The Most Dazzling Red Carpet Beauty Looks Ever

Works of art.

red carpet beauty lupita
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Celebrities and public figures have been gracing us with breathtaking hair and makeup since the dawn of time (well, the dawn of celebrity), but there's something special about red carpet beauty. You probably already have your favorites: intricate, daring hairstyles; makeup that perfectly complemented the red carpet fashion; jewelry that still makes you lightheaded to think about—in some instances, a combination of all three.

This list of red carpet beauty looks could be a thousand slides long, but I've narrowed it down to 32. Ahead, the red carpet beauty that made me gasp (or applaud!), and has stood the test of time.

Nicole Kidman

red carpet beauty nicole kidman

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When you're you're attending the CMT Music Awards with your hot hot husband (Keith Urban), and you're seven months pregnant and proud of it, the best way to turn heads is to show off a new strawberry blonde color that matches perfectly with your deep red dress.

Margot Robbie

red carpet beauty margot robbie

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Early in her Hollywood career, Margot Robbie (who will be on this list more than once) attended the 2014 Australians in Film Awards with this magnificent braided concoction. It's so intricate and busy, but the flyaways help it from becoming too serious. Genius!

Jessica Alba

red carpet beauty jessica alba

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Jessica Alba's 2008 Oscars hair was the perfect awards ceremony look from the '00s: the braid is clearly quite complex, but it just feels so sweeping and dramatic (and, at the same time, loose and casual??) that it instantly became a "best of" style.

Natalie Portman

red carpet beauty natalie portman

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When Natalie Portman actually shaved her head for V for Vendetta, it instantly helped transform her into a serious actor (and kind of a bad*ss, if we're being honest). Keeping her eye makeup deep and dramatic but also complementary of her feminine dress made for such a cool balance.

Blake Lively

red carpet beauty blake lively

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I could go with a lot of Blake Lively's red carpet looks here, but I chose the 2016 Cafe Society premiere (Lively was pregnant at the time and in a sparkly mini that was a fun and daring choice) because it feels like the perfect half-updo. It's what we all imagine our hair looks like when we try the style.

Gwyneth Paltrow

red carpet beauty gwyneth paltrow

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Gwyneth Paltrow singlehandedly brought pink back into fashion with this Oscars dress, and she wisely kept her hair simple so as not to fight with the big ballgown (and to keep it from feeling too frilly). It's a simple low ballerina bun, and it brings back exactly the right amount of edge to a very "feminine" look.

Jennifer Hudson

red carpet beauty jennifer hudson

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It's hard to tell from this side angle (I wanted to give you a look at this hair in all its glory), but Jennifer Hudson is matching her red gown to her red lipstick in perfect synergistic fashion. But the star is clearly the hair here, the perfect kind of over-the-top for the Met Gala.

Cara Delevingne

red carpet beauty Cara Delevingne

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Cara Delevingne is no stranger to a dramatic beauty look (remember when she shaved her head??). I happen to like this Old Hollywood glamour, complete with deep red lip, as befitting The Great Gatsby premiere. Bonus points for posing perfectly with her jewels.

Angelina Jolie

red carpet beauty angelina jolie

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Angelina Jolie's red carpet looks are always spot-on, and her 2012 Oscars makeup look was no exception (if you recall, this is the year of "the leg," in which Jolie debuted a dramatic pose with her high-slitted black dress). A major makeup moment makes sense here, and the red lip and smokey eye is perfection.

Saoirse Ronan

red carpet beauty Saoirse Ronan

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At the 2018 Oscars, Saoirse Ronan decided to debut a major new haircut—the bluntest of blunt bobs, exceptionally cut and styled. “She was so excited about the change,” Adir Abergel, her longtime stylist, explained, adding that it was designed to bring “real modernity to a classic shape."

Reese Witherspoon

red carpet beauty reese witherspoon

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Reese Witherspoon is often known for wearing her pretty blonde hair down, which is what makes this soft Oscars look (in 2006 when she was nominated and won for Walk the Line) so special. It's soft, it's romantic, and it's absolutely perfect for the event.

