The Year in Celeb Natural Hair

At ESSENCE, we keep a close eye on lovely world of natural hair. And this year we saw an amazing mix of celebrity naturalista moments from curly veterans and neophytes alike. Go ahead and get inspired for your own natural do (or big chop) by this collection of our favorite looks of the year.

Crystal G. Martin Dec, 02, 2013

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Kimberly Elise

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Tanika Ray gives her curls definition with highlights. We love this pairing of her warm-toned hair with a copper dress at the NAACP Image Awards last year.

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With the success of Romeo and Juliet on Broadway, Condola Rashad, daughter of Phylicia, is quickly becoming a star in her own right. She's also aced all of her red-carpet natural 'dos—we're definitely looking forward to seeing more of her.

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Here's one more sweet braided look from the 26-year-old actress at the Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom premiere in New York City.

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We love it when celebs switch up their looks! At last year's American Ballet Theatre Opening Night Spring Gala Alek Wek forgoes her signature close crop for awesome cornrows. Amazing!

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Andy Allo looked radiant in a big, curly fro. Her perfectly unfussy hair was great paired with an intricately embroidered dress at last year's ESSENCE Black Women in Music.

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Though she wears locs as our favorite zombie-slayer on The Walking Dead, real-life Danai Gurira looks amazing rocking her short natural cut at the Season 4 premiere last October.

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Goapele shows us how to use color to spice up a short cut when she rocked brown locks to the Baggage Claim premiere in Los Angeles.

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Shingai Shoniwa wins the award for the cutest top knot! We love the volume and addition of a delicate hair accessory.

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We fell in love with Sophie Okonedo's natural mane back in 2004 when she rocked braids and curls while promoting Hotel Rwanda. She hasn't stopped wowing us in the years since.  Here she kept it simple with a big hair full of ringlets.

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Lupita Nyong'o produced the 2009 documentary In My Genes, but made her big mainstream debut last year in Twelve Years a Slave. We're super excited about this newcomer and hoping for many awesome mane moments in years to come.

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2013 was a major year for Thandie Newton with a new beauty blog, Thandie Kay, and a role in the the critically acclaimed Half of a Yellow Sun. All the while she's maintained absolutely stunning curls.

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We're loving the actress's side-swept updo, too.

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Viola Davis debuted her cropped cut in 2012 and hasn't looked back! We love how she pairs her cut with flawless makeup and highlights her curls with warm brown color.

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Nicole Ari Parker wore an intricate style during a speaking engagement in Los Angeles. We adore the look as a super-sophisticate up option for curly curls.

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How amazing is this twisted updo? Jill Scott got creative with her styling for a performance at the Taste of Chicago this summer, and it was certainly one of the year's best looks.

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Ledisi never fails to deliver an intricately beautiful natural look. Here, her locs look regal and chic in two rolls at the crown of her head.

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Solange never disappoints and this year was no exception. This sky-high twisted do was our favorite of the year.

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Yaya Dacosta consistently delivers stand-out red carpet looks. This modern take on the pompadour rocked our world!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

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Sometimes bigger really is better. Erykah Badu killed it with a massive blonde blow out at the BET Awards in LA this past June.

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First comes the cut, then comes the curls. A few weeks after debuting her sassy new cropped hair, Alicia Keys wore her hair in its natural curly state. We admired this naturalista moment and hope she rocks the curls again soon!

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Leona Lewis's mane of golden and platinum curls is eye catching after a performance at a G.A.Y. nightclub in London.

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Corrine Bailey Rae's curls are perfection (!) at last year's Brit Awards in London.

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Adepero Oduye is certainly a Natural Hair All-Star, and this playful half-up style is perfect support for why she's one of our faves. 

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Chrisette Michele (AKA the hair cameleon) has settled into a very rad short cut that's highlighted in blonde. Perfect inspriration for your New Year, New You haircut!

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Not only do we love 29-year-old cellist, Esperanza Spalding's music, but her hair is everything. We love that her big, fluffy fro is part of her signature look.

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Monica Calhoun debuted her big chop on the Best Man Holiday red carpets last year (and in a emotional scene in the film). Welcome to the naturalista club, Monica!

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Though we love to see Tracee Ellis Ross's boingy curls wild and free, we're enamored by her in a top knot. Here she rocked an undone look to a SiriusXM Radio event last October.


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