20 Icons Who Redefined Beauty

This story was originally published on Jul. 8, 2016.

Who's your beauty icon? It's a common question with a few all-too-common answers. You know who we're talking about: There are the throwback ladies (Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot, Jane Birkin), the modern women (Beyoncé, Gwen Stefani, Eva Mendes), and dozens more, and yet the answers we all rattle off still tend to feel... expected.

We're not saying these women aren't icons. But gathering beauty inspiration from the same people time after time leaves something to be desired. Our solution? Query our own beauty team. Who are the women we look to as even more than icons? We're talking beauty renegades.

A renegade is defined as "a person who deserts and betrays an organization, country, or set of principles," which, in our opinion, is the perfect trait to look for in your next source of beauty inspiration. That is, badass trailblazers who don't play by the beauty rules — they make their own.

Ahead, the beauty renegades we look to for fresh perspectives. Of course, there are many more. Tell us in the comments who you want to see added to this slideshow!
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Photo: Julian Wasser/Liaison/Getty Images.
Cher
Long before Miley and Zendaya walked the red carpet, there was another beauty chameleon to admire: Cher. Arriving at the 1986 Academy Awards in a smoky eye and black headdress was just one ballsy move in an inspiring evolution that included waist-length locks, a bleached mohawk, and plenty of bold, sooty eye looks. You don't have to turn back time to call her your renegade.
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Photo: Mark Sullivan/WireImage.
Solange Knowles
Solange may be the baby sister of Queen B herself, but she never fades into the background. In fact, it could be argued that she's one of the key faces of the movement to transition to natural hair for many women of color — and for good reason. She delivers constant mane inspiration, rocking brushed-out curls, full-on Afros, a variety of braids, and everything in-between.
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Photo: Ron Galella/WireImage.
Debbie Harry
Feeling rebellious? Set your Spotify to Blondie and stream one of rock's original female badasses for your inspiration. In fact, there's no better time to channel Debbie Harry's platinum locks, shag haircut, and colorful smoky eyes — her entire look is en vogue right now.
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Lupita Nyong'o
Since hitting the scene just a few short years ago, actress Lupita Nyong'o has quickly become the patron saint of bright, vibrant makeup. She never plays it safe, and her beauty résumé includes unexpected color combinations and look-at-me lip, cheek, and eye pairings that make no-makeup makeup look like no fun. The industry took notice, too: In 2014, she nabbed a coveted Lancôme contract.
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Selena
The late Selena Quintanilla-Pérez is, undoubtedly, the queen of Tejano music, with her impact still felt today. (Fun fact: She's the icon who inspired another great singer's name.) Copying her classic, signature beauty look is just one way to pay homage — and it just got easier. MAC released a collection inspired by the singer's look this year.
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Ruby Rose
Rose is another new-on-the-scene icon — and we can't stop watching her every move. The gender-fluid actress and LGBTQ advocate has a deep love for experimenting with her hair. This means you're going to be seeing her impact in the industry more and more, from her trendsetting undercut to her latest contract with Urban Decay.
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Diana Ross
There's a lot to idolize about Diana Ross: She's a style icon through and through and a longtime girl-power inspiration. To wit: The Supremes are still one of the best-selling all-female groups of all time. And her beauty look? Start with her doll lashes from the '60s, move on to her disco-inspired '70s makeup, or settle on her ever-present curly mane. Her beauty-renegade status runs that deep.
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Alison Mosshart
American singer-songwriter Alison Mosshart is one half of The Kills (alongside Kate Moss' estranged husband Jamie Hince) and a member of The Dead Weather (with Jack White). Yes, her tunes are on repeat (at least in our Spotify), but her hair never is. Think: rotating black and platinum, sometimes dip-dyed, often with dark roots, and always wonderfully messy. She's the perfect icon for anyone with an IDGAF beauty 'tude. (Raises hand.)
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Photo: Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic.
Karen O
Another icon in the rock space, Karen O has been turning out rad music and equally inspired beauty looks long before Bey sampled the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in "Hold Up." She makes rockstar beauty feel damn fresh, from platinum chops to blunt bowl cuts. Oh, and did we mention her on-stage beauty is just as killer? We're thinking artsy face paint that looks even cooler when it starts running down her face mid-show.