Solange Knowles

red carpet beauty solange

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Solange Knowles has had some of the coolest, most surprising red carpet fashion looks (she was known for taking more fashion risks than her big sis), but my favorite has to be this 2017 Grammys look: simple, minimal makeup, with her gorgeous natural hair haloed around her face.

Audrey Hepburn

red carpet beauty audrey hepburn

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Audrey Hepburn attended the premiere of My Fair Lady with an absolutely enormous bun (which, actually, is pretty befitting the character and her trajectory, if you think about it). It's also a nice alternative to the enormous bouffant that Hepburn had become known for, thanks to Breakfast at Tiffany's.


red carpet beauty beyonce

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Queen Bey doesn't walk the red carpet as much as she used to (and nor does she have to, thank you very much), but I will always love this 2013 Grammy look, with a bold red lip to complement the black and white of her dress and a simple, sleek ponytail.

Andra Day

red carpet beauty Andra Day

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If you've ever been tempted to put all your pretty hair clips in your hair at once, this is that, only way cuter. Andra Day was at the 2018 Oscars, and these are actually small pink flowers dotting her updo, with mauve makeup to match the hair and vintage gown. Exceptional.

Sarah Jessica Parker

red carpet beauty SJP

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Sarah Jessica Parker has given us some seriously vertical hairstyles in her day (just take a look at the rest of her Met Gala looks!), but I'm a sucker for this enormous bun from the 2022 "In America: An Anthology of Fashion" Met Gala (where her dress paid homage to the first Black female fashion designer in the White House).

Amandla Stenberg

red carpet beauty Amandla Stenberg

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Amandla Stenberg's 2019 Oscars hair makes a lot of "best of" lists, and for good reason. The two-toned finger wave patterned braids were a modern take on a vintage flapper style (much like the inspiration for her dress), and the whole look comes off as classic-with-a-twist.

Penelope Cruz

red carpet beauty penelope cruz

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Penelope Cruz's red carpet beauty is always divine, and doubly so for her Oscars looks (this one's from 2014). Here she gives us balletcore before balletcore was a thing, with a high, full bun and smokey cat eye—the better to complement her petal pink dress.

Angela Bassett

red carpet beauty angela bassett

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When Angela Bassett debuted what might be the longest ponytail I've seen on a red carpet (at the 2019 Oscars, no less!), it instantly made it into one of the best beauty looks ever. Bassett has always been a stylish presence, but we don't always see her go this daring—and it paid off.

Kate Winslet

red carpet beauty kate winslet

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This one's an especially personal pick: no movie was bigger than Titanic in the '90s, and Kate Winslet stunned at the Oscars that year. Her green gown was artfully complemented by styled wavy red hair (much like her character's from the film) and very simple makeup. We curly girlies took note.


red carpet beauty cher

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One way to signal that you're moving on in life is to attend the Grammys in the sparkliest look imaginable with a new boyfriend on your arm. That's exactly what Cher did after splitting from Sonny, her shimmery purple eyeshadow as luminescent as her grin.

Anne Hathaway

red carpet beauty anne hathaway

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For the “China: Through the Looking Glass" Met Gala, Anne Hathaway channeled a hooded Buddha in her glamorous, shimmery gold gown; since the pulled-up hood was part of her beauty look in its own right, she went simple with some mascara and a pink lip.

Emma Stone

red carpet beauty emma stone

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Imagine arriving to the Zombieland Double Tap premiere looking this chic! That's exactly what Emma Stone did, channeling Old Hollywood in her wavy hair and the perfect complementary green eyeshadow. Stone's beauty looks sometimes feel cumulative—the later she gets in her career, somehow her hair and makeup just keeps getting better.

Lady Gaga

red carpet beauty lady gaga

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This list could just be filled with Lady Gaga, considering the multitude of amazing beauty looks she's given us. But this, to the premiere of A Star Is Born, would kick off a new era for the singer-actor, in which she would show off her most chic, glamorous red carpet looks ever.

