Exclusive First Look at Nicki Minaj's Dramatic Makeunder for 'Elle'

03/14/2013 at 09:00 AM ET

Nicki Minaj Elle makeunderCourtesy ELLE

You may think you’ve seen Nicki Minaj in every possible look under the sun — but we bet you’ve never seen her like this before.

In the April issue of Elle, the American Idol judge gets a major makeunder, appearing in little more than winged eyeliner and a nude pout.

“To go in front of the camera, without pink lips or big ol’ crazy lashes — you know, nothing — I felt naked,” Minaj says of the shoot. “It was scary!”

Though she’s been spotted out in more subdued looks lately, she still found it tough to give up one thing in particular. “I’m so, so attached to my pink lipstick, it’s hard” to go without, she tells Elle.

Click to see another dramatic shot from Minaj’s Elle cover story, and read more about her experiences with bullying, her plans for world domination and her tips for women on how to “treat yourself like a boss” at Elle‘s website and in the April issue, on stands March 26.

Nicki Minaj Elle makeunderCourtesy ELLE

Tell us: What do you think of a made-under Minaj?

–Alex Apatoff


Add A Comment

Got something to add to this post? Fill out the fields below to make a comment, ask a question or share a tip. We'd love to hear from you.

Note: If this is your first time commenting on Style News Now, your comment will need to be approved by our moderator before it will appear. Thanks for your patience, and check back again soon.

Showing 159 comments

Haley on

She looks better!! Natural is always better!

Mel on

She’s so much more attractive without all the paint and the bouffant hair!!!!

tj on

she’s lovely without all that clown get up. my gosh, why would she paint over all that????

no one really takes her seriously as a singer or performer with all that sheet going on. she is a joke to me and has zero validity.

teluproductions on

When I think of Nicki Minaj, I think versatility! I think resilience. The entertainment industry is a tough business to be in today. If you have talent, it has got to be on point and highly saturated with versatility and resilience!!

JB on

God woman, you look so much better without all that rainbow getup. Please just stay like that for a while.

Happyupriver on

WOW! She is actually lovely.

Natalia DaLomba on

So much better going natural… now if we can only see her black hair too then it’s old Nicki! lol :) Getting there~

Jaimee on

she is a pretty girl, she doesnt need to ‘do all that’ but i guess thats just her. but its a ‘costume’ . shes paid to entertain, and thats what she does. i like her on idol, i think shes funny. shes not out to hurt anyone.

Sammi on

I love it, and I love her.

Mr.Z on

I will not miss the “rainbow sherbet” look one bit..

Bets on

That’s still quite a lot of make up, it’s just not cartoon colored. It’s an improvement, but the over processed – trying to look wet hair, and plastic suit are still over the top. Finally the cut of the jacket is unflattering. It makes her gut look large and shoulders look narrow, when in reality she probably has a better figure.

Greg D. on

Nikki is a beautiful young woman physically. Except, she makes it so hard for people to see it. For her, stripping away all that garbage she uses seems like a reinvention to get attention instead of going for the outrageous to get attention. This look is much, much better. I wish she’d read this.

Arthur Estrada on

She is disgust.Diminishes the show with her presence.She is not real.Looks like is about her not the show.The worse year of this show.So sad that we are forse to see this clown in this show.As a singer or prformer she is joke.

Sally Jean on

I think she lo.oks great too, I do understand the wild make-up too, it must be fun

Joe on

You really think that is with barely any make up? That’s pretty funny.

Davo! on

G R O S S ! ! !

suzie on

She has natural beauty !! Better without all the makeup. She really has a very funny personality. She’s not at all what I had thought before I started watching her on American Idol. I like her!

Rich on

she still has makeup on so its not natural and she only looks good compared to her crazy clown makeup she normally wears

JM on

Hate that “clown” look!!!!!!

AJ on

She’s my little “ladybug”!

sam hain on

She is cute without all that makeup. I’d hit it from the back, because baby got back.


WOW! So much younger, prettier and hip looking.
She doesn’t need all the glitter, make up, fake hair.
She looks awesome!! Stay like that. Too phony the
other way.

ros on

Better looking but not better look. They still try to make black people more acceptable to whites by giving them a white blonde look. She should look black and natural.

