Glow Up, Series 4, Episode 5: Chekhov’s Inner Ears

Me every week hoping that Nancé can have a little win as a treat.

Strap in, it’s an episode where the crushing reality that you’re now older than most people who go on reality TV really begins to sink in.

Stark Raving Mad

This week’s Industry Challenge was the first taste of an editorial challenge with the MUAs having to create a look to be published in Rolling Stone UK – the celebrity that they would be creating the look for was Jayda G with the theme being “90s Rave”

My favourite Spice Girl has always been Speed Spice.

Obviously there was a slight issue with some of the references people were dropping with Baby Spice and Britney Spears getting numerous mentions – however, I can’t completely blame the MUAs because, as far as I’m aware, they don’t have access to their phones on set and as well as specifying that they had to do a 90s rave look, the guest judge for the week, Hector Espinal, specified that Jayda G likes “clean makeup” which is INCREDIBLY at odds with a 90s rave aesthetic in which everything should generally look like you dropped some ecstasy and applied it with your fingers in the passenger seat of your mate’s second-hand Vauxhall Nova. So I’m really not surprised that most of the MUAs went with more 90s pop looks featuring baby blues and pinks.

Lisa was probably the most adrift which was a little bit funny because I honestly believe she could have just whacked the makeup look she was wearing onto her model and been pretty much on brief, which sounds like I’m say she dropped some ecstasy and applied it with her fingers in the passenger seat of her mate’s second-hand Vauxhall Nova but that’s not what I meant

instead she opted for the almost obligatory baby blue with a very graphic orange under eye which was giving me some serious Firefox logo vibes

it was a rare miss for Lisa with the judges deeming it “a little too theatrical” which is a very kind way of saying “it looks a little bit like baby drag”, although Hector at some point changed his mind and thought it looked “a little bit prom”

I would like to know who is showing up to prom with their face looking like a web browser.

Lisa wasn’t the only one going for a two-toned eye as Nancé went with a very interesting green and purple colour story inspired by the wardrobe the MUAs were told would be used for the photoshoot – the result being a much softer version of Uma Thurman’s Poison Ivy makeup and nothing was more Peak 90s than Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin

I think the eye look is absolutely stunning and if green eye shadow didn’t make me look like some sort of amphibious witch, I would absolutely try to replicate this look sometime. The judges were particularly impressed with the skin – Val was so enthralled by Nancé’s use of two different highlighters as she tilted the model’s head around like she was a witch in a Disney film about to suck the very life essence from the poor girl


Also impressing the judges was Rachel because we are well and truly into the Rachel Renaissance as she executed the most 90s of all the looks

to me it’s all about the lips, the dark liner and a gloss finish is exactly what I expected to see, so it surprised me that the judges were a little dismissive of them – I’m not entirely sure *they* understood what they wanted for this challenge given they liked neither Rachel’s more neutral but graphic lip or everyone who did a vibrant, colourful lip – like, perhaps the fault was in the brief and not the MUAs guys… Because they really didn’t like the fact Yong-chin had done a contrasting orange lip to her deeper blue eye

and I get it, the orange/blue combo is a little played out at this point – but you did specifically say that you wanted “the focus to be the eyes” and “a bold lip” and I feel like you can’t have both without it veering dangerously into drag territory, some of us have discovered this the hard way…
I did however think Yong-chin’s eye look read more 80s though, I think I just associate dark blues with the era. Jayda G actually liked parts of the look – particularly the liner, and to be honest I think it is illegal at this point to not like Yong-chin’s liner work, a law I will be enforcing with extended prison sentences.

Kris hasn’t had the best track record in terms of the Industry Challenges, especially in the challenges that called for a more refined beauty look, and with Dom having described his H&M look last week as “embarrassing” there was a lot to improve upon and he certainly had a tactic

and I think he more than redeemed himself with this look because his model looked really pretty

except I think his model looking really pretty was kind of what was wrong with this look and if you were going to apply a wonky lash, the 90s rave challenge is where you should probably apply a wonky lash. The very pink, glittery eye did definitely read as kind of highschool prom, although I think the orange lip took it away from looking too saccharine – I can’t say I love the orange lip but I get why he chose it.