Halle Berry

red carpet beauty halle berry

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Halle Berry had already become the pixie queen before her Oscar-winning moment in 2002, but it was still an innovative move to go to the dressed-up Oscars with her short, spiky, sticking straight up cut (contrasting with the deep romance of her dress).

Margot Robbie

red carpet beauty margot robbie

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At the 2018 Oscars, Margot Robbie (whose long blonde hair was and continues to be one of her trademarks) debuted a short, pretty bob, cutting several inches off her formerly shoulder-grazing hairdo. It instantly became the year's hottest haircut—call it the Margot effect.

Helen Mirren

red carpet beauty helen mirren

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At the SAG Awards in 2016, Helen Mirren complemented her Jenny Packham gown with magnificent white hair tinged with blonde. She's never been afraid to look her age, and it was a lesson in how to do a beauty look with equal parts maturity and glamour.

Jennifer Lawrence

red carpet beauty jennifer lawrence

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Jennifer Lawrence has given us many gorgeous beauty looks (she specializes in neutral makeup and fun, but not outlandish hair). Which makes this look (at the 2018 Oscars) even more dramatic and wonderful: soft waves, deep and angular smokey eye, and matte lip with just a touch of red.

Julia Roberts

red carpet beauty julia roberts

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Wearing an oversized Giorgio Armani men's suit to the 1990 Golden Globes, Julia Roberts took traditional red carpet fashion and threw away the rulebook. In point of fact, her natural waves and dyed red hair was the exact counterbalance the look needed to make it instantly iconic.


red carpet beauty zendaya

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Annoying (and racist) controversy aside, Zendaya's Oscar beauty look for her 2015 debut at the Academy Awards ceremony was gorgeous. Letting her hair be the standout and keeping her makeup simple with smokey eye and pink lip was a smart choice. No surprise, she immediately became a style and beauty icon.

Elizabeth Taylor

red carpet beauty elizabeth taylor

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Leave it to Elizabeth Taylor to show up to Cannes in an actual, literal tiara (that she owned, believe it or not!). A gift from third husband, producer Mike Todd, she also wore it to a Golden Globes pre-party and an Oscars party—it was her year of the tiara, basically.

Lupita Nyong'o

red carpet beauty Lupita Nyong'o

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When Black Panther actor Lupita Nyong'o showed up on the red carpet with literal gold chain braided into her hair, it was a nod to Rwandan culture: per Vogue, "The Amasunzu—grown, cut, and built into a series of crescents—was once a sign of marriageability, worn by men and woman as a suitor signal of sorts." Stunning.

Katherine J. Igoe
Contributing Editor

Katherine’s a contributing syndications editor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle. In her role, she writes stories that are syndicated by MSN and other outlets. She’s been a full-time freelancer for over a decade and has had roles with Cosmopolitan (where she covered lifestyle, culture, and fashion SEO content) and Bustle (where she was their movies and culture writer). She has bylines in New York TimesParentsInStyle, Refinery29, and elsewhere. Her work has also been syndicated by ELLEHarper’s BazaarSeventeenGood Housekeeping, and Women’s Health, among others. In addition to her stories reaching millions of readers, content she's written and edited has qualified for a Bell Ringer Award and received a Communicator Award. 

Katherine has a BA in English and art history from the University of Notre Dame and an MA in art business from the Sotheby's Institute of Art (with a focus on marketing/communications). She covers a wide breadth of topics: she's written about how to find the very best petite jeanshow sustainable travel has found its footing on Instagram, and what it's like to be a professional advice-giver in the modern world. Her personal essays have run the gamut from learning to dress as a queer woman to navigating food allergies as a mom. She also has deep knowledge of SEO/EATT, affiliate revenue, commerce, and social media; she regularly edits the work of other writers. She speaks at writing-related events and podcasts about freelancing and journalism, mentors students and other new writers, and consults on coursework. Currently, Katherine lives in Boston with her husband and two kids, and you can follow her on Instagram. If you're wondering about her last name, it’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.