The first time CBS This Morning co-host Tony Dokoupil did his own hair and makeup, a new right of passage for on-air television journalists working from home due to the pandemic, he looked, well, slightly less polished than normal. “Some viewers thought I might have early symptoms of coronavirus. ‘Are you feeling OK?,’ was a typical message on social media,” he tells Allure. “Pretty quickly, my makeup goals shifted from ‘try to look good’ to ‘try not to look unwell.'”
The phrase “television news anchor” calls up a specific image, one that includes a toothy white smile, a polished blowout, invisible pores, and HD-friendly makeup. In accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, television newsrooms are attempting to socially distance, which means your favorite anchor is likely working — and broadcasting — from home. Which also means without a glam team.
News is arguably more crucial than ever, and anchors point out that how they look is far less important than the story they’re on-air to share. “I want the viewer to focus on the content of the story,” says CBS White House correspondent Weijia Jiang. “No matter what story I’m covering, I always have to be mindful about avoiding a distraction with my appearance. If all of a sudden I’m in a ponytail with no makeup, I think that could be as distracting as wearing too much.”
Until recently, news anchors on major networks had hairstylists and makeup artists, who did the work of prepping their appearance. While some anchors like Dokoupil are doing their own makeup for the first time, others who started out in local news are tapping into leftover hair and makeup experience from early in their careers.
“When I worked in local news, I spent years doing my makeup in the passenger seat of a bumpy live truck in the dark at 4 a.m. on my way to cover stories,” says CBS Chief Congressional Correspondent Nancy Cordes. “For better or worse, I have a lot of experience doing my own hair and makeup. It doesn’t look as good as when the pros do it — especially the hair — but I think the viewers understand. We’re all making do in so many ways right now.”
Local North Carolina news anchor Adrianne Bradshaw has done her own hair and makeup for the six years she’s been on television. “I’m a firm believer that my on-air presence is a direct reflection of how much I care about my career and how much I care about my viewers. With the current crisis we’re all facing, it’s important that I provide a sense of pride, professionalism, and respect for my craft through my work and my clothing, hair, and makeup,” she says.