Proof That Nicki Minaj Has Had The Biggest Beauty Transformation In Hollywood

When Onika Maraj broke into the mainstream music scene in 2009, she came with guns blazing and an arsenal of alter egos to unleash upon the world — among them, Harajuku Barbie, Martha and Roman Zolanski, Nicki Lewinski — and, of course, the persona of Nicki Minaj herself. With each character came a distinct beauty look, expressed with the likes of cotton-candy-colored wigs and Manga-like makeup. In joining in the great tradition of chameleon artists before her (see: Madonna and Lady Gaga), the Trinidad native (by way of Southside Jamaica, Queens) changes her look as rapidly as she spits rhymes.

But, as she graduated from underground-rapper-on-the-verge to music-industry vet, the star started trading cosplay for couture, and donned more classically pretty beauty looks to match. The result has been one of the greatest celebrity makeunders we’ve seen. At first glance, the transition from Harajuku Barbie to, say, red-carpet-posing Hollywood actor may seem extreme. But despite a radical change in image, Minaj has maintained her core aesthetic, favoring clean winged eyes, pink lips, and ultra-flirty lashes when at events. Of course, it would be foolish to count Minaj’s current vibe as gospel. If we’ve learned one thing from following the actor-rapper-singer-entrepreneur, it’s that there’s no telling what she’ll give us next.

Ahead, check out her beauty evolution in all its glory — just in time for her birthday.

Photo: Shareif Ziyadat/Getty Images.
As an up-and-coming pop star in 2009, Minaj revealed signatures of her look: candy-pink lips (with a wig to match) and sharply lined eyes.
Photo: Jeff Kravitz/AMA2010/Getty Images.
Dip-dyed, anime-inspired wigs were a press-tour go-to for Minaj in 2010. But her look for the 2010 American Music Awards featured a brand-new element: her own Pink Friday lipstick shade with MAC, which dropped a few days after the event.
Photo: Jeff Vespa/Getty Images.
At the 2011 Grammys, Minaj channels the Bride of Frankenstein (and a little Cruella de Vil). A precise application of glitter underliner and fluttery falsies help the complexion hold its own against the strong hair look.
Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images.
Nicki brings out Barbie for the 2011 Billboard Music Awards with pink on pink on pink, and a sweet smile to match.
Photo: Steve Granitz/Getty Images.
After she's stepped out with so many colorful wigs, a black bob in 2011 is almost shocking on Minaj. She keeps her look pumped up with anime lashes and her signature pink lips.
Photo: Steve Granitz/Getty Images.
With hair piled in the form of Technicolor sticky buns, and a neon-green cat-eye, Minaj goes full Harajuku at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards.
Photo: Jeff Vespa/Getty Images.
Forget for a moment that Minaj showed up to the 2012 Grammys with a Pope-like escort and dressed as a glam Little Red Riding Hood. Once her cape is stripped away, Minaj reveals a more classic beauty look: platinum waves, complexion-brightening makeup, and simple, winged eyes.
Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images.
At a 2012 event in New York City, Minaj’s Barbie girl is more refined: straight blond locks, contour, and cheek highlight make for a played-up, but pretty everyday look.
Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images.
The rapper jumps back into full hair and makeup for the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards, wearing a shoulder-skimming wig of ombré curls pumped to epic proportions.
Photo: Kevork Djansezian/AMA2012/Getty Images.
Minaj wears an extreme cat-eye drawn with perfect precision.
Photo: Steve Granitz/Getty Images.
In 2014, Nicki debuted a more traditional look for the MTV Movie Awards, trading in her over-the-top wig for side-swept hair curled in loose Hollywood waves. Nude lips replace chalky-pink and lavender tones, and natural lashes edge out cartoonish falsies.
Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images.
At the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards, Minaj takes her newly debuted natural look into sultry territory with a micro-lined cat-eye.
Photo: Frazer Harrison/AMA2014/Getty Images.
Blame it on the flirty smile and the ultra-straight lob: Even with her staple makeup (long lashes, graphic cat-eye, and pink lips), Minaj’s look for the 2014 American Music Awards feels entirely fresh.
Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images.
The multi-hyphenate amps up her brow game for this winning look at the 2015 Grammys.
Photo: Paul Archuleta/Getty Images.
The hallmarks of Nicki Minaj beauty are all here, but downplayed for the 2015 BET awards. The pink lips are glossy instead of opaque, the lashes look more natural, and the contour is lightened and softened up with rosy cheeks.
Photo: Bryan Steffy/Getty Images.
Sure, Minaj has makeup artists painting on her perfectly winged eyes, but something tells us the woman knows her way around a wand of liquid liner. Either way, she has us wanting to up our own cat-eye game.
Photo: JB Lacroix/Getty Images.
In true Minaj fashion, the rapper made a hair switch for the premiere of Barbershop: The Next Cut, sporting platinum color (with just the right amount of root regrowth) and blunt bangs.
Photo: C. Flanigan/Getty Images.
At the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards, Minaj went back to a tried-and-true classic: lots o' lashes and a classic feline flick.
Photo: Prince Williams/Getty Images.
Minaj wore a decked-out, glittery manicure to an album release party for Meek Mill earlier this month — proving yet again that she's the queen of nail art.
In true Minaj fashion, the star arrived at Haider Ackerman's Paris fashion show last week in style. Who would have thought that super-sleek hair, in-your-face lashes, purple shades, and a pasty could look so damn good?
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