Celebrities are always changing their hairstyles – whether it be for an acting role, fashion shoot or simply a new way of attracting attention. Many also choose to keep their transformations permanent, so it’s often easy to forget what they were actually born with. With that in mind, here’s a look at 40 stars whose natural head of hair may surprise you.
40. Mandy Moore
Mandy Moore burst on to the music scene at the turn of the century as a bubblegum pop blonde. However, her image changed for good when she dyed her hair much darker for the 2002 romantic drama A Walk to Remember. She told Entertainment Weekly 15 years later, “It was transformative because it came at a time in my life when I was only seen from the pop music landscape and through that lens. There was a real significance to coloring my hair.”
39. Gillian Anderson
Gillian Anderson became one of the ‘90s ultimate redheads playing Scully in The X-Files. But fans of the sci-fi drama were left shocked when the series returned in 2016. For the actress had returned to her blonde roots and so had to wear a wig to reprise her iconic look. Despite the admiration of millions, Anderson revealed to New Beauty that same year, “I don’t think when I was a redhead… that I felt particularly sexy.”
Zendaya spent her teenage years straightening the curls she was born with as the star of Disney sitcom Shake It Up. Even so, the actress was confident enough to go au naturel by the time she landed a role in 2017’s The Greatest Showman. She’s since sported this look at numerous film premieres and award ceremonies – while becoming something of an advocate for wearing black hair as nature intended.
37. Kylie Jenner
Kylie Jenner has never been afraid to try – and then show off – a new look. Yet the reality TV star still made all her Instagram followers gasp when she flaunted her natural hue for one particular post. For the brown-haired socialite revealed that her real color was, in fact, honey blonde.
36. Jennifer Aniston
Jennifer Aniston spawned one of the 1990s’ most iconic haircuts with the style dubbed “The Rachel.” Although it would have looked very different had the Friends star stuck to her original shade. Aniston sported a dark brunette cut for a role in 2014, and she later told InStyle, “I was born with this color. And after a few years of playing with highlights I lost complete track of my natural hair shade, so it’s nice to be back.”
35. Tyra Banks
Supermodel Tyra Banks revealed in 2018 how she very nearly lost the job that would launch her to fame because of her natural hair. The star talked about her Victoria’s Secret big break, telling W magazine, “I was sent home the first day because the hairdresser didn’t know what to do with my African-American hair, so it looked crazy.” The star subsequently debuted her natural locks in a 2009 interview on Larry King Live after years of wearing wigs, clip-ons and weaves.
34. Nicole Kidman
Nicole Kidman has undergone perhaps one of the most radical hair transformations in recent Hollywood history. The Aussie actress achieved Oscar-winning box office success as a straight-haired blonde. Yet, she sported attention-grabbing ginger curls in her early career. Kidman later told Who magazine, “I wish I had my curls back. I tortured them to death. I always say, ‘Don’t ruin the ringlets!’”
33. Gabrielle Union
Gabrielle Union has had quite the hair journey; apparently, the Bring It On actress spent her first 25 years doing everything she could to hide her original locks. Though the actress later realized that sometimes natural is better, and she subsequently launched her own Flawless hair care range to help those with similar textures enjoy “great hair days.” Union admitted to Women’s Wear Daily in 2017 that she suffered from scalp lesions while using relaxers “trying to chase something that was unrealistic.”
32. Jennifer Lopez
Jennifer Lopez never looks anything but ultra-glamorous whenever she’s in the public eye, but she enjoys being a little more casual during her downtime. She once told Glam Belleza Latina, “At home, do I have the full hair and makeup? No. But I might have [a] nice dress on.” And the star’s hair is much curlier than you’d expect when she isn’t glammed up to the nines.
31. Leighton Meester
Leighton Meester went above and beyond to land the role that would propel her to fame in Gossip Girl. In 2017 the show’s co-creator Josh Schwartz revealed to Vanity Fair that the naturally blonde actress aced her audition for Blair Waldorf, but she almost lost out as her character was written as brunette. So, Lively simply reached for the hair dye bottle as soon as she could, and the rest is teen drama history.
30. Keke Palmer
Keke Palmer told StyleCaster that women of color often wear weaves as it’s the only way to get a job. The Scream Queens star explained that she is still happy to use relaxer for a part, though the actress prefers to avoid it during her downtime. Palmer once revealed to Essence, “I like leaving the top part of my hair natural because it leaves me more flexibility.”