Sabrina on

She’s still wearing quite a bit of makeup, including lipstick, lip liner, eyeliner, eyeshadow, and foundation, just that the tones and colors are neutral browns/natural colors rather than pink and red colors. Nevertheless, I don’t have a problem with her loud makeup or blonde hair. Nothing wrong with being unique!

batgirlnj on

I think the unmade Nicki is GORGEOUS! All the wild makeup and hair detracts from her natural beauty. She should really give it a try.

mara on

OMG Simply beautiful!

paula reopell on

she looks stunning

Candace on

She is actually very pretty, but you would have never known it before. I still can’t tolerate her nasally voice for very long.

dave on

so is the butt fake?

Suzette on

If I must say so myelf, she looks absolutely beautiful!

Mike on

Less make-up is better. Now if she will zip-up her jacket. We do NOT want to see her breasts. Then zip-up her mouth. She has the most annoying, whiney voice I have ever heard.

Will Goodin on

She looked like a monkey before….and she still looks like a monkey afterwards. It isn’t whats on the outside that I can not stand…..it’s whats on the inside (or for lack of)

Larry carr on

she looks so much better without the clown makeup

June Fox on

I think she is the ugliest human I have ever seen, I can’t bear to watch her!!

Laura on

She may like her pink lipstick, but hardly anyone else does. She definately looked clownish but looks great here. I hope this new look will be a change.

sasha on

lol! she IS wearing aTON of make up just in more natural colors, people are so silly!

Pw on

Hey Nicki less is more, you look much better without all that goop on your face.

lisa lamon on

Sooooo much better! Infact beautifl! More natural. Please… no more clown look!

Kristi on

I think she looks pretty without all those loud colors. But her colorful makeup/hair/clothes are a reflection of her individuality. I ain’t made at her. :). But she does look more “presentable” in our “unaccepting” and judging society. Wtg Nikki! Looks nice.

Me on

Her body is amazing, but she has a butta face….

Mary on

Wow …….. She looks so much better without make-up, what is she thinking looking like a clown? Oh to match her personality? No really she looks so much better with her natural beauty!

Shannon on

She looks like a person and not a clown. I hope she sees this as a positive and keeps her look this way.

Carol on

I never paid any attention to Nickki Manaj before she was a judge on American Idol. Now I can truly say that she is one of the reasons I watch AI. She is honest and entertaining. Her make up is all part of her shtick. But I will agree that in this picture she is naturally beautiful. Who would have known?

Davido on

A horrible American Idol Judge. More commentary about what the contestants are wearing rather than the quality of singing. Typical from someone who doesn’t know the first thing about singing anyway.

Terry on

Are you people blind? She’s still wearing a lot of makeup…just muted, natural tones. It looks better, but don’t delude yourself..she’s not out there without makeup.

Jane on

So much prettier!!

sarah on

Well, she is wearing pounds of makeup still. She is also wearing a little thing we like to call “photoshop” ? Not sure what they mean by natural. Contacts, concealer, color corrector, foundation, hd powder, bronzer, blush, highlighter, contouring, mascara, eye liner, 3 different color eye shadows, lip liner, and lipstick… are not exactly what most would call “natural”.

Terrence on

This is hilarious! More natural look???? LOL. You look good for sure. But if you really want to go natural take the blond hair out lets see your real hair. Plus take out all the implants from your butt and breasts. Then you will be natural. But just getting rid of that bad colored hair, outrageous makeup, and over the top clothes is just a start.

Sue on

Nicki Minaj looks 200% better w/omakeup but I still cannot stand her.

Elizabeth on

She looks great. I know she loves her garish looks and that’s her thing. But now we see a different side of her and she’s actually a lovely girl, naturally.

Elizabeth on

She looks so much better. I know she love her garish looks but now we see that she is actually a lovely girl, naturally.

sundae on

Beautiful! You should keep this look.

Bobby on

Nicki looks great. I am becoming obessed with her.

sydney on

I personally do not care for her at all but she looks so much better without all that make-up. I think people would take her more serious if she went out like this more. She really is beautiful natural like this.

