Doniella Davy is humble about the role she has played in ushering in a new era of make-up. “I feel like I was more of a vehicle for it, a messenger,” she says. “This make-up style existed before, it’s just people weren’t used to seeing it. I got to bridge that gap between runway make-up and real characters on the show.”
Despite her modesty, it’s undeniable that the impact Euphoria, for which Davy won an Emmy for outstanding make-up, had on the beauty industry was seismic. From the moment it entered the world, the HBO show’s colourful, bejewelled looks changed the way we were doing our make-up, influencing online and offline beauty equally – from TikTok, where #euphoriamakeup has racked up 1.4 billion views, to the runways of fashion week. So when Davy announced she was launching her own make-up brand, Half Magic, it didn’t feel like yet another celebrity jumping on the beauty bandwagon.
Made up of rhinestones, vivid eye paints, iridescent highlighters and, of course, so much glitter, Half Magic translates Euphoria’s strong aesthetic and Davy’s personal ethos of “Emotional Glam” into products that do indeed bridge the gap between fantastical make-up and the everyday. Davy is hoping the spirit of the brand spreads into the wider cultural sphere.
“I’m really hoping to bust through some of the antiquated rules about make-up,” she says. “How you apply something or what’s appropriate for a day look or a night look. I’m looking forward to just dismantling that and opening up more space to be creative.” In other words – wear glitter to the supermarket, don’t be afraid of rhinestones, and embrace neon colours, no matter what the occasion.
Fresh off the Half Magic launch, we caught up with Davy to hear all about it.
Congratulations on the launch! How are you feeling?
Doniella Davy: I feel really good. From what I’ve seen so far, people are really understanding the brand and picking up on all the intentional little details that went into it. The formulas, how they’re presented, and even how the applicators are attached to the lids and how to use them. It’s really exciting. And I mean the talent out there is wild. Seeing the looks people are creating – looks that I could never even have imagined and ways of using the product I didn’t even imagine is very cool. So I’m really happy. I’m really thrilled. It’s been a long time in the making.
People are using products in ways that you hadn't even thought about?
Doniella Davy: Yeah! And also people are just so confidently going in and doing it the ways I was doing it. Because it’s a system, you have these matte, bold colours and then you layer shimmer over and then glitter on top of that. People are just getting that, they’re doing it. Dabbing the glitter on top and the shimmer. And it’s just so cool to see.
You’ve said that if you were going to be involved with a brand that you’d want to bring new products that didn’t exist already on the market. What did you feel was missing when you created these products?
Doniella Davy: People would DM me on Instagram all the time, probably tens of thousands of messages, asking ‘how do I layer glitter?’ That was the biggest question. And it is tricky to work with glitter. There are a lot of different ways you can do it. You can use loose glitter and glitter glue but that’s really hard. That’s too hard for me, I can’t even mess with that. Then there are all these really fun glitter gels, but those are big and chunky and they’re really wet and the particles are actually too big to be safe around the eyes.
So one of the first things I wanted to launch with was just the very easy, user-friendly system that I described before of your bold colour, then your shimmer to make it twinkly, and then your glitter. And as long as you’re using the long-wear eye paints underneath it, your glitter is going to have something to latch on to and you’ll have a solid glittery look that lasts all day. So I wanted to create all the tools and products just in one easy place, where it wasn’t confusing and everything was really designed to layer and to get the glittery look.
And the shade range you have also feels fresh and different.
Doniella Davy: I wanted to introduce interesting colours, more edgy colours. We have a blue lip liner that we launched with and it’s meant to go with this violet lip cream. I wanted to subtly bring in these more unexpected colours, but offer them in a different way. It’s not just a blue lipstick, it’s a blue lip liner presented next to a hot pink lip liner and a violet lip cream. So you can imagine the looks that can be created with that.
One of our highlighters is a violet periwinkle shimmer that I’ve been putting on everyone as a blush. It sounds outrageous, but it’s really delicate and subtle. So I love the idea of sneaking these unorthodox colours in, but doing it in a really wearable way. I was in this lucky position where I’ve tried so many brands, in my make-up trailer, when I am on set, I’ve used everything and had those thoughts of ‘Well, what would I do differently if I made this product?’
How do you think being a make-up artist informed the brand? Do you think you consider things that other people don’t think about?
Doniella Davy: I do. Often the projects that I typically work on are kind of grittier, and the lighting design is shadowy, it’s edgy, and it’s not about beauty. So I’m really used to seeing my make-up designs, the colours and the textures, in all different types of lighting, not just a ring light or a flash on the red carpet. I’m used to seeing the stuff that gets lost in the shadows.
So I was able to make sure that all of my colours and textures really perform well in low lighting, and are specifically designed to not lose their colour saturation in the shadows, they’re bright enough to push through. And then performance is a big one for me. So really making sure they don’t budge, they’re long-wear formulas. Glitter is easy, it’s not messy, it goes on, it stays on.
You mentioned that the products are easy to use even for beginners. And they’re also very affordable. Was that accessibility very important to you?
Doniella Davy: Very important. Very challenging because I love all the fancy formulas myself. That’s what I want to create for people but I also want them to be affordable. And then I wanted everything to be really accessible – I’m hoping that people who don’t even have a brush collection will feel like Half Magic is a really safe place to be their first make-up line.
So I wanted to have that accessibility but I also didn’t want it to just look like a kid brand or just a Gen Z Euphoria make-up brand. I wanted it to really transcend and be something beautiful that older generations can turn to if they want to spruce up their everyday make-up. And I think people might be surprised to see that some of our shades are really wearable and more subtle.
