Glow Up, Series 5, Episode 2: John Waters Gambit

The Last Supper (Leonardo da Vinci, c. 1495–1498. Tempera on gesso, pitch and mastic.)

Anywhere can be Malibu if you try hard enough.

Beauty’s In The Eye of Sephora

For this week’s Industry Challenge the MUAs were taking on a beauty campaign for the launch of Boots’s mildly annoying American cousin, Sephora – the theme being the grammatically nebulous concept of “Express All Of You” – with the project leader and boss for the day being Arieta Mujay who everyone politely golf clapped for

but the Extra Special Guest Judge for the week was Patrick Ta – highlights of this particular reveal being Howard looking ready to self-combust because he was breathing the same air as Patrick and Sarah slowly sinking behind the other MUAs like Patrick was the iceberg to her Titanic

also, shout out to the extremely heterosexual subtitler who thought Sarah said “I’m so glad” when she clearly said “I’m so gagged”

the heterosexual agenda against me making reaction memes has to stop. I am being silenced.

Howard had good reason to be excited given that he had attended a Patrick Ta masterclass in the past, so obviously everyone was very quick to enthusiastically compliment how perfect Howard had made his model’s skin look

the whole look is very pretty and suits the model so well, but once again it was another pretty strong episode all round because even the weaker looks at least had well matched and applied foundation, which to be fair was pretty much all they could critique Keiran on

their model had spoken about liking vintage things so Keiran kept saying “Marilyn Monroe” but the result isn’t so much Marilyn Monroe as it Marilyn, aged 42 on the cover of a pamphlet for the Open University’s mature student programs who now very happily works as a social care nurse in Barnsley.
The judges were desperate for the full red lip and eye liner shebang, but I can understand why Keiran might have not wanted to go that far because it can very easily just look like cosplay and I don’t know if you really want someone looking at your makeup campaign in the year of our lord 2023 and saying “Oh, that’s Marilyn Monroe!”

The judges did however get the red lip they wanted from Sarah, who like Howard also kept her model’s skin very natural, allowing her freckles to show through

it’s a really good look, I don’t know if they chose the most flattering picture of it, there’s a sort of Dylan Mulvaney intensity to it which works in a TikTok selling me subpar American beer but less so when you’re making direct eye contact with me as I swatch £118 eyeshadow palettes I’ll never afford, I think this picture was a better one and you can actually see the liner

I do think Sarah was a little bit robbed of the win, but I also can’t deny that Saphron did a great job creating a look that suited her model

I was a little worried about the colour she had chosen for the lips when her model was in the makeup chair

but it really worked under the studio lighting, I think I just gravitate more towards an eye look (I have used the same shade of vaguely neutral lipstick for 5 years now) but if I thought Sarah was a little bit robbed, they plundered On-May like the British Museum

this is incredible work and absolutely the sort of look you see in a campaign and think “Oh, I’ll try that!” and then you realise God really screwed you over by giving you hooded eyes and a brow bone that should have gone extinct in the cretaceous period – I wear my fringe out is spite. On-May didn’t even get to be a part of the campaign and it’s the best picture! Not that anyone that did get called to be part of it didn’t deserve it, the last of the 4 that got the privilege was Wez who’d also done a great job

the model looks really pretty – it’s nothing wildly inventive but it is truly aspirational blending, I simply do not have the patience or the articular cartilage for it.

The struggle bus of the episode was very much Axel, who immediately sent the fear of God into their model by tell her that he normally specialises in special effects makeup

but given that this has resulted in models from past series wearing 5 inches of foundation and a false lash that’s drifting into another continent, Axel didn’t do *that* badly

the model has such lovely features though and she really could have taken a slightly stronger look because this is all a little bit too subtle, which was also kind of Taisha’s problem

there is a potent 2006 vibe to this makeup – I absolutely sat next to this girl in a physics class and she refused to let me borrow an eraser after a boy drew a penis on my textbook. So while I have traumatic reasons to not really be into it, the judges just wanted more vibrancy – enter Roo, who gave them too much vibrancy

I like the risk of the John Waters gambit and I think it works editorially but this was first and foremost a commercial assignment so it did slightly miss the mark.

In the end Wez, Sarah, Howard and Saphron all got their looks featured but it was Saphron who got to create a few extra looks for her model

that liner look is so good.

Hometown Glory

For this week’s creative brief the MUAs had to create a look inspired by their hometown and in order to help them judge these looks, they’d flown in Selling Sunset’s Chelsea Lazkani on the tenuous link that she knows what it takes to sell a home

most of the MUAs were delighted to see her, Wezley’s heart was threatening to give out if she so much as looked in his direction

and On-May was having a full on religious experience

and then you had Taisha bluffing her way through knowing who she was

I love Unnamed Biggest Programme! (I have never watched Selling Sunset either, I have just watched the 30 minute video of Trixie and Katya watching it for me.)

Finding themselves in the Red Seats for this challenge were Keiran and Axel – I had thought there’d be more than 2 people given that during their deliberation Dom said this

but apparently someone vetoed that idea – Taisha absolutely dodged a bullet and I do think she could have potentially been given a red seat over Axel and it might have impacted the bottom two quite a bit because Taisha’s look, inspired by Croydon’s namesake being the crocus flower, wasn’t great

it doesn’t quite read as a flower so much as it does the dinosaurs from the Land Before Time Series that turned out to be aliens – they made 14 of those movies and the plots were running thin by installation number 5.

