Glow Up Series 3, Episode 1: Soap Opera Bruise

Hands up if you’ve ever tasted setting powder.

I’m so glad they’ve managed to find a way to safely film Glow Up as well as putting in measures to make it that much more inclusive, which has of course angered certain branches of Mumsnet but we can only count that as a win.

It may be back in all its glory but there has been one notable change, with Stacey Dooley departing to pursue the lucrative, once in a life time opportunity of hosting… This Is My House… She has been replaced by the wonderful and annoyingly beautiful Maya Jama

Apparently she isn’t wearing a full torso cast after some horrific accident, it’s just fashion. Look it up.
Of course the heart and soul of the show remain, they wouldn’t dare get rid of ol’ Ding and Dong here

I’ll let you decide who’s Ding and who’s Dong.

As with any new series comes a whole new cohort of makeup artists from across the UK and with wildly varying tastes and specialities:

Alex (She/Her)

Honestly, I mostly just loved her the moment she showed up looking like Frenchy from Grease had gone to Westerberg High School. She’s maybe the most endearing of the whole cast and seems to mostly be on hand to give hugs. We could all use an Alex.

Craig (He/Him)

If you need someone who can knock up a very good, fleshy makeup in under 30 minutes then Craig is very much your guy!

Dolli (She/Her)

If you’re not utterly obsessed with Dolli then quite frankly I don’t know who you are. She came in serving looks and if her makeups have been anything to go by she will only continue to serve looks. We can only stan.

Elliott (He/Him)

We didn’t see much of Elliott this episode, mostly because he’s just a very capable MUA but he is also the cutest one so hopefully his screentime only increases.

Jack (They/Them)

Jack, like Elliott, didn’t get much screentime this episode but they seem pretty cool and we have to respect anyone brave enough to spend a considerable amount of time in front of a camera only in a towel.

Nic (She/Her)

Sweet baby angel Nic, slightly scattered, a little bit erratic and entirely relatable.

Ryley (She/Her)

Entirely self taught, Ryley is all about championing the things that make you different and after years of using makeup to hide her birthmark she’s here only to highlight it. Just don’t ask her to colour match someone.

Samah (She/Her)

The best thing about Samah is that’s she’s good and she knows she’s good and she’s not going to play coy about it which I think makes her the perfect contestant. I am concerned that they’re about to hit her with a villain edit though. How does Glow Up do a villain edit I hear you ask? I don’t know, but Interior Design Masters managed it with Charlotte didn’t they and we all thought that show was going to be sunshine and throw pillows.

Sophie (She/Her)

She really reminds me of Ophelia from the previous series, which as THE Official Ophelia Stan Account, is only a good thing.

Xavi (He/Him)

Am I mostly just excited for him to prove Dominic wrong at every turn? Yes, yes I am. It’s as valid as any reason to like someone.

The Campaign Starts Now

For the first challenge of the series the MUAs will have to create a look for Superdrug’s next beauty campaign which focuses on diversity and inclusivity with the winning look going on to be featured in over 800 stores nationwide. They really went and brought out the big guns right away didn’t they?
Assisting Val and Dominic in judging will be Ateh Jewel, beauty journalist extraordinaire and all round absolute babe

I thoroughly recommend following her on Instagram (AtehJewel) – she publishes really interesting pieces and gives a real, visceral insight into the inequality faces by people of colour within the beauty industry. She’s the perfect choice to help judge this episode.

Of course this campaign is based on diversity so the models are a variety of different skintones, ages, races and genders – it would have been nice to see more of a variation in body types too but it’s steps in the right direction and the campaign was clearly focused more on racial diversity which meant that colour matching was imperative. I’m personally terrible at colour matching (undertones? Who’re they?) so Samah having worked on a beauty counter in a very mixed area of London really payed off as she seemingly matched her model like a wizard. Given that she got the base down so quickly she had enough time to really think through her concept and fully embraced the re-emergence of the 90s with her Fresh Prince colour scheme

It’s joyful and effervescent which is exactly what the brief was asking for and I’m glad that at least 1 person thought outside of the idea of just slapping on kind of an ordinary Instagram makeup look.

