Lip Tattoos & Rhinestone Eyebrows: Inside The Wildest Makeup On Euphoria

Even the least relatable and realistic teen TV shows — Gossip Girl, Riverdale, and Pretty Little Liars included — tend to have makeup that isn't all that out of the ordinary. The precocious cool-girl might favor a bright red lip, sure, while the goth girl favors a thick layer of black eyeshadow, but understated eyeliner, mascara, and blush are the usual go-tos.

On HBO's Euphoria, which stars Zendaya as a teenager battling drug addiction, the idea of typical "high-school makeup" is being turned on its head — with makeup becoming a character unto itself. From the jump, the show's lead makeup artist, Doniella Davy, knew that this would be a series like no other.


"When I first met with the creator Sam Levinson, he was like, 'Makeup is part of the show,'" Davy tells Refinery29. "He said, 'I want you to push yourself and push the norms of beauty and makeup.' A lot of times, high-school makeup is based in reality. In Sam’s version of reality that he wants to depict, intense self-expression through clothing, hair, and makeup is very much the ultimate reality."

In the world of Euphoria, that manifests as girls gluing rhinestones onto their eyebrows — when they're not wearing five different eyeshadow colors at once, green lipstick, and glitter over the entire eye. With that level of creativity, the makeup Davy is creating is indisputably some of the interesting on TV right now.

"Most of my inspiration came from what kids are doing right now," Davy, who also worked on Moonlight, says. "I believe these Gen Z kids and artists are coming up with a new language of self-expression through makeup. It’s so brave and bold to me that I really fell in love with what I was seeing on Instagram."

Ahead, we talked to Davy about some of our favorite characters' makeup aesthetics, that lip tattoo scene, and how she manages to make Zendaya look like she hasn't slept in days.

Photo: Courtesy of Doniella Davy.

Inside Jules' Technicolor Dream

For the character of Jules Vaughn (Hunter Schafer), Davy wanted her makeup to reflect her own creativity. "I had a lot of fun with Jules because Hunter, like her character, is an artist," Davy says. "We wanted to have her makeup be expressive, and it was never about beauty with her. Like, this is an eyeliner, but I'm not going to use it as an eyeliner. I wanted everything to look painted onto her face."

Davy says that Colourpop eyeshadow palettes were key for creating Jules' many bold looks. "They are astounding in color and pigment," she says. "I bought so many." To get the color as vibrant as possible, Davy would spritz the shadow with water and then use a concealer brush to pack on pigment. For many of Jules' neon eyeliner looks, Davy reached for Make Up For Ever Aqua XL Color Paint Shadow. "They come in little oil-paint tubes, and stay forever," she says.
Photo: Courtesy of Doniella Davy.

Makeup With A Message

Given that Jules is transgender, Davy wanted to subvert and transcend makeup norms that are intrinsically linked to gender stereotypes. "I never wanted her to look too polished or feminine," Davy says. "I would hold off on finishing touches like highlighter or mascara or lipliner. Her most feminine looks happen when she is going to meet up with men she meets online who are living their public lives as heterosexual men. This is a strategic move for Jules."

Jules' makeup often has a hidden meaning, according to Davy, that corresponds with her emotional state. "The biggest example that sticks out to me would be the carnival makeup," says Davy. "The thinking there was, she’s going to meet this Tyler guy. She doesn’t want to look too over-the-top, and she’s also really nervous and excited and she’s been extremely vulnerable. I wanted it to have a nervous energy by using this pastel glitter. It’s 'love me' makeup."
Photo: Courtesy of HBO.

Maddy's Rhinestones Are Forever

For Maddy Perez (Alexa Demie), the "popular" girl in school (who, like everyone on the show, is going through some heavy shit), makeup acts like an accessory to her outfits. "They're like miniature outfits in and of themselves," Davy says. "There’s multiple eyeshadows, shimmers, rhinestones, eyeliner, fake lashes, all the works."

Davy drew inspiration from YouTube makeup bloggers for the character because the creator and director wanted Maddy's makeup to be the kind that viewers would want to try themselves. "Sam wanted people to pause the show and look at her makeup and be like, 'Oh, I want to recreate it,'" Davy says. "It was about looking at the most intricate cat-eye looks online and finding a way to run them through my own filter so I'm offering something new and different."

As for those rhinestone eyebrows, Davy actually came up with the concept after seeing this vintage photo of singer Nina Simone.
Photo: Courtesy of Doniella Davy.

Glitter That Sticks

With looks as detailed as Maddy's, of course they take a good amount of time. "The looks were up to 90 minutes," says Davy. "And that’s a very focused 90 minutes."

Among Davy's favorite products to use on Maddy were Stila Glitter & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow, and Chanel Longwear Intense Cream Eyeliner for all those cat-eyes. The rhinestones were purchased on Amazon, and applied with eyelash glue as the adhesive.
Photo: Courtesy of HBO.

Dimming Zendaya's Glow

In order for Zendaya to convincingly play Rue Bennett, the normally-radiant actress had to turn into someone who looks like she is struggling with drug addiction. Davy says that the dark, gloomy lighting on the show helped enormously to achieve that look — as did a few makeup tricks.

"I'm not putting any corrective makeup on her," Davy says. "In some scenes I make her lips look more pale, and I can do that with eyeshadow. I always wanted her skin to look un-cleansed, so I would use highlighter products that are cream-based all over her face."

As for the dark circles, which Rue would naturally have after staying up for 24+ hours, Davy heightened Zendaya's natural under-eye darkness by surrounding them with concealer a few shades lighter for heightened contrast.
Photo: Eddy Chen/HBO.

Kat's Hot-Topic Glam

The most obvious physical transformation on Euphoria comes courtesy of Kat Hernandez (Barbie Ferreira). When we first meet Kat, she's pared-down and more or less plain-faced — but after losing her virginity in the first episode, she goes through both a fashion and beauty transformation that has her changing her look entirely from day to day.

"It’s like a different section of Hot Topic every day," Davy says. "It’s a rebellious version of glam." Kat is experimenting, so she's wearing green eyeshadow and purple lipstick, and thick black liner with red shadow. "She's finding her way," Davy says. "I don't think I ever used the same product twice."

Tattooing Rules

In the fifth episode of Euphoria, Rue and Jules get lip tattoos of their couple name, "Rules." Davy says the scene took hours, and there was actually talk of Zendaya and Hunter getting those tattoos in real-life to make the whole thing easier. Thankfully, Davy and her team figured out another option.

"I designed these things that are like Invisalign," Davy says. "Their gums have this plastic Invisalign over them, but their real teeth are exposed. Then, on top of the Invisalign that covers their gums, there was a silicone sculpture of fake gums that connected from the gum line to the part of their lips where their fingers are holding. All the flesh you see inside their mouth is all fake. It’s silicone, and then the raised tattoo was silicone and then the tattoo was painted."
Photo: Courtesy of Doniella Davy.

The Stories Makeup Tells

According to Davy, the makeup is always reflective of what each female character is going through. "Makeup can tell you a lot," she says. "It can tell you who you are, who you need to be, and who you feel like being each day. For Maddy, it’s who she needs to be. For Jules, it’s who she is. She’s been through a lot of shit and self-actualized and realized. Kat's makeup is who she feels like being that day."

Euphoria has already been renewed for season 2, so Davy has already begun considering the looks she'll create the next time around. Though she can't reveal any specifics, she knows that for these teens, no one day will ever look like the next.
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