Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes was a Beauty Icon
By Brooklyn White
Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, the rapper from platinum-selling girl group TLC. The guru who openly studied astrology, holistic healing and numerology and documented her lifestyle in a video recording that would turn out to be her last. The reformed alcoholic Gemini who infamously (and accidentally) burned down her sprawling home with professional football player and then-lover, Andre Rison. The often under-discussed beauty icon whose look was unmistakable. Left Eye had many descriptors, but the latter is one of the things that made her so brilliant.
When I would wear colorful lipstick in high school, a teacher of mine would literally cringe, wondering why I would opt for anything other than a nice nude. What she didn’t know is that my beauty methods had been informed by superstars like Left Eye, who wore lustrous, blue lipgloss and orange lipstick in the “No Scrubs” video. She also wore blue eyeshadow, which is an accent that I didn’t always associate with Black skin. But Lopes fearlessly rocked the hue, and since then, I’ve seen it on Beyonce in her videos for “Blow” and “Mine”.
Left Eye was also audacious when it came to her hair, while her group mates often stayed on the safer side. Though their styles were equally iconic (who can forget those baby hairs, a fuchsia wig and those sideburns), Lisa’s long ponytails, bantu knots, and futuristic braids stood out the most. Her more memorable hairstyles also include stretched, spring-like hair bands wrapped around pigtails, donut-shaped ponytails, and bright red locks. She, like fellow rapper and collaborator Lil Kim, also took a chance and tried out brightly colored wigs. Her influence can also be seen today in equally-adventurous artists like Kelela and Cardi B - the latter famously saluted Left Eye at Coachella in 2018.
What other rapper, or Black, American musician period, had an eyebrow piercing in the late 90s and early 2000s? I can’t think of any other than Left Eye. In fact, facial piercings were thought to be exclusively a part of white rave culture, even though they have roots in punk (which is Black culture). She flipped a compliment (a suitor once told her that he liked the fact that her left eye was bigger than her right one), and started embellishing the area around her eye. She famously wore a condom over her left eye to promote safe sex, replaced it with a black stripe, and then pierced her left eyebrow and bejeweled the area around her eye.
It’s been nearly 20 years since Left Eye passed away in a car crash. The world was devastated, because it signified her the end of new work from the innovative artist, but more importantly it meant that Lopes’s journey on earth had come to an end. TLC is best remembered for their feminist anthems and blend of Hip Hop and R&B, but their unique approach to fashion and beauty has also stood the test of time. Left Eye’s beauty legacy is a part of TLC’s, but also a standalone manifestation of her expansive mind.