On the (probably too-frequent) occasion that I watch Almost Famous, I always find myself mesmerized by Kate Hudson's inimitable Penny Lane: Her confident, free-spirited exterior; the faltering self-esteem beneath it; her idealistic mantras; the shearling coat that has launched many a vintage dumpster dive... and let's not forget that hair. Hudson's blond ringlets are as much a part of her character as her flower child persona, and that hairstyle is cemented as one of my favorite movie beauty looks, ever.
Hair and makeup are obviously vital on any movie set, but think about it: Of all the hundreds of films you've seen in your lifetime, how many beauty looks can you specifically recall or consider that have left a lasting impression? From Margot Tenenbaum's kohl-lined eyes to Dionne's box braids in Clueless, we've certainly noted that a memorable beauty look isn't just the result of genius hairstyling and makeup—it has to be intermeshed with an iconic performance, too.
But while that's no easy feat, we can definitely think of some characters who, years later, still double as beauty muses. Keep reading to see just what our favorite movie beauty looks of all time are all about.
Mia Farrow as Rosemary in Rosemary's Baby (1968)
It's the cut that launched a thousand copycats, even decades later—but while Vidal Sassoon famously trimmed it to perfection, Farrow actually credits herself with the hairstyle. The actress told the New York Times in 2013 that she had actually chopped it herself with fingernail scissors prior to filming before Sassoon lent his expert finishing touch. That takes bravery.
Ali MacGraw as Jenny in Love Story (1970)
The movie is everything and more in its own right, but MacGraw's doe eyes and sleek center part would go on to become one of the most definitive looks of the decade and is still widely worn today.
Pam Grier as Foxy Brown in Foxy Brown (1974)
Pam Grier gave us a major mascara and hair moment as the title character in this touchstone blaxploitation film—a whole lotta woman, indeed.
Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983)
Forget the doughnut buns for a second, and let's take a moment to recognize what should be an equally significant Star Wars beauty moment: Leia's gold bikini ensemble wouldn't have been complete without her waist-length braid and gilded makeup. Get the look with Armani's Eyes to Kill Stellar Eyeshadow in Stardust ($36).
Julia Roberts as Vivian in Pretty Woman (1990)
Nothing warms our hearts like a good movie makeover, and Roberts' swan moment in this classic rom-com is an all-time favorite.
The Spice Girls as themselves in Spice World (1997)
Yes, I know your 12-year-old self is still giddy over the feels you get when you think of the Spice Girls. This film gets two thumbs up for embracing individuality in the hair and makeup space. But the one through thread? Those perfectly glossed lips.
Grace Kelly as Lisa in Rear Window (1954)
As it always did off-screen, Kelly's simple elegance spoke volumes in this Hitchcock thriller and continues to be what she is known for: her true classic beauty.
Jennifer Lopez as Selena in Selena (1997)
Aside from having a powerful voice, donning red lipstick was definitely a requirement to play Selena. Stila's Stay-All-Day Liquid Lipstick in Beso ($22) is the perfect option to re-create the magic of the late singer's beauty influence.
Janet Jackson as Justice in Poetic Justice (1993)
Janet's box braids from the film are iconic, but we also love her sharp, snatched eyebrows that wouldn't be out of place on a face today. Try a pencil with a precision tip, like Benefit's Precisely, My Brow Pencil ($24), to get great definition.
Uma Thurman as Mia in Pulp Fiction (1994)
A true predictor of a lasting beauty legacy: People went so nuts for Thurman's nail color in the film—Chanel's Le Vernis Longwear Nail Polish in Rouge Noir ($30)—that the polish proceeded to sell out everywhere. (It's long since been restocked.)
Angela Bassett as Stella in How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998)
In case it isn't clear already, we're all about a great braids moment. Period.
Olivia Newton-John as Sandy in Grease (1978)
We could go on and on about how hopelessly devoted we still are to Olivia Newton John's makeup and hair in the classic 70's film, Grease.
Dorothy Dandridge as Carmen Jones in Carmen Jones (1954)
Matching your lipstick to your nails is a classic beauty move for a reason, as Dorothy Dandridge proves in her Academy Award-nominated turn in Carmen Jones.
Molly Ringwald as Claire in The Breakfast Club (1985)
Important question: Have you figured out how to apply lipstick with your cleavage yet?
