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The Beauty Evolution of Gwen Stefani


There’s glam, there’s glammer, then there’s Gwen Stefani. The chart-topper’s limited-edition IPSY Icon Box is a celebration of everything that defines her—from her Orange County roots to her early days as a mall makeup artist, when she first discovered her lifelong passion for self-expression and all things beauty. 

“I’ve been into beauty since I was a little girl,” Gwen tells us. “I used to be inspired by my mom’s makeup and hair and the way that she dressed in the ’60s; my best friend’s mom had MARY KAY parties and we used to ‘play makeup’ after school; and I used to spend hours watching Turner Classic Movies procrastinating from school and was always fascinated by old Hollywood makeup, glam, and all things vintage.” 

After getting a job in a department store in Anaheim, CA, Gwen was able to make her way behind the makeup counter. “I was just told to make a display, and I did makeovers on people. It was one of the most fun jobs I ever had. It was so rewarding to see the way people felt when they had their makeup done, which is really the reason I started GXVE BEAUTY in the first place,” she says. 

Gwen on Doing Her Own Glam

Even with an on-stage and red-carpet presence that’s lasted over the past three decades, the music icon still plays a massive role in her own beauty aesthetic, often doing her makeup herself. “When I do my own makeup, there’s a creative sort of ritual that goes with it that helps me to get ready for whatever the event is,” she says. 

Gwen continues: “I really enjoy doing my makeup for everyday, but for stage, I would never let someone else do my makeup because I really know what needs to happen to keep the layers in place while I’m performing. But I love having an amazing makeup artist do my makeup for TV and print. I think that without collaborating with makeup artists, I wouldn’t have learned what I’ve learned about makeup over the years. I’ve learned how to create varied looks.” And that’s exactly what she’s done... 

Gwen’s glam evolution is unmatched. Ready to take a walk down beauty memory lane? Keep scrolling. 

The Beauty Evolution of Gwen Stefani

1. 2000 Billboard Music Awards

“I think that when I was younger, I was inspired by time periods like the ’50s,” says Gwen. “Everyone in those days wore red lipsticks. It was an aesthetic I thought was very cool, glamorous and bold, and made you stand out. I gravitated towards that. There’s something really feminine about wearing red lipstick. It became a signature for me. These days I mix it up a lot, but I still love red. It’s something everyone should try!”

2. 2001 MTV Movie Awards

Just when we thought we’d seen it all from Gwen, she showed up to the 2001 MTV Movie Awards with a pair of perky pigtails, and we were inspired all over again. The hair is giving early aughts Powder Puff Girl, and the makeup is serving glam, red carpet realness.

3. 2006 American Music Awards

“This was right after I had my first baby. I remember coming back to work thinking, ‘How do you get back into it after having a baby?’ It’s an incredible time to be a new mom and then trying to go back to being glamorous on the red carpet. I was really inspired by Michelle Pfeiffer’s performance in Scarface and had done a L.A.M.B. Collection for NYFW with her being the inspiration. That’s where this hair look, light lips, and dark eye makeup came in.”

4. 2006 Billboard Music Awards

Gwen’s love for all things vintage came back into play with this 2006 look. While the soft, smoky liner and peachy-nude lip are a timeless combo, the retro pin-up updo takes us right back to the 1950s.

5. "The Tree Of Life" Premiere at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival

“This is one of those funny stories where I was flying to Europe and had some kind of eye infection or reaction, so when we did my makeup, I had to do a really heavy smoky eye to cover it up. It wasn’t exactly the plan, but we ended up going with the smoky eye, which is something I had never done at that time. The hair was inspired by a fashion show I had gone to. I wanted to mix it up by wearing a pink lipstick. This was very different for me.”

6. 2014 Jingle Ball

“I love switching up my look more when I’m with my glam team. It usually starts with whatever I’m going to wear and whatever the event is. I’m always up for wearing a lot of makeup, but it depends on the look. If it’s a bold fashion look, I might want to go more nude or neutral with the lip or eye. Sometimes I want to switch it up because I’m doing so many looks in a row. If I just did a winged eye, I’ll try a different lash or eye look. Working with a makeup artist is great in that way because they push me to try new things. Of course, I’m like everyone else. I also look online and I get inspired by what’s out there on Pinterest and TikTok. It’s such an amazing creative community.”

7. 2017 Westfield London Christmas Lights Switch On

“I think my beauty philosophy would be that you can never have enough makeup. The evolution of your own personal style and style as a makeup artist forever changes. It’s good to be accepting that your face is always going to change. What I love about makeup is that it can always make you feel beautiful and creative at the same time.”

8. 2022 Met Gala

“I ended up doing my own makeup at the 2022 Met Gala. My makeup artist had a family emergency the morning of the event, and I had to put my artistry to the test. This was the first year that I had my own makeup brand. I teased our first GXVE BEAUTY nude lipstick shades with this look before they officially launched and also created a cobalt blue winged eyeliner to complement the yellow dress with the Line It Up Eyeliner in Bathwater.”

9. 2023 CMT Music Awards

Ernesto Casillas did my makeup for this year’s CMT Awards in Austin, TX. The event was very cool because singers from all different genres performed with country music powerhouses. I’ve loved getting to be a part of this world through Blake [Shelton]. Carly Pearce and I performed “Just a Girl” where I changed into an amazing red polka dot Versace dress that matched my Original Recipe signature red lipstick. Watching Ernesto do my makeup that day was absolutely magical. He brought my eyebrows up so far and made this optical illusion of my eyes being really lifted. Everything about this makeup and this look is so amazing to me because he truly changed the shape of my face with the makeup.”

Feeling inspired by Gwen’s beauty evolution, and ready to make your glam totally iconic, too? We got you! Be the first on the list to reserve your Icon Box before we run out—Icon Box by Gwen Stefani quantities are limited. Not an IPSY member yet? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started, and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and TikTok @IPSY for all the latest beauty news (hint: there might be even more Icon Box product reveals coming soon!).

Curious what you might have missed in other sold-out Icon Box drops? Check out November’s Icon Box by Pat McGrath, May’s Icon Box by Anastasia Beverly Hills and August’s Icon Box by Vanessa Hudgens collections now.

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About the author
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Maddie Aberman
Maddie is the senior manager of editorial at IPSY. She’s been covering beauty and wellness for more than nine years. Her work has appeared in Allure, Cosmopolitan, Popsugar, Women's Health, Good Housekeeping, and Seventeen, among other publications.
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Article Last Updated January 22, 2024 12:00 AM