Glow Up, Series 4, Episode 2: Primordial Elizabeth Bennet

Teeth (2008, Mitchell Lichtenstein.)

Get in loser, we’re going to run away and join the circus.

Just Like The Circus

For their Industry Challenge this week the MUAs were having to recreate looks for the performers of Cirque du Soleil’s latest show, Luzia. So the challenge was mostly about reining in their creativity and hoping to God someone didn’t go rogue with the eyeliner again. There was also quite a helpful prize on hand with the winner of the challenge being granted a consultation with makeup designer Maryse Gosselin during their creative brief later on. But they were also all vying for the opportunity to have their makeups make it onto the stage, you know, for the CV.

The only issue I had with this challenge was that all of the makeups looked very similar because they all had the bright blue band across their eyes, so I was as excited as Rachel was about the moustache that she got to apply

finally, something different!

She wasn’t the only one contending with facial hair though as Mikael had to define and finesse his juggler’s beard – and Mikael was having the best time of his life and truly after being in the Face Off Challenge he really did come back this week and said “I’m going to be the best one” and then he was, but if he did struggle with the brief, he always had that old faithful backup plan of running away to join the circus

it was nice to see Mikael really come into his own this episode and he built up a really good rapport with the juggler whose makeup he was doing, even if he was threatening to steal his job.
And the final makeup he did was pretty damn spot on, even if it was giving me Bosnia and Herzegovina at Eurovision in 2008, which isn’t Mikael’s fault because he did exactly as he was told

and he was commended as having the best applied silver appliques, which wasn’t too much of a surprise given the fact he himself was sporting a few nifty eye details that did make his eyes look like the not-quite-Louis-Vuitton purse every girl in year 8 seemed to own in 2005

but while Mikael had no issues with the appliques, Ryan struggled a little bit because he hadn’t seemed to realise that you just applied the glue, stuck the foil down and made small talk with your performer for a bit while it stuck on

Well, I don’t know Mikael, I came into work today and someone threatened to steal my job.

So Ryan was cutting out his foil and sticking it on individually which didn’t give as polished a look as Maryse was after

what I will say for Ryan though, is that his lip shape was great and I think he had the best eye makeup of the bunch – the blend in that purple is pretty damn stellar and I would hazard a guess that the only part of his makeup that needed to be touched up were the appliques, so I reckon he can still drop “did makeup for Cirque du Soleil” on the resumé.

I do have to wonder if they hid the instructions for the foil appliques because Nancé also had issues, mostly in that she seemed to be using the wrong side of the foil for a little bit

I just imagine that 5 minutes prior to them coming in Maryse ate the packet instructions like she was trying to destroy a secret message – NO HELP FOR ANYONE!
It didn’t turn out too badly for Nancé though as she eventually cracked the code and worked out how to do it with her makeup going onto the stage alongside Mikael’s, Lisa’s, Rachel’s, Sophie’s and Adam’s – the latter of which looked a little dubious for a while because his makeup went a little too high and it gave his performer the same vibe as the infamous Glow Up meme

and I did love that amongst the contortionists, acrobats and juggler – Adam’s performer was “a footballer”

it’s very Cirque du Solilhull F.C.
Although he did also seem to own a snake?

He’s called Lionel Hissy.

But after some subtle hinting from Maryse, Adam managed to pull back the height of the blue band and he was going the full Pam Beesly

but while Adam managed to pull his back, Yong-chin hadn’t quite managed to take on the advice from Maryse to blend the lines of her makeup out a little bit more – although Maryse took the biggest issue with her under-eye liner which I thought was pretty much identical to the brief document’s

I guess hers is a little darker? I personally thought the issue was the sort of cut-crease in the inner corner but I’m not a circus makeup artist so what do I know?

And then we have Kris who committed the ultimate sin of being over qualified for the assignment

and he really took the “paint for the backseats” side of the brief to heart because he went a little buckwild on everything and his bushy browed contortionist ended up looking a bit like Peter Pan: The Wilderness years

I do think he had a really hard job with trying to balance the brows and the blue band though so I think we can forgive him for it getting a little bit muddy.

In the end Mikael was deemed the winner and gets the advantage of having a consultation with Maryse

while Ryan, Yong-chin and Kris had to wait and see which of them would find themselves in the red chairs.

Body-ody-ody Paint

This week’s Creative Brief was the biggest one they’ve ever set with the MUAs all having to deliver a bodypaint inspired by the loosely defined weird and wonderful, so every second of this challenge mattered and unfortunately finding themselves penalised were Kris’s hubris and Ryan continued with his Red Chair Residency so they had to sit back and watch as everyone kind of focused a little too much on accessories and prosthetics…

Obviously Sophie is no stranger to a prosthetic and an accessory

but the trend seemed to be catching on as the MUAs and even Maya came down with a bad case of Sophietitis

Sophie could still at least claim the trophy for having the most prosthetics, having to lose 35 minutes of their time just to painting 20 of the little buggers for their underwater cosmology inspired look, which did end up looking just a touch barren

but her painting is phenomenal and they really captured that sort alienness that they were after. But given how well the prosthetics on their model’s face work the ones on the upper body feel a little out of place and functionless, but their model was fantastic and I loved the way he moved and sold the makeup

it’s like he’s the court jester for the Versailles of Saturn.

