Yes, the Olympics are about athletics and the triumph of the human spirit. They’re about physical excellence, studied technique, and a level of endurance found in maybe 1% of people on Earth. But who says Olympians can’t do all of that and look incredible simultaneously? The Olympics’ best beauty moments are often the small ones, giving glimpses into athletes’ personalities and lives through tiny individuality signifiers like nail designs, hair colors, and lip colors.
Tokyo 2020 is certainly no exception. The world’s greatest athletes are in Japan right now to compete, but they’re not content to do so silently. The Summer Games and its lead-up have been a tinderbox of social upheaval, and the result is more and more emphasis on athletes speaking — and standing — out. That’s undoubtedly reflected in more and more athletes choosing to physically express themselves through beauty. But that said, it’s also just deeply cool to flip through the air, contort your body into mind-bending shapes, then land on your feet, all with a pair of fluttery falsies un-budged. Here, check out some of the best beauty looks from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in all their gold medal-worthy glory. Pick up some inspiration for yourself or simply marvel at the competitors — everyone’s a winner here.
Tennis powerhouse Naomi Osaka went for an intimidatingly chic hair moment as she competed in Tokyo on behalf of Japan. Osaka opted for long, deep red box braids with interwoven pieces of white — a perfect match to the Japanese flag’s colors. A finishing touch of two coordinating, stacked red and white scrunchies completes the absolute grand slam of a beauty moment.
Spanish beach volleyball legend Liliana Fernández did not come to play around, both in the sandpit and with her head-to-toe competition glam. Though she ultimately fell shy of a medal, Fernández still made Spain proud with her grit, seriously impressive vertical jump, and a manicure painted in themed colors and nail art depictions of the Spanish flag. She didn’t stop there, either. Fernández adorned the crown of her tied-off braid with a gaggle of ultra-trendy, ‘90s-inspired pastel hair clips and a mint green scrunchie — no need to sacrifice cute for utility.
Sunisa “Suni” Lee
At just 18 years old, USA gymnastics star Sunisa “Suni” Lee is one of the youngest competitors at the Games — never mind the fact that she’s already among the most decorated with fresh gold, silver, and bronze medals already earned, including one for her last-minute fill-in for teammate Simone Biles on the floor. As if that weren’t enough, Lee also happens to be one of the most well-turned-out athletes of all time — that’s Gen Z in a nutshell. Lee snagged her victories in glittery eyeshadow, lush false eyelashes, a braided bun, and one seriously impressive Olympics-themed manicure.
All-around incredible human being and gymnastics legend Simone Biles held her head high for this championship round, showing off a ponytail with two braids running from forehead to hair tie. Adorned with a tidy white bow, it’s a sweet style perfect for Biles — almost as sweet as footage of Biles tying a similar bow in a younger teammate’s hair. Combined with her sky-high lashes and shimmery gold eye makeup, it’s an all-star look for an all-star woman.
Japan-representing basketball standout Stephanie Mawuli regularly makes headlines for her athletic triumphs but her hair is worthy of more than a few on its own. For Tokyo 2020, Mawuli transformed her curls into a cascade of pale gray braids that put all the attention on her style’s centerpiece: blue, yellow, red, green, and black braids — two each— on the sides of her head, a colorful salute to the Olympic rings.
Russian celebrity swimmer Yulia Efimova is familiar with these sorts of lists, landing a spot on several for the suit-matching coral manicure she wore at Rio 2016. Now, the three-time medalist is back with another spot-on nail job in neon yellow and red, perfectly coordinated with her fiery red suit.
Many people struggle to keep a full face on through dinner and a single drink — Portuguese triple jump champion Patricía Mamona can keep hers on through a silver medal-winning leap so high and long, she was virtually airborne. When the cameras zoomed in on the victorious, beaming Mamona, fans were able to get a better look at her fresh-faced makeup and hair: loose waves gathered into a low half-ponytail, full and fluttery lashes, and cherry red nails.
What fun would watching the Olympics be without the beloved U.S. women’s national soccer team? And what would Team USA be without Megan Rapinoe and her signature purple hair? With the lavender shade extra-amplified for Tokyo 2020, Rapinoe’s easier than ever to spot on the field — look for the purple and one seriously killer forward kick.