Glow Up, Series 4, Episode 3: The World’s Smuggest Gecko

Any amount of hair tends to amaze Dom.

A week of special effects makeup so we’re off to do battle with Doctor Who aliens and meet all of your favourite C-tier X-men mutants!

Prosthetics & Consthetics

This week was all about prosthetics and special effects makeup, and where better to let the MUAs loose than on the set of Doctor Who? An event that seemingly had Ryan tearing through the very fabric of our reality out of pure excitement

and that excitement did not wain when they got onto set

it was just tiny little excited golf claps and the occasional Super Mario jump out of pure giddiness every time he learned something knew about the challenge

I love him so much, he’s like an emotional support labrador at this point – if they EVER eliminate him, I will be forced to sue them, because what we really need right now is another bizarre and bewildering court case on the cards.

For their challenge they were going to have to be creating an original character that would fit into the same race of sentient PaperChase Christmas ornaments Azure and Swarm

and in order to do that they would have to apply 1 mercifully prepainted half face prosthetic which required very specific placement so as to allow their models to see and breathe – and then they also had a smaller crystal clump that they could place anywhere they wanted. As a reward, the winner would get to work with Doctor Who’s Makeup Designer, Danny Marie Elias who also name dropped that she did the makeup for superstar flop Artemis Fowl purely because the BBC had access to this licensed image of Judi Dench

but it is a very big prize and it’s no wonder why Ryan was so excited because he has studied prosthetic work at university and it is the area of the Makeup industry that he’s most keen to get into so he was very much out to impress – and I think he more than accomplished that with his alien that looks like the lead singer of interstellar Good Charlotte

this alien has definitely owned a MySpace profile.

A lot of the challenge hinged on the placement of the crystalline clump, because that’s arguably how you’d get to inject some uniqueness into your character and I think making it look like a mohawk was a really clever thing to do, because it made him look like a school yard bully that would steal your lunch money and then vaporise you

and I might thank him for it?

Nancé was also praised for the placement of her prosthetic, opting for the lower jaw which gave her model’s face a new shape and added some interest to the lower half of the face that wasn’t covered by the larger prosthetic

whether the decision to place the prosthetic on the jawline was one of intent, or just because that was the only place she could reach because Nancé did find herself struggling against the concept of verticalism

do they not have stepping stools in space?

I did quite like Nance’s piece, I enjoyed the pops of green and blue that looked like pulses of life beneath a very skull-like facade, the edges of the prosthetic were however still a little bit visible which made it appear quite mask-like.

Not a great deal of the MUAs were particularly familiar with prosthetics – some having never done them before and a few of them having only ever dabbled in the homemade variety – something that Yong-chin just couldn’t resist doing as she went rogue and set about creating a crater on the side of her alien’s head with cotton wool and liquid latex

given that they were on such a time crunch, it probably wasn’t the best idea, I can see her logic behind doing it because it would obviously set her character apart from the rest but it seemed to eat into her time that could have been better spent on the paint job

but I do enjoy the fact he looks like an alien that’s serving as a general in the Napoleonic Wars and just took a cannonball to the side of his head – so there is a definite character in there and I think she deserved more praise for that but the dripping paint was a little distracting.

Yong-chin wasn’t the only one that embraced additional accoutrements as Mikael bedazzled his alien like it was a highschooler in Euphoria going to history class

I do lowkey kind of love this – he would be the comedically flamboyant character that the others denigrate so much he jumps ship and joins the good guys and from then on he becomes a fan favourite character and shows up every season for more wacky adventures in space. That’s not what Danny wanted, but it is what I wanted.
There were however some issues with his application of the prosthetic in that it was slightly lopsided and he had sped through the whole process so quickly he was giving Rachel whiplash

and Rachel could have used some of his confidence because she kept doubting her placement of the prosthetic despite the fact it was correct quite a few of those times – but she got there in the end

again, I kind of love this character – he looks like the world’s smuggest gecko. Danny didn’t like her positioning of the prosthetic because she felt it shorted the face, I quite like it because it looks like a really savage laceration which contrasts with the almost kind-looking face of her character – it comes across as he and the crystal formations being at war with one another, which I think is a very cool and interesting dynamic.

Kris had a very similarly shaped face prosthetic to rachel that also gave his alien quite a kindly looking face and the outfit they put them in did make them look like intergalactic Friar Tuck

I also like his positioning of the crystal clump

but his face prosthetic was a little off and he had slightly stretched out the face piece but his colouring looked really good to me and the edges of it all are pretty seamless.

