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Nikki Lilly on Glow Up Does Red Nose Day: 'I've always thought make-up was magical'

YouTuber and CBBC star Nikki Lilly shares all about the Comic Relief special.

"I've always loved make-up," says YouTuber and CBBC star Nikki Lilly. "I've always thought it was magical."

Nikki is taking part in BBC Three's Comic Relief special Glow Up Does Red Nose Day, alongside radio presenter Roman Kemp, BBC Radio 1Xtra's Snoochie Shy, winner of RuPaul's Drag Race UK series one The Vivienne and musician Lady Leshurr.

Maya Jama is returning as host and Dame Zandra Rhodes joins Val Garland and Dominic Skinner to help oversee the make-up artistry. Meanwhile, world-renowned photographer Rankin is joining to shoot the celebrity make-up looks.

"It was so fun taking part," Nikki says. "I've always been such a fan of Comic Relief and think all the work that they do is amazing. And I love Glow Up, so combining those two was so much fun."

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Nikki, an Emmy and BAFTA-winning presenter with more than eight million followers on TikTok, says it was a highlight to meet Glow Up judges Val and Dom. "They are such icons to me and people I've looked up to ever since I got into make-up," she says.

The YouTuber, who regularly posts her own make-up videos to her 1.2 million followers, says she learned the importance of having a methodical approach thanks to her time on Glow Up.

"Watching Val was incredible when she gave us a demonstration before we did the fashion show," Nikki says. "I learned so much from her in terms of technique, like how to do a glittery lip. It was so cool."

'Make-up helped me accept the skin I was in'

When she was young, Nikki remembers watching her mum and her sister doing their make-up and being mesmerised by how it can transform your appearance and your confidence.

And after she was diagnosed with a condition known as arteriovenous malformation - a blood-vessel disorder - Nikki started experimenting with make-up.

"It was really difficult for me," Nikki says. "As a six year old, I didn't really understand what was going on and why my appearance was changing.

"When I got diagnosed with my condition, I had to give up basically all of my hobbies and I was left feeling really isolated and lonely.

"I kind of lost myself and lost the identity I was beginning to form as a child."

But Nikki had always enjoyed watching make-up tutorials online - so she tried them for herself.

"I ended up turning to make-up more than I ever had before," she says. "I didn't have any make-up at first, so it would be picking a few bits out of my mum's make-up bag and playing around with them.

"It was really just me being able to express myself. It became a massive escapism for me on the days where I had excruciating pain or a bad nosebleed or was just really struggling to understand that this was my life and this was the way that I was beginning to look."

Nikki also found that experimenting with make-up every day encouraged her to become comfortable with herself.

"It allowed me to look in the mirror and familiarise myself with my face that was changing," she says.

"It helped me accept the skin I was in and slowly begin to accept my appearance and love myself for it."

When she was growing up, Nikki says she wishes she had someone to look up to who had a similar story to her.

"I desperately wished there was someone like me, who looked like me that I could have looked up to or that was always in and out of hospital or had a chronic illness," she says. "I think there was a big lack of that on social media."

Now, she hopes to be that person for people who watch her online.

"I feel like I was one of the people who maybe made a little difference in helping to redefine the meaning of 'different' in a good way by talking about visible differences and showing visible differences."

BBC Three