At this point, Beyoncé isn’t competing with any of her modern pop music peers — she’s compared to genre-transcending legends. Since her initial days in the industry singing in talent shows and girl group Destiny’s Child, she’s paired powerhouse performances with cutting-edge hair, makeup, and outfits that prove her creativity extends far beyond just perfect pitch and clever lyricism. In fact, Beyoncé’s beauty evolution feels more like a museum of culture-shifting moments that helped define not just her career, but an entire generation. Stop anyone under 45 — famous or otherwise — on the street and there’s a solid chance they’ve been inspired by a Bey appearance at least once before.
One of the Renaissance singer’s most enviable qualities is her ability to absorb and synthesize trends, fusing them with her own distinct aesthetic to create something fresh that feels both cutting-edge and totally true to herself. She did it through the early 2000s with shimmering makeup and every shade of blonde, and she continues to do it in the 2020s thanks to her newfound focus on the futuristic.
Ahead, take a look back through some of Beyoncé’s most celebrated beauty moments of all time, from her earliest award shows to the just-debuted hair color she’s currently loving.
Ultimate ‘90s Makeup, 1998
It simply doesn’t get more of-the-era than Beyoncé’s frosted berry-brown lipstick and the caramel-colored highlights that frame her face. LaTavia Roberson and Kelly Rowland, all together at the 1998 MTV Europe Music Awards, match perfectly.
Flipped-Out Curls, 2000
By the start of the new millennium, a 19-year-old Beyoncé was an award show pro and starting to experiment with new looks. At a 2000 VH1 event, she embraced ultra-glossy lips and flipped-out curls in a two-tone color style.
Golden Blonde Bangs, 2003
Golden and glowing from head to toe at TRL in 2002, Bey’s honey-blonde bangs was one of her first dalliances with dramatic fringe — but it certainly wouldn’t be her last.
Tiffany Blue Touches, 2006
There are so many reasons to still be obsessed with Bey’s Tiffany-blue premiere look from 2006’s Dreamgirls. Her retro-inspired half-up pouf is one thing, but her bright, gown-matching eyeshadow is just next-level.
All-Over Shimmer, 2009
By 2009, Bey had firmly entered modern superstar territory. She kicked off her tour that year with what fans would come to think of as her quintessential look: big, glossy curls with plenty of volume, shimmering eye makeup, and tons of body glow.
Multicolored Manicure, 2012
Nail colors are one area where Beyoncé really loves to play, as evidenced by this pink-orange-red manicure. Shown off on-stage in 2012, each nail is painted a different shade of punchy neon.
Wedge Bob, 2015
Behold — one of Beyoncé’s most truly transformative looks of all time. When she arrived at the 2015 Oscars with this chin-length wedge bob, she ushered in an entirely new aesthetic era.
Wet-Look Waves, 2018
With hair as long and healthy as Beyoncé’s in 2018, how could you resist a glossy wet look? Not only did her mermaid waves look dreamily damp on-stage, but her metallic eyeshadow and frost-glossed lips do, too.
Golden Grammy ‘Nails’, 2021
While her beautiful, brushed-out curls might pull focus at first, take a look at Bey’s black leather gloves and the gilded tips that adorn it. Each one is made to look like a golden fingernail — even with her hands covered, she finds a way to get a manicure moment in.
Silver-Toned Superstar, 2023
After a whirlwind, blockbuster year, Beyoncé ended 2023 with an entirely fresh style: her hair is now an icy platinum, cut into c-shaped layers that give her whole look new life.