Nicole on

I think she looks beautiful like this

Jennifer on

WOW I know she uses the makeup and big hair for hype, but she really should go natural more often. She is truely a beautiful woman and she needs to show it off more.

helena on

Nicki looks so incredible! The jacket she wears on the cover is to die for, and the natural look really suits her. She can pull of multiple looks, I love it! I think it is really cool that she is such a chameleon, both in her looks and her personality, since she’s a strong woman, but she also has that softer side. LOVE her!

bkable on

I think she looks better but I wouldn’t go with gorgeous…. her hair is kind of greasy.

hdoh on

and people think that’s her real hair? i love how it says no wig…

Rhonda on

Much better!

librababe on

She’s always been pretty. I knew what the cray cray makeup was hiding. And she looked even better with her natural dark hair.

Curl on

She’s NUTS

Guest on

So much better, maybe if she looked like this more, people would take her more seriously…. Her old make-up looks like a clown or a gimmick, and who takes clowns seriously?

MJ on

Ditch the blonde hair..

margo on

Nikki looks beautiful…she should show her beautiful natural self more often.

again...shut up. on

These photos are about as natural as she can ever hope to be, considering the fact that most of her is man made. Her boobs, unnatural. Her lips, unnatural. Her hair, unnatural. Her ridiculous bottom, unnatural. How can she preach about being true to yourself, when she has done such a good job of hiding any evidence of her natural self? I don’t get it, and thus will continue to not be a fan.

SuzyQ on

Although I am a huge fan of makeup, I think she looks GREAT.

Becky on

WOW. This is how she needs to look. She’s beautiful in these pictures.

joy on

wish u all the success in music baby.hard working black gal.

Laurie on

I have watched AI faithfully. I will not watch it this season. I think they made the biggest mistake hiring N.M. as a judge. After what she did last night was unbelievable. Stuck in traffic my bootie. For what she’s getting paid she should have been there in plenty of time. Looking the way she did. She should be ashamed of herself. Thank goodness the Voice starts soon !!! That’s what I’ll be watching.

holly on

Much better

Janice on

Wow, Nicki, you look great, as a model on the front cover of ELLE magazine.

Janice on

Go on Nicki, with your bad self, lady.

Doesntlikeyou on

Still looks like a dude……nice round fake tits but still a man look. Good for doggystyle for sure…..

Life goes on on

She looks great, sensual, when she is in her costumes, she looks bad.

Kate on

I think she is very talented, she has a great voice, she has confidence and she looks really stunning in the picture.. Another strong woman.. Good to see.

Dave on

Her obnoxiuos personality takes away any pluses she might get for her outer beauty.

Michael on

WOW… Shes really attractive. And guys that is her natural hair… Its just bleached. You can tell its her natural and all they probably did to make it look wet was spray it with water.. It also says on the cover “no wig”

deannefox on

I’ve always wondered what she looks like under it all. On American Idol I’ve noticed her skin is beautiful.

Strapped on

no make-up my ass.

Strapped on

no make-up my azz. love that natural hair color too.

Oregon on

You can put a suit and tie on a PIG and she will still look like a brainless, pig…. such a waste of our air…..

db on

She looks great…..who knew she was so pretty….all that make up makes her look silly….Maybe if she came to the judges table looking like that …Mariah would stop rolling her eyes and take her more seriously! She can still be witty without looking silly!

Lex on

Wow…she IS human….now if she could find some actual talent.

Rain on

You could tell she would look better without all the foolishness. She is a very pretty girl. She should let people see more of her and less of the costumes.

cb on

What a beauty! Never would have realized…

francesca on

Beautiful women! You no onger look like a bad drag queen!

MLC on

Honestly, I have never thought much of Nicki or her outrageous looks and never thought she could possibly be pretty under the tons of makeup and hair dye or wigs or whatever, BUT…wow! She is a really attractive person (on the outside). I think she looks absolutely beautiful!

NC on

She needs to close her mouth. The “come hither” look isn’t her best feature. While it’s about time to see what’s been hiding under the clown make-up she still needs some polish.

