Penelope's acrylic nails in Bridgerton season 3 have fans questioning the show's realism

Let Penelope have fake nails if she wants to!
Bridgerton. Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington in episode 302 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024
Bridgerton. Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington in episode 302 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024 /

Since its release on May 16, the first part of Bridgerton season 3 has been the most-watched show on Netflix this month. With only four episodes, the start of Polin season scored the show's biggest opening weekend debut ever (so far). Naturally, the show is all anyone can talk about, and eagle-eyed fans are still bringing up new discussion topics from the episodes.

In a video posted on TikTok the day after season 3 part 1's release, a Bridgerton viewer points out the fact that Penelope is wearing acrylic nails, and that's not a historically accurate beauty standard. "Usually I don't get onto shows for this, but why does she have on acrylics?" the user asks before laughing. It's not a serious question, but it did start a conversation in the comments.

Other fans of the series have called out the show using false eyelashes and other modern makeup techniques on the women in the cast. For some, these instances of modernization take away from the realism of the show's period setting, while others truly don't mind and choose to ignore the little inaccuracies since Bridgerton really leans into being something of a fantasy.

Bridgerton. (L to R) Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton, Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington in episode 302 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024 /

"She's a time traveler." "The smoky eye with the crystals... it was giving Coachella." "It's Bridgerton, It's all stylized. Let my girl have her nails!" "There's also Pitbull playing, I don't think it's for the accuracy." These were some of the top (and funniest) comments under the video, which has upwards of 650K views and nearly 35K likes, that didn't take the line of questioning too seriously.

Ahead of the release of season 3, the Bridgerton costume designer John Glaser and makeup designer Erika Okvist spoke with Country & Town House about their inspiration for the newly elevated looks for the season, including the transformation Penelope goes through with her look. They wanted to make her look more sophisticated as she grows up and turns over a new leaf.

Specifically, Okvist spoke to the challenge of creating a visual story arc for each character and developing them through their look. (It's probably why the Bridgerton men are said to have a "glow up" when they lead a season.) But the makeup designer said she looks to bridge the gap between the "visual opulence" the audience craves and "staying true to the characters."

Okvist elaborated on how she worked on the makeup for season 3:

"Because of the nature of the series, our biggest thing to do is to make sure that people are as attractive and sensual as they can be. We work with their bodies and faces, and that’s when some of the historical correctness has to go out the window because some things just wouldn’t work for certain people. And I think now that the audience knows this world, we can put our spin on it even further."

Erika Okvist, makeup designer

Further explaining the full inspiration behind Penelope's styling:

"I was thinking about old Hollywood glamour and how, when you see women from this era, you don’t really fixate on how they looked, you just know they looked great. That’s pretty much the feeling that we were going for with Penelope; she just has that old Hollywood feeling. [...] We went for that full siren look this season. We’ve given her the angles around the eyes, we’re doing the snatch, we’re doing the lift. We want her skin to look like melted butter, you know, like Rita Hayworth. I wanted the audience to want to look like this, even if it is slightly crazy."

Erika Okvist, makeup designer

Sure, there are some Bridgerton fans who are likely more invested in the historical realism than others, but for the most part, I think it's safe to say that a lot of us are in it for the romance. The show has stuck as closely as possible to its time-specific costuming and other set pieces (though Queen Charlotte's wigs tow the line here), but the show has mostly set up this world for escapism in the best way.

Likely, there are plenty of additional beauty errors and inaccuracies in the show that could be pointed out, maybe even the men's hairstyling or what have you. But it's not like the show has the characters in Gossip Girl era outfits with side bangs and cat eyes. If anyone deserves to have the glam of a lifetime, it's Lady Whistledown herself, Penelope Featherington.

More Bridgerton news and updates from Netflix Life: