Have you ever dreamed of becoming somebody else? Looking in the mirror and seeing someone famous and fabulous… rather than plain old you?
For make-up maestro Elliot Joseph Rentz, it’s not just a dream; it’s a day job. The 26-year-old makes a living transforming himself into celebrities, using everyday cosmetics — and his incredible skills with a make-up brush.
He’s done more than 200 facial transformations, from the Queen to Angelina Jolie, Madonna to Leonardo DiCaprio and Marilyn Monroe to Prince Harry.
They’re so convincing that the stars themselves have been bowled over, winning him almost a million fans on social media, where he posts as Alexis Stone, his glamorous drag queen alter ego.
‘I’ve always loved the idea of costume, of transforming myself into someone else and, one day, I thought I’d try a celebrity makeover,’ explains Elliot, who started his career in fashion.
This was in 2017 and, for the next six months, Elliot did a different transformation every day in his Manchester flat, uploading the astonishing results to Instagram.
Today, as a social media ‘influencer’, he earns hundreds of thousands of pounds a year from online sponsorship and collaboration deals, including a popular make-up range.
But could Elliot, who is entirely self-taught, work his magic on me, transforming me into two very different A-listers? Here’s how he got on . . .
Elliot starts by cleansing my face and I sit in front of a fan until my skin is bone-dry. This provides a neutral ‘canvas’.
I find myself face-to-face with huge, close-up images of Adele. ‘I start by breaking each face down into parts,’ says Elliot. ‘With Adele, it’s her button nose, that iconic chin and her rounded cheeks.’
He starts erasing my eyebrows: this removes my natural expression and gives him more space to re-draw Adele’s brows higher up.
To do this, Elliot uses a glue stick that looks (and smells) like Pritt Stick, but is purple. It dries clear and he uses swift, upward strokes to stick my eyebrows flat to my forehead.
Once dry, a thick, he applies a pan-stick foundation over the top, so my brows blend into my forehead. I’m left looking like a boiled egg with eyes.
Elliot applies a gel primer to my cheeks and chin, which will help the make-up stay put.
Next is layer upon layer of foundation, about five shades too orange for my pale Irish complexion. ‘Going darker ensures the highlights are visible,’ says Elliot.
We’re only ten minutes in — the whole look takes an hour — and I’m already wearing more make-up than I own.
Elliot ‘carves out’ the key features of Adele’s face, using darker and lighter shades of foundation, which he applies with a small brush.
He paints lighter and darker lines down my nose, narrowing it and rounding out the tip, dark curves to give me the cheekbones I’ve always dreamed of, and a brown flick to create a cleft in my chin.
To make my face plumper —this is Adele before her weight loss — he uses yet more clever contouring, then adds pressed powder and tops it off with a dusting of loose powder.
Nude eyeshadow above and below my eyes erases any natural creases and, instead, Elliot floods the area with brown and grey eyeliner.
He builds up layer upon layer around the outer corners, slowly changing the almond shape of my eyes into Adele’s cat-like features.
For her trademark feline flick, he applies black pen eyeliner along my top lash-line and then outwards in an exaggerated curve. Next, it’s the return of my eyebrows, drawn on in brown eyeliner pen with a series of deft strokes.
The final touch is a pair of spidery fake eyelashes, glued above the natural lash line to make my eyes look bigger and tilt them up at the corners.
Using a brown liner, Elliot draws an exaggerated outline, about twice the size of my own lips, colouring them in with a nude lip gloss.
I feel ridiculous, but Elliot explains that big lips draw the eye and help balance out the new dimensions he created by erasing my eyebrows.
He uses a cream-coloured highlighter pen to pick out a patch of light on my bottom lip, making it look rounder.
Next, it’s on with my outfit before he fits a wig. ‘The wigs bring everything together,’ Elliot says. ‘They’re the most expensive part of what I do; I’ve spent £2,500 on a wig before.’
I’m gobsmacked. I can barely see where I end and Adele begins — and it takes 17 baby wipes to remove her.
Male faces are more difficult than female faces — even if your subject is a man.
‘You’re using make-up but trying to make them look like they don’t have any make-up on,’ says Elliot.
To make me look like chef Gordon Ramsay, he starts by using glue on my eyebrows. Elliot then uses greasepaint (not foundation) to blend my brows into my forehead.
For those trademark frown lines, he applies a dark eyeliner pencil, as well as a light highlighter pencil. I look like I’m permanently frowning — and I’ve aged five decades in five minutes. Elliot then uses the same dark pencil to draw on rough, jagged eyebrows.
For the manly jawline he turns to the contouring technique, using alternating dark and light brushstrokes, to create lines around the cheeks, chin, nose, mouth and eyes.
Then he creates freckles and liver spots using a toothbrush. A brown liner helps to thin out my lips, while brown eyeshadow makes my eyes look tired and small.
The final step is contact lenses, which turn my green eyes blue.
I’ve always wanted to be a famous chef — but not ranty, wrinkly Ramsay. Still, it’s unnervingly convincing.
One of Elliot’s first – and favourite – transformations was the Queen, and in just 30 minutes I watch him morph from fresh-faced 26-year-old to an uncanny likeness of the 94-year-old monarch.
He starts with a shave, so his face is perfectly smooth, and uses glue to erase his eyebrows.
Then, he covers his entire face in thick greasepaint, and after applying rouge to his cheeks and brown shadows to round out his square jawline, uses brown, nude and cream-coloured eyeliner pencils to draw on the royal wrinkles.
‘The most distinctive ones are the lines around her mouth, which run vertically rather than horizontally,’ he explains.
Next, he adds a spattering of age spots with a toothbrush dipped in dark brown face paint. He outlines the Queen’s lips using a brown liner and fills them in with a warm pink lipstick, to mimic her trademark Clarins colour.
Finally, it’s on with the royal wig, a pair of pearl earrings and a suitably regal white gown.
Elliot has perfected the art of slightly hunching his shoulders and pursing his lips – and as he poses I feel an inexplicable urge to curtsey.