Come for the drama, stay for the talent

Glow Up’s second season does not disappoint


Photo by James Mac Inerney

Netflix hits the mark yet again with season two of “Glow Up: Britain’s Next Make-Up Star,” a binge-worthy series filled with tons of artistic talent. Many contestants, like James Mac Inerney pictured here, share their work to thousands on social media every day.

Emma Baker, Catalyst Editor-in-Chief

We all know that COVID-19 has spurred a plethora of unpleasant circumstances. Like many others, I’ve had to stay inside, limit my socialization and become adept to the Zoom world. What I’ve found is there is one thing synonymous to quarantine—boredom.

So watching Netflix’s season two release of  “Glow Up: Britain’s Next Make-Up Star” was just the thing needed to get the creative cosmetic juices flowing. It got me inspired to hop on the bandwagon of the “boredom beat” aka doing a full face of jaw-dropping makeup for the sake of staying occupied (and feeling good, too). 

The reality show begins with ten makeup artists (MUAs) with varying backgrounds from self-taught to salon experience. They all compete for the chance to win a contract to work with the best MUAs in the field. Each week they start with a professional assignment. It could be working backstage at a runway show, getting models ready for an ad campaign or applying prosthetics for a theatrical performance—the opportunities to wow both the permanent judges and the guest judge (the one allowing the MUAs into their work place) are endless. 

Based on the MUAs’ performance on their professional assignment, they will show up to “Glow Up HQ” the next day to find either a blue or red chair in their place. A blue chair means the judges liked their work and effort on the professional task. However, the two red chairs, also known as face off chairs, put the MUAs in danger of going into the face off elimination of each episode. To avoid the face off and stay in the game, they must deliver a killer look and cross their fingers that someone in a blue chair falls short. 

Previously in the competition, drag queen Kim Chi, a contestant on season eight of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” came to the studio as inspiration and help for the contestants during a drag brief. There was also a challenge to create strange animal faced humans, challenging their skills with prosthetics and gory makeup. 

I was looking forward to seeing electrifying looks for the editorial fashion assignment this year, but the competitors went completely off the walls instead of editorial. The beauty editorial week, however, blew me out of the water…or dare I say in the water as their makeup designs had to work for an underwater shoot. It was amazing to watch the artists work in a professional studio setting with world-renowned photographer Rankin. The range of makeup styles on “Glow Up” is what makes the show extremely engaging and exciting for viewers.

Judging the looks and providing feedback along the way are MAC Cosmetics’s Global Senior Artist, Domininc Skinner, and L’Oreal Paris Global Makeup Director Val Garland. Between the two, their clients have included greats such as Alexander McQueen, Nike and Lady Gaga. On the Glow Up world stage, there is no shortage of talent.

And no shortage of shocks either. This season, one contestant cracked under the pressure and left the show early. Others found themselves repeatedly in the face off and some struggled to take to heart the words of the judges. Yet nothing was more heartbreaking than seeing MUAs rock the professional assignment only to bomb the next brief. Part of  the “Glow Up” drama that makes you sit on the edge of your seat is that past makeups won’t save contestants—they have to nail every single look.

All in all, season two of “Glow Up” is definitely one to watch. The third season is already in the works, set to release in April of 2021. 

It’s no surprise as the show has the best of both worlds: a little bit of drama and a ton of impressive, artistic ability. If my dad, a man who enjoys golf and barbecue, found a thrill in the show, it has to be great. So grab some popcorn and a makeup brush and plop down onto the couch. Soon enough you’ll be parading around in your own boredom beats. 4/5