Ryley had the biggest struggle with the colour matching of her Asian model – it should have been a real red flag for her when she observed that the foundation she had chosen was turning his face green and she should have probably started again rather that seemingly slathering on a shade with a warmer, orange hue to it

I get that orange cancels out darker areas, which is why drag queens use it for beard cover, but I think Ryley focused a little too much on trying to cover his beard when she should have just embraced it.
The main focal point of her look was meant to be the bold graphic liner but unfortunately the colour disparity between just about every part of his visible body was pulling focus

It’s like he was Frankenstein’d together from several different people.
Had she pulled off the colour match, this would have been really great, the symmetry of the liner is spot on, I might have liked a bolder, richer red but it’s still fairly eye-catching which is more than can be said for Craig who basically made an Avon Lady

It’s a very lovely, every day look which is kind of exactly what Superdrug is trying to pretend it isn’t and the photo they chose hid the one redeeming feature of his makeup – the really beautiful glossy eye that he laboured over!
Xavi had similar issues to Craig in that his final look was kind of just an ordinary, red makeup look

I think some gold in there might have elevated it a little bit, even just a really blinding highlight on the cupid’s bow or a splattering of it across the face like Dolli did

I loved this look before they shot it, I don’t think the style of the ad campaign did it justice, the really stark white background and lighting kind of washed out what is a fairly sultry look

which is maybe Dolli’s fault for not quite being on the same wavelength as Superdrug, I just can’t help but imagine how much more interesting this would have looked in a more moodily lit setting.

It is interesting that the judges really didn’t like Xavi’s red eye look and then fell head over heels for Sophie’s which was essential the same thing but pink

It’s beautifully done but it’s no less pedestrian or more ground-breaking than Xavi’s except for the fact they chose a better photo where her model didn’t have her eyes closed.
Speaking of bad photo choices, Nic and her model were done DIRTY

I’m not going to overly defend this look but I will say that it’s very editorial and quite high fashion – we’ve seen this exact style done on catwalks from McQueen (who Val has worked for) and Galiano – it’s not Superdrug but it is an aesthetic. I also really love that wine stained, vinyl lip, it’s exactly the sort of thing I wish I could pull off.
Jack also embraced green and red to much less savage reviews, although their use of green was a little more subtle

I wish they had been bolder with the liner, something more along the lines of what Ryley did but I do like this and they’ve done wonders to their model’s lips.

Our last two MUAs were all about the blush, Alex going ham on the purple

her colour matching is great and the purple compliments her model’s skin really well, I do think she’s maybe overegged it a little bit and we’ve made a sharp turn out of beauty and into Soap Opera Bruise.
Elliott went for a more off the wall choice with orange and yellow – I appreciate that Beauty YouTube is really trying to make yellow blush happen, I hope it does – I think it can look really neat and cute but Elliott wasn’t exactly warming anyone to the concept

The colours and shape of the draping remind me of a butterfly and I see that before I see the model which is a bit of a problem, it’s also not very well diffused and ends very abruptly, turning his model into a bit of a colour therapy Rorschach Test.

An unofficial Superdrug Beauty Campaign Ranking

  1. Samah’s Gone Dotty
  2. Dolli’s Sultry Rainbow
  3. Sophie’s Relatable Pinks
  4. Alex’s Potential Bruise
  5. Jack’s Lips’n’Liner
  6. Xavi’s Devil Eyes
  7. Craig’s Avon Lady
  8. Nic’s Too Edgy For Superdrug
  9. Elliott’s Rorschach Art Therapy
  10. The Undead Life of Ryley’s Monster

In the end the judges decide that Samah’s is the winning look and going in to the next round things aren’t looking good for Ryley, Nic or Craig.