Lisa was working with similar colours to Kris and her piece was mostly finished to a very good standard, she had a big task on her hand because her model did have a very textured lower jaw which made transitioning between the glassy smoothness of the prosthetic piece and his skin quite difficult which showed in the final product, but her biggest obstacle might have been her actor’s nostrils

luckily they have Kleenex in space so her actor didn’t have to go out looking like he was suffering from a head cold

The application on the top of the head is absolutely flawless, I could have maybe done without the white squiggles but I am a little bit in love with the thought of this war obsessed alien with “DIANE” tattooed across his chest.

And lastly we have Sophie who very much got in their head about the whole thing having made prosthetics very much a part of their Glow Up brand in the last few episodes, so they were hyper-focussing on tiny little details that pushed them further and further behind. So much so that by the time everyone else was painting they were still painstakingly laying down their prosthetics – it was an all out war on my generalised anxiety disorder and sadly Sophie’s piece went out quite incomplete

you can tell they fell into a rush but I do think their paint work is mostly quite good – there’s a few obvious brush strokes here and there but that yellow into the pinky-red on the neck is quite stunning.

A Doctor Who Alien Ranking

  1. Ryan’s Pop Punk Ravager
  2. Rachel’s Smug Gecko
  3. Nancé’s Vertically Challenged Life Hack
  4. Lisa, Sponsored by Kleenex
  5. Intergalactic Friar Tuck
  6. Yong-Chin’s Drippy War General
  7. Mikael’s Blinged Out Turncoat
  8. Sophie’s Incomplete Alien

It was very much a landslide victory for Ryan who was suitably giddy about winning

the silence would not last.

Mad Scientists!

For this week’s Creative Brief the MUAs would be playing God as they created scientific abominations – fusing DNA, robotic body modification, surgical body modifications, throwing people into black holes – we got the lot! And unfortunately finding themselves one step behind were Mikael and Yong-chin who had been firmly Red Chaired – I was very surprised Sophie hadn’t been red chaired too for not completing their makeup but the judges were out to punish Mikael and Yong-chin for going rogue with the extra embellishments.

DNA fusions were, unsurprisingly, the most popular concept – who amongst us doesn’t like a slightly humanoid looking animal that looks like its begging for the sweet release of death? And this meant the few MUAs who hadn’t gone down that route really stood out, namely Rachel whose concept was based on a forbidden Nigella Lawson recipe

I think this took everyone a little by surprise, both in that everyone had to repeatedly hear about what it might be like if they were sucked into a Black Hole, a concept Maya was certainly struggling with and going to be kept up by for the next fortnight

but also especially after the industry challenge where Rachel was very nervous of the prosthetics, but this time she absolutely flew through it and applied them flawlessly in the process

there are a few minor oversights like the fact the scars should continue through the brows but I really do think she proved herself to the judges with this makeup – and I’m glad it was with such an SFX heavy makeup, because I think they were beginning to write her off as someone who was only good at beauty makeup because her day-to-day makeup is SO GOOD

her beat truly is a dream.

Nancé also managed to stand out from the crowd with her look inspired by the domination of white European beauty standards putting pressure on Black and Brown Women to bleach their skin, so I think everyone was really rooting for to pull this off because it could have been a really big wow moment. And while the visual of the skin being tethered and stretched to a metal ring that almost gives it a religious feel is incredibly striking and certainly takes you by surprise, the technical side of of the application does fall slightly short

I still think it’s a look that Nancé should be super proud of and I’m so glad that she got to create it, especially on this platform. And she got to redeem her use of a bald cap, constantly worrying she was suffocating her model in the process

but at least there were not a single pair of scissors near her own eye socket this time.

The last of our non-DNA mutations was from Kris who was creating a sort of futuristic human who is nourished only by social media validation, which he gets through his little cyborg silly straw

or at least I think that was the concept? And it probably is only a matter of years before Elon Musk buys Twitter and somehow turns likes and retweets into calorified content – so if you want to know what I’d look like 2050 when I’m making terrible puns on Twitter for sustenance, here you go

it’s the most simplified look we’ve seen from Kris and I certainly think it’s his best paint job we’ve seen so far – it’s still a little rough in places and I think the colours could have been a little bolder, they seemed to wash out under the photographer’s flash, but the shapes of it are all very good, and I liked the blockiness of the forehead piece, I think it helped read as robotic amongst the humanness of everything else.

And now on to our parade of C-tier X-Men, I’m sorry, none of them looked like they would be even remotely helpful when Magneto tries to overthrow the world for the 15th time.
The Beta Squad of The X-Mansion featured two plantbased mutants – the first being from Sophie who was out to prove themself a little bit after the Doctor Who challenge got away from them. It looked a bit like the brief history of yesterday was going to repeat itself because they did take a bit of time getting their prosthetics on, but then proceeded to whizz through their makeup application at a rate of knots, mostly under duress from their model

but hey, it worked out!

this is pretty rad – that mouth prosthetic and the way it joins with the model’s mouth is great! The makeup does look a little chalky, but I think the moss and sundews spilling out from her mouth draws your focus from it. It was nice to see Sophie back on such good form.

