Glow Up, Series 3, Episode 3: Queen Elizabeth’s Insta Brows

Is it possible to buy shares in Dolli’s inner corner highlight?

Have you ever wondered what Princess Margaret would look like if you pan-fried her for 15 minutes? Well good luck, because you’re about to find out.

You Should See Me In A Crown

If you were wondering how one copes with a near brush with elimination, the answer is, and always shall be, big slices of cheese in a very dark kitchen

Who amongst us hasn’t done this?

Back to the competition though and the first challenge this week is for them to recreate period appropriate makeup looks for The Crown. As well as the looks needing to be accurate in terms of trends and products of the time they’ll also need to be conscious of how the character is feeling and what they’re going through. It is a bit of a weird challenge because, as we’ll see, a lot of the models only look like the characters in the same way that anything in the Great Yarmouth Waxwork Museum vaguely resembles a human lifeform so some of the MUAs had more of an upward struggle in terms of trying to make their models look like the character and sometimes this was commended and other times they were told that they were doing it wrong, as was the case with Jack who was having to do the makeup for Queen Elizabeth on a state visit to China in 1986 and was given maybe some of the worst photos of Queen Elizabeth to help them navigate the task

Those truly belong in the delete folder.
It’s really no wonder that Jack latched onto the excessively pale face and recreated it maybe a touch too accurately

It’s less Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II and a little Margot Robbie as Queen Elizabeth I

Sorry, this recap is a bait and switch and I shall now be defending Mary Queen of Scots (2018) in all it’s purposefully historically inaccurate glory.
It’s not a very aesthetically pleasing makeup, which I guess is kind of what The Crown wants, but in terms of recreating the photo they were given? Nailed it!
Samah also got landed with 1960s Queen Elizabeth

I truly lost it at Queen Elizabeth’s Insta Brows.
The brows aside, the rest of the makeup is pretty darn good – Dom thinks she looks a bit more like Margaret Thatcher than she does The Queen but honestly, I blame the wig because she looks as much like Queen Elizabeth as Olivia Colman.

We sadly do inevitably have to talk about Thatcher as Sophie and Dolli found themselves having to recreate her look. Dolli getting early 40s Thatcher and Sophie taking on Post-Miners’ Strikes Thatcher.
The 40s are quite a strong landmark in makeup history, most people are familiar with the aesthetic and Dolli did a wonderful job of translating the minimal look of the time to that of a woman trying to make her way in politics and with very few helpful reference pictures

it’s pretty much spot on, save for the slight shine to the base which can easily be covered with a brush of powder.
Sophie had the more recognisable Thatcher making her job both easier in that you know exactly what you’re aiming for and harder in that EVERYONE knows what you’re aiming for. She was really into this challenge and it showed in the final product

It is unmistakably Thatcher, I would even say she looks more like Thatcher than Gillian Anderson does. It was her work around the eyes that really impressed guest judge Cate Hall though – she really managed to give her that stressed, sleep deprived look – it’s a thoroughly impressive job.

Of course because it was based around The Crown’s fourth season they had to include Diana as a challenge, you know just in the hopes they’d net her dedicated memorial china collectors into watching the show. Craig was creating the look during the late 80s, which is also known as Diana’s Blue Eyeliner Era. I’m sad that this series of The Crown never made it to the 1994 Revenge Dress, that would have been a fun look to do.
Craig’s look was very good if you manage to look beyond the unforgiveable wig

it’s your typical, very pretty Diana, you really can’t fault it beyond the fact the skin is maybe a touch too dry looking but works very well as a Diana look.
Ryley was also doing Diana, specifically Diana going on a highland walk to argue with Prince Charles in the atmospheric mists of Scotland. The brief ostensibly called for little to no makeup, Ryley had other plans and did the full beat

A Note: Ryley cannot be blamed for the fact her model looks like 2010 Justin Bieber, that’s on the wig department.
It’s one of the looks that had the most backstory to it and while Ryley did a fantastic job of creating a look that could go on camera, it’s not for the intended scene and lacks the kind of narratively inclined details that made Sophie’s Thatcher such a success.

The Queen, Diana and Margaret Thatcher are all instantly recognisable figures – they’re ingrained into British history (for better or worse… mostly worse) and then you have Princess Margaret who is significantly less well known and recognised – I would say more people are familiar with Helena Bonham-Carter as Princess Margaret than they are with genuine, authenticated Princess Margaret. I think this made Xavi and Alex’s task much harder and why they really latched onto quite insignificant details.