And lastly we have Ryan who once again raced through the challenge, supposedly finishing 40 minutes early, which is actually enough time to listen to Britney Spears’s entire Oops!… I Did It Again album, you know, that rave classic

ok – first of all, the blend in that eyeshadow is pretty damn super and his model does look really pretty. There is kind of a 60s vibe to the look, but I do think that’s mostly in part because his model literally looks like she could be a member of The Ronettes. I also get where he was going with the pink lip – I think if anything it could have been a little frostier, the judges weren’t happy with them and Val deemed them “thirsty” which… no? Certainly not the photograph where I thought they look pretty beautiful – there’s a sheen to them and a blinding cupid’s bow highlight, so I’m not sure where that critique came from but go off.

It was another close run race between Nancé and Rachel – for a second I did think they were going to give them a shared win and combine the two looks but alas, Nancé remains the bridesmaid to Rachel’s bride as she gets her second win in a row

but don’t worry Nancé I still think you technically had the most 90s look of the episode with the bucket hat

that should have clinched it for her in my eyes.

Remember, Remember…

For this week’s Creative Brief the MUAs were asked to, and I quote, “create a statue that tells us what you want to be remembered for.” – I think they only said “statue” so that the MUAs understood that they needed to paint the shoulders as well – so kind of like a bust of a Roman emperor – because it didn’t really seem to matter all that much whether they looked like an actual statue or not – and it was probably more of a relief that we didn’t have 6 bronze or marble effect looks to go through.

Some of the MUAs kept with the general statue theme, the most accurate definitely being Kris who wanted to be remembered for being grounded – as in level headed and sensible and not sent to his room by a slightly disappointed parent (I assume)

this is insane to me – it’s just stunningly beautiful and really intelligently observed, the textures, the markings, the light and shade it’s a flawless execution, and with the judges being pretty open about the fact they’ve been thinking that Kris has been circling the drain for a couple of weeks, it was definitely the right time to pull a look like this out of the bag. My favourite part of it all though was Yong-chin throwing shapes like she was in a 90s rave at the back of the room after Kris got so heavily praised

and he paid her in kind by giving her a lovely and polite little golf clap

I however was at home going the full Firestarter because her look inspired by Celtic warrior markings was just pure magic

just the way the lines weave in and out of one another so you can’t really differentiate the foreground and background of the makeup is SO clever, and the studwork and corset-like neck piece take it to a sort of punk aesthetic – it’s an all time great makeup for Glow Up – I’d easily put it up there with everything Ophelia ever did, Dolly’s AfricanFuturism look, Ellis’s final look and those undead zombie looks that Sophie kept doing for a couple of week’s last year – she kind of snapped with this one.

Rachel was also working with a very minimal palette with her black and white look inspired by the Seraphim Angels and while there’s a lot to really love about her makeup, it does feel a touch unfinished because of how bare the shoulders are

I’m not sure what I would have done with the shoulders for this makeup though – I suppose she should have incorporated feathers to create sort of epaulettes and give some addition texture, but that might have also been a little cliched. I still love the makeup though and think she really managed to transform her model’s face

and the brushwork was really satisfying with how scratching it looked – it looked just like a charcoal sketching

but there were some issues besides the bareness of the shoulders, with the one ear being unfinished, which is a little annoying because her model called her attention to one of Chekhov’s inner ears but not the other one

however I think the most unforgivable part of her makeup was the moment she knocked her model’s contact lens while she was applying some liner

the scream I let out could well have ripped a hole in our very reality.

The MUAs in the Red Chairs were Ryan and first timer Lisa, which wasn’t the best timing for her given that she had a very detailed and precise makeup to finish with her glassblowing inspired look

and I was very impressed with how well finished her final piece was considering she had 15 minutes less

I can certainly see the Murano glass references in the shapes and fluidity of the look – I think the colours could have afforded to be a little more jewel toned because for whatever reason, it is reminding me an anatomical model – which perhaps was intentional, I wouldn’t be surprised with Lisa

I might have also liked to see a little more actual gloss – there’s only so much that the painted on shine can do. As for the 3D elements, I loved the dots, I’m not so sure on the wavy lines, they feel a little like they’re fighting against the look whereas the dots are enhancing the flow and language of the makeup.

