Gen Z might be the most beauty-savvy consumers in the game, and makeup trends show they’re also the most adventurous.
While consumers once sought Instagram-perfect pouts, expressionism is now the name of the game. As epitomized by “Euphoria,” the 2019 HBO show which won an Emmy for makeup, young consumers opt for face art and creativity over contouring, starting with neon eyeshadows and liners, rhinestones, pearls, glitter teardrops, and beyond.
“It matches the energy of Gen Z: their unapologetic nature, and going against the grain… There’s this very individualist kind of sensibility,”
said Doniella Davy, the makeup artist behind the looks on “Euphoria.”
Davy’s designs on “Euphoria” started a makeup movement. On TikTok, #EuphoriaMakeup has over 570 million views to date. Content creators have taken to social media platforms to replicate or create their own “Euphoria”-inspired makeup art. This has led to an uptick in trends, such as neon eyeshadow and liner, chunky glitter, face paint and face appliqués, the latter a favorite of Davy’s.
The aesthetic has spawned many a movement among Gen Z. Madrona Redhawk, the 20-year-old makeup artist who has gained over 100,000 followers on Instagram for her full face-painting trademark form, first took to the craft in high school. Joking that she wasn’t good at it at first, Redhawk said she finds inspiration for her full-face masterpieces from her native Las Vegas, and previous makeup trends, notably the Mod subculture of the ’60s. She also draws on her experience with drawing, painting and papier-mâché. Now, her face-as-canvas ethos is gaining more traction. Gen Z artist Kicki Yang Zhang has taken a similar approach to full-face abstract makeup, amassing over 330,000 Instagram followers.
Both Davy and Redhawk think the future of the category — at least in the short term — will be just as unconventional and brightly pigmented, if not more. Davy predicted that cisgender, straight men, a subset of consumers generally resistant to color cosmetics, will soon be consumers of high-octane brands like Danessa Myricks’ eponymous line, NYX Professional Makeup and Juvia’s Place. Davy put her money where her mouth is last year, with a decal collaboration with Face Lace on “Euphoria”-inspired decals.
Davy said it’s Gen Z’s cultural know-how around previous trends that allow them to rewrite the rules. Redhawk agreed, saying, “It’s becoming more common to see an average person out in crazy makeup… I don’t think it’s at its peak yet. I really don’t. We’re going to keep going for a while.”