At what point did the name Half Magic come to you?
Doniella Davy: It’s really hard to name a new brand, I found out! But Half Magic is about the products being half of the magic, the person wearing them being the other half. The make-up I do is essentially just colours and textures on the face, and I think what really drives those looks is the actors’ performances and what they bring. So I wanted to reflect that.
Then the other meaning of Half Magic is bridging the gap between fantasy and runway make-up and everyday real-life scenarios, like going to school, going to the grocery store, being at home with your baby. Bringing that notion of wearing whatever kind of make-up you want in your everyday, totally normal life. So Half Magic.
I love your tattoo! The logo of the brand.
Doniella Davy: I just got it! Thank you.
Is Half Magic an important concept for you just in how you live your life?
Doniella Davy: Totally, yeah the name is super, super meaningful and definitely embodies my approach to make-up for sure. Everyone has their own preference for this and I don’t think one way is better than the other, but I love it when skin is more lived in. I don’t do a big contour, I don’t do a lot of powder. But then I’ll do a bold eye or a big green eyeliner but then that’s it, it’s not blending three colours and the cut crease and the brow. I love when a make-up look just has like four products, I’m always telling my team to use fewer products. I don’t want a lot, just keep it simple. So that again lends itself to the name Half Magic.
You’re so good at making a big statement in such a simple way. And I think especially since lockdown, people just want to have fun with their make-up and are more willing to experiment, but maybe don’t feel they have the skills to be so bold. So I think your style of make-up is perfect for that – a simple look in a bright colour.
Doniella Davy: I think there’s this notion that bold make-up has to be big but you’re totally right, it doesn’t have to be big at all. We have these neon rhinestones that are in our launch collection and you could wear two neon orange rhinestones here and some highlighter and that’s a dope look. That’s something I got to explore a bit in season two [of Euphoria], reimagining what bold make-up means and what that next step is. As much as I love the shimmer and the glitter and the rhinestones, what if we just did one rhinestone or a little blue shimmer wing – thinking about more subtle ways to do bold.
One of my favourite parts of the collection is that the rhinestones are self-adhesive. I think that really encompasses for me what the brand is about – helping people experiment.
Doniella Davy: I want there to be no excuse for people to have! If you want to try it, just try it. We even made rhinestone tweezers.
What are your plans for the brand? How do you see it evolving?
Doniella Davy: I’m extremely excited about our launches that are coming up and other shades of existing products that are in our future. I think something cool about starting small is I really want to interact with our consumers, I want to see what people are liking, what they want, what they’re asking for. I want to grow with them. I want our consumers to really trust us as a brand that continues to deliver launches that have a lot of intention and a lot of thought around them.
Every make-up choice on Euphoria has been deeply thought through by the team to express exactly how the character is feeling in that moment. With these vinyl eye spikes in episode 8 Davy wanted Jules’s eyes to look like they could actually injure Nate.
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Jules's spiky eye look
“It had to be visceral for the audience, and a little bit cheeky too, just shy of funny,” she says. Partner in crime Rue sports similar vinyls although more in keeping with the character. “I chose these bandit-reminiscent, kinda feline shaped black eye frames with just a hint of iridescence.”
“There’s more to Maddy’s make-up than rhinestones and cat-eyes!” Davy says about the character’s signature bejewelled looks. “Underneath her elaborate armour, Maddy feels the pain of crushed childhood dreams and a psychotic and abusive boyfriend. I designed her make-up to have a fantastical element to it because despite her fierce outward personality, Maddy is a diehard Romantic who wants to transcend the “loveless marriage” that is her home life.”
For what make-up artist Kirsten Coleman calls Maddy’s “fuck off” look in episode 7, the team created a shimmering pale blue eye look with a delicate gold chain liner which they secured to the lid with lash glue.
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Maddy's chain look
“While in the jewelry-making section of Michaels one day looking for more fun things to glue on faces, I spotted some gold chains and knew immediately that I wanted Maddy to have chain eyeliner at some point, preferably during a moment of conflict,” says Davy.
Jules has the most whimsical beauty style of the characters, often sporting colourful and playful shapes and designs around her eyes. In fact, every time Jules is wearing a new outfit, she has new make-up. One of our favourite Jules looks is this simple but striking cloud design from episode three.
Rue’s shimmering under-eye makeup is a recurring theme, cropping up throughout the season in various guises depending on her mental state and culminating with the final iridescent glitter look in the finale which Davy says tied all of her glitter tear looks together.
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Rue's sad clown tears
If you are new to working with glitter Davy shared some advice. “Pressed glitters work really well on top of powder eyeshadows, but the glitter may travel a bit to other parts of your face,” she explains. “Glitter gels, while they will stay exactly where you put them, will completely muck up a regular powder eyeshadow. Gels work the best either alone or on top of a longwear eyeshadow cream or liner.”
Everyone kills it with their costumes for episode six’s Halloween party from Lexi’s Bob Ross outfit to Cassie as True Romance’s Alabama Worley. Jules turns up as Claire Danes’s Juliet complete with glitter brows and gold foils around her temples which was secured with lash glue.
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Jules's gold leaf
“I wanted to evoke something ethereal + romantic + gothic (pastel shimmery coral & gold version of gothic),” says Davy. “These gold flakes really took me on a ride though. Don’t laugh or breathe too hard while holding the container nearby or them flakes will take flight.”