‘Glow Up’ shines bright

Netflix’s “Glow Up: Britain’s Next Makeup Star” is rated TV-14 for language. (Netflix / Courtesy Image)

(Revised, first published in The Bison student newspaper Fall 2020)

Netflix’s newly released second season of “Glow Up: Britain’s Next Makeup Star,” has little need of a glow up.

It’s already glowing.

Premiered on the streaming platform in 2019 in collaboration with BBC, the show centers around a series of makeup-themed elimination challenges culminating in the crowning of “Britain’s Next Makeup Star.”

Tonally, the show combines the passion, expertise and careful explanations of the best that YouTube’s beauty gurus have to offer, with the professionalism, lighthearted suspense and warmth of “The Great British Baking Show.”

The show is perfectly suited for lovers of the skillful but drama-free makeup work of YouTubers Sinead Cady of “The Makeup Chair,” Lisa Eldridge or Karima McKimmie.

Patiently guided by host Stacey Dooley, known in the UK for her time on “Strictly Come Dancing,” contestants undertake design challenges ranging from winged liner, to ombre lips, to drag makeup, to prosthetics.

The creative processes utilized are well documented by the show’s editing style.

Along the way, highly simplified mini-tutorials presents helpful information for understanding the techniques needed to complete each challenge.

 “Glow Up” boasts an incredibly high caliber of artistic work.

This work is then judged by MAC Global Senior Artist Dominic Skinner and Val Garland, whose work has appeared at both London and Milan fashion weeks.

The episodes also feature guest judges, and the show’s line up is impressive.

Many of the guest judges are easily recognizable names, including Michelle Visage of RuPaul’s Drag Race (Season 2, Episode 4), Annalise Fard, Director of Beauty at Harrods (Season 2, Episode 8), and Anastasia Soare of the beauty blogger-favored brand Anastasia Beverly Hills (Season 2, Episode 8).

With names such as these, it’s hard to find fault with the show’s beauty industry credentials, especially when many of the guests’ roles on the show serve to enhance the viewing experience, rather than merely promote whatever the guest is currently selling.

Slightly more promotional in nature, many of the individual challenge prizes highlight a specific company or business.

However, the prizes still remain legitimate opportunities for contestants, including the chance to spend an evening work alongside the West End makeup team of Disney’s “The Lion King” for a performance (Season 2, Episode 3) or see their work in Marie Claire magazine (Season 1, Episode 1).

Arguably, “Glow Up’s” primary potential shortcoming is its uneven choice of contestants.

The show features a diverse range of contestants, with some, but not all, having prior professional experience.

For example, in Season 2, contestant Eve had worked professionally at makeup counters before competing on the show while several other competitors had only done makeup as a hobby.

Other contestants have experience as hair stylists, or attended school for fashion design.

The nature of the challenges draws from such a wide range of makeup approaches, however, that even those with prior experience will be required to demonstrate skills far outside their comfort zones – such as gluing latex “wounds” onto a model’s face.

The show’s only true shortcoming is that there’s only 16 episodes.

Fortunately, Season 3 is on its way, expected to arrive on the streaming platform in April 2021.

Two 8-episode seasons (episode runtimes: 40-50 min. each)

4.9/5.0 Stars