Vsl Garland, Leomie Anderson, and Dominic Skinner in a poster fore Glow Up: Britain's Next Make-Up Star
(BBC)

My Open Letter to the BBC: Please Renew a Sixth Season of ‘Glow Up’

BBC, I’m writing directly to you.

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I have always loved makeup. It’s a huge part of my self-expression, from what color blush I wear to deciding if I want to put shimmery eyeshadow on my eye. I have an unnecessary amount of it that I probably don’t need, though some of it is precious because they don’t make it anymore or it was a limited edition product (like the Urban Decay Naked palette or Ariana Grande’s MAC Cosmetics Viva Glam collection).

This is why when the BBC announced a new series, Glow Up: Britain’s Next Make-up Star in 2019, I was there for it. Described by the broadcaster as “amazing transformations and stunning creations from aspiring artists competing to become Britain’s next make-up star,” 10 contestants compete to win a life-changing contract to assist some of the world’s leading makeup artists.

There have been a variety of challenges throughout the show’s five-series history, including creating their own makeup filters, looks for Netflix series like The Crown, and London Fashion Week. It’s fascinating to watch the way that all of the talented MUAs work. They can have anywhere from 30 minutes to two and a half hours to complete their makeup, and it’s surprisingly nervewracking, even as a viewer, when contestants aren’t nearly finished when the presenter calls that they have 30 minutes left. Usually, it’s the fault of having to use prosthetics in the brief that slows people down; they won’t stick or forget to put them on. I sit there holding my breath and feeling the tension.

Not to mention the makeup looks. More often than not they make me say “wow” out loud. The skills you have to have to be able to pull off what the MUAs do is something else: the colors, the linework, the symmetry. Just incredible!

There have been three hosts of the show: Stacey Dooley, Maya Jams, and Leomie Anderson. I honestly don’t really have a favorite. I think that they all have their strengths and weaknesses. I feel as though Leomie, as a model, maybe has a bit more experience within the workings of the industry and so seems a bit more in touch with those appearing on the show and their assignments.

The heroes of Glow Up

The real stars of the show though, let’s be honest here, are judges Val Gardland, Global Make-up Director at L’Oreal and Dominic Skinner, Global Senior Artist at MAC. They’re funny yet serious when they need to be. Watching them together having their banter, which I feel Dominic initiates, is always a highlight for me. Val comes across as quite a serious person and I think Dominic brings out her sillier side.

We can’t not discuss their catchphrases. “Conflab? Conflab” has become the pair’s words to one another when they’re in need of a discussion after an often nailbiting five to 20-minute face-off between the bottom two contestants of that week. Then you’ve got Val’s “ding dong!” which she uses when one of the MUAs have really impressed her. What I wouldn’t give to have her say that to me—I think if I did, even once, I would thrive on it for the rest of my days. It may seem dramatic to non-Glow Up watchers, but it isn’t really.

I think something that is important to point out is that Val and Dominic aren’t horrible people. While it has a similar set-up to a show like The X Factor, the judges have actual compassion. Yes, they are critical of looks presented to them for the eight episodes that air per season, but they never snicker at an artist’s work or tell them that they are bad at what they do. The worst they might get is that the pair are disappointed in them.

Ultimately, that’s a big reason why I enjoy the show and why it thrives (though it’s yet to be renewed for a sixth series). It feels authentic and the judges interact with contestants as though they are real human beings and not just a cash grab or beneath them. There is nurturing and pride radiating from them and it’s so nice to watch.

There have also been some impressive guest judges on the show, including YouTuber NikkieTutorials, drag queens Michelle Visage and Trixie Mattel, and photographer Rankin.

This series could be a good watch for the hateful individuals who turn around and slander people for wearing makeup and how they decide to do so, especially misogynistic men. If you can see makeup, more than likely it’s meant to be there. Makeup is a form of therapy for so many and a creative outlet. It gives an insight into how different aspects of the industry and artists’ work, and, ultimately, how beautiful is the eye of the beholder. Just because you don’t think it’s art, doesn’t mean that it isn’t.

I really hope that Glow Up gets renewed. I’m not the biggest fan of reality TV, but I would watch a million more seasons of this show. It really just is that good.

(featured image: The BBC)


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Author
Brooke Pollock
Brooke Pollock is a UK-based entertainment journalist who talks incessantly about her thoughts on pop culture. She can often be found with her headphones on listening to an array of music, scrolling through social media, at the cinema with a large popcorn, or laying in bed as she binges the latest TV releases. She has almost a year of experience and her core beat is digital culture.