Xavi had Princess Margaret attending the premier of a musical amidst her crumbling marriage so Xavi was aiming for “glam but tired” (big mood) and incorporating the powder blue colour of her dress into the makeup

This is a Princess Margaret’s Visible Lace Front Stan Account now.
The makeup is very pretty and he’s certainly accentuated the Helena Bonham-Carterness of his model but the colour of the eye shadow is just not indicative of the 80s, or The Royal family, they’re very vanilla, even when they’re having affairs.

Alex’s Princess Margaret was one that was recently returning from holiday so giving her model a light tan would have made sense, unfortunately Alex went full fake tan disaster in what I fully believe is a covert anti-royalist campaign

It’s iconically baffling and genuinely frightened Cate Hall

she has given her model ALL of the features and then because of the headscarf (which isn’t Alex’s fault) it concentrates everything to the centre of the face giving her a very strange fish-like appearance. You could make a whole podcast dedicated to unravelling this look.

An Unofficial The Crown Screentest Ranking

  1. Sophie’s Uncanny Thatcher Valley
  2. Dolli’s Minimal Thatcher
  3. Craig’s Blue Liner Era
  4. Samah’s Queen Eyebrows II
  5. Ryley’s Highland Beatdown
  6. Xavi’s Ahistorical Blue
  7. Jack’s Flashback Queen
  8. Alex’s Fake Tan Nightmare Trout

In a change of plan both Sophie and Dolli win, which I guess makes Thatcher something of a lucky charm… I hate it, but I’m very happy for the two of them and the fact they get to work with a very impressive makeup team whenever they start filming the fifth series.

Did Somebody Mention Art?

For the main challenge of the week the MUAs will have to create a look influenced by either their favourite artist or art movement. It’s a brief that really encourages the use of unconventional materials and more avant garde, artist looks. I was also very pleased that nobody pulled a Bob Ross and painted a happy little tree here and there.

Coming in to the challenge it was Jack and Alex who found themselves in the red chairs and starting 15 minutes behind everyone else. Alex’s was the closest to your bog standard makeup look, or at least my bog standard makeup look which is very much Haunted Trans Mime. She was drawing her inspiration from non-binary artist Claude Cahun and their challenging of gender roles and image. This did mean that she was having to block brows again which filled everyone with an ice cold dread but at least it went better than last time!

It’s a little rough around the edges but I think it was successful in what Alex was trying to do, it’s very recognisably Claude Cahun and I think it might have been more interesting to the judges if she had taken it to a more Dorian Electra space – who in many ways is kind of a modern, hyperpop Cahun.

Jack coped with the stress of the red chair much better as they went about creating a mosaic tiled look inspired by Clive Wilson’s work

Wilson being an artist that they cared for during their time working in a care home.
Once again we return to the Straight Line Discourse as Jack attempts to create them using a piece of string

which Dom is at least more at ease with than Xavi using tape in the first episode but still has some misgivings that the lines wouldn’t turn out as straight as they needed to be

it’s incredibly striking, the colours are fun and aren’t too literal to the artwork which feels like Jack putting their own personality into it. My favourite details though are the bits that make their way into the hair and the dripping down the neck, they’re just perfect bookends to the makeup.

Ryley was also having to be very mindful of linework, albeit in a very different context as she was creating a Henna inspired look that flowed across her model’s face in a very elegant way

It’s remarkable, the gold leaves were unnecessary but you don’t even notice them because the linework is so immaculate that you can’t look away – LOOK AT THOSE LINES

it’s like an ant’s eyeliner. Witchcraft.

Abstraction and Cubism proved popular as Sophie set about making her ode to Francis Bacon, definitely the artist and not the Elizabethan philosopher. And fun fact, Francis Bacon is only 3 degrees separated from Kevin Bacon. Sophie certainly managed to capture Bacon’s trademark, chaotic distortion

The flattening of her model’s face is really, really clever and the colours are all very strange in an intriguing way – nothing feels natural which pretty much nails Francis Bacon. It deserved more of a ringing “DING DONG” than it got – the one she got was very whispered and understated. Samah however got the full Notre Dame treatment for her take on Leonid Afremov’s style of painting exclusively with a spatula. You might not know his name, but you’ve almost certainly seen his artwork and Samah thoroughly captured its luminous, textured spirit

I love that she just had the confidence to whack on the colour with no need for a distinct picture, it’s as though she was painting his palette and not his picture, which feels like a much more intimate insight into the artist. I’m torn about the twisty string, I find them both fascinating and a little jarring but they certainly don’t kill the look.

