Glow Up, Series 4, The Final: Bootleg Steve Harrington

Big fan of the reboot of The Craft.

It’s the finale and Val Garland has finally grown to resent ever praising the cheekbone prosthetic.


As ever, the final industry challenge of the series is for the three finalists to give a masterclass that showcases some sort of makeup technique or process, and in an improvement on last year, it’s only half via Zoom, with the other half of the Masterclass audience gathering on a set of steps like a promotional photoshoot for Gossip Girl

and in order to help Val and Dom judge the masterclasses, they had brought in Manny MUA

and I do really like Manny, but I wish that they had tailored the challenge a little more to his speciality, make them put together a YouTube video – give them an Iphone and unleash them into the wild with nothing but a cheap ring light and Windows MovieMaker like every pupating makeup artist! But no, it’s the usual assembly presentation with audience members including The Other Tess Daly

and then a lot of people I had never heard of, except for Munroe Bergdorf, I know who she is!

but I do think she regretted coming because she didn’t have a lot to offer to a mostly special effects themed event and by the time Lisa started sloshing fake blood around she had basically become the Tiffany Pollard meme

that is the glazed expression of a woman planning on what she’s going to order when she goes to Yo!Sushi on the way home.

Kris kicked off the proceedings by unsurprisingly giving us a 30 minute tutorial on putting on a bald cap and in order to make it as challenging for him as possible, they had temporally transplanted the older brother from a 1980s sitcom into his makeup chair

I love bootleg Steve Harrington with all my heart.

Kris started strong, he never once gave you the impression he didn’t know what he was doing which is what you really want from a masterclass focusing so heavily on a very technical skill, unfortunately he got a little taken in by what he was doing and did forget to speak for quite a long time and the editors VERY RUDELY used an abundance of B-roll footage of the audience yawning or just about falling asleep

I do think Kris had a particularly hard job because he was first and the audience hadn’t been warmed up, I think Lisa would have been a better opener because she had jokes

she also had the advantage of working as a teacher so she slipped into this role like Dom into a novelty sweater. Her masterclass was showing how to do a realistic cut using silicon gel, which she did very well and was good humoured and attentive to the audience throughout – Dom’s main complaint was that she hadn’t given a reason for the cut to exist – DID HE FORGET THE FREDDY KRUEGER JOKE? It’s a fair enough comment though, and I’m surprised that Lisa of all people didn’t have a 10 page backstory about the reason this person had a cut cheek given how much effort she puts into researching and conceptualising her creative brief looks. I also think she could have gone a little gnarlier

if you mention Freddy, you better not give me the sort of aesthetic scar that they give the antagonistic romantic lead in a YA movie adaptation that suggests he’s a bad boy, but we can fix him.

Yong-chin gave a light relief from the special effects makeup by giving us an insight into her magical ways with eyeliner, as her masterclass focused on the bespoke look that she’s designed for her own eyes

she did seem the most nervous of the bunch, which didn’t really help the fact she was doing such small and intricate line work, so the final product was a little unpolished in certain places

I think it was mostly just the fact she was put off by the fact her microphone was playing up just as she began her presentation

shout out to the BBC subtitlers who caption even the slightest noises, I wish I could say the same for whichever lowly intern has been locked in a cupboard with nothing but a French holiday guide and the Duolingo app to translate and caption Drag Race France

the level of unprofessionalism… beaucoup trop!

But in Yong-chin’s favour was the fact she owned the fact she was nervous and made a little self-deprecating jab about it, which put everyone a little more at ease as she became increasingly close to giving us a masterclass in dislodging someone’s eye.

All of them ended up walking away from the experience with some sort of an opportunity, Kris got to be Amanda Knight’s trainee for a day on a “secret film project” which turned out to be Fast & Furious 9, which is perfect for Kris because 90% of that cast is bald men! Yong-chin got two opportunities – Mona Leanne is giving her a one on one masterclass and she gets to go and design eyeliner doodles for the clients of SpaceNK. And then Lisa got to work with Loz Schiavo who did the makeup for Peaky Blinders – so everyone’s happy!

Getting METAmorphosis

Given that it’s the final and nobody really did terribly in their masterclass, none of the finalists were put in the red chair – so everyone was on an even footing. The theme for the final Creative Brief was for the MUAs to create a look that represented their metamorphosis over the course of the series – and in terms of meeting that side of the brief, I think Kris had the strongest concept, taking his dick-faced chameleon from the first week and turning it into a dragon

and I was VERY excited when they showed his moodboard and he had glued a distinctly Yu-Gi-Oh style dragon at the forefront of it all

sadly he wasn’t quite so literal with his dragon, and he rather surprisingly hadn’t spent the entire night beforehand crafting himself a giant draconic deathmask to stick to his model’s face and he was instead using professionally made prosthetics [EDITOR’S NOTE: Kris has contacted me to point out he made these prosthetics (and he was very nice about it) so I shall eat my next lot of words for breakfast. And kudos to him, because they’re really, REALLY great.]

as was everyone else – much to Val’s disdain

god bless the fact they started this competition with a mandatory Prosthetics Week because everyone kept avoiding them and now they can’t escape them, so I look forward to DEAR GOD, ANYTHING BUT PROSTHETICS WEEK next series.

