Now more than ever, beauty has rapidly blossomed from the shallow-surfaced roots of vanity that it was pigeonholed in for decades. It’s transformed into a form of expression, allowing the user to fully manifest their true identity in a single smear of glitter, rather than covering it up with a slick plaster of foundation. With the rise of social media, Gen Z has been able to break the confines of what was once “standard” beauty, and evolve it into something, well, beautiful—not just visually, but in an emotional state, and in a sense, philosophical.
To cement this ideology is the latest HBO drama to catch everyone’s attention, Euphoria: a saga of the trials and tribulations of high school students trying to meander through the daily struggles life throws at them. But, this is not your average Saved By The Bell scenario—think Skins on a cocktail of molly, I. AM. GIA. ensembles, and psychedelic eyeshadows.
The makeup in this show is just as delightfully chaotic as the situations each and every one of these spiraling high school students encounter, which you can thank Doniella Davy for.
The Head of Makeup for modern television’s most unhinged show is no mere novice in the world of cosmetics, and has also contributed her genius to other major projects like the academy award-winning film Moonlight—another coming-of-age spectacle filled with turmoil, heart-wrenching scenes, and mind-searing visuals. But, what makes her latest work arguably her greatest is not just how “cool” she makes the characters look: it’s the underlying message behind each and every glossy pout, curled lash, or lack thereof. Though it’s hard to click together while you’re absorbed in the chaos of the show’s blood-pumping moments, an example of Davy’s underlying meanings all become clear in a single Instagram post, where she cites Euphoria character Maddy’s sharp winged liner as a visual representation of her ability to “cut through everyone’s bullshit.”
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Maddy looked through Nate’s phone and it was weird, Euphoria, Episode 4. I wanted Maddy’s liner to be reminiscent of a shiny 🔪 when the light hits it b/c of the way she cuts through everyone’s bullsh*t in this episode. Makeup applied by @kirinrider. PRODUCTS: @maccosmetics Chromaline cream liner in Marine Ultra with @stilacosmetics Shimmer & Glow Liquid in Vivid Sapphire layered on top + iridescent green rhinestones (from Amazon) secured with lash glue and applied with a tapered effect + rose gold loose glitter mixed with gloss on her lips. #euphoriahbo #euphoriahbomakeup
“…it was my mission to absorb it all, create my own version of it based on my own aesthetic as an artist and then bring it to Euphoria, where it would eventually reach a wide and diverse audience,” Davy told COOLS. “…an audience where people who already express themselves through Euphoria-like makeup will feel represented, and where others will feel inspired to try things they didn’t previously feel were allowed or appropriate for every day.”
Below, we talk to the celebrity makeup artist on her mission behind her work in Euphoria, the incidental nostalgia factor that lingers within the mesmerizing looks she crafted, and more.
COOLS : What was your inspiration for the makeup looks on Euphoria?
Doniella Davy: “My main inspiration came from Instagram, specifically what Gen Z is doing with makeup. Gen Z is completely redefining what makeup can and should be used to do, by embracing total freedom in expression and defying beauty and makeup norms. While scrolling, I found so many nuances both subtle and loud, that people are expressing through their makeup. I found irony, playfulness, rebelliousness, joy, fearlessness, disorder, vulnerability, wanting to be loved, not wanting to be loved, delirium, elation, heartbreak, confusion, rebirth, surrealism, wonder, anxiety, and euphoria of course. Makeup, after all, is emotionally evocative. That’s the whole point of it. It makes the wearer and the viewer feel something more than what a naked face alone can convey. I also drew inspiration from the late 1960s, taking inspo from Twiggy, Nina Simone’s rhinestone eyebrow looks, as well as 1970s Glam Rock moments.”
COOLS: Many of the looks on the show have a nostalgic, Y2K style to them. Was this intentional, and if so, why?
DD: “For me, this was welcomely unintentional, and definitely happened inherently, not only because I was 12 years old during Y2K, but also because I think Gen Z draws some of their inspiration from Y2K and the ‘90s, so I picked up on some of that as well by being inspired by Gen Z. I think the costumes had a ‘90s feel to them for sure, but the makeup wasn’t entirely riffing off the costumes in that regard. I think the makeup was an inherent ode to the 1990s and Y2K, and also a jumping-off point to the future of self-expression through makeup.”
COOLS: How is working on Euphoria different from the other TV shows and films you’ve worked on before?
DD: “Euphoria was unlike anything I’ve ever done before. It was the biggest makeup department I ever ran, with the most characters and makeup looks. Many projects I’ve worked on have a limitation with exactly how much impact any visual makeup should have. When I met with the creator of Euphoria, Sam Levinson, I realized how much he loved and wanted to celebrate makeup on his show. I was actually going to be supported in creating editorial and experimental looks on a major network TV show.”
“In addition to designing the Euphoria makeup to be visually captivating and help propel the various storylines forward, I was encouraged by Sam to push through existing makeup norms, and introduce a new makeup language; a way of transcending mainstream archetypes and stereotypes and embracing a more fluid, boundary-pushing mode of self-expression. Since this is already happening out there in the world, it was my mission to absorb it all, create my own version of it based on my own aesthetic as an artist and then bring it to Euphoria, where it would eventually reach a wide and diverse audience; an audience where people who already express themselves through Euphoria-like makeup will feel represented, and where others will feel inspired to try things they didn’t previously feel were allowed or appropriate for everyday.”
COOLS: Which look was your favorite to create for this season?
DD: “I literally can’t answer that question, because all the looks bring me so much joy. Overall, I think I had the most fun creating Jules’s looks because of their level of experimentation and the element of freedom of expression through makeup, but I am also in love with how my assistant, Kirsten Coleman, always brought my visions for Maddy’s looks to life, always adding her own unique flair that would push the look even farther.”
COOLS: Any makeup tips/product recommendations for recreating the beauty looks from the show?
DD: “ColourPop eyeshadow palettes are my go-to for bright colors and Lemonhead glitter is my go-to for glitter gels. Glitter gels can be layered on top of eyeshadows, which I usually use a concealer brush to do. Amazon has all the rhinestones. Use white (clear-drying) eyelash glue to attach rhinestones to the skin. NYX vivid brights cream color and Suva Beauty hydra liners for bright colored and neon eyeliner and/or color blocks.”