29. Cardi B
There’s barely been a haircut Cardi B hasn’t tried out since arriving on the hip-hop scene in the late 2010s. But the rapper was keen to showcase her naturally curly locks in an Instagram post. She wrote, “Look at my hair. This is dead-a** my f****ng real hair. Yes! Lemme wash it. Wow, I’m so proud of myself.”
28. Sanaa Lathan
Sanaa Lathan has worn everything from weaves to buzzcuts during her acting career. However, the star once told Hype Hair that she’s started to embrace her natural look as the years have gone on. The actress said, “For me, it’s all about changing it up. In terms of my real life, I’ll put it in cornrows and put some conditioner in it and then take it out and it’s really big and wild. I’ve been loving that lately.”
27. Taraji P. Henson
Taraji P. Henson hid her true hair identity for years until she felt finally relented in 2017. The actress told HuffPost, “We have shame when it comes to our hair. What we’ve been told, ‘Your hair is nappy.’ It’s not nappy, it’s curly. That’s a curl, that’s a coil. That’s energy leading up.” And the Empire star has since made it her mission to encourage others to avoid using relaxers.
26. Angela Simmons
Angela Simmons caused quite the sensation when she revealed what was underneath her weave. The star of reality show Run’s House debuted her “soft and big and thick” natural texture in 2011. She received an overwhelmingly positive reaction, though Simmons later told Curly Nikki that she still intended to mix things up. She said, “I’m the girl who changes my hair all the time. My friends just stopped commenting.”
25. Billie Eilish
It’s not exactly a surprise to learn that Billie Eilish’s black and neon-green hairstyle isn’t entirely natural. Nevertheless, the singer still grabbed attention when she revealed her true colors in an Instagram post. It turns out that the recipient of multiple Grammy Awards is in fact a blonde. Indeed, many of her followers could hardly believe that the girl in the photo was Eilish due to how drastically different she looked.
24. Emma Stone
Emma Stone is undoubtedly one of modern Tinseltown’s most well-known redheads. Yet the actress has to work hard to pull off her famous look; as a natural blonde, she apparently requires coloring application twice a week. Her regular stylist Tracey Cunningham told People magazine, “I forget Emma is not a natural red-head – she’s a blonde! She looks like such an authentic red-head with this coloring and her personality!”
23. Kerry Washington
Kerry Washington is renowned for her straight hair thanks to her role as Olivia Pope in the hit legal drama Scandal. Although the actress likes to show off her natural curls when she’s away from the TV set. She once told Glamour, “Again, it’s that idea that there’s not just one way to be beautiful and that there are lots of ways to bring out your best self.”
22. Amy Adams
It’s difficult to imagine Amy Adams as a blonde, though that’s the natural color she sported right up until the age of 27. Yes, one of Hollywood’s most famous redheads only changed her hair color when she landed a role in the 2004 short-lived drama Vegas. Adams admitted at a TimesTalk event 12 years later, “People began to see me in a different way, for different roles.”
21. Katy Perry
Katy Perry is something of a hair chameleon – having rocked everything from flowing inky black locks to a platinum blonde pixie cut. However, her real color is slightly more mundane. The star confessed in a 2015 chat with Glamour, “I’m naturally the most boring dishwater squirrel brown.”
20. Kristen Stewart
Would Kristen Stewart have become such a moody emo icon had she stuck to her natural hair color? The actress – who became a household name playing Bella in young adult phenomenon Twilight – is renowned for being a brunette. Therefore, you may be surprised to learn that she’s actually a blonde.
19. Emilia Clarke
Emilia Clarke proved that blondes can still rule with an iron fist with her iconic portrayal of Game of Thrones’ fearsome Daenerys Targaryen. The actress herself, though, is a natural brunette. Clarke did once attempt to replicate her character’s famous locks in her personal life. However, she soon reverted to her original color due to the extra public attention it brought.
18. Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga is undeniably the modern-day queen of reinvention. So it’s little surprise to learn that she’s not naturally the striking blonde that revolutionized the pop scene in the 2010s. Instead, her hair is actually jet black – as anyone who saw her perform under her real name of Stefani Germanotta back in the day will already know.
17. Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson has never been afraid to embrace change for a role. The star of Black Widow has played brunettes, blondes and redheads during her several decades in the Hollywood spotlight. But which of those is her natural color? Well, it’s actually a mixture of light brown and dark blonde.
16. Zooey Deschanel
It’s hard to imagine Zooey Deschanel with anything other than dark hair. The actress and musician played brunette Jess for seven seasons of hit sitcom New Girl. Furthermore, she’s appeared in countless other movies and TV shows with the same look. And yet the star is, in fact, very much a natural blonde.