Unique, Like Everyone Else

For the final challenge before the Face Off the MUAs have to create a look on themselves that showcases what makes them distinctly them, whether it be their background, their hobbies or their life experiences. But before they can crack on with it, Craig and Ryley find themselves in the red seats meaning they have 15 minutes less than everyone else’s two and a half hours, I loved that Alex ran over to give Craig a quick hug and a kiss

She’s so lovely, although Craig could have done with giving her a quick hug and kiss because her look went to hell in a handbasket in record timing as her glued down brows began to pop meaning she had to remove them and apparently all of her makeup. She did this twice. I don’t know if she necessarily had to remove the eyebrows but it at least gave us this reaction from Dominic

Alex is truly out here doing the Lord’s work.
As for her look, for someone who seemed to do it in the last 30 minutes of competition it came out remarkably well

the blending is majorly sus and the lips are a touch uneven but she was inspired by feral parakeets and what could possibly look more like a feral parakeet than a slightly distressed Liverpudlian with some rather hurried face paint on? Nailed it!
While Alex ran out of time, Samah had far too much on her hands and finished well ahead of time with her look inspired by her Moroccan heritage

This was a tough critique because I think for what Samah wanted to do, she pulled it off remarkably well – she looks stunning, the line work is very good but it is also off-centre which Samah gave the excuse for as it wouldn’t have been immaculately perfect “back in the day” because they did it by hand but… she wasn’t doing it by hand, she was using string to make it as fine as possible. I personally love the makeup but I do agree with Dominic that without the outfit and the styling it falls short. It also didn’t help her cause that Dolli had used a similar concept of drawing inspiration from her Nigerian heritage and came out the other side looking like the most glamorous Transformer that there never was

I lowkey think she could win the entire show off this look alone, it is SO DAMN GOOD and Ateh’s reaction to it and the conversation about how Dolli darkened her skin to achieve the look when the social conditioning of black women within the beauty sphere is to lighten it was genuinely moving. Dolli smashed this, I can’t tell you how loudly I gasped when she put the twinkling fairy lights in her hair

it’s perfect afrofuturism.

While Samah and Dolli’s looks lived and died by their symmetry and precision, Elliott was making asymmetry the focal point of his, highlighting his slightly unbalanced facial features – I have a similar issue with my eyes because of a slight scar near my left one that pulls the lid ever so slightly lower – it makes liner an absolute nightmare – I just refuse to do it. His look came out really well though

I think this is so cute, there’s a sort of Pierrot-esque quality to it while simultaneously looking exactly like Bartok, the bat from the film Anastasia

and I mean that in the nicest way possible – he was the best part of that whole film!

Both Xavi and Sophie had similar concepts of basing theirs on their experiences as people on the Autism spectrum but had very different approaches. Xavi was creating a look to showcase how he, as someone with Asperger’s, sees the world in a very black and white fashion while the world around him remains in colour

My favourite moment of the episode was after Dominic had spent a considerable amount of time dedicated to moaning about the fact Xavi had decided to do the black and white window with tape, making him look slightly like he was cosplaying as an early 90s television

and because of this, when he removed it the lines wouldn’t be crisp and straight but very wobbly and then Xavi removed the tape to what I would consider, mostly very straight crisp lines

Dominic was visibly gutted that he wasn’t going to get to roast Xavi for it

the lines did need a bit of neatening up but the final piece was really good and the whole story behind it came across very clearly. I maybe wish there was more of a structure to the shapes because in his moodboard he had a heatmap of two people embracing which he might have been going for but not had the time to execute perfectly but still an utterly sublime piece of work.
Sophie’s was based on the particular stigma around women with autism and the pressure put on them to kind of just deal with it which she was doing this with a mask effect

It’s incredibly well done, it is a little ordinary in that the whole cut out mask thing was, and mostly still is, a massive trend on Instagram in late 2019, but combined with her concept it works very well and the detailing on it is immaculate

She’s definitely one to watch out for.

