Whether you encounter her donning a striking silvery Yohji Yamamoto top in a Shiseido Zoom event, or on the small screen, the beauty of Hunter Schafer is that once you’ve seen her, there’s no forgetting her. She has that enigmatic “it” quality about her that draws you in. It’s a lot to say about the 21-year-old actor, who made her 2019 acting debut alongside Zendaya in HBO’s gritty teen smash hit Euphoria. Playing Jules Vaughn, a 17-year-old transgender teen coming into her own and openly experimenting with sex, drugs, fashion, and makeup, Schafer not only held her own—she shone.
Offscreen, Schafer says there are clear similarities between her
and the character she plays. “I think Jules and I share interests in art and fashion, which go hand in hand with how I navigate creating makeup looks,” she says. “We might differ in how much we’ve explored. Recently, I’ve been trying more sophisticated and sleek looks, which perhaps is a product of me getting older,” she adds. “I think Jules is still in a very playful moment in her beauty evolution.”
For Schafer, makeup has become a form of expression and a
means to share her story. “Earlier on in my life, I used it to affirm myself. I needed something to make other people understand how I felt on the inside,” she says. “When I was younger, I was more concerned with looking pretty or trying to be something. Whereas now, when I do wear makeup, I’m using it to bring something internal into the external world.”
Perhaps it’s Schafer’s artistic approach to beauty that got her noticed by Shiseido. It turned out to be a mutual admiration, and Schafer was tapped to be the brand’s global ambassador of makeup. “I really love Shiseido’s take on makeup, which takes a more artistic vantage point,” she says. “I also like the sense of heritage it incorporates into the brand, it’s an iconic Japanese makeup brand and acknowledges its history while still pushing forward, with its looks and sticking to a modern frequency,” she continues. “It all feels like the right fit.”
Typically, Schafer seems to favour more artful editorial-type looks, which she pulls off with relative ease. With such a strong sensibility, it’s no surprise she has some clear favourites. “The Shiseido Synchro Skin Radiant Lifting Foundation literally feels like you’re not wearing anything when you have it on,” she says. “It creates such a smooth, glowy surface to create any sort of makeup look you’re going for. I feel as though foundation is associated with covering up, however, when I’m wearing it, my face still shines through.”
The Essential Energy Moisturizer Cream is the one key component of her skincare routine, says Schafer. “It feels so yummy to put on after a shower or washing your face.” Her final pick is Shiseido’s LipLiner InkDuo. “My lips are asymmetric, which I like sometimes,” she says. “But when I want to serve a little more symmetry, I take the LipLiner InkDuo and even out the shape of my mouth. For me, the shade 03 Mauve is usually perfect for that sort of thing,” she explains.
Beyond the artistic makeup and clothing, Schafer—who started as a model for houses like Dior and Marc Jacobs—is much more than just a pretty face. Like her Euphoria character, she transitioned while in high school. At 17, she challenged the state law in North Carolina that requires trans people to use public bathrooms based on genders assigned at birth—the law was halted.
Schafer appreciates what she represents to many of the millions who watch her. And even though she doesn’t want to speak on behalf of others, over the years, she’s learned what’s worked for her. “Do whatever makes you happy, and feel closer externally to how you feel on the inside,” she says. “Finding harmony between inner and outer selves is like free serotonin.”