Keiran and Axel however both really pulled it out of the bag – the latter did have a momentary stumble as about halfway through the pressure of the challenge really set in but I think I felt more sorry for his model

it’s like Two-Face showed up at a really bad time to try and assassinate Batman – how dare you interrupt his Bativersary like this!
Axel did manage to pull it together and his Robert Burns inspired Tam O-Shanter look was really, really good

a half and half look lives and dies by how the two sides are divided and I really love the organic, jagged edge that Axel did – especially the way it moves across the nose, it has a real feeling of light and shadow about it.

Keiran had my personal favourite look of the night, their hometown being Winsford – also the home of the band The Luka State (stream Oxygen Thief now x). Keiran’s inspiration came from the salt mines

the shapes and textures are just so good – and the yellow really pops giving it a very wolfish feel. And it was a useful look to have in the room in case the judges need any rock salt for their emergency fish and chips order

the shock and hurt in everyone’s voices when the smell wafted through the room <3 and Patrick Ta’s disdain for greasy food very nearly leading to a full on rebellion within the studio.

I was surprised that nobody did a local food inspired look – I thought we’d for sure get an ice cream from anyone that lived even tangentially near a beach, but no – Wezley, hailing from Weston-Super-Mare, the newly declared Malibu of Somerset

had turned his sights on the annual Sand Sculpture Competition for his sandwich Sand Witch look

the use of the prosthetics and their application divided the judges – Chelsea liked them and insisted that “the flaws make the witch” which is what I tell myself every morning. Dom and Val were not so kind and thought he could have done without the prosthetics altogether – which I could see for the forehead one but I don’t think they get to say that after a whole series where they absolutely lived for Kris gluing all sorts of fantastical death masks to his models’ faces. I think Val was just annoyed it wasn’t a homerun of a look because she really wanted to shout “DING DONG THE WITCH IS DEAD!” at Wezley and out of spite she settled for saying “Ding-dong delicious” (great drag name) about Saphron’s Essex inspired look

I’ll always love this painterly style and I like that she contrasted it against the smoother, forced shadow areas – it’s really impressive and it’ll be really interesting to see if Saphron can keep this momentum going because she’s started off so strongly with 2 wins and yet she’s quite absent from the actual edit of the show which feels a lot like Lisa from last year who felt poised for the win and then Yong-chin Supremacy triumphed.

Also dividing the judges was On-May with her Charles Rennie Mackintosh inspired stained glass to honour Glasgow

Dom loved it and was willing to defend it to the death, and I don’t think it’s bad but I would agree that she didn’t quite manage to achieve a true glass-like illusion but the quality of her linework is stellar throughout the piece and the actual composition is great.

Roo was going for a similar colour-blocked design, theirs however was inspired by the tube seats of the picadilly line

they had grand plans of adding a flocked effect to certain portions of the makeup, but that was before they decided to wage a one person war against their model’s eyebrows

and because of the Battle of Brow Bone Ridge, Roo didn’t quite get around to finishing off their makeup with the flocked fabric effect

it’s still not a bad look and it would probably work if their hometown was San Juan in Puerto Rico – there are a few places where some colour has smudged into others but for the most part the lines are crisp and there’s a clever and well thought out geometry to the whole thing but it’s unignorable that it is unfinished.

Howard was going further afield for his hometown look, taking his inspiration from a Malaysian shield

it’s a look that lived and died by how well he could execute the symmetry and finesse of the decorative linework but somewhere along the way it kind of all got away from him a little bit

on the plus side, it’s immediate recognisable what it is and I would instantly know it as a Southeast Asian makeup, and there is places where the scratchier brushstrokes work – particularly along the jawline

but the forehead is Spaghetti Junction.

Lastly we have Sarah who was combining her Nigerian roots with her current hometown of Manchester – representing Manchester with the bee and Nigeria with the eagle

much to my surprise nobody said “beagle” but Dom was happy to suffice with this pun that took at least 3 years off of my life and I will be taking them back with fire and blood

but the makeup was great and I thought it was a really clever composition

And Now For The Remix

Both Keiran and Axel managed to beat the seats and finding themselves plunged into the Face Off Challenge in their places were Roo for an unfinished look and Howard for a lack of finesse – Taisha can rest easy knowing they could not source an emergency triplet.

For this week’s Face Off Challenge, the pair of them had to create a bold, smoked-out eye look with a custom made burgundy colour that they’d have to create themselves

luckily both of them had a good grasp of basic colour theory, even if they did spend half the time laboriously mixing up different shades of red but they both got there in the end

and an interesting judging commenced – Howard’s look is clearly more of the smoked-out look they wanted and I personally don’t think the colour is that far off and I do think he probably won this. However I could have told you last week that he was going to go home this episode, I think Glow Up perhaps isn’t the best suited platform for him whereas Roo is a better fit, so I don’t begrudge his elimination even if I am a little sad because I really liked him

and if you want to follow him on Instagram, his handle is YogiLovesMakeup_Howard.

and so, 8 MUAs remain

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