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How the incredibly lifelike wax figures at Madame Tussauds are made

Madame Tussaud'sMadame Tussaud’sA sculptor works on model Adriana Lima’s wax figure.

For more than 200 years, Madame Tussauds has been making wax figures that are so lifelike you might think you’re standing next to the actual person they were modelled after.

Madame Tussauds’ more than 20 global locations are home to wax figures of famous people like Jimmy Fallon, Jennifer Aniston, Adriana Lima, and even Barack Obama. The opportunity to take a photo with their favourite celebrities (even if in wax form) is highly appealing to tourists, and Madame Tussauds is usually packed.

When it comes to a celebrity’s wax replica, every single detail is carefully recorded — from exact eye colour to visible tattoos, moles, and beauty marks.

Each figure is made at Madame Tussauds’ central studios in London, then sent to their assigned location around the world.

Here’s how the incredibly lifelike wax figures are made.

Each figure takes a total of 15 artists three to four months to complete. The New York City location adds seven new figures each year, and globally the company aims to make about 230 figures in total. The first step of the process is a sitting with the celebrity.

Victoria Secret model Adriana Lima during her sitting.

During the sitting, more than 250 measurements of the celebrity are taken, including finding their exact hair, eye, and skin colour.

After the sitting is done, the figure is sculpted in clay.

The sculptors have to make sure the measurements are exact, and that their figure is starting to come to life.

Next, the moulding process takes place -- this is when the wax comes into play. Figures are cast in wax for about 170 hours.

After a successful moulding process, the hair insertion is next.

Each strand of hair is inserted individually by hand. This intensive process takes about six weeks to complete.

Lady Gaga's wax figure gets hair insertions

Next, oil paints are used to mimic the exact skin tone. Artists are sure to make the skin translucent and a realistic texture.

Once the skin is finished, they insert the eyes and the teeth. The eyes are matched exactly to the subject's eye colour and are made individually from acrylic resin. The teeth are designed from a mould that's taken during the sitting.

The final step is finding a wardrobe for the figure. Generally subjects will donate a wardrobe for their figures to wear.

Finally, finishing touches are made, and the wax figurine is ready for the spotlight. Once the finishing touch-ups are done, figures are sent to their official locations in a custom-made, foam-lined crate.

Although all figures are made in London, each location has its own studio team to make sure their site's figures are up to par, and maintenance is done daily.

There are more than 200 figures at the New York location, and globally more than 2,000 figures.

Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Victoria's Secret

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