Sophie and Xavi both had very clear concepts, the same sadly couldn’t be said for Jack and Nic. Jack fully embraced glitter and and unleashed their drag persona Anna Lies upon us

It’s very Nina Bonina Brown’s Georgia Peach meets Rita Baga’s Alien Finale Drag look (remember when out of nowhere she painted herself green and decided her whole thing was that she was an alien? What a wild moment.) Their whole concept is there and it’s very cool but it doesn’t really tell us much about them but I loved what they did their their eyes, it’s such a cool placement of colours

It’s at least an interesting makeup look if maybe a little 1 note, which could not be said for Nic’s look that was inspired by her hair, but also this time she was stung by a jellyfish because she’s also a scuba diver and she loves recycling and is all about sustainability and there was probably also something about a pet hamster and the fact she likes brown bread in the morning with the crusts cut off

There was a lot to remember.
I think the biggest problem here is the string, if she had instead of trying to incorporate the string into her hair and focused more on bringing her hair onto her face to act like the string using similarly coloured extensions or something the look would have been much stronger. That being said, I do actually really like this – her really soft features with the vibrant colours really remind me of the Flower Fairies by Cicely Mary Barker except maybe the creepypasta versions of them where the plants have been poisoned by toxic waste or they were all dead the whole time. I OWN THE RIGHTS TO THAT FILM CONCEPT.

Lastly we have our two MUAs in the danger seats who both took to the ground running when they were eventually allowed to and Craig knocked up an already fairly passable makeup look designed to look like the musculature of the human face within record time

This did however give him plenty of time to overegg it and go from actual human anatomy to looking like Kahmora Hall pretending to be a sexy oak tree

I’m trying to think of a more seamless way of incorporating the symbols into a look that they are at the moment very much at odds with but I’m coming up short. I think this might have been a bit of a doomed concept from the beginning and I’ll forever be wondering why he didn’t black out his nose.

Ryley had much more success as she set about turning her birthmark into a geode using only a cotton pad and some sculpting wax

She’s basically McGyver.
It’s really, very good and I love that she’s championing the fact that she’s entirely self-taught and it makes me very excited to see what else she can do. I do a little bit wish there was a touch more depth to the geode, the 3D effect isn’t quite working for me but I can get over it.

An Unofficial Self-Makeup Look Ranking

  1. Dolli’s Afrofuturist Transformer
  2. Elliott’s Asymmetric Vintage Clown
  3. Ryley’s Geode Stare
  4. Xavi’s Very Straight Lines
  5. Sophie’s Mask of Many Colours
  6. Nic’s Odyssey
  7. Jack’s Space Peach
  8. Samah’s Simple Inking
  9. Alex The Flustered Parakeet
  10. Craig’s Muscular Tree

Mas-car Crash

In a complete reversal of fortune, both Craig and Ryley find themselves released from the Face Off and Samah plummets into a potential elimination alongside Nic who may or may not be still trying to describe her concept.

For their Face Off Challenge Nic and Samah will have to recreate one of the most preposterous trends to have ever emerged and re-emerged every 5 years: the clumpy mascara look

I truly don’t believe that anybody outside of beauty campaign is actually doing it but alas, here we go!
Val’s trick is to basically layer up mascara and translucent powder to achieve maximum clump, which Samah was kind of doing in between attacking her poor model’s eyelashes

This whole challenge was an eye infection waiting to happen, because if the industrial amount of mascara they were layering on them didn’t get them, Nic’s shaking hands branding tweezers definitely would

using falsies did seem a little against the rules to me, not that it really helped Nic out as her model ended up looking like the lost member of KISS by the end of it

It was a runaway win for Samah who might not have achieved the clumpiest lashes but at least had a look that you could passably wear outside without someone telling you that you’ve got the entire entomological kingdom on your face, so we must bid a very soon farewell to Nic

if you want to see what else she gets up to, go check her out on Instagram at NicMarilyn and maybe buy a pot of her glitter – we could all use a little more sparkle.

And so, 9 Makeup Artists remain…

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