The 25 Best Beauty Looks of the Last 25 Years
Like a fine wine, a truly great red-carpet beauty look somehow gets even better over time. So in celebration — and in honor of InStyle’s 25th birthday — we’ve rounded up 25 beauty looks that continue to stun years after their debut. (And because narrowing it down to just 25 was tough enough, the looks you’ll see here are presented in no particular order.)
And as you scroll through, don’t be surprised if inspiration strikes. Perhaps JLo’s 30-inch ponytail at the 2017 Met Gala will have you reconsidering extensions — or those bangs on Reese Witherspoon at the 2007 Golden Globes will inspire you to go all in during your next haircut. Or maybe you’ll feel compelled to swap your black eyeliner for striking white à la Kristen Stewart at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.
So sit back, relax, and prepare for a virtual walk down memory lane. The most unforgettable red-carpet makeup and hair moments are right this way...
To contrast with the actress’s sunny gown, makeup artist Kara Yoshimoto Bua selected a vibrant tomato red lipstick and let it pop against nearly bare skin.
With classic Hollywood glamour as inspiration, Kidman stepped out in vampy bordeaux lips and cleanly lined eyes. Hairstylist Enzo Angileri crafted a bun reminiscent of styles from the ’20s and ’30s. “Nothing is overdone,” he says.
2014 CFDA Fashion Awards
With a nod to Josephine Baker, hairstylist Yusef topped the singer’s hair with a Swarovski-crystal head scarf that set her sultry eyes alight.
Perhaps even more memorable than Roberts’s Valentino Haute Couture gown? Her updo, carefully engineered with a signature dose of volume by legendary stylist Serge Normant.
2017 Met Gala
“I wanted to show off Jennifer’s face, so we pulled her hair back tightly,” says Chris Appleton, who created a dramatic ponytail with 30-inch extensions.
2018 Met Gala
Takisha Sturdivant-Drew wanted the actress to turn heads on the carpet: “I added some drama by giving the hair a lot of texture,” she says. Sewing a bold necklace into the wig (which Sturdivant-Drew had designed) was the final ornate touch.
2018 Golden Globes
“We barely used any foundation,” says makeup artist Lisa Storey of Kravitz’s minimalist look. “The red lips with those green earrings were everything!”
The actress served up ’20s glam with rosy lips and finger waves that softened her iconic pixie cut.
2003 movie première
Echoing the hue of her retro dress, the monochromatic peachy pink tones on Hudson’s eyes and lips provided subtle luminosity. The pulled-back do added a sense of ease. “The look was sexy and chic without really trying,” says hairstylist David Babaii.
2016 Golden Globes
“Sophia Loren was certainly a reference,” says makeup artist Sarah Tanno, who created “wing-tipped eyes, strong brows, and nude lips” to go with the star’s platinum bob on her award-winning night.
While green drop earrings played up Davis’s emerald smoky eyes, it was the actress’s hair that stole the show. “She stepped onto one of the biggest stages in the world in her natural hair — at a time when absolutely no one was wearing natural hair on the red carpet,” says hairstylist Jamika Wilson. “It was bold, courageous, and beautiful.”
It all worked for the stylish star: the natural makeup, the gorgeous gown, and the long, powerful dreadlocks.
Red lips and graphic bangs make for one bold statement. “I cut her hair to demonstrate the beauty of her face,” says hairstylist Danilo. “Short, blunt fringe is such a confident beauty look.”
The pairing of a loose updo with neutral shadow and plummy lips stood out for all its subtlety. The effect was, quite simply, beautiful.
2007 Golden Globes
This look is all about the bangs. Twelve years later, it still feels fresh. Hairstylist Mark Townsend says, “She showed the power of having the right fringe for your face shape.”
When your accessory game is this eye-catching, pulled-back hair, radiant skin, and flushed lips are the best accompaniment.
Tracee Ellis Ross
2018 Golden Globes
The actress took a memorable turn on the red carpet in a Marc Jacobs head wrap and showstopping scarlet lips.
The baby bangs, the skinny brows, the symmetrical, face-framing daisies: The actress remains ever the charmer.
2015 Met Gala
“She started out with a topknot then pulled her hair down [into a ponytail] when she got out of the car,” says the singer’s makeup artist Sir John of the moments preceding her walk up the carpet. With a flawless complexion and glossy pink lips, “she’s never looked so young, fresh, and hot.”
2019 movie screening
A shiny brunet hue makes Theron’s berry lips and light eyes all the more striking.
2018 Cannes Film Festival
Beau Nelson lined hereyes with miniature pearls to create this stunning look. “We’re always trying to do something new and adventurous,” he says.
2017 makeup-launch party
“Gigi and I discussed fresh, simple, yet ultrafeminine makeup to complement her yellow dress,” says Maybelline New York global makeup artist Erin Parsons. “I basically applied blush and highlighter everywhere, including her eyes.” Hadid’s perfectly lived-in topknot completed the effortless vibe.
“The Fred Leighton headpiece crowned her look perfectly,” says Nyong’o’s hairstylist Larry Sims. “Lupita felt like the queen that she is.”
Her cascading peekaboo waves and ruby lips are a throwback to Hollywood’s Golden Age.
2003 Golden Globes
Fuchsia lips and pink-dabbed cheeks never looked cooler than when Diaz paired them with tousled beach-blond layers and a chic Chanel Haute Couture minidress.