Black history simply isn’t complete without black women. Beyond their unique outward beauty, these ladies have broken boundaries and influenced others through their hard work. Hollywood still has a way to go in terms of inclusivity, but these iconic black beauty looks from actresses, singers, and all-around entertainers are leading the charge to ensure that younger generations can see themselves reflected in film, television, and magazines.

And although we love celebrating these change-makers year-round, it’s only right that we up the ante for Black History Month. Ahead, we look back at 30 looks that helped shape how women of color see themselves. From Billie Holiday’s flowery updo to Beyonce‘s “Lemonade” braids, we have a feeling you’re already familiar with some of these standout moments.

We’re taking you all the way back to the 1950s and 1960s when American-born French entertainer Josephine Baker fought for civil rights all while looking glam with short hair straightened to her head. Rumor has it she used an egg white to give it that high sheen. Flash forward to 2015 when Zendaya spoke out after Giuliana Rancic said her locs made her look like “she smells like patchouli oil … or weed” at the Academy Awards.

Get inspired by these badass women and their iconic Ilooks, below.

black beauty beyonce The Most Iconic Black Beauty Looks of All Time

Image: Instagram.


We’ll forever associate this image of the powerhouse performer’s cornrows with her tour-de-force album, “LEMONADE.”

donyale luna

Image: Getty Images.

Donyale Luna

In 1966, she became the first black woman to cover a Vogue magazine on British Vogue. Just look at that smize!

alicia keys

Image: Getty Images.

Alicia Keys

When the singer first entered the spotlight, she arrived in straight-back cornrows, which she wore religiously through the release of her second album, “The Diary of Alicia Keys.”

angela davis

Image: Getty Images.

Angela Davis

The former Black Panther and political activist has long been associated with the Afro, a black-centric style she wore as a form of protest against Eurocentric beauty standards.

beverly johnson


Beverly Johnson

She’s a modeling pioneer and the first black woman to cover American Vogue.

billie holiday

Image: Getty Images.

Billie Holiday

Lady Day was rarely seen on stage without a flower tucked behind her ear.

black beauty moments brandy 1 The Most Iconic Black Beauty Looks of All Time

Image: Getty Images.


The singer and actress was the unofficial face of microbraids throughout the ’90s.

dorothy dandridge

Image: Getty Images.

Dorothy Dandridge

The groundbreaking actress became the first black woman to be nominated for an Oscar after starring in “Carmen Jones,” where she sported this iconic hairstyle with a rose tucked behind her ear.

eartha kitt

Image: Getty Images.

Eartha Kitt

The “Santa Baby” singer cemented her place in history when she rocked a cat-eye and catsuit as Catwoman in the 1960s “Batman” TV series.

black beauty moments eve 1 The Most Iconic Black Beauty Looks of All Time

Image: Getty Images.


Long before she was a cohost on “The Talk,” the rapper and actress rocked a blonde buzz cut that made everyone want to do the big chop.

florance joyner

Image: Getty Images.

Florence Griffith Joyner

The legendary Olympian broke records and won medals, all while maintaining a set of long, stiletto nails that ultimately became her signature.

grace jones

Image: Getty Images.

Grace Jones

An icon in every sense of the word, Jones has always marched to the beat of her own drum, rocking standout fashion and a close-cut coif that showed off her gorgeous cheekbones.

halle berry

Image: Getty Images.

Halle Berry

When she became the first black woman to win a “Best Actress” Oscar, Berry was still rocking the pixie haircut that made her a ’90s beauty icon.

black beauty moments iman 1 The Most Iconic Black Beauty Looks of All Time

Image: Getty Images.


Before she gifted us with IMAN Cosmetics, the African model’s slender features and beautiful brown skin covered the world’s biggest fashion magazines.

janelle monae

Image: Getty Images.

Janelle Monáe

For the first few years of her singing career, Monáe’s uniform was a black-and-white tuxedo and this sleek pompadour hairstyle.

josephine baker

Image: Getty Images.

Josephine Baker

With her wide smile, dark lipstick, and slicked-down hair, Baker became one of the most recognizable faces of the Harlem Renaissance.

lena horne

Image: Getty Images.

Lena Horne

During the Golden Age of Hollywood, Horne mesmerized film and stage audiences with her porcelain skin and megawatt smile.

lil kim

Image: Getty Images.

Lil’ Kim

From her colorful wigs in the “Crush on You” video to her infamous pastie ensemble at the MTV VMAs, the Bad Boy rapper has delivered more than a few iconic beauty looks.

lisa bonet

Image: Getty Images.

Lisa Bonet

After leaving “The Cosby Show,” the actress began embracing a bohemian style that included the waist-length locs she still wears to this day.

lupita nyongo

Image: Getty Images.

Lupita Nyong’o

When the actress won her Oscar for “12 Years a Slave” in 2014, she also became a modern-day hair icon in her teeny-weeny Afro.

michelle obama

Image: Getty Images.

Michelle Obama

She’s the first First Lady of color. Enough said.

naomi champbell

Image: Getty Images.

Naomi Campbell

We’ll forever associate middle-parted, waist-length hair with the fierce supermodel.

black beauty moments rihanna 1 The Most Iconic Black Beauty Looks of All Time

Image: Getty Images.


In 2007, this good girl officially went bad and chopped her hair into a killer jet-black asymmetrical bob. Jaws dropped everywhere.

sade adu

Image: Getty Images.


Who rocked a red lip and braided ponytail better than the British songstress? We’ll wait…

black beauty moments solange 1 The Most Iconic Black Beauty Looks of All Time

Image: Instagram.

Solange Knowles

The singer’s “A Seat at the Table” album cover marked the unexpected comeback of duckbill clips.

tina turner

Image: Getty Images.

Tina Turner

The legs. The hair. The cheekbones. Look up the term rock star and surely a picture of Turner will be next to it.

tyra banks

Image: Sports Illustrated.

Tyra Banks

Back in 1997, the model-preneur and “Top Model” host became the first black woman to snag a solo Sports Illustrated cover.

whitney houston

Image: Getty Images.

Whitney Houston

Long before her untimely death, the singer and actress’s curly locks and vibrant makeup made her one of the most recognizable pop stars of the ’80s.

black beauty moments zendaya 1 The Most Iconic Black Beauty Looks of All Time

Image: Getty Images.


The former Disney Channel star made headlines in 2015 after calling out TV host Giuliana Rancic for unfairly critiquing her locs at the Academy Awards.

pam grier

Image: Getty Images.

Pam Grier

The blaxploitation era gave us many gifts, including an Afro-licious Grier, who starred in many of the cult-favorite genre films.

beauty newsletter banner