Stacey Dash as Dionne in Clueless (1995)
Cher might have been the makeover pro in this movie, but we'd argue that Dionne had the better beauty game of the duo. (Come on—this look would be street style gold circa now.)
Tina Turner as Auntie Entity in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
Of course, the most natural choice for a lip color with your post-apocalyptic chainmail shoulder pads and earrings is a glossy pink. Obviously. If you plan on recreating the look, we suggest NYX's Butter Gloss in Merengue ($5)... outfit not included.
Barbra Streisand as Fanny in Funny Girl (1968)
That winged eyeliner became something of Streisand's signature. This famous mod look is still an iconic eyeliner style worn today, thanks in part to Babs.
Gwyneth Paltrow as Margot in The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Gwyneth Paltrow didn't just grace us with a memorable performance as the moody and gifted Margot—she also happened to gift us with the world's easiest Halloween costume. (Eye pencil, barrette, blonde bob, fur coat. Go.) Grab a soft, smudgy eye pencil for this look and go to town.
Aaliyah as Akasha in Queen of the Damned (2002)
Queen Akasha makes a powerful case for eyeliner extending all the way to the temple and a golden, glowing highlighter on the shoulders. We dare you to disagree with her.
Eartha Kitt as Catwoman in the Batman TV series (1967)
Eartha Kitt put the "purr" in "perfect high ponytail" in her turn as Catwoman—and was on top of the headband-with-ears trend way before the rest of us.
Catherine Zeta-Jones as Velma Kelly in Chicago (2002)
With her '20s-era bob, doll lashes, and unstoppable attitude, Zeta-Jones made being a vaudeville performer turned murderess look unstoppable.
Rita Morena as Anita in West Side Story (1962)
Rita Morena won an Oscar for her powerful performance as Anita in West Side Story, and we're giving her a Beauty Oscar (totally a thing) for the short, tousled curls she sports in the film.
Demi Moore as Lieutenant Jordan O'Neil in G.I. Jane (1997)
We loved everything about Moore's badass buzzcut, especially the fact she really shaved her entire head and then rocked it on the red carpet. But we're sure that for the mom, the ultimate validation came when daughter Tallulah decided to shave her head years later—and even asked Moore to do the honors.
Diana Ross as Tracy in Mahogany (1975)
Off-screen, Ross was the pinnacle of mid-'70s glamour. But this classic rags-to-riches story provided scene after scene of gorgeous inspiration. Case in point: the glossy eyelids, doll lashes, and red lips seen here.
Cher as Rachel in Mermaids (1990)
The music icon stars as an endearingly eccentric '60s-era mom with a penchant for glamour—much to the chagrin of her nun-idolizing daughter (played by Winona Ryder).
Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra in Cleopatra (1963)
As ornate and theatrical as her makeup and hair were made to look, let's be real—what made this getup so great was that it wasn't even that much of a departure from what Taylor would typically wear off set.
Grace Jones as May Day in A View to A Kill (1985)
If you need a reference for 1980s blush placement, look no further than, arguably, the most kick-ass Bond girl ever. Grab a bright color and a fluffy brush; dust the product high on the cheekbones and back toward the temples.
Maggie Cheung as Su Li-zhen in In the Mood for Love (2000)
The cinematography and costume design of this film—particularly Cheung's iconic collection of colorful cheongsams—are as achingly beautiful as the plot. We also love the perfectly in place, oh-so period-appropriate coiffed hair.
Natalie Portman as Nina in Black Swan (2010)
This stage makeup is made several times more dramatic by the fact that it marks the moment when Nina finally embraces her dark side—at least for a few seconds, before she (maybe) self-destructs. (And admit it: You've worn this getup as a Halloween costume at least once.)
Audrey Hepburn as Princess Ann in Roman Holiday (1953)
There's that phrase "letting your hair down"—or in Hepburn's case, it's chopping it off completely. Her princess character needed to rebel from her infuriatingly vanilla life, and a great pixie cut was just the way to commemorate her newly found freedom.
Everyone in The Craft (1996)
It's never too late to go through a goth schoolgirl phase—we are the weirdos, mister. Start with a vampy, '90s-inspired pout color, like Rum Raisin by Revlon ($7).
Constance Wu as Rachel Chu in Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
Sometimes the most iconic beauty statements are also the most subdued. Constance Wu's Rachel stuns her mother-in-law—and everyone else at the "wedding of the century"—with her sleek updo, soft pink lip, and gleaming skin.