Journey Back Through Jennifer Lopez’s Complete Beauty Evolution

Living legend.

by Sara Spruch-Feiner and Amanda Ross
Originally Published: 
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Jennifer Lopez smoky eyeshadow and pink lip gloss for The Voice

It feels like every celebrity is digging into their pasts for career-spanning retrospectives, but few have a catalogue as hefty (and influential) as Jennifer Lopez. Equally respected across screen and stage, Lopez’s impact was immediate — including in the fashion and beauty space. From her first days in the spotlight as a Fly Girl dancer on the early ‘90s’ In Living Color, Lopez was quick to cultivate her signature look, a blend of sultry glamour grounded by natural, down-to-earth touches. Lopez’s beauty evolution is a masterclass in making a trend your own — so many of her best looks combine year-defining fads with her instantly-recognizable style, a lesson especially applicable in today’s TikTok trend-heavy news cycle.

When Lopez’s star power reached its full zenith in the ‘00s, you couldn’t walk down the street or sit in a homeroom class without seeing (and smelling) the signature J.Lo glow. Bronzed cheeks, ultra-glossy nude lips, and honey-highlighted hair became ubiquitous, and its time-tested appeal is only testament to Lopez’s eye for aesthetics. Is it any wonder she practically invented Google Images? These days, Lopez is choosey about changing up her hair, makeup, and manicures, always willing to experiment and take a risk, but selectively. As such, virtually move she does make is surefire — just look at the back-to-back double hairstyles she pulled off at the Grammy Awards this year.

No matter your favorite J.Lo era, there’s a look in Lopez’s beauty evolution to get the inspiration flowing. See 19 of her most iconic moments below.

Mi Vida Loca / My Crazy Life Premiere, 1994

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Showing off her natural beauty (and a few key motifs from the decade), Lopez wore a low-key lavender button-up shirtdress with a mauve lip and her full, voluminous curls to this '94 premiere — one of her first big outings as a star on the rise.

Out In Los Angeles, 1996

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Lopez’s natural curl pattern was an essential part of her everyday style through the ‘90s. Falling just past her shoulders and usually parted down the middle, they’re so visibly glossy in every Lopez sighting from the era.

MTV Video Music Awards, 1998

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Save this fantastically glittery look for any Y2K parties you might have coming up. At the ‘98 VMAs, Lopez was closing out the millennium in style with a silvery cowl neck halter, tight, crimped curls, and rhinestone barrettes.

42nd Annual Grammy Awards, 2000

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Behold — an icon. While her plunging Versace dress is the real story here, attention must be paid to the beauty elements that helped make the entire look what it was. Her half-back hairstyle created an unbroken swath of exposed skin from forehead to naval, while her cool-toned pink lipstick offered just enough contrasting color.

MTVs Video Music Awards, 2001

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Long before “latte makeup” was ever a formal thing, Lopez was already there. Her warm brown eyeshadow and crème brûlée-colored lipgloss make her glow from head to toe.

‘Dangerous Liaisons’ Met Gala, 2004

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There’s a reason this is the first red lipstick look of the roundup — it’s not in Lopez’s usual bag of tricks, reserved for only the most select occasions. At the 2004 Met Gala, her classic cherry-red lip color and sleek braided bun channeled Selena Quintanilla.

Gucci Fundraising Event, 2007

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Talk about radiant — Lopez took the whole “glow” thing to impossible heights during her pregnancy with twins Max and Emme. With now-ex Marc Anthony at a Gucci philanthropy event, her happiness is palpable.

Japanese Promotional Trip, 2009

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There's that golden goddess look we’ve come to expect from Lopez, but this time accented by a long, wispy set of bangs. The loose pieces around her face make her elegant waves feel even more elevated.

Launching A New Fragrance, 2012

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Ten years after releasing her juggernaut celebrity fragrance, Glow by JLo, the star celebrated the milestone in true Lopez fashion: by dropping an even better sequel. For the launch of Glowing by JLo, she opted for fluffy half-back curls and a vampy oxblood manicure.

‘China: Through The Looking Glass’ Met Gala, 2015

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Lopez first broke the internet with a knockout dress back in 2000, but she proved she only gets better with time when she unveiled its sequel at the 2015 Met Gala. To complement the daring dress, she went for cheekbone-chiseling cream blush and a straight-back blowout.

59th GRAMMY Awards, 2017

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She helped kickstart the center-part hair craze in 2019 when she arrived at the Grammys in a dreamy fairy-purple gown and long, straightened hair. She nodded to her gown with the faintest pop of periwinkle eyeshadow, too.

Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show, 2020

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The Super Bowl Halftime show was one of just a few major milestones Lopez had yet to check off as of 2020 — unsurprisingly, she nailed the performance and all the costume changes that came along with it. Of course, hairography is always key, so Lopez let her long curls get supercharged with tons of teasing and extensions.

The Tender Bar Premiere, 2021

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Reuniting with now-husband Ben Affleck in 2021 yielded some of Lopez’s most romantic looks to date. For one of his movie premieres, she straddled sleek and sweet with a half-ponytail that gave way to very soft curls and nude lipstick.

65th GRAMMY Awards, 2023

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For her latest Grammys moment, Lopez arrived with her hair pulled back into a modern take on the ‘00s-era pouf, only to have it transform into this teased-crown number by the time she took the stage. Unsurprisingly, both looks stunned.

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