Euphoria: A New Wave of Gen-Z Makeup

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The HBO show Euphoria, starring the young actress Zendaya, has had people buzzing since before it came out this June. Most people discovered the show through Zendaya’s Instagram account, where she posted the trailer towards the end of March. The trailer lasts less than thirty seconds, but it immediately made people curious. It features snippets of Zendaya and most of the cast members crying, screaming, having sex, doing drugs, and mysteriously looking away from the camera. In the short trailer, audiences saw a different side of Zendaya, who had earned her fame from child-friendly Disney shows and more recently, the Marvel-affiliated Spider-Man series. Euphoria was to be Zendaya’s first dramatic role, promising to be a show packed with intensity that would influence many in the younger generation. 

Now, about a month after the Euphoria’s  release, the hype around the show is still as intense as ever. The show itself centers around the lives of a group of teenagers trying to navigate high school life, with an additional challenge– all the characters deal with problems surrounding drug addiction, romantic relationships, and more. The show’s casual depiction of today’s teenage life– filled with drugs, sex, and LGBTQ identities– sets it apart from other shows that stay away from such controversial topics. The lives of teens in the show are definitely portrayed as more intense than regular teen life, but there are elements of truth to the characters’ experiences. While there has been some backlash for its particularly graphic scenes, the general consensus is that Euphoria is a breath of fresh air and a fun, crazy glimpse of a heightened reality of teen life in the 21st century. 

Apart from the plot, what viewers especially love about the show is its cinematic aesthetic and how the characters break regular beauty norms. Each female character is seen sporting makeup  that speaks to her own character. Firstly, there is Rue (Zendaya) who is a recovering drug addict often seen with mostly shimmering under-eye makeup, reflecting her troubled state of mind (but the glitter showing some hope for the future). Maddy (Alexa Demie), whose confident and combative personality is shown in her laser-sharp eyeliner with face jewels and glossy lips. Jules (Hunter Schafer), who expresses her turbulent emotions towards her problems with often bold neon eyeshadow and streaks of color. And finally, Kat (Barbie Ferreira), who embraces her new, confident personality with red lipstick and smokey eyeshadow. Their makeup is a way for them to express themselves without conforming to regular beauty standards. Most of the time characters wear full eyeshadow and nothing else, or just lipstick. The main goal of their appearance is not always to look exactly like the image of an attractive girl; it is to wear what makes them feel most confident or reflects how they feel at the moment. 

Most of the beauty looks on Euphoria are created by its lead makeup artist Doniella Davy. Her Instagram page shows all the looks she has created with an explanation of the look underneath each post. She is also tagged in many posts from other accounts, most of which display recreations of her Euphoria makeup looks—her trademark face crystals being one of the most popular.  

Davy’s makeup has become a source of inspiration for almost every teenager on Instagram’s beauty world. She has shown how Gen Z experiments with makeup in mainstream television, encouraging teenagers around the world who want to express themselves with makeup just like their favorite characters on the screen. Instead of just trying to match their makeup to their outfit or to accomplish a regular no makeup-makeup look, teens are now emboldened to add a dash of glittery green or a couple of rhinestones to their eyelids. 

This rising beauty trend  makes regular teens feel more confident– more like they are expressing themselves in a fun and fashionable way. Still, there is no need to immediately start with laser-sharp eyeliner and complicated eyeshadow. As Davy said in an interview for Vogue, “Gen Z uses makeup not only to portray who they are, but who they want to be that day.” The whole point of this trend is for people to feel like themselves. If being yourself means having glittery under-eyes, go for it. If it means a bold red lip and nothing else, then sport that color with pride.