave her head. Next, the 24-year-old gets her tattoos applied before going to the makeup chair where she’s given super realistic-looking dark under eye circles and subtle some age marks to make her look older.

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So, how long does this whole process take? Curren explains that early on the whole thing took about three hours, but after doing it so many times, the hair and makeup department have whittled it down to about an hour! So what does she look like off-set?

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Curran is a self-proclaimed girly girl in her regular life, so it was big shock to see herself in the mirror as Skinhead Helen. “In real life, I’m so feminine,” she said. “I’m so girly. I love my makeup, I love my jewelry and all that; so to really be stripped of all that … The first time I was like, okay, wow. I found myself in the mirror and was like, this is a striking … what a difference.”

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She wears wigs when off-set, and posts her transformations for all of her fans on Instagram.

The fact that the transformation is so drastic works to her advantage, as Francesca can still go about her life without being recognized every time she leaves the house. She said even when she’s hanging out with her OITNB castmates, they’ll all get recognized but fans will ask who she is, and won’t even believe her when she tells them she’s Helen. “Fans say to me, ‘Who are you?’ And I’m like, ‘Oh I’m just not in Helen drag.’ And you know, then it becomes a long, long wave of, ‘No you’re not.’ And, I’m like, ‘Okay,'” she said. But honestly, can you blame them? You go, girl.  

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