American Music Awards 2013: The Must-See Beauty Looks

All the beauty looks, from Miley's no-makeup makeup to Taylor's voluminous hair.
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Michelle Villett
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All the beauty looks, from Miley's no-makeup makeup to Taylor's voluminous hair.

We've been so caught up lately with celebrity before and afters that it feels like forever since we've properly analyzed an awards show—right? But last night's American Music Awards were pretty perfect, in terms of providing an opportunity for red carpet hair and makeup analysis. There was the good (Maia Mitchell), the bad (Jenna Ushkowitz) and the downright bizarre (Lil' Mama). Here are all the close-ups, and then let's talk about this one!

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift, American Music Awards, 2013

I loved Taylor's look from the chest up, which you can see here. But I didn't love her in that skimpy gold strapless mini-dress, only because I find her super-awkward when she tries to be sexy. (It always leaves me feeling mildly uncomfortable. Girl has legs for days, though.) Anyway, the hair is the standout here for me—I've been loving the colour and the bangs for some time now, and these soft, shaggy waves are so perfect. It's kind of a '10s twist on '90s heavy metal hair, except softer and healthier, with better colour. Can you see it? Also, really pretty brown shading in the eye area. Notice the curving, cat-like line underneath the eyes at the inner corners. Gonna copy that, stat!

Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus, American Music Awards, 2013

Miley is almost demure here, in a white Versace suit and her tongue actually IN her mouth, for once. While I love the idea of doing just lashes, brows and bare, dewy skin for a dressy red carpet, I can't help but feel like something got lost in the execution. It just looks sweaty and like she didn't really try, makeup-wise. (I hate to say it, but I think you kinda have to have Ginnifer-Goodwin-esque skin to pull something like this off. Miley has good skin, but if we're being nit-picky, it's not 100 percent perfect, radiant skin.) I do like the strong and dark brows, though, and maybe the haircut is growing on me a little bit.

Katy Perry

Katy Perry, American Music Awards, 2013

Oh look, it's Katy Perry wearing her mask again. It's really apparent in this photo that her face does not match her neck, and her foundation overall looks too pale and thick. I also think her hair looks absolutely fried. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm finding myself missing the days of the blue and pink. I used to love the dark hair on her, but her colour is way too black and wig-like now. (Actually, let's hope it's a wig and then it wouldn't be such a tragedy.) Really not loving this particular showing. Oh, and I just got an update on the makeup and if you're wondering what's on her lips, it's this shade. And she's wearing this blushthis eyeshadow and their new, awesome-sounding mascara.

Christina Aguilera

Christina Aguilera, American Music Awards, 2013

A female makeup artist I was chatting to recently told me that you can always tell which stars are the most insecure because they go for male makeup artists. Maybe that's a little sexist, but to me, Christina Aguilera looks exactly like one of those celebs. Not that she looks bad here—it's certainly an improvement over previous get-ups we've seen in the last few years—but it's still got that over-the-top, drag queeny quality that's so unnecessary. The idea was good—bright coral gloss, peach blush, winged eyeliner, gold shadow—but she could have worn half the amount and looked 10 times better. She also needs to re-think those overly arched eyebrows, and the body shimmer. Gosh, I'm just itching to do a Christina Aguilera make-under. The lips are reminding me of the high-pigment tangerine that Jessica Alba wore at the Golden Globes, except with a gloss on top.

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga, American Music Awards, 2013

Annnnd I just got an idea for a future before and after. Doesn't Gaga have plastic surgery face? She just looks so weird and plastic and melty. And the bleached eyebrows... why? As for the Rapunzel hair, I get that in her job category you've got to always have a gimmick, so it is what it is. At least her peach lipstick is nice.

Kesha

Kesha, American Music Awards, 2013

I should hate this, but in fact, I really love Kesha's hair here. Not only does she have an impressively long, thick and healthy-looking mane to begin with (or is it extensions?), the dye job—with one side turquoise merging into pink on the other—is probably the best My Little Pony colour I've ever seen. Whoever did this is a freakin' genius.

Rihanna

Rihanna, American Music Awards, 2013

The last celeb in the AMAs music elite is Rihanna, who I don't have a red carpet pic of but is here in the audience. Her hair has been slicked across her head in a deep side part, and are those two of the longest bobby pins you've ever seen? I must say, I really love exposed bobby pins when they're worn in this kind of deliberate, edgy, graphic way. As for her makeup, I like the liner; not sure about the frosty-looking pink lip and brown shadow.

Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson, American Music Awards, 2013

But now we're talking in terms of makeup! J-Hud almost always brings the goods, and here I'm just in love with this jolt of electric blue liner along the upper lash line. (This is the liner she's wearing in the shade Sapphire; it's new!) Not to mention, how she paired it with a pink lip (this lipstick in Sweet Embrace) and a bright orange dress. I think we all just got schooled in advanced colour-blocking. Also, I don't believe we've talked about her new short haircut. The last time we saw Jen on a red carpet, I was hoping she'd chop some off, so wishes do come true. I think this short style with subtle highlights looks great on her.

Emma Roberts

Emma Roberts, American Music Awards, 2013

Whoa, didn't expect to see Emma Roberts at this awards show, but what a nice surprise. Are you feeling her hairstyle as much as I am? I feel like five years ago or more, doing this kind of '80s swoopy front was SO tacky. Now I think it looks awesome and I do it a lot myself. The texture in the rest of her hair is great, too, and what a beautiful smoky eye job. She looks fresh, fun and modern.

Nicole Richie

Nicole Richie, American Music Awards, 2013

Not sure what's going on with Nicole lately, but I haven't been loving any of her red carpet looks (and just a couple of years ago, she was my number one hair inspiration). I think that's possibly one of the main problems—she looks much better when her hair is down, not up. Very few people can pull off this pompadour thing at the front, and Nicole—in my opinion—is not one of them. As for makeup, the eye is gorgeous, but I think on her it gets lost because there are so many warm and shiny tones all together. Nothing pops and it comes off a little greasy-looking. I'd love to see her with her hair down and a cool pink lip or something. Are you with me on this?

Update: The makeup was done by Lauren Andersen, who we were just talking about last week in this lengthy profile. She used this eye quad in Metal Eyes for the gold and grey shadows. On Nicole's skin is this foundation and this bronzer.

Zoë Saldana

Zoe Saldana, American Music Awards, 2013

This has to be one of my favourite Zoë looks, ever. She's always a stunner, but this eye is especially great on her. The colour is dark and dramatic (and matches her hair); it goes up to the crease and then a lighter colour smokes everything out around the edges. Really simple but high-impact, and wearing it with minimal blush and no lip colour keeps it from looking overdone.

Heidi Klum

Heidi Klum, American Music Awards, 2013

Heidi's never been a red carpet favourite (her dresses always look like figure skater costumes to me), but I think she's pretty adorable in this photo. It's the bangs. How awesome are bangs? This is a perfect example of how they make people look cuter and younger. They can also be an automatic "style" when you pull your hair back, whereas without bangs can often look like you didn't even try. I like Heidi's makeup here as well; smudgy smoky eyes with nude lip gloss really suits her.

Ciara

Ciara, American Music Awards, 2013

The last time we saw Ciara, she had long hair and a balayage job that I thought was a bit too high-contrast. Now, she's gone for a complete 180 with solid colour blonde and a chin-length bob. I am a fan (even of the roots, which I think work well when women with darker skin tones go blonde; see: Rihanna). The matte pink lip is also ideal with this look, if only she could put on a happier expression. Seriously, it must have been a bad day because this shot was the best of the bunch!

Naya Rivera

Naya Rivera, American Music Awards, 2013

Naya's hair is all kinds of amazing here. Bouncy, thick, crazy voluminous—it's what I try to achieve when I do my little hot roller routine for fine, straight hair. (It actually does make my hair look similar.) Can't really see what's going on with the makeup, but who cares when your hair is doing this?

Jenna Ushkowitz

Jenna Ushkowitz, American Music Awards, 2013

And now for my "worst" look of the night, Naya's fellow Glee star Jenna Ushkowitz. Did I say I wanted to give Christina Aguilera a make-under? Well, make room for two—and we'll start with her highlights. They look like someone went crazy with a home frosting kit. I'm not opposed to her having highlights, but these are way too light for her hair colour and totally cheapen her. Then there is the issue of the makeup. While Olivia Wilde can definitely pull off playing up both eyes and lips, that kind of thing has to be done with super-careful execution (read: celebrity makeup artist Melanie Inglessis). Jenna needs to pick eyes or lips, but not both. And even if she picks eyes, that shadow is way too much, in my opinion.

Maia Mitchell

Maia Mitchell, American Music Awards, 2013

Now we've arrived at my absolute favourite look of the night. Maia is a 20-year-old Australian who stars in The Fosters, and judging from how great she looks here, she very well could be a rising star to watch. Can you believe a 20-year-old can get such a sophisticated hair and makeup combo SO right? Life is unfair. Her hair is impossibly shiny and perfectly styled in a deep side part with volume at the top and soft, touchable waves tucked behind one ear. Then, that lip! Doesn't it make you want to run out and buy a matte burgundy like, right now? (Could it be the same shade Kate Bosworth wore to the Met Ball that one time?) It goes perfectly with her chestnut hair, thick brows and the nice flush on the cheeks. If I had dark hair, I'd be replicating this ASAP.

