How The Glow Up Season 2 Cast Has Stayed Creative During Lockdown

Photo: Courtesy of the BBC.
If you’re a makeup artist, watching the new season of Glow Up on Netflix might feel bittersweet. Like many industries, the world of makeup has recently taken a hit, and the series was clearly filmed before the U.K. went under lockdown in March — that is, before artists providing “close contact” beauty services were rendered unable to work due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. After competing on Glow Up, the show’s stars are more than ready to get back to work, but they’ve also found creative ways to continue (safely) doing what they love.
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“I have been using my time to work on my Instagram page, connecting with photographers, brands and artists and working together, and really just working around the lockdown rules,” Ophelia Liu, the season winner, told Refinery29 over email. “It has been tricky to work as an MUA during the pandemic due to the government rules. I feel like we have taken normal for granted and this really sets professional makeup artists at an even higher level.” 
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced this week that MUAs in England will be able to return to work on August 15, but “work” will look a bit different in the age of the coronavirus; after all, it’s not exactly easy to social distance while doing someone’s makeup. Liu added that health, safety, and cleanliness have always been important in the makeup industry, and that “with or without the pandemic,” she hopes MUAs continue to uphold a high standard when it comes to hygiene.
Like Liu, runner-up James Mac Inerney has been working on his craft during the pandemic. "I honed in on my own creativity and makeup artistry, creating content [and] working alongside some highly respected organizations and brands during Pride Month as well, including MCM Comic Con and Amnesty International," he told Refinery29. Mac Inerney has been quarantining with family in Ireland, but he has plans to return to London soon and aspires to get back to editorial shoots and campaigns.
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Contestant Hannah Cunningham has found another creative way to continue honing her skills. After filming the show, she said she tried to return to her office job, but felt a renewed excitement about turning her skills as a MUA into a career. This led her to begin a new position as an assistant manager at a makeup store. “Any opportunity to [practice] on every skin type, texture, tone, has been so valuable and I've loved it,” Cunningham said. “It's also meant my schedule is a bit more free so I can use my spare time to create art and experiment at home, and share it online.”
Cunningham especially loved the show’s special effects challenge, and now feels inspired to find post-pandemic work helping SFX artists. She’s also considering teaching her own special effects workshops. “I think a lot of people might be put off by playing around with this sort of makeup as it can be expensive, but I would like to show how creative you can be on a budget,” Cunningham told Refinery29.
MUA Berny Ferr, meanwhile, hopes to do more editorial work for print and online publications. Until he can safely do that, though, he’s been staying as busy as possible. “I have been assisting and working on shows and shoots, and keeping up with looks for my Instagram page,” he said. Some of Ferr’s recent photos feature sequin-studded eyeliner, some forays into drag makeup, and a colorful look he dubbed “frog couture realness.”
One contestant has been able to get back to work in the beauty industry, though. As a certified lash technician, Jake Oakley has spent the lockdown hand-creating and selling strip lashes. “Since [Glow Up], I’ve just been working on building my business and creating a positive group of people around me,” he said. 
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Close contact beauty services already opened back up in other parts of the U.K., including Wales and Scotland. The British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology has released a stringent set of guidelines for MUAs returning to work, including a requirement that creams and locations are kept in closed containers and a suggestion that artists use disposable makeup tools whenever possible.

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