Leighton Meester's 10 Best Hair and Makeup Looks

The Gossip Girl and new Biotherm face’s most stunning beauty adventures.
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Michelle Villett
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The Gossip Girl and new Biotherm face’s most stunning beauty adventures.

Just this morning, Biotherm announced that Leighton Meester—one of my original and most favourite beauty crushes—is their newest global ambassadress. Makes total sense, because Biotherm is a skincare brand and holy hell, does this girl ever have great skin. I was so focused on the hair before that didn't fully realize it myself until I sifted through her photos to prepare this retrospective. She's going to be starring in campaigns for Aquasource in 2014, and I'm pretty sure she could just wear that alone on the red carpet without a stitch of makeup, and look all kinds of gorgeous.

Leighton has been doing the red carpet thing since at least 2009, so here are my picks for her top 10 most inspiring looks:

1. Glowing skin with minimal makeup and scraped-back hair

Leighton Meester, 500 Days of Summer screening, 2009

Look at her skin here! As my friend L. often says, it makes you want to go all Vampire-like and steal her collagen. This pic just goes to show you that when your foundation is good—as in, your skin's so good that you barely need foundation makeup—you shouldn't feel required to do anything else. Your great skin can BE the look. Here, I can detect some shimmery gold shadow, soft brown eyeliner along the waterlines, mascara, nude lip gloss and the most restrained application of blush.

2. Dewy skin, stained glossy lips and a wavy updo

Leighton Meester - Teen Choice Awards, 2009

See? Amazing skin again. The dewier quality here reminds me of how it looks when you've just come from the gym or out of a hot shower or bath. (Basically, it's the warmth and blood flow doing that—you can replicate the effect by sitting under heat lamps, which I've been doing lately and LOVE.) Her flushed cheeks remind me of NARS Orgasm, and on the lips it kinda looks like a stain with a clear gloss over top. This pic's from 2009, so before the era of YSL's Glossy Stain, but you could get the same effect in one product with its Corail Fauve shade. I love the warm gold on the eyes combined with the taupe to deepen the crease—see how it's all very light and subtle, not too dark? Then, the eyeliner drawn very thin along the lower waterlines and thicker on the top. I'll always be jealous of brown-eyed people because they can get away with so much more eyeliner, and it just melts right into their pupil colour.

We can't see much of the hair, but I like what I do—it's very soft and loosely pinned up, but doesn't need any hanging tendrils.

3. Smoky eyes, pink blush and half-up hair

Leighton Meester, opening of Klutch Nightclub, 2009 (2)

I think I may be the last person in the world to like half-up hair (or so you guys tell me), but c'mon. Doesn't it look good here? I love it with this kind of makeup as it gives it a slight Brigitte Bardot spin.

Now, let's talk about that blush. It's major, but I'm also, as a blush addict, totally cool with it. I think what makes it work and not look overdone are the bare lips, black eye makeup and black outfit; there's nothing else to fight with it. Looks quite pink with a bit of shimmer—I'd say Bobbi Brown Shimmer Blush in Pink Sugar could be a close match. On the eyes, there's a dark brown shadow only up to the crease, and then tons of black liner all the way around. Notice how thick and smudgy the line is along the bottom lash line. I absolutely adore this makeup and would wear it myself in a heartbeat.

4. Vampy purple shadow, red lips and centre-parted waves

Leighton Meester, American Eagle Outfitters grand opening, NYC, 2009

OMG. I remember seeing this pic and thinking at the time, how crazy. But what a difference a few years make—now, I think it's amazing. (Not that I'm in any rush to replicate it on myself, mind you.) It's from 2009 at the New York City grand opening of American Eagle Outfitters, which confuses me because what does this vampy, Illamasqua-esque makeup look have to do with a store that sells sweatpants and T-shirts? Anyway, I'm appreciating it for sheer creativity and forward thinking. Leighton was totally ahead of the curve with her 360-degree application of purple eyeshadow, accented by a thin stripe of gold on the upper lash line. Most of us would've stopped there, but oh no—there's a big, bold red lip as well. My takeaway lesson from this is that I should get way more creative the next time I'm wearing a black dress.

Hair-wise, it's tons of fairly tight, almost ringlet-like curls with a slightly frizzed up texture and parted in the middle.

