If there were a single word that defined the best beauty instagrams this year it would be confidence. Confidence to not only experiment with a new hair color or a bold eye look but to continue to challenge conventional beauty standards in fresh, new ways.
Beauty is ageless and with her enviable lipstick collection and waist-gazing, silver hair—all showcased through the cheekiest poses—model Kristen McMenamy reminded us that it can also be really fun. Singer Lizzo also kept things playful throughout the year, debuting a colorful array of hairstyles, like butterfly adorned pigtails and lime green bohemian braids. Meanwhile Rina Sawayama’s eighties-inspired makeup demonstrated the timelessness of a graphic liner and a technicolor palette.
Beyond the looks, beauty was on display through the confidence that comes from digging deeper. During lockdown and the following months spent quarantining and social distancing, many took the chance to reconnect with themselves to reclaim their power. For Rickey Thompson it was repeating the same mantra. “I look at myself every day in the mirror and say, ‘Oh, my gosh. You’re beautiful, you’re Black. Keep it pushing,’” he told Vogue earlier this year. Bella Hadid got real about mental health, sharing her struggles with anxiety and depression in the light of social media while reminding her others who also live with the disorders that they weren’t alone. And for model Quannah Chasinghorse, it has been about using her platform to advocate for Indigenous rights while paying homage to her features and culture. “I can look at myself in the mirror, smile and feel thankful and blessed for my Sicangu/Oglala Lakota and Hän Gwich’in features—while aptly concluding: “We are beautiful with the unique features we are given.”