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4 Ways Euphoria’s Makeup Is More Than Just Makeup

It’s no secret that Euphoria’s makeup has been a topic of discussion ever since the show was released in 2019. As an aspiring makeup artist, the Euphoria makeup caught my eye from the moment I saw it on screen, and millions of others saw the beauty in it as well since it’s started to become a trend. Although Euphoria’s makeup artist, Doniella Davy, was not the first to use glitter, rhinestones and holographic elements in her art, Euphoria was one of the first shows to incorporate unconventional and bold makeup looks on all of the characters. But it’s not just the aesthetic that makes the makeup special, it’s so much more than that. Euphoria’s makeup is more than just makeup…and let me tell you why. (Don’t worry, there are no spoilers!)

The makeup is a symbol

There are countless hidden meanings behind the makeup that helps us to understand the characters and where they are mentally or physically. If you haven’t seen the show, let me give you some backstory. Euphoria is all about teens dealing with the harsh realities of life and high school — the characters deal with abuse, identity, family and overcoming addiction.

The main character, Rue, is kind of in a messy situation, and her makeup reflects that throughout the show. She deals with both overdoses and withdrawals, and she’s not in the best headspace mentally, so her makeup often emulates messy tears. Maddy, on the other hand, has a pageant background, so her outfits and makeup are always perfectly coordinated and put together. Jules deals with a lot of internal and external conflicts throughout the show, and her makeup often shows us how she’s feeling internally since she hardly ever expresses it blatantly. In one episode, we see her keeping a big secret from Rue, so she has red in the inner corners of her eyes to reflect how she was dealing with that stress, and it made her look a bit unhealthy and lost. In another one, she wore a fierce, sharp and hard-feeling eyeliner to reflect her feelings of being trapped and conflicted. The makeup helps the audience understand the characters on a deeper level, and I find that pretty cool. 

The makeup is a statement

Euphoria‘s makeup artist, Doniella Davy, worked on various film sets before her work on Euphoria, and she found that most directors wanted the makeup to be felt, not seen. When I completed the film module in cosmetology school, I was taught that every actor should look like they’re not wearing makeup and that we should just accentuate their natural features, which is what’s typically seen in films. Obviously, that’s not always the case with some sci-fi or dystopian movies where special effects come into play, but it’s rare for every character in a teen drama to wear glitter and rhinestones on a daily basis.

When Davy was given the task to work on Euphoria, she found herself wanting to be more creative with the characters and decided to take a different approach than what’s usually seen on television. Much like fashion, makeup is more than just something that’s corrective and pretty — it’s a form of expression. It’s part of how we express ourselves to the rest of the world. I admire the approach and the risk that Davy took, and that she was able to express makeup as an art form on TV. Davy did her research on Gen Z and decided to reflect on their interests and style through makeup. “These young people are pushing the boundaries and not living by mainstream archetypes or stereotypes,” Doniella Davy said in an interview with Cosmopolitan. Makeup on film is seen as completely different than it is on Instagram or YouTube, but Davy successfully blended the two. She was able to convey something that helped the audience resonate with the characters on a deeper level, and it made a bold statement. 

The makeup peaked inspiration

Shortly after the show aired, Euphoria’s audience, myself included, began doing their own “Euphoria makeup.” Graphic liner, rhinestones, bold liners and bright eyeshadows started becoming more normalized, and people who typically didn’t wear a lot of makeup started getting out of their comfort zone. I’ve always felt comfortable going out of the norm and wearing bold and unconventional makeup looks in public, mainly because makeup has always been my favorite form of art and an important part of how I expressed myself. However, most people usually just throw on mascara and call it a day (which is great as well!). I really love seeing people pushing themselves out of their comfort zones and incorporating colors and glitter into their everyday looks, and to start seeing makeup as a form of self-expression. Euphoria created trends that allow everyone to feel more confident when being bold and creative with their makeup, which is one of the things I enjoy the most about it! 

The makeup is art 

In film, creative directors often try to use costumes, sets, sounds and a script to tell a story — but Euphoria went a step beyond that by using makeup as well. Davy really showed how much art goes into makeup, and how it’s more than just something to accentuate the actors’ features. With makeup, she was able to express the feelings and motives of each individual character, and accentuate their outfits and personalities at the same time. Makeup is not often considered a form of art, but Euphoria gave Doniella Davy a platform to challenge that assumption and express her talents freely in a way that fits the narrative of every character. Makeup artists are real artists, and I’d love to see more TV shows take bold approaches like this in the future. 

Well, there you have it! That’s my take on the reasons why Euphoria’s makeup is more than just makeup. If you haven’t seen Euphoria yet, I strongly suggest giving it a try! While you watch, try looking for the deeper meanings beyond the makeup looks. And if you’re usually afraid to be bold and unconventional with your makeup, I recommend getting out of your comfort zone and trying it out. Something about glitter and bright colors is so fulfilling and has definitely proven to be a confidence booster. That’s all; now I’m going to go rewatch Euphoria for the tenth time. 

Alexandra is a sophomore at the University of Central Florida, studying print and digital journalism. She loves to be creative in any way, shape, or form and is currently training to be a makeup artist! When she's not in class or writing, she's either at Disney or creating something new.
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