15. Dakota Johnson
Dakota Johnson shot on to Hollywood’s A-list by playing brunette Anastasia Steele in the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise. But in real life she takes very much after the blondes in her famous family. For those of you who don’t already know, Johnson is the daughter of Melanie Griffith and the granddaughter of Tippi Hedren.
14. Selena Gomez
Selena Gomez has been a fixture on our screens ever since she appeared on Barney and Friends in the early ‘00s. And the star has sported numerous different haircuts as she’s evolved from a tween queen to a more sophisticated grown-up Hollywood star. But you may not know that her natural locks are much curlier and wilder than she usually wears.
13. Ariana Grande
Ariana Grande dyed her hair every fortnight during her teenage years appearing in Nickelodeon sitcom Victorious. Unfortunately, this practice had quite the damaging effect on her hair. She once told her Facebook followers, “I wear it in a [ponytail] because my actual hair is so broken that it looks absolutely ratchet and absurd when I let it down.” Nevertheless, Grande let her fans see for themselves when she showed off her natural curls in an Instagram post in 2020.
12. Gwen Stefani
Gwen Stefani has been one of the music scene’s most striking blondes ever since her band No Doubt achieved their breakthrough with the album Tragic Kingdom. But those who witnessed the ska-punk band in their early days will already know that the singer once looked very different. Indeed, back in the 1980s Stefani took to the stage rocking her natural color of cocoa brown.
11. Viola Davis
Viola Davis is widely regarded as one of the finest actresses of her generation. Furthermore, the star of How to Get Away with Murder always looks the height of class whichever haircut she’s rocking for a particular role, too. And this includes the naturally short texture she often shows off on her Instagram account.
10. Bebe Rexha
Bebe Rexha’s natural brunette locks are so strong that it took an incredible 13 hours to bleach them blonde. The pop singer revealed all in a chat on radio show The Weekend Throwdown with Jagger in 2016. She said, “It was just so dark, the color wasn’t sticking. They had to keep reapplying the bleach.”
9. Oprah Winfrey
Few stars have advocated being yourself more than Oprah Winfrey. And yet the talkshow queen took some time to embrace her own natural hair. However, the one-woman empire has freely shown off the curls she was born with since her eponymous daytime hit came to an end in 2011.
8. Jessica Alba
Jessica Alba’s approach to hair coloring has been so subtle and gradual over the years that it’s easy to forget just how dark the star was when she first caught Hollywood’s attention. The Honey actress may now be rocking a blondish-brown blend, though back in her early days she sported a color described as chocolate cake.
Singer Solange has sported a whole host of different haircuts while stepping out of the shadows of her older sister Beyoncé. And one of the most memorable is the naturally curly look she showed off on her Instagram account. The star is undoubtedly proud of what her momma gave her. Indeed, Solange’s critically acclaimed album A Seat at the Table even featured a track dedicated to her locks called “Don’t Touch My Hair.”
6. Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys had everyone falling for her at the start of the ‘00s with her stylish braids. Though in more recent times the piano-playing soul songstress has opted to show off her more natural look. Nowadays, the multiple Grammy winner regularly takes to social media to display her glorious curls.
5. Laura Prepon
Laura Prepon is now more associated with the dark hair she sported on Orange is the New Black. Still, her natural color is more in keeping with the red hair she rocked on That ‘70s Show. Prepon revealed she was a secret redhead for a “things you didn’t know” piece for Us Weekly in 2012.
4. Nicole Richie
Nicole Richie shot to fame in the 2000s as Paris Hilton’s fellow straight-haired BFF in The Simple Life. But she actually inherited the same curly style that her singer father Lionel has continually rocked since the 1970s. And Richie has taken to Instagram to shown off her more natural look on several occasions.
3. Michelle Obama
Few women have put as much effort into covering up their natural locks more than Michelle Obama. The former First Lady reportedly even had an official strategy during her time in the White House to ensure her naturally curly hair stayed straight for every public appearance. Though the style icon has relished the opportunity to show off her curls since her husband Barack’s presidency ended.
2. Britney Spears
Britney Spears has been doing her best lately to prove that blondes really do have more fun. But the star rocked a very different look back when she was a fresh-faced pop star singing and dancing in her school uniform. Indeed, it’s easy to forget that in the “… Baby One More Time” video she’s very much a brunette.
Rihanna has sported many memorable looks since bursting on to the scene with “Pon de Replay” in the mid-‘00s. The Barbadian talent has worn everything from braids and bobs to weaves and wigs over the years. But at the 2019 premiere of Queen and Slim, Riri proved that she could stun just as easily with her now natural curly hair.