3 Beloved Latina Beauty Icons Who Aren't Selena or Frida

Latinx Beauty Icons | Who What Wear


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It’s Latinx Heritage Month (technically Hispanic Heritage Month, but IMO, we’re due for a rebrand), and while Selena Quintanilla and Frida Kahlo are two of the biggest names that come to mind when talking about the beautiful, iconic Latina women who have helped propel the culture into the mainstream, there are so many more out there who also made tremendous strides. 

I tip my hat to all the stunning Latinas currently turning heads in the Hollywood fashion and beauty landscapes (looking at you, queen J.Lo), but I think it’s time we get a little historical and throw it back to the classic beauties who walked so the following generations could run. A little cultura, if you will. Perhaps I'm a bit more tuned in as a Latina myself, but I firmly believe these groundbreaking women should be on everyone's radar. They're true legends.

Here, three iconic Latina beauties who deeply inspire folks around the globe, and the signature looks that solidified them as beauty icons.

María Félix

Latinx Beauty Icons: María Félix


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Latin American cinema was booming in the '40s and '50s, and no one personified that time period like Mexican actress María Félix. Her riveting personality earned her the nickname La Doña (a title signifying her diva status) very early on. She was a true firecracker and in control of her career from the very beginning, when she eschewed Hollywood moviemakers who typecasted her in favor of roles in her native country. By the end of her career, she had made 47 films around the world.

Like many actresses of her time, she had pronounced features—bold (yet skinny) brows and an exaggerated Cupid’s bow. She was the subject of many painters, including Diego Rivera. She loved jewelry and collaborated with Cartier for two huge (read: ridiculously expensive) necklaces in her lifetime, one featuring crocodiles encrusted with diamonds and emeralds.

Get the look:

Get bold brows with this ink-stain and waterproof pencil by Urban Decay.

Create a slight cat eye with this amazingly precise liquid liner that applies blacker than black.

I can't be sure what kind of mascara Félix kept on hand, but I imagine it was a formula just as iconic as this one by Too Faced.

Emphasize your Cupid’s bow with a lip liner before applying lipstick. Not only does this one plump the lips with a unique peptide and hyaluronic acid boost, but it can also be worn alone or as a base.

Dolores del Río

Latinx Beauty Icons: Dolores del Río


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George Bernard Shaw once said, “The two most beautiful things in the world are the Taj Mahal and Dolores del Río.” Another actress from the Golden Age of Cinema, Dolores del Río was one of the first Latina crossovers to Hollywood, although she eventually made her way back to her native Mexico. Later, she would hop between the two worlds—Hollywood and Mexican cinema—to create a revered name for herself and represent Latinas in mainstream films. She ran in elite circles, both in Mexico and Hollywood, starred in movies alongside Fred Astaire and other big names of the time, and was also the first major actress to wear a two-piece bathing suit on-screen. In films, she was very much the glamour starlet of most of her movies, with an elegance that transcended typical “Latina” roles at the time. She had defined bone structure and big, playful eyes and favored a dark lip.

Get the look:

Play up your eyes with these reusable falsies made of high-quality silk. (Psst: The line was created by Latina YouTuber Ydelays of Golden Dream Beauty.)

Open up those peepers even more with the oldest trick in the makeup book: White liner along the lower lashline. You'll look like a wide-eyed '50s starlet in seconds.

Hit all the right angles with a contour kit that will make your bone structure pop. This one my Anastasia has everything you'll need to make it happen.

Go bold with a lip look that demands attention (and a camera). This one from Nars is long-lasting and non-drying.

Celia Cruz

Latinx Beauty Icons: Celia Cruz


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¡Azúcar! That was the battle cry of Celia Cruz (literally meaning “sugar!”), the Cuban songstress and creative who brought pure joy to the world until her death in 2003. Nicknamed the Queen of Salsa and also the Queen of Latin Music, Cruz started her professional singing career in her native Cuba before making her way to the United States, where her prolific presence won her three Latin Grammy Awards and two Grammy Awards. She was known for her over-the-top costumes, including colored wigs, formfitting sequined dresses, and super-high heels—one such look was collected by the Smithsonian Institution. Her contributions to the world of music and changing the perception of Latinas stateside cannot be overstated.

Get the look:

Add a playful pop to your lips with these colorful, shiny lacquers from Glossier Play.

Milani is known for making highly pigmented products that are vibrant on a multitude of skin tones—something Cruz probably would have appreciated as an Afro-Latina. This liner would set the tone for a truly epic lip moment.

Add life and color to your look in homage to the Cuban songstress with this colorful (and sparkly) Cuba-inspired palette. It even includes a shade called Celia.

Want to really go all out? Sparkle on with these luxe glitters from Nyx. They're super affordable and provide a high-shine payoff.

Up next, 25 cheap beauty basics to buy when you're bored.