Ryan wasn’t as pressed for time as Lisa, mostly because he does work at 2.0 speed, but also because his makeup didn’t have a lot of details, which was a shame because Val and Dom came into this round wanting to see some more refined and intricate work from him

the highlights of the look are definitely the blue splodges – I find the placement of them to be really interesting and adds a patinaed depth to the look. And thank God he included them because without them this might have ended up looking like one of those street performers who pretends to be a statue got silly stringed

But at least it’s a statue!
As for the gears, it feels like he bought a packet of them on Amazon and thought there would be more of them, and when get got like 10 gears he kind of had to make do so it lacks a little purpose.

And lastly we have Nance who was once again causing Dom to have a nervous breakdown as she snipped away at a bald cap while her model was wearing it and doing absolutely nothing to reassure ANYONE involved

If you’re not going to give her a win, she’s not going to give you a peaceful night’s sleep, it’s that simple Dominic.

The bald cap wasn’t the only prosthetic that Nancé was using as she was applying a split face piece, which she was having a bit of a struggle getting the edges to lie flat for, so she was having to clamp her model’s head like she was one of the king’s men furiously trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again

and it did mean that the final result, while interesting, did have some noticeable flaws

I do however enjoy that it looks slightly like someone cracked open 2014 Katy Perry and discovered she was made out of balloon animals this whole time – it honestly wouldn’t surprise me. I do think the prosthetic could have been hoiked up a little bit and brought a little inwards, just to make the splitting open effect a little more obvious – but I love the shapes of the splodges – especially around the lips

That slight overlap is so much more interesting than if she had flowed the shapes around them.

An Immortalised Statue Ranking

  1. Yong-chin’s Celtic Punk
  3. Lisa’s Glass Half Full
  4. Rachel’s Barenaked Angel
  5. Nancé’s Balloon Filled Katy Perry
  6. Ryan’s Clockwork Tangle

With Val and Dom being a little underwhelmed by Ryan’s look, he sadly hadn’t done quite enough to beat the seat whereas Lisa had and replacing her was Rachel having a fall from grace the likes of which we haven’t seen since Lucifer himself, let’s just hope Rachel doesn’t use the resentment to raise an army of demon spawn

hell hath no fury like an MUA scorned.


In another case of Dom doing vodka shots until inspiration for a Face Off Challenge strikes, this week’s Face Off Challenge was for Ryan and Rachel to create a pair of bedazzled rectangular eyebrows

I can only imagine that the production team got a much larger rhinestone budget this year and they’re making sure they justify it. I also have to assume that Ryan and Rachel were shown a picture of them beforehand because somehow they both knew what Dom was talking about, because it wasn’t like they were given a starter brow and told to replicate it like Val’s pearl eyeliner – they had to do both of them themselves, so considering that, I think the result was admirable

Rachel’s is definitely neater because she was taking her time and pulling that face she makes whenever she’s concentrating super hard

whereas Ryan did race through it at a pace that should probably have resulted in a speeding ticket, but even though his brows were slightly messier, they did look more like the eyebrows from the Chanel 2012 runway that I assume Dom took inspiration from

but it was a pretty undeniable win for Rachel and Ryan was the 5th MUA to be sent home

and in a complete serve, has since done an Instagram post in which he’s wearing Dominic Skinner’s Bedazzled Brows™ and I’m kind of obsessed with it

so yeah, go follow Ryan at RyanBeauMUA on Instagram, I have no doubt in my mind that he’ll go pretty far in this industry – he seems pretty fun to work with, he’s got the dauntless enthusiasm of a theatre kid without any of the bad vibes, which is a precious commodity in this world.

And so, we’ve reached the quarter final with our Top 5

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One thought on “Glow Up, Series 4, Episode 5: Chekhov’s Inner Ears

  1. Jay

    I felt so sorry that they got sprung with 90s rave as a look without any mood boards to help. I’m old enough to remember the 90s compared to most of them but even I don’t remember what on earth someone was supposed to wear to a rave without a prompt!

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