Lisa on

Much better! :o)

Stephanie on

not gorgeous

Stacia on

The lead title for this story said NM looks gorgeous, where are those pictures? She looks like a *itchy hag

anonymous on

There’s nothing natural about her look, especially that bleached weave, but it’s an improvement

I Love Lucy on

Well I wouldnt say gorgeous! LOL!

rhonda on

I agree she looks better with all the fluff, but she still has a lot to work on. Mainly her attitude. When she finally acts a lot better in that perspective she will outshine any super model!

lucyann collums on

who ever she is, she is more beautiful.

Manuela on

Why would someone who looks like that naturally want to put on all that makeup and those wigs? She needs to ditch all those costumes and just be natural.

Steve on

Of course she look gorgeous. It’s easy to look this good with plastic surgery, the best photographers, a makeup team and airbrushing. Good for her that she’s become successful. I have seen the most beautiful women walking around the street with their children going to and from work and at the gym. I don’t mind people making little changes to themselves if they think they need to but don’t completely change everything you are. You are beautifully and uniquely you. Celebrate who you are.

Cait on

did everyone forget all the plastic surgery and airbrushing? step in the right direction, but the magazine still has ways to go

Mahalia on

This look is not one bit natural. Every single thing about her is fake. After reading the article I now like her less. How can she say be true to yourself when she’s fake. That’s not her natural hair, eyes, boobs, butt, nose or skin color. Yep, she’s bleached her skin; oh and I doubt that’s her “natural” hair color either. I don’t mind people wanting to be fake but at least own up to it. Say what you want about Joan Rivers but she owns up to what she’s done. I am not a fan. Lastly, just because a person uses natural makeup doesn’t make them natural. That’s a ton of makeup just more to her bleached skin color that’s now hers.

dangerousdebbie on

I think she looks absolutely beautiful without all the clown mess. Why would you want to look like a clown when you have natural beauty anyway. Love the Elle look Nicki.

mEVIL on

WOW,There is actually someone under there.

anonymous on

Seriously, who decides when to use the descriptive “beautiful” when describing low life scum suckers. I think Peoples has lost the dictionary.

casey anthony
jodi arias
niki minaj

Please… you could put the same amount of makeup on a horse and call it beautiful. Open your eyes for heaven sake!

aly on

Thank the Lord…Maybe the new Pope Francis has brought the minimalist out in all of us.

Ana on

It funny how no one criticizes Lady Gaga for her “clown getup” and considers her to be a fashion icon, yet Nicki Minaj isn’t?? I don’t understand the double standard, but I think despite how they choose to dress, these are both fabulous women who are innovative and amazing.

BluSky on

The is raw at it’s most beautiful. Natural beauty says so much more. The person within.

Aspen on

Like this way better than the ‘doll’ look

Jeff Stewart on

She looks like a sheman/tranny
Just my opinion

Peggy Smith on

I like Nicki with or without make up. I like the fact that she speaks her mind on American Idol and doesn’t sugar coat everything, or try to be PC all the time (like Keith and Mariah).

anais on

she looks gorgeous.. but I guess her stage face “saves” her from being recognized in public with her natural look. smart I say! she is famous and manages to maintain a normal life in that prospective.

Ann on

Looks 100% better……

Angel on

She looks better but she has one facial expression … guess her photographer didn’t think enough of her to tell her to change it up some.

blair on

She is a natural beauty! She really doesn’t even need make-up!

Anonymous on

So much better. I think she stay this way to bad she won’t.

kat1129 on


Bev on

I’m an older woman . I hate trendy ” stuff” .
But I love this girl – and I think she is beautiful .
She doesn’t hold herself out to be a great songstress –
she admits that she is an entertainer – and she does that
oh so well . And AI has never been better. Love Nicki- love Mariah- love Keith and Randy . Best year ever !

TJ on

I don’t think she realizes just how beautiful she is without all the caked up make-up on – she should go “natural” more often.

Gabrielle on

I’m tired of her wearing platinum blonde hair. Someone needs to go to her and give her a copy of ‘The Willie Lynch Letter’.

I guess I’m just tired of black girls walking around with blue contacts and blonde hair….

You don’t have to look the same all the time, but be true to yourself and show your natural beauty… blonde hair and blue eyes aren’t natural so they don’t enhance you they just make you look like a joke…

mrs. potato head on

Everytime I see her, she reminds me of Mrs. Potato Head from the Toy Story movie! LOL!!!