5. Smoky eyes, sheer gloss and highlighted waves

Leighton Meester, Herbal Essences event, Madrid, 2010

If you've been reading here for a few years, you'll recognize this pic from the time I interviewed Leighton's hairstylist, Charles Baker Strahan, on how the heck he got these beautiful tone-on-tone highlights in her brown hair. As you may know, obvious highlights are one of my biggest beauty pet peeves, and they're particularly tricky on brunettes. You've gotta check this post for the secret. In this shot, her hair was curled into soft, tousled waves, all the better to show off the lightness at the ends.

Her eye makeup is similar to the half-up hair look above, except the lines are much thinner and cleaner instead of smudgy. With a nude lip and less dramatic blush, it's a great daytime look for Leighton.

6. Peachy lipstick, straight hair and bangs

Leighton Meester, Gossip Girl 100th episode celebration, 2011

Bangs! I love 'em, although I think I prefer Leighton without (since why hide that ridiculous skin and those pretty features?). They do kinda give her a sexier vibe than usual, especially with the longer, straighter hair here. I'm not sure how many people could pull them off, but I like how the bangs were cut short and choppy, to open up her face.

Eyes aren't as dramatic here; relying mostly on a dark brown liner and a bit of shadow for emphasis. I'm in love with the semi-matte peach on her lips—maybe something like Stila Convertible Color in Petunia?

7. Metallic liner, illuminated skin and half-up waves

Leighton Meester, HBO Golden Globes party, 2011

Maybe this is why I like Leighton so much—she's wearing the half-up hairstyle again! This time it's a much more polished version, with smooth, brushed out waves. (Although I can see a case could be made for leaving it all down, too.)

The most interesting thing with her makeup is that coppery eyeliner drawn along the upper lash line (and paired with an ultra-thin ring of black all the way around, to "ground" it). I think Urban Decay's excellent 24/7 waterproof liner in Smog would be pretty much an exact match. Also loving the lip, which looks like a pinky lipstick was blotted down for a stained effect. Not 100 percent sold on the illuminating powder over the cheeks and forehead, but if anyone can pull it off, it's Leighton. This year, Hourglass came out with the most amazing pressed powders that are meant to replicate the effect of "mood lighting", so one of those would be the perfect choice.

8. Glossy red lips, fresh skin and retro waves

Leighton Meester, Country Strong screening, 2010

This would be absolutely perfect if the lip gloss wasn't feathering (I know that will bother some of you!), but I think it's a winning look nevertheless. Again, we've got the flawless skin as the foundation of the look, and it barely needs any blush at all to look radiant. What's different here is that Leighton let the glossy red lips take centre stage, playing down the eyes to just mascara and maybe a tiny bit of taupey shadow. I've been using the new Giorgio Armani Gloss d'Armani, which is amazing and could definitely give you this effect. Maybe just pair it with Make Up For Ever's colourless lip pencil to prevent bleeding.

The hair is classic Leighton, all wavy and soft but parted to the side and with some volume at the part for a vintagey look.

9. Grey shadow, pink blush and stick-straight hair

Leighton Meester, The Roommate premiere, 2011

Girl looks totally different here, what with the straight hair that's been parted in the middle (sort of) and with the lightened ends. (See how much more they stand out on the straight hair? It's one of the reasons I couldn't live with my Ombré.)

Skin's not so perfectly even in this one; maybe it was hot in there. This time, the blush has got less shimmer, so it's possibly something like my favourite Yves Saint Laurent cream blush in Powdery Rose. The other standout is the pale grey eyeshadow that goes up above the crease, at the inner corners and underneath the lower lash line. Marc Jacobs has a very similar shade in his Mod eyeshadow palette. Again, it needs to be paired with the thin line of dark brown or black liner to make eyes really pop.

10. High-pigment red lips, bronzed skin and bobbed hair

Leighton Meester, Target Neiman Marcus event, 2012

You may remember this shot from last year, when people were losing it for bobbed hair left, right and centre. Love how Leighton worked hers by slicking it back, tucking it behind the ears and straightening the ends. (Although I won't lie, I love her long hair more.)

Dunno about this bronzer sculpting her face around the hairline (could just be the lighting making it look a little dark), but I can get behind the super-saturated red lip and the thick black line along the upper lash line. (Probably false lashes were used here, too.) For the lip, I have to recommend another Giorgio Armani product—the Lip Maestro, which is the most highly pigmented wand of colour that I've ever seen. It's some kind of hybrid stain-lip lacquer and if you like to be hit over the head with colour, check it out.

Now, tell me:

Do you think Leighton's a good fit for Biotherm?
Which of her beauty looks here is your favourite?
Have you tried any of these product recos?