A representation of Davy's work.
Illustration by Abby Yang, Minneapolis College

‘Euphoria’ Makeup Artist Donni Davy Proves She Can Bring It Again in Season 2

The subtle designs of the artist play a huge part in the popular HBO show’s aesthetic — and have subsequently influenced the aesthetic of Gen Z as well.

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A representation of Davy's work.
Illustration by Abby Yang, Minneapolis College

The subtle designs of the artist play a huge part in the popular HBO show’s aesthetic — and have subsequently influenced the aesthetic of Gen Z as well.

Doniella Davy, also known as Donni, is making a name for herself with her makeup artistry in “Euphoria.” After the show’s premiere in 2019, colorful rhinestones and glitter seemed to explode in popularity, with people across the globe recreating the makeup looks. These bold choices in makeup, combined with the show’s intense subject matter, moody lighting and artful cinematography, turned heads on the internet.

Popular “Euphoria”-style makeup includes Rue’s glittery purple tears, Maddy’s rhinestone-studded liner and Jules’ abstract neon looks. In the wake of its cult success, Lemonhead LA (the show’s glitter brand of choice in Season 1) launched a ”Euphoria”-inspired collection, worn by the actresses themselves. This launch proved to be successful; for instance, the brand’s glittery “Spacepaste” in shade Houdini (worn by Rue and Jules) sold out almost instantly after dropping. After only one season, ”Euphoria” proved that the series and its talented makeup department have massive influence over its Gen Z audience.

After two specials — bridging episodes designed to satiate fans in the two-year gap between seasons — Season 2 is back and with plenty of new looks. The search term “euphoria makeup” became popular back in 2019, and according to Google, this pattern is re-emerging in 2022.

What fans connect with most is Davy’s ability to tell stories through her makeup designs. Davy purposefully uses certain colors, graphic designs, rhinestones and glitters to match the different characters’ personalities and storylines, giving the series emotional intensity and depth. “If the makeup I’m doing is not enhancing the story, then it’s not doing its job,” Davy told Entertainment Weekly. Season 1 was bold, loud and unafraid, in storyline and makeup alike. “If Season 1 was a house party at 2 a.m.,” creator Sam Levison said in Season 2’s first episode recap on YouTube, “Season 2 should feel like 5 a.m., way past the point in which everyone should have gone home.” Davy seemed to agree with this, telling W Magazine she sees Season 2 as the first season’s “introverted sister.” In an Instagram caption, Davy described this season’s approach as “a softer version of twinkling Euphoria glam.” Season 2’s looks are more subtle but remain heavy with nuance and symbolism.

After every episode, Davy takes to Instagram to share her thoughts and break down exactly how her team created each look. For instance, in the season premiere, Cassie’s anxious eyes are framed by a soft, pastel peach eyeshadow with tiny, tear-like rhinestones as liner, representing the twinkling innocence she seeks to portray this season after a serious betrayal (spoiler: hooking up with her best friend’s ex-boyfriend). In a post dedicated to this look, Davy explained these deliberate choices, then teased Cassie, saying, “she wasn’t really trying to do what she did…right??” These posts consistently garner enthusiastic replies, with one user commenting “I LOVE how you’ve used the tiny rhinies so poetically, the little glimmers from a distance makes it look like [she] is on the verge of tears. So perfect for Cassie’s character and story this season. Absolutely nailed it.” This playful and interactive approach to Davy’s Instagram platform invites discussion and generates excitement for what will happen next in the series. Even off-screen, Davy uses makeup to connect with fans and propel the story of “Euphoria” further.

In stark contrast to Cassie’s look, Maddy’s razor-sharp cat eyes in the same episode serve as a warning not to mess with her. Davy described this look as “sharp like a knife to cut through whatever stands in her way: Ex-boyfriends, bathroom doors, etc.” Despite this sharpness, the audience understands (especially after last season’s focus on her abusive relationship) that Maddy is just as frightened and vulnerable as her peers behind closed doors. Davy uses makeup not only as a storytelling device but also as armor to guard one’s secrets and fears.

Kat, a character who jumped head-first into dark smoky eyeshadow looks while she discovered her own power last season, is much more fresh-faced in Season 2. All her looks so far have featured fun pops of color and clean lower lash lines. Davy interpreted this as “Kat still being kind of new to wearing makeup, and still very much using it to help figure out who she wants to be.” This is something that may resonate especially with younger fans, who look to the media they consume to model their own outfits and makeup.

They say the eyes are the window to the soul, and Davy has used this to her full advantage, relying heavily on eye makeup to tell the characters’ stories. No two looks are ever the same, something she’s passionate about. Davy said in an interview with Vogue, “I wanted every girl to be really, really different and have their own thing going on.” By mindfully keeping each character’s makeup separate, fans can easily slip into a persona they identify with — perhaps imitating Maddy’s eyeliner for confidence or Cassie’s muted shadows for softness.

Makeup can be performative, something Davy understands intimately. The artist said she takes inspiration from Gen Z’s fearless portrayals of self, commenting, “Gen Z uses makeup not only to portray who they are, but who they want to be that day.” Davy confessed to trawling through Instagram and TikTok during her time in quarantine to survey what makeup trends Gen Z was drawn to. This fosters a genuine and organic kind of feedback loop in the community Davy is building in her comments section; she gains her inspiration from her audience, and in turn, her audience gains inspiration from her.

Under the “tagged” tab on Davy’s Instagram profile, you will find countless fans who have dutifully recreated each of the looks seen in ”Euphoria,” some even putting their own spin on the originals. After most episodes, Davy goes on a re-sharing spree, posting fan recreations on her story for her thousands of followers to admire. On TikTok, one fan blended Rue’s purple eyeshadow with the glittery sharpness of Maddy’s, to which Davy replied, “You. Look. Incredible.” The #euphoriamakeup tag on TikTok has accrued 1.3 billion views to date, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a video there without a comment along the lines of “Maddy vibes” or “you look like Lexi!” The makeup design of “Euphoria” is giving Gen Z inspiration and an entirely new vocabulary of style and color to express themselves confidently and creatively. Whether it’s breaking out rhinestones and lash glue, or embracing bold graphic liner, Gen Z is ready for whatever ”Euphoria” has to give. It’s clear that Donni Davy is tuned in, ready to listen and ready to teach in return.

Writer Profile

Anna Merlo

University of Queensland, Australia
Law/Arts (Extended Major in Writing)

Anna is a fourth-year law/arts student, majoring in writing. She loves reading, baking and really long walks. She plans to write a shelfful of novels and pursue academia after her bachelor’s degree.

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