Glow Up, Series 5, Episode 1: Earthworm Circus

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This recap will change colour when wet.

It’s back and once against packed to the brim with a cast that makes me feel desperately uncool

and here are their Instagram accounts (a lot of them are giving me middle school regrettable hotmail email addresses and I love them):
Axel – AxelArtistries
Howard – YogiLovesMakeup_Howard
Keiran – KeiranMuslay
Morgan – NJAPF_
On-May – LilBbyBokChoy
Roo – Nectaroon
Saphron – Saph.Art
Sarah – ModernWand
Taisha – TaishaMakeup
Wezley – WezleyWebber

and of course Val, Dom and Val’s Magnifying Glass are all returning for their 5th series

however there has been a change of host as Maya Jama jumped ship to swim for the shores of Love Island and has been replaced with model and professional Goddess, Leomie Anderson who has a habit of making a room look like a reboot of The Hobbit

I looked up her height fully expecting her to be 6 foot 2 (without the heels) and found out she’s actually 2 inches shorter than me and sometimes I need to be humbled that I am not the ~5 foot 2 bouncy baby biogirl~ I think I am

thank you, Mother.

But truly my favourite part of the Leomie reveal was Sarah have absolutely zero chill about it and standing there, mouth agape and screaming like a baby bird the entire time

instant blog favourite for providing The Content™.

Building Bridgerton

For their very first Industry Challenge, the MUAs were having to create a makeup look for a Bridgerton ball scene (slap your wrists if you giggled.) Assisting in the judging was resident Bridgerton makeup artist, Erika Okvist

Erika stressed that the most important aspect of the Bridgerton makeup is the skin – and that was kind of the problem with the task, the MUAs were encouraged to “take risks” but the Bridgerton makeup is extremely minimal, which is why you end up with clickbait thumbnails like this


Bridgerton has always been first and foremost about Regé-Jean Page the dresses and the wigs so naturally the makeup kind of takes a step back so that you don’t end up looking like you’re running a community theatre production in 4k Ultra HD. For the most part though, the MUAs understood that “a risk” meant “maybe a bit of eyeliner, some shimmer if you’re feeling extra daring” and nobody turned out anything truly awful. Howard got off to a particularly great start as Erika was impressed with the fact he started with a lymph draining massage, I imagine Erika was mostly eyeing him up because she herself needed a massage after having to crane her neck all morning

but Howard’s model did look really good, however I did think the under eye liner was a little heavy and kind of drew her face downwards

but as the judges said, it did work a lot better in profile

Axel actually went with quite a similar look – a quite dramatic red lip with well lined eyes and a sort of pink-toned shimmer on the eyes but got very different critiques which I think was mostly down to the fact that all of that paired with the outfit kind of made his actor look less Regency English Debutant and more Rootin’est Tootin’est, Sharp Shootin’est Saloon Girl in all of the wild west

and as far as I’m aware the Bassets don’t have any far flung cousins in North Dakota.

The judges also really loved Saphron’s makeup for her choice of lilac shadow and slightly fainter eyeliner

I do also think the actor is doing a lot of work here – she’s bloody stunning and is absolutely the girl the cameras go to for any close-up reaction shots so I’m glad Saphron did her justice.

I think my personal favourite makeup though was from Keiran, who spent far too long umming and ahhing over whether or not the decision to go for the heart-shaped mole on the cheek was “too risky” as though it’s not a staple of period dramas for decades

sure, it could have been slightly higher up but it goes with the jewellery and costuming so perfectly, and I’m even more impressed because I feel like they put the steampunk cogs in his actor’s hair as a potential pitfall.

Roo was perhaps the furthest off from nailing the Bridgerton aesthetic having somewhat painted themself into a corner by going for a shade of lilac that did make their model look like a scented drawer pillow from your grandmother’s spare bedroom had become sentient

their model did not look that old when we started

and their solution to this was to incorporate a sort of butterfly motif into the eyeshadow which just looked a little bit too costumey and heavy for the show despite being quite a cool design

the smartest decision was changing the lip colour, it lightens the face up so much.

