The Hair(volution) of Rihanna

Updated on September 23, 2019
Rachel M Johnson profile image

Rachel M. Johnson is a lover of all things pop culture. She's been writing about music and entertainment online for over two years.

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Barbadian beauty Rihanna is a talented singer, fashion icon, entrepreneur and red carpet chameleon. She is famous for her versatile looks and style, and is known for reinventing her image. Since her debut in 2005, the songstress has had a wide array of haircuts and colors. Let's take a look at the hair(volution) of Rihanna.

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2005: Voluminous & Highlighted

When Barbadian songstress Rihanna first came onto the music scene in 2005, she rocked some long and highlighted tresses full of volume and curls. She embraced a reggae sound and style, and had a girl-next-door charm that instantly put her on the map. With her light brown hair and side bang, Rihanna kept a natural and subtle hairstyle that she often wore straight or curled, capitalizing on her fresh and fun image.

Did You Know? Rihanna's 2005 debut album Music of the Sun was released when she was only 17-years-old; it spawned her hit first single "Pon de Replay."

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2006: Long, Sleek & Layered with Blunt Bangs

For her sophomore studio album, A Girl like Me (2006), Rihanna kept her long tresses but decided to add layers and heavy, blunt bangs. Instead of wearing her hair natural and curly, many times she would straighten her locks, showing off her sleek highlights and layered cut. Rihanna kept her soft brown shade, but with the added layers and sexy bang, her overall style and appearance became a little more refined and sophisticated.

Did You Know? Rihanna's first single off her second album "SOS" topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for three weeks in a row and was certified platinum.

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2007: The Asymmetrical Bob

2007's Good Girl Gone Bad brought forth Rihanna's edgier and more mature vibe; she made a rebellious statement by chopping her hair into a short, asymmetrical bob that was her most daring look yet. She also opted for a darker shade, saying goodbye to her brown locks and hello to a jet black hue. During this time, Rihanna experimented more with her blunt bob; she added highlights and pops of color as well as a heavy bangs and various parts. The haircut truly helped her stand-out and became the singer's first truly iconic look.

Did You Know? Rihanna's smash hit song "Umbrella" topped the Billboard Hot 100 for seven consecutive weeks in 2007, and was one of the most played songs on the radio in the 2000s decade.

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2008-2009: Choppy Pixie Cut

Rihanna continued to change her hair up after the bob, and in 2008 she altered her tresses once again by chopping it all off and rocking a pixie cut. She created an even edgier persona, keeping her dark shade but with a sleek pixie look. During 2008-2009, she would continue playing up the short 'do, sometimes opting for a shaved side, adding curls and even bold and funky highlights. Rihanna also completely altered the color, dying her hair blonde and keeping it shaggier and long on top.

Did You Know? Rihanna's fourth studio album Rated R, had a darker and edgier vibe than her previous ventures, and was conceived after her assault by then-boyfriend Chris Brown.

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2010-2011: Fierce & Fiery Red

In 2010, Rihanna decided to spice up things by going fierce and fiery red. The bright scarlet shade looked absolutely stunning on her, and completely meshed with her edgy and playful personality. She sported the color in a wide array of cuts and lengths, including long and layered, voluminous and curly and even a sexy lob. The bold red shade looked gorgeous on the singer, and she was able to rock it in many creative ways between 2010 and 2011.

Did You Know? Loud (2010) featured seven singles, including the international hits "Only Girl (In the World)", "What's My Name? ft. Drake" and "S&M;" all three singles reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

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2012: Blonde Bombshell

In 2012, Rihanna decided to see if blondes truly had more fun by dying her hair the fun and playful color. She kept her locks at shoulder length, with dark brown roots and a bright blonde shade. The color was a new look for her, and the style seemed to reflect her wild and carefree attitude. She played up the hue by rocking it with curls and also sleek and shiny layers. The great thing about Rihanna is that she is never afraid to try a unique and different cut or color, and she always ends up radiant.

