The 22 Most Memorable Beauty Moments in Movies and TV

Lauren Conrad's single mascara tear, Annalise Keating's dramatic wig scene — these are the images you can't forget (because pop culture won't let you).
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You don't want your lipstick to be way harsh, Tai. Photo: Giphy

You don't want your lipstick to be way harsh, Tai. Photo: Giphy

Welcome to Pop Culture Week! While you can always find us waxing poetic about the hefty overlap between fashion and pop culture, we're dedicating the next five days to the subject of our favorite music, movies, TV, celebrities, books and theater, and how that all intersects with the fashion industry.

There are certainly iconic films and television shows — even a couple of music videos — in which the fashion is regarded as a character in and of itself. Less discussed, however, is the notion that there are just as many where beauty — hair, makeup and makeover scenes — enhance the dramatic effect considerably. There are dozens of on-screen cosmetic catharses, sci-fi style beauty implements of the future we can't wait to be invented and dramatic haircut scenes. Here, we've rounded up up the most salient. 

"The Simpsons": Weapons Of Mass Attraction

On "The Simpsons," Homer invents a gun that applies a full face of makeup in fraction of a second for the business woman on the go. He demonstrates his triumphant musket of maquillage on on Marge, but to her dismay, he accidentally has it set to "whore." We're still waiting for this one, minus that particular setting.

"Girls": Hannah Horvath's haircut

Hannah Horvath. Photo: Giphy

Hannah Horvath. Photo: Giphy

When Hannah (Lena Dunham) has a breakdown, she uses old-school orange Fiskars to shear her own bangs before asking her neighbor Laird to help her finish the back. Unfortunately, he completes the job by giving her a full-on Prince Valiant hairstyle. But this is just one of several memorable beauty moments in the show — remember her overly tweezed-then-penciled-back-on eyebrows?

"Total Recall": Insta-Polish Pen

In the original "Total Recall," a woman switches her nail polish from peacock blue to classic red with an awesome apparatus that involves simply tapping on each nail to reveal a perfect manicure update in seconds. Nail brands, get on it.

"This Is Us": Randall's SPF situation

In 2017, anyone with a modicum of skincare savoir faire knows that everyone, of any skin tone, should be applying sunscreen. In “This Is Us,” Rebecca had to ask a black neighbor at the pool if she should apply it to her adopted black son. The answer, of course, was yes, but Rebecca also scored a good barber recommendation, as well, making it a 360-degree beauty moment. Of course, the scene is authentic, as this all took place in the early '80s when things were far less diverse, not to mention that sun-damage conscientiousness was also not what it is today. A little cringe-worthy, but a beauty pop culture situation indeed. 

"The Hills": Lauren Conrad's mascara tear

Lauren Conrad. Photo: Giphy

Lauren Conrad. Photo: Giphy

"I want to forgive you and I want to forget you." Who could forget LC's mascara tear confrontation with Audrina in this highly moment from season 4? It's the gif that lives in infamy. 

"Love And Basketball": Monica Wright's prom makeover

Monica’s older sister Lena not only sets her up with a dead-sexy college-aged prom date for her senior prom (played by the smoldering Boris Kodjoe), she also gives her a head-to-toe makeover. The star athlete cleans up well, donning a body-con white spandex dress (oh, the ‘80s), smooth locks and a judicious amount of makeup, a departure from her usual fresh-faced beauty that transitions well from school to the basketball court. The evolution works so well, she winds up having a late-night tryst with her neighbor crush, Quincy — despite the pair having gone to the dance with respective other dates. 

"Mulan": Mulan's drag makeover

Mulan. Photo: Giphy

Mulan. Photo: Giphy

Not only was the character of Mulan groundbreaking as one of Disney's first heroines who is also a woman of color, but her drag makeover to transform into a male warrior will go down as one of the most badass moments in animated history. Just don't try slicing your hair off with a sword at home, kids.

"Felicity": Felicity Porter's haircut

When Keri Russell's character cut off her curls on-screen in season 2 in an effort to get over her Ben breakup, ratings plummeted and actually never recovered. It turns out, everyone's favorite University of New York student's curled coif was as much a main character as Noel. Team Noel for LIFE, yo.

"The Breakfast Club": Claire Standish's lipstick trick

Claire Standish. Photo: Giphy

Claire Standish. Photo: Giphy

Molly Ringwald's character Claire performs a party trick — applying her lipstick via her cleavage — during a Saturday detention at her high school's library. The sushi guru/Moliere maven may have been afflicted with the unfortunate gift of a fat-girl name, but her hands-free lipstick trick impresses all of the Breakfast Clubbers — even bad boy John Bender, though he doesn't admit it until the movie's end, before Claire gifts him with a daddy-donated diamond.

"Insecure": Issa Rae's lipstick bathroom scene

In the HBO show's pilot episode, Issa is shown testing out all manner of bold lipstick hues from plummy purple to straight-up blue the bathroom. Our best guess is that they're either Urban Decay or MAC iterations. Then, she heads out onto the stage to dazzle the crowd with her inspired rap, "Broken Pussy." Malibu? We wish she'd opted for the edgy navy to match her spangled blue dress, but she looks great in the pretty, neutral gloss she chose in the end. 

