‘Stranger Things’ hairstylist on Eleven’s Buzz Cut

Sarah Hindsgaul, head of the ‘Stranger Things’ hair department, along with wig maker Rob Pickens and the hair team, introduced major volume and frizz in the fourth season of the hit Netflix series.

From the matching perms of Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Karen Wheeler (Cara Buono) to the dusty rocker look of Eddie Munson, Hindsgaul — who recently earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Period and/or Character Hairstyle — felt that there were over 250 wigs this season.

“The 80s are all about movement,” Hindsgaul said. “I find [the ’80s] so interesting and so liberating, but it’s also very hard not to get there [look] blocked.”

Eddie Munson, played by Joseph Quinn, and his shaggy haircut.
Courtesy of Netflix

As the children navigated the daunting world of high school, Hindsgaul thought it was crucial that each character’s hairstyle reflect their emotional state and growth over the years. “It’s part of being that age and you look up to people, you try different things, and that’s how you find out who you are,” she said.

Lucas’ (Caleb McLaughlin) high-end fade, she pointed out, is an expression of his “readiness[ness] to fit in” with popular Hawkins High students and “try to break away from his group”. Meanwhile, Mike’s (Finn Wolfhard) longer hairstyle this season is mostly influenced by his new role model, favorite Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn). “The Hellfire Club is its own look, so I have both [Mike] and Dustin trying to fit into that, but they’re not quite there.

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(L to R) Finn Wolfhard and Gaten Matarazzo receive longer locks.
Courtesy of Netflix

Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) tends to “[melt] in her surroundings,” to mark her adoption into the Byers family, Hindsgaul gave Eleven the signature “Byers bang cut” that closely resembles Joyce’s (Winona Ryder) style.

“It’s funny sometimes when people walk into the trailer and we have their continuity footage on the walls,” Hindsgaul said. “Once Winona [Ryder] came in and she said, “Oh, that’s me,” then she said, “Oh my God, that’s Millie! It’s really cute because they were so similar in their continuity photos.

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(Left to right) Millie Bobby Brown and Noah Schnapp rock the “Byers bang cut.”
Courtesy of Netflix

While several characters retained the iconic looks they’ve donned since Season 1, such as Will Byers’ (Noah Schnapp) bowl cut, Jim Hopper (David Harbour) sports a completely shaved head in “Stranger Things 4.” Hawkins’ police chief – who was presumed dead after the Starcourt Mall explosion in the season 3 finale – is imprisoned and tortured in a Russian prison camp in the final season.

During a 20-second scene, Jim’s shaggy locks and mustache are shaved off by a fellow inmate, which Hindsgaul revealed the crew only had one chance to film. In preparation for the single take, the hair department spent an entire day showing the extra playing the “gulag barber” how to properly hold the razor and where to start shaving Harbour’s head.

“He shaved a lot [about 25] detained, and that’s how we practiced it,” Hindsgaul explained. “I was worried he would get nervous, but he was really into it. I think it helped that we spent time on [the shaving] to make him comfortable with it.

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Jim Hopper, played by David Harbour, has a shaved head.
Courtesy of Netflix

“Stranger Things 4” also reintroduces one of the show’s most iconic looks from its first season: Eleven’s buzz cut.

After the fifth episode, most viewers wondered, “Has Millie Bobby Brown shaved her head again?” Turns out the short hairstyle is actually a wig.

“Nobody’s done a wig like this before,” Hindsgaul said. “It had to be something that everyone saw. If the trendy haircut suddenly looked very different, it would look like a wig, and we didn’t want that. According to Hindsgaul, such a short hairstyle would traditionally be done with prosthetics. However, since Brown was still a child actor at the time of filming, Hindsgaul had to come up with a plan to achieve the iconic buzz in a limited timeframe.

She studied Brown’s hairline and head shape, noting that she didn’t want the actress to look like she was wearing a “bulky old hat.” Hindsgaul then spent months experimenting with application techniques and working with wig maker Rob Pickens to perfect the illusion.

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Courtesy of Sarah Hindsgaul

“We integrated these different layers of silk to give [the wig] transparency,” Hindsgaul explained. The entire application process took three stylists and took about 30 minutes each time, with almost half of that time spent wetting, smoothing and tightly wrapping Brown’s hair.

Despite the monumental challenge Hindsgaul faced with the extremely flimsy wig — which had three variations rotating throughout filming — she still considers the buzzed look her favorite this season. “I had to push myself to my limits,” Hindsgaul said. “It doesn’t happen a lot where you’re like, ‘Is it possible? “”

Season 4 of “Stranger Things” is currently streaming on Netflix.


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