Glow Up, Series 4, Episode 9: Umbilical Lasso

OK, calm down Theresa May.

A Rebellion themed challenge? How timely.

It’s Called Fashion, Look It Up

For their penultimate Industry Challenge the pressure was being ramped up as the remaining 4 MUAs headed to Fashion Week where they would be assisting the makeup team at the Mark Fast show, helmed by key makeup artist and part-time shower rail Pablo Rodriguez

the goal was for each of the MUAs to get two models made up for the runway, which doesn’t sound *too bad* until you realise they only had like 30 minutes, next to no brushes but an almost overwhelming amount of cotton buds – it was very MacGyver. The look however wasn’t the most overly demanding of concepts – it was a pretty standard bright inner corner / dark outer corner eye with a fairly dramatic lip

very brave of me to say it wasn’t overly demanding when I take about 40 minutes to do even the most basic of eye looks.

Yong-Chin was particularly excited for the challenge considering she’s practically been begging for a more editorial/high fashion focused challenge since the very first episode and she was certainly by far and away the strongest of the group and the only one to fully complete 2 models

it did probably help that the makeup very much felt like it was in her own aesthetic wheelhouse – and it is a look that required the MUAs to go in with a fair bit of confidence and a lot of them were just that little bit too tentative and hesitant to begin with – particularly Lisa, who by the time their models were called for their rehearsal and pre-show check ups had come up in an anxiety rash, which concerned Nancé DEEPLY

so given that Lisa’s vascular system seemed to be hating every second of the experience, she did a pretty good job with her model in the end

and she did get to finish up a second model, however they had been half done by one of Pablo’s other makeup assistants – or potentially by Dom who was threatening to step in because everyone was being a little bit slow

and as slightly mortifying as the whole situation was, something about Dom running around in a bit of a panic while he had what looked like Sooty’s skinned corpse draped around his neck was VERY funny

and yet, still not the weirdest thing worn this episode as Maya Jama’s dress came with an umbilical lasso

Yee haw!

Given that the biggest criticism that Kris has received over the course of the series has been that his looks, while big and bold, do tend to lack in the smaller, more refined details which he was trying to show he could do in this challenge. It did however come at the expense of his speed as he spent quite some time really building up the intensity of the colour on the inner corner of his model’s eye. He did at least seem to speed up a little bit when Pablo came and threatening stood next to him though

and I think it’s certainly Kris’s best work as far as the Industry Challenges go.

Nancé had the biggest struggle of the bunch as she just didn’t seem to vibe with the look or the fact she was having to use cotton buds, an elastic band and however much change she had in her pockets to create the look. She also went in very intensely as the beginning, which didn’t aid her in this challenge but did mean she got some practice in ahead of the Face Off Challenge

and when it came to blending it out she used one of the cottonbuds that Pablo had deigned to offer them, except she had wet it which was doing NOTHING to help her soften the edges, which was quite a big mistake but I loved the fact that when Pablo relayed this information to Val and Dom, they gasped like they were in the audience being filmed with a night vision camera in a trailer for Paranormal Activity

and from there it was only downhill as Nancé, in a bid to regain some symmetry in the look, she seemed to lose control of it completely and it went from sultry punk to 2006 MySpace vibes very quickly

and in the end Pablo had to step in and finish the model for her – it just wasn’t her challenge which is gutting because Nancé has done phenomenally well in most of the industry challenges this far, usually only beaten by Rachel who was no longer in the picture so this should have been Nancé’s chance!

Rebel Hell

For this week’s Creative Brief the MUAs were having to produce a makeup that represented an act of rebellion – which isn’t overly different from the Seasons of Change brief several weeks ago, this one just came with more of an expectation of punk and anarchy.