KAR on

She looks so much better without all the makeup. I love the natural look!

mea on

she looks real. about time. now, if she could dump the dial tone look….

Mariam Nakalembe on

She’s awesome

AD on

wow, she looks so pretty doing the all natural look!

Jenn on

I’m really pleased to see all the positive comments b/c despite her attitude and whatever…she really is naturally a beautiful woman.

Moveon on

The most normal and the best looking I have ever seen this woman! Now if the personality could match the picture above!!

Karen on


Sandra on

See, I knew there was a beauty under all that puff and fluff.

Lei on

She looks like a man with boobs. can’t stand her tantrum throwing attitude on Idol. what a waste of journalism.

TheyKnow on

She is very pretty either way. I love the pink lipsticks she wears though!!

eileen on

I’m not a big fan, but i do find her absolutely beautiful and these pictures confirm it.

Ola on

I am not a fan of this woman, but she is beautiful in these photos. Much more glamorous without all the makeup. :)

Donna Glaser on

She looks like a human being here and should keep the look. Her normal over made face and wild wigs make her look like a member of Insane Clown Posse!

Genevieve on


pugz on

when they said I had never seen her like this before, I thought they had a pic. of her sober, guess I was wrong!

Irene on

Nicki Minaj and Gorgeous do NOT go together! She’s atrocious!! inside and out.

GildaGirl on

I would never have guessed this is Nicky Minaj. She looks entirely different.. and SOOOO much better!!! I hope all this positive feedback will push her to stay natural looking for years to come.

Carrie M on

A lot better looking but still only ok. Nothing special to look at and yes I agree with someone else her. Get rid of the blonde hair.

Katrina on

Prettyish. Not like “whooa mama” but nice.

CM on

Whoa – she looks beautiful! I have never been a fan of her look and would not have guessed she was this attractive. HOWEVER, I don’t believe, “appearing in little more than winged eyeliner and a nude pout..” — she just looks like she has very well-done neutral make-up. I obviously could be wrong, but I highly suspect she’s wearing foundation, etc., just done very differently. Truly, she looks gorgeous.

disa on

Am I the only one that thinks she has a big head….

Julesy on

I am sure she does not look as good as those photos depict her. Photoshopped.

wham359 on

she is beautiful, but straight blonde hair on a black woman is not “natural”

missmearisha0 on

The blonde hair gotta go. Doesn’t fit her skin tone.

Luxx on

Ok, first of all it says without wig, now everyone with a brain knows that dry blond thing on her head is not her hair, it’s called a lace front wig. This just goes to show that Minaj is not all that without her Homey The Clown costume on and she is like every other woman without all the make up on, not all that, BASIC.

Colleen on

I think she looks so much better without all the heavy makeup!! Really Nice!

Tex on

so she actually is quite attractive under all the ugliness. who’da thunk it?

aero57 on

Look like a dude..or a tranny

Brandy on

these aren’t good photos…

gh on

What is “natural” about that hair and fake breasts? I like this look better, but it is still far from what she started with. Bet she was pretty before all the enhancements.

Lina on

Gorgeous! She looks so much better!

AmyRene on

She still looks like warped Muppet.

channing on

NM, like a angel from heaven, haha

carlosavs7 on

Reblogged this on carlosavs7.

maya on

She looks gorgeous – and a lot younger. Sta natural Nicki, you look fab!

Fallon on

Thank goodness all the makeup is gone! She looks so good without it!

Odessa Cohrs on

She was so beautiful. Simple fashion trends makes her stunning. Makeunder for Elle is much appropriate for her style. You may check out my calls/prediction at frinzee.

Shandelia Jones on

Better! Now change her personality

Lisa on

I found some pics of her online with zero make-up, and she really is beautiful. But hey, as an over-the-top theatrical styled performer she enjoys all the flash.

jennifer on

mmm nicki hav xo many enemies bt gal i am gona tel d world that u are wonderful.any music u feature her comes out great nicki i luv u 4 wateva u r.

From Our Partners

From Our Partners


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,457 other followers

Sign up for our daily newsletter and other special offers.
    Choose your newsletters
Thank you for signing up! Your request may take up to one week to be processed.
    see all newsletters