Self-taught makeup artist Leigh Easthope made it to the final three of BBC’s new show Glow Up: Britain’s Next Makeup Star showing many of his talents throughout the series including working with the Kinky Boots West End cast. Having a full-time job away from makeup, since Glow Up aired, Leigh has made appearances at events, hosted masterclasses and works as a freelance makeup artist. Taking time out, Leigh chats about appearing on Glow Up, working at events and learning the art of makeup.
How did you first hear about Glow Up?
I first heard about Glow Up from a casting call on social media, I had it saved to go back to for weeks before I had one too many glasses of confidence juice to make me apply!
What was your experience like on the show and how much do you think you learnt?
Overall the experience of Glow Up was stressful, overwhelming but most of all incredible, I learnt so much about myself, my artistry, the industry and I had some amazing experiences and made some friends for life. If I hadn’t have been in Glow Up, I wouldn’t have the confidence in my art that I do now, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to showcase my work in ways I do now and I’d probably still be only working on myself in my bedroom!
Do you remember how you felt when reaching the final three?
My first reaction to making the final three was shock, I was confident in my look from the decades challenge that week but never imagined when applying for Glow Up I would make it past the first or second week.
What was it like making up the Kinky Boots cast and have you done other drag makeup?
Previous to Kinky Boots, I had done drag makeup once on myself, I always called it my baby drag look because it was very minimal, and I remember it took me almost a week to post the photo because I was sure it wasn’t up to scratch. Right from the start knowing we only had one hour to recreate a look that normally takes two/three the pressure was so high. Luckily, I got a great model who really helped keep me on track, so thanks, Jak!
Which weeks did you find most challenging and most rewarding?
Fashion week will always be my standout, as working on a show is what I could only dream of before I applied, I love how fast-paced it was and how seeing the models walk the runway looked and thinking…I did that!
What work have you done since the show aired?
I currently still work full time in Learning and Development but I work freelance a lot now, I’ve worked a couple of weddings, a short film (with two more on the horizon), I’ve also taught a couple of masterclasses and am running my second SFX masterclass really soon! There’s no wonder I’m so tired lately!
Do you think you would like to do a reality show again?
The experience of Glow Up was intense, would I do another reality show? Maybe… I think it would depend on the circumstances and the show would have to be the right one!
How was it recreating your monochrome look?
My monochrome look was my standout and favourite look I did the whole show, so I was super excited to recreate it. Working on symmetry is such a test and working on a Rorschach look on yourself is even tougher, it helped me realise how far I’ve come since filming and showed me how much Glow Up has pushed my artistry to where it is now.
As a self-taught makeup artist, what tips would you give someone teaching themselves?
For anyone teaching themselves makeup, I’d say practice, practice, practice, try recreating others’ work, it’s a real test and will push your skills in a direction you might not have thought possible. When something goes wrong, know when to stop but also before you do, try to find a way to fix it first, problem-solving is a big one in makeup and that’s something that took me some time to learn.
How long did it take you to learn the art and what made you decide to start?
I’m still learning every day, working in makeup is a constant development, there are always new products to try and techniques you’ve never seen. If you think you’ve learned all you can, then you’re becoming stagnant and need to search for something new! I’ve been doing makeup for eighteen months now and can honestly say, every time I pick up a palette or a brush, I learn something new.
Starting in makeup was actually just getting carried away at Halloween and being indecisive about what I wanted to dress up as, I enjoyed trailing the different looks and then started to explore more until it took over all my free time.
What did you enjoy doing before discovering makeup?
I used to draw and paint a lot, I’ve always been arty but never imagined or even considered using a face as a canvas!
Do you have a favourite aspect about your career as a makeup artist?
I think the highlight of my career so far is working with Rankin, being published in Hunger magazine blows my mind!
What’s been the most elaborate look you’ve created?
I think it’s a tricky one to say, there are lots of elements that make makeup look elaborate. I think my monochrome look that I redid was fairly elaborate and my turning myself into a ‘Painting’, this look I think looks more elaborate than it is, it was a lot of fun to create but layering paints to get the right texture and look was tricky!
Will you be attending any events in the next few months and which have you attended recently?
I don’t have lots of events planned, I have some colleges to visit and a test day with Lan, but that’s about the height of it, so if anyone wants to invite me anywhere, hit me up! I recently attended IMATS London to demo which was amazing! I remember looking last year and thinking how cool it would be to showcase my work somewhere like that and then it happened!
Can you say more about the United Makeup Artist exhibition that you attended with fellow Glow Up contestants, Ellis, Belinda and Tiffany?
Belinda, Ellis, Tiffany and I were invited to speak on a panel at UMAE this year, which was so great to meet so many people that invested their time in watching us work and watching Glow Up, slightly overwhelming thinking about the amount of people that actually knew who we were and were so nice and supportive about the work that we produced! We also got to demo in pairs at UMAE which was great and this was my very first demo so it was very exciting.
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