Kris’s makeup went through quite the metamorphosis of its own, starting its life as someone going to BronyCon (RIP)

and then evolving into Jynx from Pokemon

and finally ending its evolutionary journey as the promotional art for a mobile game that I’m 90% sure is stealing my personal data and selling it to the Russian government

It’s REALLY good – which is almost frustrating because Kris kind of went through the entire series getting the same critiques and seemingly never really taking it on board and we REALLY could have done with him pulling out something like this in Week 4, because as impressive as his homemade prosthetics were, it did begin to feel like they were hampering him more than anything else.

Yong-chin was drawing her inspiration from Poison Dart Frogs and blending their bright colours and patterns with Club Kid aesthetics for a look that once again relief heavily on her symmetry and line work

there is a slight miss in symmetry with the white patches around the nose – and as much as I love the shapes, particularly what she did with her model’s lips, it’s not her strongest look and I think I almost preferred it at the halfway mark when it looked a bit like a Mudkip

I think the green and purple kind of dulls the blues and oranges a little too much and hid the prosthetics – which turned out to be a blessing at the end of the day.

And lastly we have Lisa who I think I was the most excited about seeing what she had up her sleeve because her looks have always had such a story and defined concept behind them. This time she was going with the pretty expected concept of “emerging from the shadows!” but she was at least playing around with really interesting colours

it’s very Venus Flytrap and her blending of the two very unusual colours into one another was absolutely faultlessly done, and setting them against the black really, really made them pop

I’m not entirely sure it needed the horns or the shoulder spikes, to me they clash with the high fantasy elven facial structure, but I can see why she added them to give a more interesting silhouette – I think something more crown-like would’ve fitted better (you might as well really lean into the winner vibes). And there’s a certain part of it that feels like this is the good side to the bad side of her acne-ridden alligator look from the prosthetics week that Val has grown to resent

I’m a big fan of the GULCU (Glow Up Lisa Cinematic Universe).

And given that I compared the other finalists’ makeups to pokemon, Lisa’s is giving me Giratina gently holding Shaymin in its weird dragon beak

I have a brand to uphold.

I think the final 2 was always going to be Yong-chin and Lisa – their body of work across the series is really quite incredible, whereas Kris was a little more erratic with his quality – although you could never fault his quantity. And sure enough, it was Kris finishing in a very respectable 3rd place

you can follow him on Instagram at Cannon.FX – he has some incredible makeups – he did one quite a while ago of a bedazzled crow (very much referencing Moira Rose) and it’s one of my favourite makeups I’ve ever seen

it’s SO. GOOD.

The Final Showdown

*spoilers for Glow Up Ireland* – just skip past the first paragraph and the photo and the brief sentence under it and you’ll be fine.

I’m not a big fan of the final decision coming down to the Face Off Challenge, I just don’t think it ever results in the MUAs best work and it ends the whole run on a bit of a weird note – I’d much rather a bigger Creative Brief – make them do a pair of models to tell the story of their metamorphosis. It was particularly bad in Glow Up Ireland’s first series, which did barely anything to hide the fact they wanted to give the win to Niall right from epiosd 1 and then… well, this happened

and as much as I did like Glen Edward, it did take me 4 episodes to remember that he was a contestant on the show.

As is tradition, the final Face Off was a full beat that had to be completed in only 30 minutes, which strikes fear into the heart of me, a woman that takes 70 minutes to do her basic everyday face. But this wasn’t just an ordinary full beat – they also wanted them to do a smoked eye using three different colours: Blue, yellow and black. And if you think doing that in 30 minutes is going to result in some First Time in Drag Realness, you are not wrong

there are strengths in both of them – Lisa has a really good fade out from the eyeshadow and the brows are pretty immaculate, but Yong-chin’s eye look has a much better sense of control – the flick to the liner on the inner corner gives the look a much more elegant finish, whereas Lisa’s is all quite blunt, even if it is a little better in terms of symmetry.

It was a tough call and really it could have swung either way and nobody would have set fire to the internet over the decision and for a brief moment I did think we were going to be treated to a tie, but they did manage to distinguish between the two of them, with the winner of Glow Up series 4 being…

well, I’m pretty thrilled with that result – I’ve loved Yong-chin’s aesthetic and style since day one and over the course of the series she’s turned out some of the most memorable looks the show has seen – so congratulations to her, and to Lisa who was a formidable opponent and probably has the strongest body of work that anyone on the show has had – they’re both insanely talented makeup artists and I hope both of them get to the heights of the industry that they deserve. You can follow Lisa at LisaArtistryy and Yong-chin is YMBreslin.

Thank you to everyone who has read and supported the recaps, if have enjoyed them and would like to support the blog, you can drop a small donation over at my Ko-fi HERE – it really does help keep the blog running (and me well caffeinated, almond milk lattes are the life blood of this blog)

TOP: Kris, Nancé, Adam, Charlie
MID: Ryan, Sophie
BOT: Mikael, Rachel, YONG-CHIN, Lisa

One thought on “Glow Up, Series 4, The Final: Bootleg Steve Harrington

  1. Lena

    I just watched the final episode and was OUTRAGED by the outcome. Lisa was the clear winner from the getgo, always did impeccable work and in the end it’s Yong-Chin who wins? She shouldn’t have been in the final Face Off to begin with. I am seriously disappointed, even though coming in second might as well be a great push for their respective career. Thanks for your great blog, btw.

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