Did You Know? Rihanna's seventh studio album Unapologetic (2012) marked her first number one album in the United States, with first week sales of 238,000 copies. It has since sold over four million copies.

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2013: Soft Brown Ombré

In 2013, the songstress decided to embrace a soft and feminine hairstyle, hitting the red carpet with long brown hair and a highlighted ombré shade. The romantic and sexy style looked perfect on Rihanna, and the overall hue paired beautifully with her complexion and skin tone. She would play up the style by later adding a shaved side, pumping up the edge factor that has become her signature. Rihanna is a chameleon when it comes to fashion and style, and her constantly changing tresses further proves that fact.

Did You Know? Rihanna has earned 9 Grammy Awards, 13 American Music Awards and 12 Billboard Music Awards.

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2013: Return of the Pixie Cut

That same year, Rihanna decided to say goodbye once more to her long locks and opted to rock a pixie cut. She dyed her hair soft brown hair back to a jet black, giving us a perfect balance of edgy and chic, a feat that few are able to accomplish. Rihanna is known for trying out many different styles, and rarely does she simply sport the same look over and over.

Did You Know? The Barbadian beauty is one of the world's best-selling music artists, having sold over 250 million records.

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2014: Natural with Curls & Body

By 2014, Rihanna opted to once again switch up her locks by rocking beautiful and natural long dark tresses. For many red carpets, her hair was worn in a wet and wavy style, with plenty of body and volume. The simple and understated shade and cut made the singer effortlessly stunning, as the overall style compliments her features beautifully and gives her a natural and laid-back vibe.

Did You Know? Rihanna is the founder of the nonprofit organization Clara Lionel Foundation, which helps benefit impoverished communities across the globe.

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2015: Elegant & Refined Black Tresses

In 2015, Rihanna decided to take a break from the bold colors and crazy styles, and instead opted for a more classic and refined cut. She wore her long black tresses sleek and chic, sometimes playing around with bangs that were either blunt or side-swept. During this year, her primary focus was her impressive fashion choices and ensembles, and her more understated hair paired perfectly with her red-hot red carpet numbers.

Did You Know? In 2018, Billboard ranked Rihanna as the top Hot 100 artist of the 2010s decade, and as the fifth biggest female act of all time.

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2016: Chic & Sleek with Black

Rihanna kept up the effortless and laid-back hairstyle trend in 2016, wearing her hair chic and sleek and keeping her dark black shade. She embraced different cuts and styles during this time, such as a chin-length bob with fringed bangs, a sleek and shiny lob and also long and straightened. Rihanna was very much into showcasing her natural beauty during this time, letting her tresses be effortless while her fashion be bold and daring.

Did You Know? Rihanna has ventured into the acting world, appearing in films like Battleship, Home, Ocean's 8 and Guava Island.

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2017-2018: Playful Curls & Volume

By 2017, Rihanna's beauty and fashion lines were in full swing, as she launched her cosmetics brand Fenty Beauty that same year. She promoted her make-up line by modeling her products, show-casing her voluminous and playful curls in pictures and on the red carpet. She would play up her shade of hair a few times, opting for a reddish-auburn hue and highlights at the 2017 Grammy Awards. Mainly, Rihanna kept her dark color and styled her tresses in voluminous curls.

Did You Know? Fenty Beauty drew international critical acclaim for its diversity and for its inclusion of all skin tones, including extensive shade offerings for people with deeper skin tones.

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2019: Return of the Red

By 2019, Rihanna decided to once again switch things up and has returned to red. The shade is far more understated than the fire-engine red she rocked previously, but the color looks absoultely gorgeous on the singer. She rocked the shade at the BET Awards, as well as with braids at a Fenty Beauty event. It probably won't take long for the singer to jump to her next cut and color, truly making her one of the most fun and interesting style icons of all time.

Did You Know? Rihanna has released 8 studio albums and has earned 14 number-one singles and 31 top-ten singles in the US, and 30 top-ten entries in the UK.

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    © 2019 Rachel M Johnson

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