Roo wasn’t the only one to miss the mark, with Morgan also going for something just a little bit too intense, although I do think her makeup is extremely flattering and suits the model to perfection

The judges criticised it for “not looking cohesive” although I disagree, I just think it’s not cohesive in a way that screams Bridgerton.
She and Roo did end up being in the red chairs come the next round, but it was a narrow escape for On-May whose eye makeup just looked ever so slightly off

I do think she was slightly up against it because most of the others had outfits that they could kind of match their makeup to – pale pinks, purples and peaches – then On-May had quite vibrant blues and greens and an outfit that I would have found quite hard to be inspired by. Sarah however did risk a touch of blue in her makeup

I can’t say I love it, I think it’s a look that will always immediately read as 80s, but the judges thought all of the liner should have been blue and I can’t help but feel that they wouldn’t have thought that if she had done that.

Wezley got scuppered by going a little bit too ham on the colour, which I think we all knew was coming when he described it as “sultry and snatched”

I’m not sure I would describe anyone on Bridgerton as snatched except for *maybe* Edwina but she just has resting snatched face. All I want to know is if at any point in the process Wezley realised that he was just making his actor look exactly like himself

he may not have won this round, but Condragulations you won the Family Resemblance Challenge before Drag Race UK season 5 even started.
Lastly we have Taisha who also went with a pinky-purple shadow but in a much more neutral way

the brows were a little heavy, as the judges pointed out, and they do make quite a light, pretty makeup look a little stern.

Overall, I do think this was probably the strongest opening Industry Challenge they’ve had – usually we end up with some questionable colour matching and extremely heavy foundation, so it’s exciting that you can’t really pinpoint any obvious weak links.

Secreted Away

The MUAs very first Creative Brief was for them to create a look inspired by a secret they’ve kept, which does feel a little bit like an unsubtle attempt at getting one of them to own up to an unsolved murder (It was Axel in the library with the MAC 224S Tapered Blending Brush.) The brief was perhaps a little heavy for a premier episode, this felt like something you bring out in week 5 after we’ve gotten to know the contestants and everyone’s feeling a little more comfortable. Quite a few of the MUAs skirted around doing anything too specific and stuck with fairly generic prompts like “I have anxiety”, “I’m envious” or “Being queer, amiright?”

it’s not a series of Glow Up until somebody draws a heart on their face, which is often a little generic but Keiran’s does at least come with the bite of the barbed wire, which was incredibly fine and the judges did not give them enough credit for it. I do think the eye makeup is the most interesting part, I liked the addition of the circle which I’m pretty sure was a nod to the Intersex inclusive Progress Flag

and if it wasn’t, I’m happy to just keep believing it was.
Keiran wasn’t the only going with a heart themed look as Morgan’s secret was that she just learned how to do it after an Instagram tutorial is actually a really caring person when you get to know her

first of all, she got an incredible amount of work done for having started with the time penalty but it is kind of just the Instagram default Valentine’s Day makeup, and the central heart isn’t quite heart-shaped enough so she does look a bit like a clown in an earthworm circus

Every now and again I have to stop and wonder what the hell this blog is.

Roo was also in the red chair and had quite the trick up their sleeves, their makeup being based on a mix of their love of science and fear of germs stemming from their OCD – the big reveal being that their makeup would change colour when sprayed with a glycolic acid toner – which they had to demonstrate to the judges before having their makeup photographed and the lighting didn’t showcase the effect brilliantly on television

but I’m just obsessed with the fact the whole thing had the same energy as Katniss firing an arrow directly at the Gamemakers and doing a dramatic bow

and the final makeup stood up on its own merits regardless of how cool the colour change was

they really nailed that mouldy texture with the stippling effect, and everybody was suitably shaken by how well it was going for Roo

not that Wezley had a huge amount to worry about except for how to wash off his makeup afterwards as he proceeded to paint himself entirely pink, thus winning the weekly prize for looking the most insane halfway through the challenge

it’s giving me Mr. Blobby.
His makeup was based on sneaking out to raves while his parents believed he was at a pizza party – I’m the other way around, I think my parents would have been thrilled if I’d gone to a rave in my teens instead of ordering pizza

it’s an amazing look, I think the most impressive part was the fact he looked EXACTLY like his sketch

and props to him for bringing in the glass eyes, many an MUA has attempted to paint a silicon eye and very rarely does it work out looking great. Some of his bald capping wasn’t quite as good as the other MUAs who had also gone for the go-to Glow Up flex, the only two I haven’t mentioned yet being Axel and Saphron – the latter’s being more successful to me because it felt more specific, playing on her habit of skin picking when she gets anxious

this is grotesquely beautiful – I kind of wish she hadn’t done the airbrushing and had just left it at the dots, I think it would have kept it slightly cleaner and not lost any of the viscerality.

