Since our first issue in May 1970, ESSENCE has been dedicated to uplifting Black women and people. That includes putting inspirational individuals on the cover: from the first cover star, Barbara Cheesebourough, to the likes of Diana Ross and Aretha Franklin.
And since Black women have always been the blueprint for beauty trends, and our intricate relationship with hair has long been braided into our beautiful history, it’s only right that the covers over the years have included aspirational hair looks. The 70s were all about braids– cornrows and sculptural looks alike. Meanwhile, in the 80s, Sade made a bold statement with sky-high strands.
And as for the 90s? Mary J. Blige, for one, stunned with a hair show-worthy blonde bob. When it came time for the 2000s, bobs, micro braids and decorated locs did the trick. The 2010s were an ode to big hair. Think: Traces Ellis Ross and Regina King’s gorgeous afros. In the 2020s, colorful strands have been abound– from bleach blonde on Megan Thee Stallion to Nikole Hannah-Jones’ fiery-red mane.
Although the beauty and versatility of our hair is certainly something to celebrate any time, in honor of National Hair Day today, below, you’ll find 17 iconic ESSENCE hair covers throughout the years.