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Rihanna reigns supreme in our book. Because of her, we know it's possible to be more than a triple threat. This singer, actress, fashion designer, and makeup maven is the epitome of everything when it comes to continuously slaying the game. And every time RiRi debuts a new 'do, we can't help but stop and stare—she kills it every single time. A quick scroll through our saved Instagram photos is proof that we're forever shaken by her ever-changing hairstyles. Oh, and you already know it goes down in the shower when we're belting out our fave lines from Anti.
So if you're looking for some hair inspo, who better to turn to than hair chameleon Rihanna herself? We rounded up 27 of our favorite RiRi hairstyles sprinkled with pro styling tips from experts Erinn Courtney and Michelle O'Connor.
Meet the Expert
- Erinn Courtney is a StyleSeat hairstylist. She is based in LA.
- Michelle O’Connor is Matrix Artistic Director. She is also a five-time NAHA-winning hairstylist.
Keep scrolling to get a look at Rihanna’s best and most unforgettable hairstyles throughout the years.
Who says a strong hair flip is a thing of the past? Rihanna proves this style is equal parts dope and timeless. To replicate her 'do, prep hair with a heat protectant and then part hair according to your liking—or face shape. Working in sections, use a flat iron to straighten hair and curl ends outward. Finish with SexyHair Big Spray & Play Volumizing Hairspray ($20).
One of the oldest tricks in the game, this slicked-back high ponytail will turn any bad hair day good. Use a strong-hold gel like Davines This is a Strong Hold Cream Gel ($25) to keep your crown free of frizz and flyaways. For a voluminous ponytail like RiRi's, texturizing spray is key.
If you've got fine hair, you might need some help to feign a full ponytail. Try giving your pony a little lift by propping it up with bobby pins. At the base of your ponytail, cross two pins so that they form an "x" shape.
Have you ever seen hairpins look more elegant? This adorned look is simply iconic. "This look pays homage to the '90s when it was all about the slicked-back side-swept part. As we all know, faces aren’t symmetrical, therefore a side-swept parting is always going to point toward the side of your face you prefer," O'Connor tells us. To style, "You want to start with smoothing the section that will be slicked back," she says. We recommend Pattern Strong Hold Gel ($25) to nail the sleek finish and built-in texture. "Once your style is in place finish with Matrix Total Results A Curl Can Dream Lightweight Oil ($24)," adds O'Connor.
RiRi looks ethereal and angelic in this topknot she elevated with a side of bangs. Style them in under five minutes and for an elegant finish, tie a small section of hair around the base of your bun and secure with a bobby pin underneath. It's très chic.
Did you also just add a black leather beret to your online shopping cart? Rihanna proves that low ponytails don't have to be boring with her side-swept, low-slung look. To achieve her gloss and waves, spritz some shine-inducing product and the best texturizing spray for your hair type to your 'tail.
She's giving us all the feels with these stunning dreadlocks. If you rock natural locs, you know that investing in the right products will keep them looking their best. But if you're just dabbling with the idea of embarking on your #lockjourney, Boho Locs makes some gorgeous crochet dreadlocks—just sayin'.
Sleek and Straight
You can never go wrong with bone-straight strands. If you've got textured tresses, consider investing in a flat iron for natural hair. But in case you're looking for a heatless alternative, we've got a few tips and tricks for straightening sans heat.
Textured Bob With Bangs
And just like that, she goes from extra-long extensions to an effortless, tousled bob. It's impossible to pick a favorite, but short-hair Rihanna is definitely up there in the ranks. "What’s flattering about this look is the length because it really accentuates her neck. It’s elongating and flattering to her overall style," comments Courtney. She recommends a thermal heat protector, such as Ouai Heat Protection Spray ($28), as well as Paul Mitchell Hot Off The Press Thermal Protection Hairspray ($22) to achieve this style. "Avoid using anything too oily as it will weigh down your press," she adds.
Hack to no-fuss curls? Throw them in a loose, high pony like Ri and let each spiral do its thing. "This look is all about effortless volume and lived in definition," comments O'Connor. It's called pineapple-ing, and as you can see, it works ace on curly hair. This is a humidity-proof and frizz-free style that will have you welcoming rainy days (or at least not hiding from them). To get the look, O'Connor says:
- Wash and define your hair with a curly hair shampoo and Matrix Rich Mask ($19).
- Then apply a moisturizing curl cream, grab your diffuser, and set your curls.
- Once your curls are set, shake as well as start picking out the roots in order to disrupt the perfection of your curls.
- Gather everything at the crown and secure with a ponytail holder at the base and one directly above it. This will add an extra boost of height.
This time Rihanna rocked a sleek, chin-length bob with a classic middle part. Combined with her choker and slip dress, she's giving off serious '90s vibes. It's a face-framing style that is oh-so-flattering, on oval face shapes especially.
You can't talk about Rihanna's hairstyles without paying homage to this major moment in red carpet history: the time she stepped out in a crystal-encrusted headscarf. "What’s flattering about this look are the details," says Courtney. "The flip on the sideburn outside of the durag and the chic curl hanging in the back is subtle but detailed." To achieve Rihanna's durag glam, she suggests using a good heat protectant and a Hot Tools 24K Gold Marcel Iron/Wand ($50).