Drawing inspiration from the deep sea was a pretty popular choice amongst the MUAs with both Lisa and Nancé going down that route as well as Sophie. Nancé’s was more similar to Sophie’s in that it was kind of more of a concept and vibe of the deep sea, and she also spent a lot of time attaching the head accessories to her model’s head and you know how in cartoons there’s often female version of male characters and all the animators did was make them pink and rounder? Well, for quite some time Nancé’s look was giving me Lady Demogorgon

but even with spending so much of her time attaching the petals, she still managed to paint the entirety of her model’s torso and there was some really fantastic blending going on in the transition between the blues and pinks

the neck piece feels like it’s hindering the look though, I get that it’s kind of giving an arthropod element but it just doesn’t gel, to me at least. While I really loved the swirling, lava lamp-esque body paint the face makeup was confusing, I’m not sure if the unfinishedness was intentional or not, and the way she arched and darkened his eyes really made him look like Simba when he has the mane of leaves

other things he apparently looked like: Piglet, Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men, Primordial Elizabeth Bennet, an intergalactic gender reveal party and Armaldo from Pokemon saying Bisexual Rights

it’s a diverse look and we like that.

The last of the sealife inspired looks came from Lisa and I think she best captured what Dom and Val were looking for in this challenge – they really wanted an optical illusion and for the MUAs to use their models’ hands and arms to make the looks 3D as opposed to gluing a bunch of horns and spikes to them – perhaps they should have written that on the brief though. Lisa’s inspiration came from a Sally Lightfoot Crab (which is now my new drag name)

and her only prosthetic was a bald cap underwhich she had slipped a bit of foam packaging to give her model a bulbous shape that better mimicked a crabshell, and then she painted her model’s hands to act as a mouth, which did mean that her model had to stand in the corner looking like he was pretending to be shocked the whole time

but she undeniably nailed the whole thing to perfection

my only slight criticism is that I can’t quite make anatomical sense of what this crab is meant to look like – obviously I can see the pincers, the mouth and the head but it’s just not making sense how they all connect. But she really needs to be commended for how vivid her colours are and just how clever the mouth actually is

so it’s no wonder that she got a Ding Dong from Val.

Kris also seemed to understand that the challenge was about using your model’s body to your advantage as he was using his model’s arms to allow for a bigger canvas on which to paint the smile of his Cheshire Cat – down your drinks, it’s an Alice in Wonderland themed makeup!
I did mostly enjoy that the first steps in Kris’s makeup did make his model look like buff Blathers from Animal Crossing

his model did have a lot of tattoos on his arm and with those essentially being the focal point of his makeup he needed to make sure that he got the coverage absolutely down, which he certainly did and the optical illusion of the mouth was fantastic

much like his chameleon look last week though, the painting did feel a little rushed and muddy, also a confusing choice of ears, they’re more mouselike, and with his model’s physique it was giving me Modo in Biker Mice From Mars

the amount of extremely explicit furry art I had to see to find that screenshot was NOT WORTH IT.

Ryan also powered through his makeup to make up for the lost 15 minutes by quite literally flinging paint at his model

and I’m not going to even touch the very obvious joke that is sitting at my feet.
Ryan’s look was inspired by the paranormal and I did enjoy that as soon as he mentioned seeing ghosts everyone’s eyes glazed over in self-defense and Dom had the same look on his face as everyone does whenever I bring up Biker Mice From Mars

but given that Ryan’s concept was so intangible and conceptual, I think his makeup really managed to capture it all – the use of very unnatural shades of green and red together instantly gives it all a sense of otherworldliness (and the floor of a Cineworld at the end of a movie)

sure, it lacks some smaller details but I still think he created a full character – this feels like something someone made up as a CreepyPasta after reading their first Lovecraft story.

Foor his makeup Mikael was creating a looked inspired by how we’re all plugged into social media – and somehow not a single person mentioned The Matrix even once, which is something of a miracle. He did of course have a 15 minute consultation with Maryse to use at some point, which probably would have been better to use very early on to work out what your plan going forward ought to be, but Mikael was extremely confident in his look, so he waited until the end where all Maryse could really advise him on was trying to add a few highlights to his circuit board design to give it all a little more depth, which he did by adding a few metallic dots and lines here and there

it does lack a little bit of depth overall, but the way he used the wire pattern to accentuate his model’s facial structure was really, really good

and that’s kind of what the torso was lacking, but it’s still very much a good look.