Jaimie Alexander

Jaimie Alexander, American Music Awards, 2013

Jaimie Alexander is that girl who's dating Peter Facinelli, which made me feel bad for Jennie Garth, and even worse because she looked so great at the SAG Awards earlier this year. That had to be a big ouch for Jennie. Here, I think she looks decidedly less awesome—so Jennie, gurl, you may want to see this. The problem is not in the face—her makeup looks fine to me—it's in the hair. The short, straight bangs say business, but there is a BIG, messy party going on at the top. I can't help but feel like they look mismatched.

Jordin Sparks

Jordin Sparks, American Music Awards, 2013

I really didn't like Jordin's gladiator-style outfit (with leather, studs, a slit and a turtleneck?), so critiquing the hair and makeup is like a drop in the pond here. It's really is fine, though—the sleek, high braid, which she pulls off so well, and the usual tone-on-tone makeup with shiny nude gloss.

Aubrey O'Day

Aubrey O'Day, American Music Awards, 2013

What is going on with Aubrey's bloodshot eyes here? I've come across a few of these situations over the years when collecting these un-retouched photos, and I always wonder—are their eyes like that because of some eye makeup irritation, or were they drinking pre-event? (Or having some illegal substance?) At any rate, it's not a good look. Nor is the name necklace, which is a trend I thought died when Sex and the City went off the air. Aubrey is a really pretty girl, and I like her hairstyle, but I think she could look better with a root touch-up and less craziness on the eyelashes. And of course, some Visine.

Daisy Fuentes

Daisy Fuentes, American Music Awards, 2013

Guess how old Daisy Fuentes is, because you will never. Seriously, guess. I just looked her up and she's... 47. Can you believe? Girlfriend looks incredible. I really like her hair colour (the waves could be broken up a bit) and the makeup is nice and subtle, with a soft, reddish coral on the lips.

Ashlee Keating

Ashlee Keating, American Music Awards, 2013

No idea who Ashlee is (she's a recording artist/actress with 99,000+ Twitter fans, though). And all in all, I think she styled herself pretty well for this event. The hair is excellent—I love the deep side part and cascading Veronica Lake waves—and she wisely kept things pretty low-key with her tone-on-tone, pinky brown makeup. Maybe needs a touch of powdering around the nose.

Alicia Silverstone

Alicia Silverstone, American Music Awards, 2013

So. How do you think that vegan diet's working out for Alicia Silverstone? She's only 37 but I think looks older—although it's hard to say since most people in Hollywood get work done by that age, whereas she doesn't strike me as the type who'd ever. I can't get excited about any aspect of her style here, although I suppose it's all fine. I agree with the smudgy liner around her eyes, since they are her best feature. But I kind of want to brush her hair.

Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande, American Music Awards, 2013

Ah, remember Ariana? I feel like I have a beauty rage response when I see her pictures. Again, I'll remind you that she is 20, not 13. Compared to the last time we saw her, at the MTV Video Music Awards, at least the outfit is less juvenile (although possibly still questionable). It's really the hair, eyebrows, lipstick and to be frank, facial expressions, that bug. First, let's talk hair. At least the half-up style she always seems to go for is a bit less prissy here, although I think all that hair overwhelms her and looks kinda fake and Barbie-ish (and not in a good way). I've observed before that her ashy eyebrows and plummy lipstick choices aren't the most flattering or age-appropriate. And is it just me or does she always have a smug smirk? I don't get it.

Sarah Silverman

Sarah Silverman, American Music Awards, 2013

I'm not a fan, like at all, of Sarah Silverman, but I can totally get behind how she styled herself here. Her black hair with the bright lemon yellow dress and shock of hot pink lipstick is an awesome combination. (Could it be this now-classic shade?) Skin is maybe a touch too powdery, but I like how her eye makeup is really low-key, with no false lashes and barely any eyeliner. Well done.

Zendaya Coleman

Zendaya Coleman, American Music Awards, 2013

I had to look up who Zendaya Coleman is, and she's some Disney star, age 17. That's right, 17. I don't think my mother would've let me leave the house like this. (Besides the fact that it's way too grown-up and sexy-looking, I'm fairly sure my mom would point out that it's kinda tacky as well. My mom is good.) I think she could get a haircut, maybe stop straightening it so much, part it to the side, lose the white eyeshadow and false lashes, buy an eyelash comb and wear a lip stain instead of that goopy gloss. So you know, not much to change at all. Ha!

Lil' Mama

Lil' Mama, American Music Awards, 2013

I always like to wrap it up with a crazy one, so I'll leave you with Lil' Mama, who is sporting bright green hair and it's not even St. Patrick's Day. I'm not a fan of that haircut either. But hey, I can look beyond these things—doesn't she have beautiful eyes?

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