Continuing on from her Fashion Week success, Yong-chin was drawing her inspiration from a British fashion heavyweight by using Alexander McQueen’s final collection as the basis for her look – which is interesting because Niall on Glow Up Ireland did a look inspired by the exact same collection which looked less lke McQueen and more like Dory from Finding Nemo hiding in the bushes

it did turn out to probably be his weakest makeup over the course of the series though so it was nice for Yong-chin to give the concept something of a redemption arc

IT’S SO GOOD – the symmetry and distortion of her model’s face is immaculate – he looks like a parakeet fell in a vat of nuclear waste. But as big and almost overwhelming as the makeup is, the finer details are so clever – everything happening with the hair and lace detail is just truly inspired

I really can’t get enough of this whole look and I think the fact it’s so impressive probably worked against Nancé’s look more than the fact she was in the red chair as they were both doing very similar, symmetry heavy looks – although they had very different reasons for them, as Nancé’s rebellion was about the rejection of westernised and white beauty standards and was using both prosthetics and makeup to distort her model’s features

I again, LOVE this look and the judges were mostly very positive about the whole thing, although they thought that given that she had 15 minutes less, she could have just forgone the prosthetics and focused more on the colouration of the look, which I get but I still think this is hands down one of the most articulate looks we’ve seen on the show and I think that articulateness has been Nancé’s greatest strength – her looks never feel one dimensional and always have layers of discourse and intention behind them.

Kris also found himself in the red chair and was, unsurprisingly, contending with another very big homemade prosthetic – which usually earns him a few impressed oohs and aahs from the judges. This time however it seemed to backfire as he struggled to fit the piece to his model’s head, having particular trouble fitting it around the eyes and his model quite clearly hated every second of having the piece put on and removed several times

and Kris never did get it quite right as the piece was pulling his model’s eyes back so tightly he looked like The Empress of the Racnoss from Doctor Who having a facelift

but it did get worse

“Go on Glow Up!” they said. “You’ll have fun!” they said. “No, you won’t end up looking like a spider with a head injury!” they said…

Kris’s look was themed around being a gay man growing up in a Irish Catholic family, so it was a deeply personal look and I really loved the concept of the stained glass window in the colours of the Pride Flag but having struggled to fit the prosthetic and already being 15 minutes short, he at some point seemed to give in to the fact he wasn’t going to finish and just rushed through the paint job

I imagine it didn’t help his confidence that Pablo had come and asked him why he was doing all of his linework in white only to then go over it in black later

that’s the face of a man that knows he’s about to be up for elimination.

I think my biggest issue with the piece is much the same as the issues I had with last week’s lightbulb and that’s the fact it’s so solid and lumpy which is everything stained glass isn’t – the prosthetic really needed to be ultra smooth and almost translucent for it to read more accurately as glass – he’s done a lot of remaking of his looks over on his Instagram page and I’ll be curious to see if he does this and how it turns out when he’s got all the time he needs for it.

Lastly we have Lisa who was doing a look inspired by the female authors of the past who published novels and poems under male aliases and I found the judging of this look to be *very* interesting as the look clearly didn’t seem to resonate with Dom or Pablo who were oddly dismissive of the whole thing

and it was up to Val to vehemently defend it as Pablo got weirdly fixated on the fact Lisa had done a green eyebrow – which I had assumed was a nod to the colours of the suffragette ribbons (although at this point in history those colours are a bit of a red flag over on Twitter)

I just think Lisa’s artistry is so bloody impressive though – the watercolour effect that she achieved around the eye, her calligraphy on the parchment AND OH MY GOD THE SHADOW OF THE QUILL

I think the series is very much hers to lose going in to the final.

Coming out of the Creative Challenge, the standing order hadn’t really changed much and it wasn’t a huge surprise that it would be Nancé and Kris going head to head for the last place in the final.

Oval and Out

For their Face Off Challenge Kris and Nancé were having to create a Black Oval Eye, which isn’t overly dissimilar to what they had to do in the Industry Challenge – and both of them very much used it as a redemption of that experience with both looks being of a standard that Taylor Momsen and all 1,864 pandas left in the world would be proud of

Kris definitely got more of an oval shape, but I have to say I think I prefer Nancé’s shape – I think it suits the model much better and looks much less like a grumpy 12 year old posting Bebo pictures captioned with Evanescence lyrics in 2007. And because of this, Dom and Val were torn with which way to go, ultimately it coming down to the tiniest bit of fall out on Nancé’s that the editors had to highlight like it was crucial evidence in an episode of Unsolved Mysteries

and this did unfortunately mean that it was Nancé who would be missing out on a place in the final

I’m really upset for her, I’ve really admired her throughout this process and I have so much respect for her, her art and what she’s done with her time on Glow Up – I think she’s an important voice and I hope to see more of her in the future, and you can follow her on Instagram at TheNSKBeauty.

And so, we have our final 3!

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