Black History Month: Top Black Hair Moments of All Time

Nothing speaks to the style of the times than an iconic hairstyle! And since the dawn of man, Black women have been at the forefront of hair hotness. From Josephine Baker to Rihanna, here are the top Black hair moments of all time.

ESSENCE.COM Feb, 26, 2015

1 of 29

In 1905, Madame CJ Walker launched a revolutionary black haircare line — which included the “Wonderful Hair Grower,” the first hair relaxer. The straightener forever changed Black hairstyling.

2 of 29

Legendary entertainer Josephine Baker’s flapper-chic spit curls set the Black hair standard during the Roaring Twenties.

3 of 29

As the fiery, feisty lead character in “Carmen Jones,” stunningly gorgeous actress Dorothy Dandridge stuck a red rose behind an ear, popularizing the hairstyle for Black women everywhere.

4 of 29

As the iconic Supremes, Diana Ross, Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard helped make mile-high bouffant wigs the fancy hair choice of teens of all races, all over the world.

5 of 29

As a star on “East Side/West Side” in the mid-60’s, Oscar-nominated actress Cicely Tyson was the first Black woman to wear cornrows on TV!

6 of 29

Political activist Angela Davis popularized larger-than-life hair when she proudly rocked her afro in the 60’s.

7 of 29

In the Seventies, Pam Grier made a name for herself not only for her iconic roles in blaxploitation flicks like Foxxy Brown, but also for her super-big, sexy afro.

8 of 29

In the mid-Seventies, Chaka Kahn was known for belting out hits with Rufus, rocking the sexiest low-slung jeans, and sporting the world’s most luscious, gigantic, sensuously soft afro.

9 of 29

The “Queen of Disco’s” hair was Studio 54 fabulous at all times—think roller-set curls and tons of volume.

10 of 29

Model and actress Grace Jones sports her trademark flat-top fade, which she displayed on the cover of her first non-disco album, 1980’s “Warm Leatherette.”

11 of 29

With her micro-braids, multi-colored beads and hair accessory flourishes like chopsticks and feathers, “Forget Me Nots” singer Patrice Rushen was one of the era’s top tress trendsetters.

12 of 29

Let’s face it, when the “Thriller” video came out — and Ola Ray and Michael Jackson’s jheri curls were in all their glistening glory — there wasn’t a person alive who didn’t covet this hair.

13 of 29

Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do With It”-era hair is almost as iconic as the song! Crimped, blonde and wild, wild, wild, Turner’s supersized strands were an ’80s staple.

14 of 29

In the late Eighties, legendary rappers Salt and Pepa (plus their deejay, Spinderella), kick-started the asymmetric hairstyle trend with their short-on-one-side, long-on-the-other styles.

15 of 29

Janet Jackson’s “Poetic Justice”-era braids were one of the decade’s most enduring trends.

16 of 29

The “Halle Berry Cut” became a familiar request to Black hairstylists across the country. Berry’s cropped style was her signature look for many years to come.

17 of 29

The “Halle Berry Cut” became a familiar request to Black hairstylists across the country. Berry’s cropped style was her signature look for many years to come.

18 of 29

In the early ‘90s, Toni Braxton’s sexy cropped haircut spawned imitators across the country. The debate of “Who’s the true originator of the fly pixie, Toni or Halle?” is still discussed at hair salons to this day.

19 of 29

There’s still some controversy over whether Anita Baker, Halle Berry or Toni Braxton first popularized this full-banged, short bowl cut, but everybody and her mom wanted it!

20 of 29

With the braid trend still going strong, Brandy hit the scene as a smiley-faced teen. It didn’t take long for her “Brandy braids” to become the style every teenage girl coveted.

21 of 29

Multi-platinum selling rapper/singer Lauryn Hill was one of the most successful entertainers of the decade—and her shoulder-length locs quickly became iconic.

22 of 29

When she showed up to the 2001 Grammys, Badu made headlines with her gorgeous shaved head and tribal-chic yellow makeup.

23 of 29

Beyonce’s leonine, amber-streaked, bigger-than-life locks gave whole new meaning to the phrase “diva hair.” A slew of R&B starlets tried to copy her look, but alas — there’s only one Sasha Fierce.

24 of 29

Rihanna’s edgy, asymmetric, jet-black crop, became a game-changing moment in Black hair history. This haircut made her stand out from the R&B pack and become a bona fide style icon.

25 of 29

When Rihanna cut her long brown locks into an edgy, asymmetric, jet-black crop, it was a game-changing moment. Suddenly, she stood out from the R&B pack and became a bona fide style icon.

26 of 29

In 2009, Solange officially cast aside her weaves and wigs to rock this instantly trendsetting, closely cropped natural and inspired tons of women to also do the “Big Chop.”

27 of 29

We don’t know what’s more impressive— Esperanza Spalding’s award-winning jazz vocals and musical genius or her perfectly shaped, lustrous afro!

28 of 29

In 2011, no one’s hair captured the world’s attention like Nicki Minaj. With her rainbow-hued wigs and Crayola-drenched makeup, the rap star is just as well known for her wild styles as she is for her music.

29 of 29

In 2011, no one’s hair captured the world’s attention like Nicki Minaj. With her rainbow-hued wigs and Crayola-drenched makeup, the rap star is all about color, color and more color!