19 Iconic Red Carpet Natural Hair Moments, From 1988 To Today

Featuring statuesque updos and waist-grazing locs.

A look at some of the most iconic red carpet natural hair moments.
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While all eyes tend to focus on the fashion at major red carpet events, it’s tough to miss the many iconic natural hair moments from the Grammys, Oscars, Golden Globes, and beyond.

Whether we’re talking Zendaya’s afro at the 2017 Met Gala, Beyoncé’s cornrows at The Lion King premiere, or Tracee Ellis Ross’s luscious curls at the 2015 NAACP Image Awards, actors and singers have been doing a fantastic job of showcasing natural hair on the red carpet, says Darrius Peace, a master hairstylist with Hayah Beauty. “Some of the biggest names in Hollywood have graced the cameras with their natural coils and curls,” he tells Bustle.

Michelle O’Connor, a hairstylist and global artistic director at Matrix, points to Lupita Nyong’o — who goes au naturale all the time, with lewks like a square afro, geometric cut, or something more gravity-defying (case in point: her statuesque high bun at the 25th Critics’ Choice Awards). Viola Davis is also a mainstay in the natural hair world, Peace says, as she’s been spotted with beautiful Afro curls on various red carpets.

Scroll through to feast your eyes on the most iconic red carpet natural hair moments, from 1998 through today.


Diana Ross: 1988 Grammys

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Diana Ross stunned on the 1988 Grammy Awards red carpet with long, flowing hair. Clearly, the singer passed her amazing hair genes on to her daughter, who regularly graces red carpets rocking her natural curls.


Janet Jackson: 1993 Grammys

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Pop icon Janet Jackson showed up to the 1993 Grammy Awards with her hair in box braids, which she accessorized with a white headband that matched her white power suit.


Lisa Bonet: 2000 High Fidelity Premiere

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At the High Fidelity premiere in 2000, Lisa Bonet wore her waist-length hair in locs — a hairstyle she started rocking on the red carpet in the 1980s... and still wears at many events today.


Mo'Nique: 2010 Academy Awards

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Mo'Nique went down in natural hair history as she accepted her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 2010 for her role in Precious. The flower that adorned her updo was the perfect touch.


Solange Knowles: 2014 CFDA Fashion Awards

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Solange Knowles posed for the cameras at the CFDA Fashion Awards in 2014 with her gorgeous natural hair on full display.


Yara Shahidi: 2015 NAACP Image Awards

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Black-ish star Yara Shahidi wore her hair down and curly at the 46th NAACP Image Awards back in 2015.


Tracee Ellis Ross: 2015 NAACP Image Awards

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Tracee Ellis Ross is continually turning up with natural hair. One such instance? This gorge look from the 46th Annual NAACP Image Awards in 2015.


Jill Scott: 2016 CMT Awards

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Peace also points to singer Jill Scott, who has rocked natural hair on many a red carpet over the years. One standout example is her lush afro from the 2016 CMT Awards red carpet.


Zendaya: 2017 Met Gala

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At the 2017 Met Gala, Zendaya graced the red carpet with a long cascading Afro. It was an extra stunning look that gave major ’70s Studio 54 vibes.


Keke Palmer: 2017 MuchMusic Video Awards

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Keke Palmer rocked super short hair for the iHeartRADIO MuchMusic Video Awards red carpet in 2017. Add in the fact her hair was purple — with lipstick to match — and it doesn’t get more iconic than that.


Janelle Monáe: 2017 SAG Awards

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According to SheKnows, actor and singer Janelle Monáe enlisted the help of stylist Nikki Nelms throughout the 2016 award season to create gorgeously embellished hairstyles, like this one from the SAG Awards.


Zoë Kravitz: 2017 Vanity Fair Oscar Party

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Ever the hair chameleon, Zoë Kravitz showed up to the Vanity Fair Oscar party in 2017 with a partially shaved head and platinum blonde braids styled into Old Hollywood-style waves.


Halle Berry: 2017 Academy Awards

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Halle Berry famously celebrated her natural curls on the Oscars red carpet in 2017. While the A-lister is known for changing up her hair — she recently wore an asymmetrical bob to the 2023 Oscars — one of the biggest standouts was the short pixie she wore while accepting an Oscar in 2002 for her role in Monster’s Ball.


Kerry Washington: 2017 Hollywood Walk Of Fame Event

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Kerry Washington slicked her natural hair back into a high bun while attending a ceremony for actor and director Tyler Perry, who was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2019. It was so simple and yet so chic.


Danai Gurira: 2018 Black Panther Premiere

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Danai Gurira stood out in the best way at the European Premiere of Black Panther in 2018 with geometric designs shaved into her buzzcut.


Viola Davis: 2018 Golden Globes

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Viola Davis walked the red carpet ahead of the Golden Globes in 2018 with show-stopping natural hair.


Rihanna: 2019 British Fashion Awards

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Rihanna turns every red carpet into a slay, and her Fulani braids at 2019’s British Fashion Awards are just one of the countless examples.


Beyoncé: 2019 The Lion King Premiere

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Beyoncé made a red carpet appearance for The Lion King premiere in 2017 where she stood out with intricate cornrow braids, which were styled into chicly curled finger waves.


Lupita Nyong’o: 2020 Critics’ Choice Awards

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O’Connor points to Lupita Nyong’o as a star who’s been known to embrace her natural hair on red carpets. This is a fun structural look that includes the embellishment of a golden wire.