"She's All That": Lanie Boggs' glasses-removing makeover

Lanie Boggs. Photo: Giphy

Lanie Boggs. Photo: Giphy

This is the '90s teen movie that started the trope of "pretty-but-nerdy girl removes glasses to suddenly become pretty-and-popular girl" — to this day, it's difficult to even look at Rachel Leigh Cook without hearing Sixpence None The Richer's classic "Kiss Me" playing softly in the background.

"The Muppets Take Manhattan": Miss Piggy & Joan Rivers

It's very much the '80s in all its shoulder-padded splendour at a Manhattan department store, where we're greeted at a beauty counter by Miss Piggy and the epic Joan Rivers. The latter even utters her signature phrase "Can we talk?" A flurry of foundation, a precipitation of powder and a lavish allocation of lipstick ensues. The scene ends with the duo getting fired, but this remains the most maniacal makeup scene in movie history.

"Breakfast At Tiffany's": Holly Golightly's lipstick moments

Holly Golightly. Photo: Giphy

Holly Golightly. Photo: Giphy

There are two major lipstick moments in this film. First, Holly Golightly has converted her mailbox by her apartment building's front door into a mini vanity, complete with a mirror, lipstick and perfume. The other is when Holly tells Paul Fred that "a girl can't read that sort of thing without her lipstick" in the car.

"Silence Of The Lambs": Buffalo Bill's skin skirt

Buffalo Bill was the original beauty YouTuber, lest you forget. The creepy villain is too disturbed to qualify for gender confirmation surgery, per his wishes, so he takes it upon himself to create a "woman suit." In one particularly sinister scene, he listens to Q Lazzarus' "Goodbye Horses," applies makeup and dons a "skin skirt" procured from a teenage girl, professing self-love in the most vile voice known to man — all while Precious, his fluffy white dog, is kidnapped by his latest victim.

"Pulp Fiction": Mia Wallace's Vamp lipstick

Mia Wallace. Photo: Giphy

Mia Wallace. Photo: Giphy

Adrenaline-shot recipient Mia Wallace, played by Uma Thurman, changed the lipstick and lacquer landscape of the '90s when she starred as a brunette iteration of "Scarface"'s Elvira Hancock in "Pulp Fiction." Few other movie characters can claim such an impact — and especially in the age of grunge. Her sleek, dusky bob, her smokily lined eyes and quirky sayings like "I'll be down in two shakes of a lamb's tail" inspired all of us to delve into decadent deep shades. This led to the launch of the insanely popular Chanel "Rouge Noir," later renamed Vamp. The shade was created to look like the color of dried blood, and its sales grew to $1 million in the first year alone.

"How To Get Away With Murder": Annalise Keating's wig reveal

Annalise Keating. Photo: Giphy

Annalise Keating. Photo: Giphy

Viola Davis' character takes a seat at her vanity and removes her wig, makeup and falsies. Then, her husband arrives, and Annalise calmly presents a phone featuring his dick pic and asks in the most nonchalant voice ever, "Why is your penis on a dead girl's phone?" Definitely a moment when we wished he Snapchatted.

"Clueless": Tai Frasier's makeover

Tai and Dionne. Photo: Giphy

Tai and Dionne. Photo: Giphy

A makeover gives Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) "a sense of control in a world full of chaos," (remember the guerrilla one she pulled on Ms. Geist?) but it's Dionne who teaches newcomer Tai Frasier the ways of the lipstick blotting world during the movie's epic makeover montage, to the dulcet tones of Jill Sobule's "Supermodel." Thus Tai is freed from a world of flannels and Manic Panic-dyed locks. Next up for a makeover? Her "accent and vocabulary."

"Working Girl": Tess McGill's mullet

As Tess (played by Melanie Griffith) sagely said, "If you want to be taken seriously, you need to have serious hair." It's an iconic scene: Staten Island native/administrative assistant Tess shears her own mullet and imitates her boss' diction, resulting in her enchanting one young Mr. Harrison Ford and eventually landing her own boss gig, complete with secretary. This makeover was a self-imposed one, and it made all the difference.

"The Hunger Games": Katniss Everdeen's braid

Katniss Everdeen. Photo: Giphy

Katniss Everdeen. Photo: Giphy

Katniss ignites a revolution, and not just because her side-braid is totally chic. She has access to all the avant-garde beauty and fashion help The Capitol can offer, luckily. So "the girl on fire" Katniss Everdeen transforms into a badass yet glamorous assassin and wins the hearts of Panem's people.

"The Brady Bunch": Marcia Brady's hair routine

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia brushing her hair 100 times forever caused us much anxiety about our casual commitment to brush strokes. Deep thought: Perhaps this is why Marcia wasn't the one who had to make up a fictional boyfriend named George Glass.

"Melrose Place": Dr. Kimberly Shaw's scar

Kristen Shaw. Photo: Giphy

Kristen Shaw. Photo: Giphy

In a world before Hulu, jaws simultaneously dropped around the world when Dr. Kimberly Shaw (played by Marcia Cross) pulled off her wig, revealing a gigantic scar, resulting in painful migraines. 

"American Hustle": Rosalyn Rosenfeld's perfume

Jennifer Lawrence's character, Long Island housewife Rosalyn Rosenfeld, launched into a soliloquy about the simultaneously appealing/appalling nature of a beloved scented nail lacquer she wore throughout the film, which she described as a mix of flowers and garbage. A genius scene.

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