Glow Up screenshot
WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 13/04/2021 - Programme Name: Glow Up - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 1) - Picture Shows: Jack (MUA) - (C) Wall To Wall - Photographer: Guy Levy

The Creativity of Netflix’s ‘Glow Up’ Can Appeal to Makeup Artists and Non-Makeup Artists Alike

The reality show competition offers content that can entertain even those who know nothing about the art.
October 9, 2021
8 mins read

Netflix originals are known to be highly coveted sources of entertainment; they’re some of the richest and most engaging stories on screen in modern times. Of course, Netflix is now creating so much original content that some of its great originals have become overlooked. “Glow Up”, a British makeup competition series, is one of these Netflix shows that needs more love. Even non-MUAs will cherish the show for its mind-blowing aesthetics, fierce competition and inspiring display of passion in the arts that many viewers can relate to.

How Non-MUAs Can Love a Makeup Competition Show

For those unfamiliar with this acronym, MUAs are makeup artists. They are professionals in their craft, morphing the art of makeup into looks and styles that push the boundaries of beauty norms in society. While fellow MUAs may have the knowledge to appreciate the more technical aspects of the looks on “Glow Up,” by no means do viewers have to be experienced to enjoy this reality series. In fact, viewers can enjoy the show without having any prior knowledge of makeup artistry at all.

With the third season having been released in July 2021, “Glow Up” has established itself as a Netflix original, and one that keeps viewers wanting more. First started in 2019, the show brings on just 10 MUAs in Britain. These competitors are put through a series of grueling makeup challenges, many of which are incredibly high stakes, since they are jobs on TV-show sets with various productions and magazines. Watching the intense pressure of these real-world challenges is one aspect of the show that makes it engaging for viewers with all interests. There is never a dull moment when these young MUAs battle each other on sets like “The Peaky Blinders” or “The Crown.”

The active inclusion of other popular Netflix shows is another aspect of “Glow Up” that makes it intriguing for MUAs and non-MUAs alike. Having the opportunity to see what happens behind the scenes of another show you enjoy is an experience unlike any other. For example, witnessing how much detail and time it takes for these MUAs to create the scars and gashes on “The Peaky Blinders” actors allows viewers to appreciate details of this other show in a new, revolutionary light.

Likewise, seeing the calculated thought that goes into the makeup of each actor on “The Crown” is nothing less than shocking. Many of the characters on “The Crown” seem to have minimal makeup, which causes many viewers to assume these looks take very little time and energy to complete. However, even such simple makeup looks take an immense amount of thought and precision. These MUAs have to consider how makeup will make these actors look tired, sickly or vibrant in a way that matches the appearance of the real-life person that they are portraying on screen.

The wide variety of challenges, styles and makeup prompts within each episode also helps to keep audiences on their toes. With ever-changing themes like theater makeup, prosthetic work and more, there is never a dull moment with what these MUAs create. The non-MUA viewer may find the prosthetic challenges the most aesthetically astonishing, as well as the challenges where the MUAs take a generic theme and use their imagination to create a freestyle look on either themselves or a model.

The prosthetic challenges are never a dull moment on the eyes, as these young MUAs create amazingly realistic wounds or morph their models into frightening but alluring supernatural beings with third eyes or Maleficent-like cheekbones. The freestyle challenges, during which these MUAs go off of prompts as simple and open-ended as “nature,” are where some of the most exciting looks on “Glow Up” originate. These two types of looks in particular are where non-MUAs will find their senses most engaged. At this level of aesthetics, one doesn’t need any technical knowledge of professional makeup to appreciate the revolutionary artistry on display here.

“Glow Up” as a Surprisingly Educational Reality Show

At first glance, reality shows don’t have connotations of education. However, one characteristic that makes “Glow Up” stand out is how informative it is on a spectrum of subjects. From tutorials on how to do everyday makeup looks to open discourse on mental health struggles, these are topics with invaluable knowledge for non-MUAs and MUAs alike.

Professional makeup artists will find the trendsetting ideas of the “Glow Up” competitors inspiring and filled with pointers on how to hone their craft. The blunt critiques of expert judges Dominic Skinner and Val Garland also provide a wealth of knowledge on how MUAs can better their art. The introduction of a guest judge in each episode is an invaluable aspect of the show as well, because each judge specializes in a niche in makeup artistry that ensures a new aspect of the art is always covered.

As for non-MUA viewers, they can also absorb these above sources of information for fun. For example, they can be used for future Halloween costume ideas (with Halloween just around the corner, it isn’t a bad idea to watch the show pronto for some inspiration) or to better their everyday makeup looks. “Glow Up” also includes challenges and tutorials that educate audiences on how to improve everyday makeup techniques, such as with the use of eyeliner or lipstick.

Most importantly, though, “Glow Up” is a platform for these professionals and competitors to openly discuss their mental health. Many of these MUAs’ looks are representative of their own problems with mental health. Because of this, the makeup looks transcend simple artistry and incorporate these struggles into the fabric of the looks themselves. Such free and unrestrained discourse on mental health helps viewers who can identify with the show and connect to it emotionally, and viewers who can’t relate can be educated on the matter. In this way, as well as the many other ways discussed above, “Glow Up” is not just a makeup competition show for MUAs — it’s an alluring, one-of-a-kind Netflix original for everyone.

Sonia Noorbakhsh, UC Berkeley

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Sonia Noorbakhsh

UC Berkeley

Hello! My name is Sonia. I have always loved anything pertaining to English. In my free time I enjoy traveling, reading and drinking plenty of coffee.

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