‘Euphoria’ started the beauty trend we didn’t know we needed in our lives


How a cult TV show redefined the way Gen Z thinks about makeup.

Every decade or so, a TV show comes along that manages to capture the zeitgeist so entirely that it becomes a cultural touchstone for teenagers. Skins was that show for my generation – a messy, heartbreaking, endearingly funny hodgepodge of mid-2000s indie fashion, side fringes and liquid-liner cat eyes.

For the teens of today, HBO’s Euphoria has assumed the mantle. The show follows the escapades of Rue, a 17-year-old drug addict who, fresh out of rehab, has no intention of staying clean.

The cast of characters that bleed into Rue’s life are riddled with their own insecurities and issues, but one thing they all have in common is a particularly authentic-feeling playfulness with fashion and beauty. 

Amongst others, there’s Jules, a trans woman who’s wildly experimental with makeup (particularly coloured eyeliner), Maddy, a star cheerleader who has a signature dramatic eyeliner look and favours daytime face gems and sequins, and Cassie, a conventionally beautiful popular girl who regularly experiments with bold lips and glittery eyes.

Throughout the course of the series, there are graphic depictions of porn-like sex, nuanced explorations of addiction, mental health, gender identity and toxic online dating culture, rampant drug use and an array of truly chaotic house parties. Phew. But despite all this, what really stayed with me about Euphoria was the makeup. 

The head makeup artist for the show, Doniella Davy, was responsible for creating each look in collaboration with the actors, and makeup is expertly used to convey elements of characters’ personalities that dialogue and costuming might not be able to. Her work is a mesmerising small-screen representation of the fluid approach to beauty that Gen Z is increasingly becoming known for.

Speaking to Vulture last year, Davy explained the impact Gen Z has had on beauty, saying “They’re using it to challenge beauty and makeup norms, to redefine what makeup is. They’re using it to challenge stereotypical gender identities. It’s definitely not just about like, being pretty or using makeup in a corrective manner. There’s so much cheekiness involved. There’s so much irony and playfulness.”

Not only is makeup more accessible and affordable than it ever has been before, but it’s also being taken less seriously. The playfulness that has infiltrated our wardrobes over the last few years has made it to our faces, too. 

Euphoria’s influence can be seen everywhere; it’s sashaying down the runways at fashion week and it’s the electric blue eyeliner worn by 14-year-olds at your local mall.

So, where to start if you’re looking to Euphoria-ify your makeup bag? Simply put, glitter. We see glitter cascading down Rue’s face during an acid trip and the next day we see a lightly smudged triangle of sparkles under her lash line, a subtle reminder of the previous night’s escapades.

Nearly every character experiments with the sparkly stuff at some point throughout the series and this Heavy Metal Glitter eyeliner is peak Euphoria

If you’re a little dubious about a glitter eyeliner, then this Morphe Palette is for you. The array of colours on offer means you can create any number of Euphoria-inspired looks, and if there’s one thing every character in this show loves – apart from recreational drugs and glitter – it’s colour. And this palette, probably.

Start out with a light wash of monochromatic colour and work your way up to layering red, yellow, gold and lilac across your lids for a Jules-inspired watercolour effect.

This Zoom Shadow Stick can double as an eyeshadow and a chunky liner and gains extra points for seeming like something a character – probably Cassie – would lackadaisically swipe around their eyes before a house party.

Draw whatever you like – smiley faces, geometric shapes, love hearts – or line the entire outside of your eyes and pair it with a red lip to replicate Cassie’s True Romance inspired Halloween look

I know we’ve already touched on glitter, but it really is everywhere in Euphoria. Use your ring finger to smear this Gold Rush eyeshadow over and around the eye for a messy effect – an application technique Rue would surely approve of.

Luckily, this type of makeup is rule-free and often doesn’t require a lot of technical skill and beauty know-how to be able to pull it off. Try a white cloud drawn around the outside of your eyes like Jules, or maybe a little line of neon pink stars shooting down your cheek. Euphoria is your oyster.

A condensed version of this article was originally published in Fashion Journal 194. You can read it here.

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