Being a contestant on The Bachelor is no walk in the rose garden. Female participants battling it out for the affection of a man have to make a great first, albeit superficial, impression, therefore, in this case, looks really are everything.
According to former contestant Whitney Bischoff, who eventually won, got engaged to and then broke up with Iowa farmer Chris Soules, the grooming process prior to the show was grueling. “I got highlights, lash extensions, a gel manicure, and a supply of high-definition makeup... But I had the most anxiety about how I was going to go without my weekly spray tans. After my farewell spray tan, I bought about four bottles of St. Tropez,” she says.
Meanwhile, Ashley Iaconetti, who competed against Bischoff, says she threaded her entire face, got lash extensions, had her nails done, and visited the dermatologist for Botox. Others, naively, believed they could forego the effort, although once they saw themselves onscreen realized that the camera can be unforgiving.
Jaclyn Swartz, who has participated on The Bachelor, Bachelor Pad and Bachelor In Paradise, says she didn’t worry as much about her appearance as she did her clothes. “Didn't pencil in my eyebrows. Didn't know how to use a curling iron. Thought fake lashes were trashy. Never used foundation, primer, concealer, or setting powder. That all changed when I saw myself on TV. You bet your ass I learned how to do makeup immediately,” she says about her time on The Bachelor.
Four years later, however, Swartz went into primping overdrive for Paradise. “I invested in lash extensions, a personal trainer five days a week for the eight weeks leading up to the show, dermaplaning — which I swear by — and a fresh head of blonde,” she says. “I also waxed, brought way more makeup, and embraced makeup trends like contouring.”
Most of the women also pack accordingly since any prior prep is bound to wear off after a few days. According to Iaconetti, “I brought a duffel bag full of toiletries, and then a huge makeup suitcase.” Not to be outdone, Swartz ignored the show's rules. Although contestants are only allowed to bring two to three suitcases, she brought six.
Since the contestants can’t make a quick trip to the mall for beauty products, it pays to be prepared. “If you run out of deodorant, no big. But brow pencil? You’re screwed!” Swartz says. “I was so paranoid about running out of my brow pencil in Mexico that I brought four just in case.”
Some contestants admit to spending upwards of $1,000 on beauty treatments before the show began filming, though between salon appointments, training sessions and beauty products, others say they spent close to $5,000.
The show does provide some perks though. After the first night on The Bachelor, contestants receive a swag bag. “It was full of bathing suits, OPI nail polishes, makeup, Kai products, Rich & Skinny jeans, Wildfox tees, and the Sultra Bombshell wand, which I still use to this day and am obsessed with. It creates the most perfect waves,” Swartz says.
While on the show, most of the women strive to be camera-ready 24/7. “I did my hair more times in that eight to nine weeks than I have in my entire life — I am still dealing with the damage I did to it,” Bischoff says. “And, of course, knowing you are going to be on national television, anytime you passed a mirror, you would do a double take, hair check, quick powder, and reapply your lipstick.”
Despite the stiff competition, however, many contestants report that their fellow bachelorettes were supportive, even when it came to sharing products and pointers. “Almost every girl on my season was more than generous with makeup, clothes, and hair products,” Swartz says “Michelle Money was basically doing every girl's hair, every rose ceremony. She and Emily taught me so much. I can never repay them for all the hair tricks, tanning tips, and good makeup they let me use.”