#WCW: Nicki Minaj

Alle Connell

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If there’s one woman we can’t stop talking about after the 2015 VMAs, it’s Nicki Minaj. Not only did she serve one of the most amazing beauty looks of the night, she also opened the show with a truly incredible performance, called Miley out live on stage AND won the award for Best Hip-Hop Video. Not bad for a night’s work.

But Nicki is so much more than a professional thrower of shade: her music is incredible, she’s been the highest paid woman in hip-hop for four years running and speaks out passionately about feminist issues. Plus, we love a woman who can work a pink wig the way that she can. For all these reasons and more, Nicki Minaj is our Woman Crush Wednesday. Check out the evolution of her beauty game over the last five years right here.


nicki minaj black hair 2010

Photo: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

At the American Music Awards in 2010, Nicki’s out-there beauty style was developing—and girl was going big straight out of the gate. Note the light eyeshadow and dark liner, bubblegum-pink lips worn with black and pink hair.

nicki minaj pink hair 2010

Photo: Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic

Following the release of Pink Friday, Nicki was a bonafide star—and her alter-ego had a colorful signature look to go along with it. The neon blue eyeshadow, long fake lashes and hot pink, hand-painted wig helped establish her Harajuku Barbie character and differentiate her from the ‘real’ Nicki Minaj.

nicki minaj green hair

Photo: Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images

Nicki has always cited fashion legend Betsey Johnson as one of her all-time biggest influences, and you can even see that in her beauty choices here. Teal hair, glitter eyeliner, grass-green shadow and baby-pink lips certainly constitutes A Lot Of Look, name one person who could pull this off half as well as Minaj does.

nicki minaj american music awards 2011

Photo: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

By the time she swept the 2011 American Music Awards, Nicki was beginning to turn down the volume on her signature look. Her hair is still pink, but the retro curls give it a more sophisticated vibe. The false lashes are still long and thick, but the brows are more full and natural-looking. And without the heavy contouring, the candy pink lips provide the perfect focal point.

nicki minaj vmas 2012

Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

By 2012, Nicki’s look was still larger than life—but it was being executed in a more sophisticated way. Observe the subtle contacts, seriously perfected (but still dewy-looking) skin, beyond perfectly blended blush and glam glitter eyeshadow. And honestly, if one is going to wear a neon wig, the MTV VMAs are basically the perfect occasion for it.

nicki minaj met gala 2013

Jennifer Graylock/FilmMagic

And just like that, in 2013, Nicki’s look took a turn for the undeniably chic. At the Met Gala Ball, she paired wine-red lips with a double-tailed cat eye, higher arched (yet softer colored) brows and some seriously voluminous hair.

nicki minaj blonde

Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic

During Fashion Week of 2014, Nicki’s beauty style streamlined further: softly curled blonde hair and nude lips provided the perfect foil for dramatic smokey eyes and her preferred long, dark eyelashes.

nicki minaj cat eye

Photo: Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage

The 2014 MTV Movie Awards heralded an almost minimalist Minaj. She had just completed recording The Pinkprint, her most personal album yet, and was showing a more “real” side of herself that was less reliant on caricatures and alter-egos. With sideswept black and brown hair, nude lipgloss and an angular (yet understated) cat eye, this was one of her most iconic red carpet looks yet.

nicki minaj grammys 2015

Photo: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

Nicki was nominated for a Grammy in 2015, and even thought she didn’t win, her look was totally killer. Peach-pink lips, smokey eyes (with a focus on the top eyelid only; she left her bottom lashline totally bare) and slightly darker eyebrows. Add in a 90s-inspired side flip, and you have a look that’s elegant rock n roll perfection.

nicki minaj vmas 2015

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

And at the 2015 VMAs, Nicki debuted her most amazing beauty look yet: a dramatic cat eye paired with her signature major eyelashes, pinky-nude lips, softly contoured cheeks and a whole lot of highlight. We especially love how she’s brought the dark bangs back; it’s a gorgeous callback to her 2010 look. And her performance? She shut it down; no other performer on the planet can touch her. We love you, Nicki!

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