As for Axel’s approach, his look was meant to be his Mental Health Demon and it very much came across first and foremost as some really cool creature design – it just lacks a little personality to me

although there is a lot to love, particularly the eyes which have a really cool shape but did make him look sad all the time

not that he wasn’t sad and worried about how much they were going to mark him down for having forgotten to put on a couple of his smaller prosthetics prior to doing his makeup

and I don’t get the impression that Leomie is the best at Emergency Reality TV Therapy yet.

Howard was forgoing prosthetics entirely, which personally, greatly appeal to me – I find the constant use of large prosthetics to be a little uninteresting. I think I’m finally bored of horns and gills, although thankfully nobody was doing full face masks like half the cast last year: My ‘Nam. Howard’s makeup was also a particularly heavy subject, being based off his feelings following a sexual assault 10 years ago

Personally, I love this, the shapes are interesting, it’s all well proportioned and just extremely well done. The judges did not respond well to it – one of their concerns being that it was too “beauty inspired” – I cannot do an eyeroll big enough – and their second critique was that it wasn’t literal enough, which begs the question of what exactly they wanted Howard to do for it, and also it’s just weird to kind of police how a survivor of sexual assault represents their experience – it’s also not that hard to see what Howard was going for with the jagged and scribbled dark shapes around his eyes and mouth paired with the dissipating circles of brighter colour around the outside of his face. The whole thing has a very Pagliaccio, Venetian mask feel to it and I think it was very good, actually.

On the other end of the literal spectrum was Sarah who did a really phenomenal job of a burn effect makeup inspired by an incident in which she was burnt by hot oil

she was criticised by the judges for being too literal and I can see a few ways in which she could have maybe elevated it by doing more of a glam makeup on the other half of her face, but perhaps she thought that would have made it too costumey and predictable so went with going for the realistic, somewhat minimal horror. Trying to premeditate what Dom and Val want is a fool’s errand, because I really thought they were going to have it in for Taisha’s Leviathan inspired take on her envious side for looking a little crafty because of the yarn

it’s not a makeup that greatly interests me, she nailed the shading though and the gill prosthetics were well applied and elevated with the use of the pearls, I do wish the makeup had extended down her neck though, which sometimes Dom cares about and other times he does not – like the ever changing wind.

Lastly we have On-May whose makeup was inspired by her experience of dealing with binge eating, and it’s a good thing she didn’t wind up in the red chairs because she was pushed for time as it was, although she may have been giving herself a 15 minute penalty anyway

despite the call of nature itself being against her, she did manage to get her gaping mouth illusion spot on

but she did after all have a great source of inspiration

oh, I can do set up and pay off, baby.

Chromes Against Humanity

As was to be expected, Roo was spared the Face Off Challenge, Morgan however was not so lucky. As for who she’d be facing, personally I would have put Axel in the bottom purely because there visible faults in his makeup – which he has since redone and it looks VERY cool

however, according to the judges if you want to live by the beauty sword, you die by the beauty sword so it was a showdown between Morgan and Howard (my sweet baby angel, I am so sorry, this show is going to break you)

their Face Off brief being to create a chrome lip, or The Tin Man Special

What happened in the Forest of Oz, stays in the Forest of Oz.

Both of them did a pretty good job, especially considering they had to mix the lipgloss and metallic pigment themselves and get it to both the right saturation and consistency

they could have easily decided it was a non-elimination episode and I would have thought “Oh it’s nice that everybody gets at least two episodes” and been fine with it. However Dom and Val came to the consensus that Howard’s was that little bit shinier and so Morgan was eliminated, which does at least make it easier for me to remember which one Saphron is

in all honesty, a solid episode for her, any other series and I don’t think she would have been in the bottom 2 – she’s clearly got the techniques and skill down, I think the only thing she lacks was exposure and experience, I mean she’s only 19, I can only imagine what she’ll be doing with a bit more time under her belt, and if you want to keep track of her you can follow her on Instagram at: NJAPF_.

and so, we have 9 MUAs left

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One thought on “Glow Up, Series 5, Episode 1: Earthworm Circus

  1. cosette

    The judges seemed clueless about the historical roots of Roo’s look. That eye makeup would have been historically accurate in Japan (and I believe China) at the time of Bridgerton. It would have been considered alluring to many at the time, even if it’s not clear how much that would be true in this alternative history.

    How many characters are recent immigrants? How many integrate completely vs bringing their culture with them?

    It does seem like conformity reigns in that world. That should have been the criticism, and its context acknowledged instead of ignored.

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