Makeup has always been essential to film and television as a form of realism to ensure verisimilitude and the believability of its characters and narrative. However despite its significance, it is generally the most overlooked element of production. The 2019 series Euphoria challenges this conventional role of makeup by bringing it to the forefront of our minds through the characters’ various bold and striking makeup looks.
In its exploration of love, trauma and addiction, the series presents us with an aesthetic visualisation of the teenage struggle, where makeup is used as a form expression for each character in order to communicate emotion in a deeper and more intimate way. In doing so, Euphoria has redefined what makeup is not only for the film and television industry, but for us all.
Each makeup look is an expression of the character: their emotions, their inner-turmoil, and their feelings…
During my daily scroll through TikTok, my ‘for you page’ displays endless videos of users recreating many of the iconic Euphoria makeup looks. While these types of videos are no longer a rare occurrence, I am continuously entranced by them for their highly aesthetic appeal. The deep purple lighting, the sparkling eye shadow, and gleaming sequins create a bold and powerful look that catches my attention and draws me in.
While these striking makeup looks are used frequently and consistently throughout the show, they should not be overlooked. Each one is an expression of the character: their emotions, their inner-turmoil, and their feelings. Each look is meticulously planned out in order to communicate the character on a profound and personal level.
Euphoria’s creator Sam Levinson wants the makeup to be seen, and for it to present a complete reflection of the character: their journey, their development, and their emotions
Take Jules for example, one of the show’s leading characters, who wears consistently vibrant and playful makeup looks. Donnie Davy, the show’s head makeup artist, praises Jules and the power of her makeup. With a level of unpolished-ness to her look, Jules never appears too perfect or too feminine, showcasing her self assurance and ‘confidence to be bold and brave and to just do whatever she feels like doing’. Even at her lowest moments, where her makeup becomes less whimsical and more fierce, Jules maintains a captivating vibrancy that continues to reflect her free spirited-ness and innocence. She challenges both conventional beauty and gender stereotypes, expressing herself as an entirely unique and unconstrained human, and consisting of a rawness that allows her to be the most nuanced version of herself.
It is this power and strength behind the characters’ makeup that creates the realism within the show. While the traditional makeup artist aims to keep the character’s makeup unnoticed, Euphoria’s creator Sam Levinson wants the makeup to be seen, and for it to present a complete reflection of the character: their journey, their development, and their emotions. It is clear that in Euphoria, makeup is not just part of the production – it is also part of the plot. It tells a story through a hyper visual perspective, exposing each character’s feelings and allowing us, as the audience, to understand them to a greater extent.
Through this unique focus on makeup, Euphoria challenges pre-existing beauty and makeup norms, and redefines makeup as a means of self expression. In doing so, the series has since sparked a movement across social media as users are inspired to express themselves and their identities in an equally liberating way.
…invigorates us to feel more confident and powerful in our ability to self express through makeup
The numerous Euphoria makeup trends on social media platforms like TikTok demonstrate the impact that the series has had in inspiring confidence of self expression. One recent popular TikTok trend involves ‘TikTokers’ showcasing bold and valiant makeup looks that have been inspired by their own life experiences such as past relationships, friendships and school years. The makeup is fearless; sometimes colourful and bright with love hearts and sequin detailing, but on the flip-side it can be dark and disturbing with black streaming tears and large ‘X’s’ smeared over the mouth. Either way the makeup tells a story, and conveys a deeply personal representation of that person’s journey through love, hate, and often trauma. Like Euphoria, each makeup look presents a narrative, shows a journey, and manifests a raw portrayal of the person’s emotions that we are otherwise unable to observe and understand.
Euphoria’s extraordinary attention to makeup encourages us to immerse ourselves within the characters’ story through our exposure to their inner selves, and also invigorates us to feel more confident and powerful in our ability to self express through makeup. In turn, the series motivates us to break barriers, defy the mainstream, and challenge conventions by being exactly who you want to be.
Images courtesy of A24 via IMDb.
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