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Photo: Venturelli/WireImage.
Tilda Swinton
We'd like to preface this by saying we don't know actress Tilda Swinton personally — but we assume she is completely unaffected by any opinion other than her own. From the interesting and varied roles she chooses to her stark and stunning beauty look, she is as unique as she is talented. That means she rocks blond eyelashes without a touch of mascara, bright lipstick and nothing else on her face, and avant-garde haircuts to inspire anyone looking to go short and stand out. Swinton is on another level, and we'd like to know her secrets...or at least emulate her until we do.
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Grace Jones
The flat-top! The disco eye makeup! The feel-good new-wave jams! Jones was, is, and will forever be a true renegade. Her larger-than-life persona and aesthetic helped her to move seamlessly from modeling to music, cranking out hit after hit (on Spotify now, BTW!) — and inspiring look after look. Further proof: Jones is 68 years old and went on tour this summer!
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Photo: Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.
Lucile Ball
I love Lucy, you love Lucy, we all love Lucy — and not just for laying the groundwork for comedic actresses over 40 in Hollywood. (Believe it or not, but she didn't reach mass appeal until her 40s.) Would it have been easier if she had selected blond instead of red at that salon? Maybe, but then who would have been the generation's redhead icon? All hail Lucy with the red hair, red lips, pale skin, and killer knack for comedy.
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Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images.
Zendaya Coleman
We already know you love Zendaya — and we do, too. At only 19, she is, by far, the youngest person to be dubbed a beauty renegade in this story. Between defending her dreadlocks from the haters, doing her own makeup for the fanciest of occasions, and sharing her love for all things niche beauty (read: wigs!), she's a beauty lover with a fresh perspective, which makes her a true renegade.
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Photo: Jim Smeal/BEI/Shutterstock.
Viola Davis
Viola Davis has always been a groundbreaker; she did make history as the first black woman to win an Emmy for best actress in a drama, after all. And, she did it while rocking her natural hair — both on How To Get Away With Murder and on the red carpet to accept her award for it. Davis is continually fighting against rigid beauty standards and encouraging all women to practice self love. It's no wonder she's a renegade in our eyes.
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Janelle Monae
You might know her from Hidden Figures, or you might know her as the dapper, theatrical singer behind Wondaland Records. Either way, Monae has been in the spotlight for quite some time now, rocking pompadours and snazzy suits and taking down style-shamers in the process. These days, she's expanded her red carpet look to include floor-length gowns, capes, buns, braids, and — maybe our favorite — googly eyes. Never change, Monae.
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Photo: Matt Baron/BEI/Shutterstock.
Jaden Smith
Whether he's starring in a Louis Vuitton campaign or slaying at prom alongside Amandla Stenberg, Smith is always there to remind us that clothes are just clothes. The androgynous style star is also proof that beauty isn't gender-exclusive, either.
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Photo: Gregory Pace/BEI/Shutterstock.
Kristen Stewart
The actress has come a long way from her brunette Twilight days. These days, it's all about blue smokey eyes, graphic eyeliner looks, and, oh yeah, a platinum blonde pixie. We can't get enough of her risk-taking beauty evolution, with an eye towards futuristic, galactic looks.
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Cara Delevingne
Before Cara, there was an army of tweezers ready to pluck your every last eyebrow hair. After Cara, however, the brow world changed, with thick, devil-may-care arches taking their place front-and-center. We'll be remembering Cara and her brow contributions for years to come.
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Rooney Mara
If any actress could embody minimalism, it's Rooney Mara. Queen of no-makeup makeup, the actress is always blessing red carpets with her graphic, elegant dresses, and equally-understated beauty look. Slicked back hair, subtle cat eyes, and nude lips are her signatures. If breaking beauty rules means creating a set uniquely your own, Mara wins.
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Photo: Buckner/Variety/REX/Shutterstock.
Shay Mitchell
On the opposite end of the minimalist spectrum is Shay Mitchell. Always the first to jump on a beauty trend (or start one), Mitchell is our girl for experimentation. Monochrome makeup? On it. Hair earrings? Done. All of this to say, we can't wait to see where she goes next.
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