Bodypaint is quite a specific artform that does require a certain amount of knowledge of special effects makeup, something that Adam fully admitted he didn’t really have given that his makeup is more focused on glam and regular beauty looks, so he was a little bit out of his depth – which became very apparent the moment a significant portion of his VT makeup reel was dedicated to putting on a face mask

but to be fair, his skin is beautiful and I’m mad at him for that.

In order to play to his strength as much as possible he was going with a look that was meant to look like a woodland pixie, or as we call them: Sophie. And he did get rather blessed with a very beautiful model who looks alarmingly like Steve from Stranger Things

which I’m sure he hasn’t been told every day for the last 6 years.

Doing a fairy character did at least mean that Adam could do the face in a more beauty-centric style and his plan was to go for the obligatory Blushy Moment™ and he was *really* going for the blushy moment

he could have pushed the face makeup a lot further – even just contouring the nose to make it look that much more pointed, but I think he did get a little waylaid because he had accidentally bought real moss which was significantly harder to glue down. The judges did have an issue with how much the makeup relied on the accessories, something Adam knew was coming the moment they gave the same critique to Sophie and he rolled his eyes into a different dimension

and while it is true, I think they didn’t give him enough credit for how good the bodypaint was – much like Sophie’s it’s a lot more bare than the judges wanted, but the shapes of it are really interesting and I liked the shading he had done to make the green patches look slightly elevated – it gave the whole thing a bit of a Gaia vibe so I can see his intentions with the look, it just didn’t reach the same level as a few of the others.

Rachel was also going for a floral look, hers being a Venus Flytrap and I think it was unfortunate for her that with what she was doing with a prosthetic, Lisa had done with her model’s hands while Rachel just left her model’s hands to look like a pair of zombie ostriches

it also didn’t help that Rachel had had a long conversation with her model about how much of the body constitutes a torso and both of them were wrong. So while it’s not a complete look, there’s some good stuff there, I think the shading on the stems of the plants is actually quite good but there is just a distinct lack of depth and texture to the whole piece.

And lastly we have Yong-chin, who knew she was coming into this challenge with a high chance of being sat in a red chair so she was going big with her Chinese dragon inspired makeup

the judges were on the fence about it and I agree that the addition of the clay for the mouth was an unnecessary time waster, but I can’t blame her for wanting to do another homemade prosthetic given that she got so much praise for it last week. I do however disagree with them on the painting of the face, I think if she had done it exactly like she did the lower half of his torso the whole look would’ve looked too chaotic so I liked that it was a bit of a contrast at the bottom looked like water while the top was more fire focused.

An Unofficial Bodypaint Ranking

  1. Welcome to the stage, Sally Lightfoot Crab
  2. Paranormal Activity: A Makeup Story
  3. The Obligatory Alice in Wonderland Makeup
  4. Did Someone Say, The Matrix?
  5. Clayfired Dragon
  6. Bi Pride Armaldo
  7. A Lovecraftian Jester
  8. A Well Accessorised Pixie
  9. Rachel’s Little Shop of Horrors

Giving Lip

Given that Kris had really embraced the body part of the bodypaint challenge, he was easily spared the Face Off Challenge, and just for how polished and bold his look, Ryan was also safe from potentially being eliminated much to his shock

can we put Ryan on every single TV show? I think it would vastly improve my viewing experience.

This did mean that there were two spots to fill and sadly Adam and Rachel found themselves going head to head in the Face Off Challenge where they were going to have to give us a mermaid lip, which Dom assures us is an actual trend that is definitely happening… Both Adam and Rachel immediately started doing a two toned pink and blue lip as neither of them was using this as an opportunity to write “Save the whales” across their model’s face. Dom and Val were a little surprised that that was their approach (the two tone, not the not caring about whales part) but I think that that’s what I would have done given the assignment, I certainly wouldn’t have gone with the glittery Sulley lips that Dom did

and I think the two tone genuinely looked better and more mermaid-y, whatever that really means

both of them did very well in terms of achieving the metallic sheen that the judges were after, but like they said Rachel’s version just worked better because the paler top lip makes it all look a lot lighter – and it helps that the lips look like a coastal sunrise – and she probably deserved to stay purely for the face she was pulling throughout the challenge

I’ve never seen someone look so determined while applying glitter.

Rachel winning the challenge did mean that it was Adam we were saying goodbye to this week

he seemed like a really lovely guy and I would have liked to see his work in more of the Industry Challenges – my biggest issue with Glow Up is that there’s very little room for a glam, beauty look in the Creative Briefs with them being firmly relegated to the Industry Challenges where in the grand scheme of things they don’t count for a great deal. So if you want to see Adam doing what he does best, you can follow him on Instagram at AdamBlends – he’s a wizard with bronzer.

And so, we’re down to 8 MUAs

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