Mikael was the second of our plant mutants and in order to make up for his lost 15 minutes he began slathering his model in black paint, much to his model’s displeasure

who I’m sure was mostly worried about people posting out of context screenshots of it on Twitter (sorry ’bout that babes) but Dom and Val were more worried about quite how Mikael was going to paint anything on top of such an extremely potent black paint. But they were also a bit worried about his use of prosthetics because he spent so long perfectly applying a pair of ear prosthetics (which are not easy to do) and then proceeded to cover them up with a crown of paper leaves that did make his model look a bit like a demonic Lisa Simpson

this does feel a bit like it belongs more in last week’s Body Paint challenge, it just doesn’t read as being about the prosthetics or being enhanced by a use of prosthetics. And while some of it may lack a little finesse, I do think that it looks like the sort of makeup that would look really cool under UV lights – just this sort of poisonous plant that lures in prey via bioluminescence.

Yong-chin was also struggling to convince the judges with her concept of a person accidentally fusing with a demonic entity after dabbling with black magic for too long – their biggest hang up being the positioning of the horns

they could be positioning to potentially better frame the face, but I think the way she did place reads as very organic and tormented, but they do kind of distract from the bulk of her work which was pretty gnarly and savage

I did also fully understand what Dom meant about it looking a little bit too editorial because it does look a little bit like Yong-chin’s possessed occultist could have walked in Alexander McQueen’s infamous 2009 runway

but I also think looking like your makeup could be the cover shot for Satanic Vogue isn’t necessarily a bad thing? And bless her poor model, he hated every second of having his vision obscured for over two hours

you will suffer for her art, and you will enjoy it.

Ryan was in the Red Chair for both of the previous episodes with the determination of saving himself from the Face Off Challenge seemingly propelling him through the challenge to produce some pretty stellar makeups. As it turns out, that’s just how Ryan operates as he sped through this challenge too

his concept being a Toxic Waste Rat, which is just rude because I have a name!

this is a delight – the prosthetics are utterly unclockable and the colouration is mind blowing – I adore those green colours around the eye. I also think the acrylic nail tooth was a really clever addition because before that I was thinking that it read slightly more like a goblin, but that exposed tooth (or tuff if you’re Dom) really took it to a more ratlike place, which is what I call my bedroom.

And lastly we have Lisa who had concocted this entire backstory about a girl with a skin condition who sought help from a mad scientist who then infused her with reptilian DNA – and I think having such a defined concept really helped in this challenge because my God, this makeup has absolutely no right not being in a feature film

can her Acnegator and Ryan’s Radioactive Rat please team and fight crime? Or do crimes, I’m not above that. They certainly feel like they’d be a part of the same cinematic universe.
Much like Ryan’s, her prosthetics are perfectly blended in and the painting is incredibly subtle which makes it all the more believable. And I loved the liner she did on the nose to make the nostrils look more reptilian

I get the impression from all of Lisa’s makeups that she spends AGES doing research into them, and it’s really paying off.

A Scientific Mutation Look Ranking

  1. AcneGator & The Radioative Rat
  2. Sophie’s Zombie Flowers
  3. Human Spaghetti and String Cheese, A Meal for Two
  4. Satanic Vogue’s June 2022 Cover Star
  5. Tweet, Eat, Repeat
  6. Nancé vs The Beauty World
  7. Demonic Lisa Simpson at a Rave

A Pearl Face Off

Unfortunately neither Yong-chin or Mikael managed to truly wow the judges and so they were the MUAs that found themselves in the Face Off Challenge where they were going to have to create a floating pearl liner

I do love this show’s dedication to very casually rattling off these very niche makeup looks as though we should all know exactly what they are – and also 90% of the time just making up vaguely descriptive names.

Fortunately they were only going to have to do the one eye, as Val had pre-prepared the other one, so it was a case of trying to replicate her work and you know how picky they were going to be

it was immediately apparent that Mikael’s was the weaker of the two – Yon-chin’s biggest sin was that she used three big pearls instead of one, HOW DARE SHE? While Mikael’s line was just that little bit too wobbly, and sure enough it was Mikael who we said goodbye to this week

he was really fun to have on the show, and for someone who is still relatively new to the whole makeup scene, he did phenomenally well, lest we forget he won last week’s industry challenge, so I hope to see him go really far – and if you want to follow him on Instagram, you can find him at Kam_Eilian.

And so, we’re down to 7 MUAs!

If you’ve enjoyed this recap of Glow Up Series 4 and would like to support the blog you can donate to my Ko-fi account HERE!

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