Half-Up, Half-Down Bantu Knots
This is how you take a half-up, half-down hairstyle to the next level: Bantu knots. To really highlight contrasting textures, spray Amika Un.done Volume & Matte Texture Spray ($10) to loose tresses. Pair with a matte black lipstick because. Just because.
Rihanna rocked the hell out of this pink pixie cut, and now we're convinced to try a new hair color for once. This look might not be for everyone, but if you're feeling bold, it's a head-turner for sure. To style, simply apply a small amount of Living Proof Style Lab Amp Texture Volumizer ($27) to strands. And in case you're looking for more pixie inspo, we've got you covered.
Rihanna broke the internet when this photo of her Bantu knots dropped. This is what you call representation of this Afrocentric style done right. "It’s funky, matches her style, and pulls the hair off to the back showing her beautiful face. It’s also a protective style so while it’s chic, it’s also healthy for the hair," Courtney tells us. She recommends using edge control to keep the sleekness of the hair going into the knots and tangle-free rubber bands to secure the knots so they won’t snag your hair when you remove them. Got2Be Glued Blasting Freeze Hairspray ($4) will keep everything in place.
Long and Wavy
Yes to long, luscious, and textured curls. Yes to the black and brown ombré. Yes to the drama. If you've got wavy or curly hair, work with your natural texture to pull off this look. Simply work a small amount of Briogeo Curl Charisma™ Rice Amino + Avocado Leave–In Defining Cream ($22) into your damp strands. Then, either let hair air-dry or blow-dry with a diffuser.
Let's be real: Not everyone can pull off a mullet. But somehow Rihanna does it with ease. To determine whether a mullet is for you, start by considering your face shape. Those with rounder faces may opt for an edgy, structured cut like RiRi here. However, if you've got an angular face shape (think: diamond, heart, or square), you might find leaving extra length on top and the sides more appealing.
We lost count on how many hair colors we're on at this point. Only a cool cat like Rihanna can pull off a honey blonde paired with dark roots. To keep this color contrast from feeling too grunge, she opts for soft, textured curls. Try it by first prepping strands with a lightweight curl cream, such as Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Featherlight Styling Cream ($26). Then, section hair and scrunch each one as you blowdry with a diffuser to amplify body and bounce.
Just in case you needed more convincing that hair flips will always be in, Rihanna sports another version of this retro style. "This look is fun and flirtatious at the same. It is the perfect variation on a naturally curly bob," comments O'Connor. To replicate, she instructs:
- Wash hair with a frizz-fighting shampoo and conditioner.
- Blow-dry hair using a smoothing spray and heat protectant.
- Next with your flat iron and Matrix Mega Sleek Iron Smoother ($18), starting in the nape area, smooth the hair up to the bottom two inches and curve your iron upward in order to create the playful flip. Continue doing this until all the hair is flipped upwards.
- Finish your style with Matrix Total Results A Curl Can Dream Lightweight Oil ($24) for the most lightweight glossy finish.
When it doubt, braid it out. We're throwing it back to the 2011 Met Gala when Rihanna looked like she dropped from the heavens with this fiery red plaited style. After parting hair, gather a small section along the hairline and begin French braiding toward the opposite side. Then, on the opposite side, begin French braiding along the hairline working your way down making sure to incorporate the other braid. Braid until reaching ends and secure with a hair tie.
Red-haired Rihanna was a vibe. We vote she brings this style back because those curls are sitting so pretty. To give your mane shape—and to keep it from poofing out—ask your stylist to incorporate long layers. And if you're not into all of the upkeep that an auburn dye job entails, try low-key balayage instead.
This slicked-back braided bun is the perfect style to whip out on a hot, humid day or for a formal even—perhaps even both. Simply apply gel to hair and gather it into a high bun. Sleek edges pull this whole look together with ease.
Have we seen our glam goddess rock finger waves before? Most definitely. With this level of elegance and swag? Probably not. With just a few products—mousse, a rat-tail comb, styling strips, and a hooded hairdryer—plus, a bit of know-how, you'll be at the top of your game with this sleek, retro style.
Our long-haired maven pulls off this look effortlessly with sleeked-down baby hairs and soft curls that flow just right. Given the length, medium to thick density hair will look best in this wavy style. Apply Kristin Ess Soft Shine Beach Wave Spray ($15) to play up texture and gloss.
If you're hesitant to commit to bangs, go faux fringe like Rihanna here. Starting at the top center of your head, comb hair forward and slightly lift to the side, securing with a bobby pin or two. Slick back the other side and pin in place. Douse with hairspray and let your cascading waves do the rest. It's that easy.
Serving a bob with side-swept bangs invokes just the right amount of drama. We may be biased, but when RiRi goes short, we all take notice. To replicate her style, try NatureLab. Tokyo Perfect Shine Oil Mist ($17). Your hair will not only look super-sleek and shiny but also smell amazing.
Straight, mid-length hair is classic making it perfect for an afternoon day of press or an evening with the crew. The dramatic side part adds a natural boost of volume and blunt ends make the hair appear thicker. Fine-haired friends should take notice.
Classic Fulani braids make a statement no matter the occasion. RiRi rocks this plaited style with little effort choosing to keep baby hairs inlaid and in check. Props to her stylist for creating a crisscross pattern with her cornrows. They're breathtakingly beautiful.