Craig went very Cubist with his kissing faces inspired by the erotic cubist pictures by Helen Beard, whose work you can check out on Instagram HERE – it is graphic, but it’s very good and I do want one of her tote bags. Craig’s look was similarly good

It’s incredibly well balanced, the green and orange face is more discernible to me, I think it’s because the shapes are more defined, which I like as I think the rigidity, in the nose specifically, feels like a callback to the earlier cubist works by the likes of Pablo Picasso and Juan Gris.

Dolli also opted for a more contemporary artist, creating a look inspired by the illustrations of Iain Macarthur

I think time just got away from her, her look really required a smooth, flawless base which meant the eyebrows had to be completely obliterated and it didn’t really leave much time to capture the grandiose, surreal intricacy of Iain’s work, which you can see on Instagram HERE. It reads a little more Kabuki to me – Macarthur himself features a lot of Japanese imagery in his artwork so there is a link – it just lacks the polish that the judges are really starting to look for.

Lastly we have Xavi who was featuring Leon Bakst, who honestly has the most fascinating life story and I thoroughly suggest spending several hours endlessly googling him – there are more twists and turns than your average Christopher Nolan movie. In short, he was a very prominent costume and set designer for Ballets Russes and an art teacher to many a rich family.
Xavi’s idea was to create a sort of half-and-half look while using embellishments as a nod to his costume designing. Unfortunately they were a little big and clunky

as Dom and Val said, it is very much like someone opened the deceptive biscuit tin that your grandmother has repurposed into a sewing box.
While the beads and trim are universally panned, his colours are very interesting

they just have nothing to do with each other and look a bit like two novelty dinner plates having a fight.
The colours are gorgeous though, the sort of sinister, grungy opalescence in the larger portion is captivating

but as a whole, the makeup just isn’t narratively clear or particularly aesthetically fluent.

If you want to know what Elliot and Nic did, Elliott took inspiration from Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović whose work focuses on endurance and human strength – so be mildly warned because there is a bloody nose and shards of glass, you can see his look HERE.
Nic embraced the 80s maximalist movement with a very punk-y look inspired by Frank Stellar’s work, there is once again a lot of hair work but the artwork is cool – she looks like the best kind of skatepark and you can see it HERE.

An Unofficial Arty Makeup Look Ranking

  1. Sophie’s Flattened Bacon
  2. Ryley’s Henna-mazing
  3. Two faced Craig
  4. Samah’s Splat Attack
  5. Jack The Square
  6. Alex’s Cahun-a-Matata
  7. Xavi’s Bakst to the Drawing Board
  8. Dolli’s Macarthur Fault

It’s A Blue Out

Having aced their look Jack is spared the Face Off Chairs while Alex finds herself unable to escape them. It’s between Dolli and Xavi as to who will join her and while I think Dolli’s was the weaker main challenge look, she did win the first challenge and they didn’t want to give Cate Hall cold feet so unfortunately Xavi is in the Face Off, a fact I thought I had explicitly made illegal last week and shall be contesting in court.

For the Face Off challenge Dom wants them to create a blue smoky in a mere 15 minutes – as someone who takes between 25 and 40 minutes to do her eyeshadow – ASBSOLUTELY NOT – more the point, this is what he really wants

but in the immortal words of the Rolling Stones, “You can’t always get what you want” as Alex and Xavi both completely sideline the use of black and instead dive straight into the cobalt blue shadow and furiously blend it out which Alex somewhat manages to recover and Xavi is a lost cause as that shadow disappears well into the eyebrows

Another 2 minutes of blending and it’d be a full Na’vi face paint.
It’s not quite a blue eyeshadow disaster on the scales of Nikki’s drag transformation in series 1

But guys, you’re not far off!

Purely because of the fact she manage to have at least 2 shades of blue in her smoky eye Alex is declared safe which means we have to say goodbye to Xavi but not before he gives a very motivational speech to Alex


It’s a real shame because he was doing so well, lest we forget he almost won the Pose challenge and had the Kali inspired look last week. He’s also a delight on Instagram and I thoroughly suggest following him at XaviGuillaume – he recently re-did this challenge with Klimt as his inspiration and it really is beautiful in its gaudiness.

And so, 7 MUAs remain

One thought on “Glow Up, Series 3, Episode 3: Queen Elizabeth’s Insta Brows

  1. Lena

    Hey, I am just watching the show as it wasn’t available in Germany until just now. Your blog posts are great and I am deeply offended they sent Xavi home. His art make up wasn’t bad enough to send him to Face Off, the colors were SO great. But both Xavi and Alex should have gone home for their Face Off, it’s so so bad.

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