In the 1980s, Ip released five albums with a local producer. After complaining about the direction of the Cantopop industry and falling out with her then label, Black and White, Ip chose to retire from music in 1988 and went into semi-retirement, with occasional roles in movies. She returned to the Cantopop scene in 2002 with an EP, which, along with a live recording of her 2002 concert in Hong Kong, were both released by Universal Music Group. In the mid-90s she teamed up with male star Andy Hui to produce the hit duet "教我如何不愛他" (lit. "Teach me how not to love him") and again in 2004 for the award-winner "美中不足" (lit. "A minor defect in something otherwise perfect").
She won Coppa Volpi for best actress at the 68th Venice Film Festival in 2011 for A Simple Life. Hong Kong's Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Gregory So congratulated her for winning the award. Mr So said this award is not only an international recognition of Ms Ip's outstanding achievement, but a testimony of the level of excellence of the Hong Kong film industry.