Some awards shows can be a bit stuffy and flat-out boring. There, we said it. But the MTV Video Music Awards will never fall into that category. The music, the outfits, the guests—everything about the show grabs our attention, especially the outlandishly glamorous hairstyles sported by the attendees. From Madonna’s shocking “Like a Virgin” wedding ensemble to Lady Gaga’s iconic meat dress, VMAs style is always a wild ride, to say the least. More award shows should be this fun. To prepare for this week’s 2022 VMAs, we’re taking a look back at some of the most memorable looks to ever grace that red carpet below!
Mariah Carey’s Glamour Waves
Mariah Carey shut down the 1997 MTV VMAs red carpet with this show-stopping number. Her soft waves and voluminous sideswept bang serve up serious prom hairstyle inspo. The way those ringlets cascade down without a care in the world proves tousled is always better.
(Image Source: Getty / Ron Davis)
TLC’s Crazy Sexy Cool Style
This trio could not be topped on the red carpet, often coming out on top as the best dressed of the night. This was especially true at the VMAs where their playful style was always on full display. TLC’s fun hair choices are allowed to pop agains the backdrop of their all-black ensembles.
(Image Source: Getty / Henny Ray Abrams / AFP)
Eve’s Hot Pink Hair
Leave it to Eve to make pink pop even more than it already does on the VMAs red carpet. Though the spiky hair is a simple hairstyle, the hot pink hue is able to take centerstage—even with her wearing a blinged-out choker and a gold dress.
(Image Source: Getty / Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic, Inc)
Taylor Swift’s Shag
The shag that started it all. Before everyone and their mother was rocking this hairstyle, Swift stepped onto the 2019 VMAs red carpet in this tousled hairstyle and kicked off the shag craze.
(Image Source: Getty / Kevin Mazur / WireImage)
Rihanna’s Sweet Pixie
We have never had a stronger desire to rock a pixie haircut than after seeing Rihanna’s sweet take on the look at the 2012 VMAs. She looks like an absolute dream in this feathered pixie, pulling it off in a way only Rihanna can.
(Image Source: Getty / Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic)
Ciara’s Slicked-Back Ponytail
From the deep side part to its nearly-floor-grazing length, everything about this slicked-back ponytail works. Are we surprised? Everything Ciara wears is pure perfection. If only we could get our take on this style to look half as good as hers.
(Image Source: Getty / Angela Weiss / AF)
Lizzo’s Modern Beehive
Lizzo can make any red carpet her own, and while the singer has had a number of noteworthy looks, this one will always be one of our favorites. Her sequin gown and feather boa combo will never be topped, but it’s the modern beehive that really pushes this look over the edge for us.
(Image Source: Getty / Aaron J. Thornton)
Beyoncé’s Fantasy Braid
The more we stare at this braid, the more details we notice. It truly is a work of art and completely mesmerizing, something Beyoncé knows how to do very well with her red carpet style. Exuding Game of Thrones vibes, we’d give anything for someone to recreate this style on our own hair.
(Image Source: Getty / C Flanigan / FilmMagic)
JLO’s Bedazzled Bandana
Whenever we reminisce about MTV VMAs hair moments from years past, we always think of this classic look from JLO. Though so casual and cool, she really made a statement with her bedazzled bandana and half-updo braided pigtails. To say it kicked off a hairstyle trend would be an understatement—it was a movement.i
(Image Source: Getty / Steve Azzara / Corbis)
Madonna’s ’80s Texture
Throwing it all the way back to 1984 (yes, the VMAs have been around for that long), Madonna’s material girl ’80s hair was a moment in time. There is enough mousse in her quaffed hairstyle to last a lifetime, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
(Image Source: Getty / Images Press)
Courtney Love’s Grunge Blonde
Say what you will about Courtney Love, she had the grunge aesthetic on lock in the early ’90s. The contrast of her bleach blonde and dark roots paired with messy volume has us ready to go grunge ourselves. Never mind Kurt Cobain’s face, this hairstyle is stunning.
(Image Source: Getty / Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic)
Lady Gaga’s Cotton Candy Color
Yes, everyone remembers the meat dress. How could you not? It’s a meat dress. But we will never forget Lady Gaga’s cotton candy dream of a hair color. The pastel purple with ombré blue tips looks so good, we want to eat it. The meat dress? Eh, not so much. But the hair, definitely.
(Image Source: Getty / Gregg DeGuire / FilmMagic)
Britney Spears’s Messy Curls
This roundup wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Britney Spears’s messy coils during her 2001 MTV VMAs performance. You know the one. While there was a lot going on, we never took our eyes off her hair. Honestly, to this day, we still try to recreate this look whenever we have a night out on the town planned.
(Image Source: Getty / KMazur / WireImage)
Lil Kim’s Lavender Locks
We saved the best for last, because while there have been a number of memorable hair moments throughout VMAs history (see above), nothing will ever compare to Lil Kim’s pastel purple moment. After this, celebrities really dared to step out of their comfort zone and try something different. We don’t think we’d have the meat dress if Lil Kim did not don those lavender locks and that purple paste. Facts are facts, America.
(Image Source: Getty / Scott Gries)
While we’re talking about it, relive THESE best hair moments from the 2021 MTV VMAs!