The Year in Natural Hair

From Viola Davis's big chop to Ledisi's lust-worthy locs, 12 months of fab styles from fierce naturalistas.

Nicole Marie Melton Dec, 05, 2012


Viola Davis made a big statement by going natural at the ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood event. She later sported her chic coif at the Academy Awards, and it completely revamped her red carpet look for a bolder, fresher feel. "I feel very powerful, I really do," said Davis, about wearing her natural hair. "I feel more powerful every day, more secure in who I am, and I've waited so long for that... It feels so divine."

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It's been a decade since Goapele's "Closer" hit the airwaves, and we fell in love with the songstress and her signature cornrows. This year, we did a double take when Goapele revealed she was no longer wearing her trademark style. “I wanted to try something new,” revealed Goapele at the ESSENCE Music Festival. “Every few years I want to try something new so I took a chance, and I flat ironed it.”

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Janelle Monae rocked her signature pompadour every time we saw her in 2012. Although this is the only style we've seen her wear all year, we never tire of her trademark upsweep.

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Marsha Ambrosius set her kinky curls on spiral rods for a full, fluffy look we loved when she attended the 2012 BET Awards.

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Over the summer, we saw several celebs opt for braids and cornrows to take a break from summer styling. Regina King and Naturi Naughton were two stars who sported their chic, protective styles on the red carpet.

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Nicole Ari Parker recently debuted her short, natural curls shortly after starring in the Broadway play, A Streetcar Named Desire. “My daughter is 7, and she’s starting to really stare at Mommy and what Mommy does, and I wanted her to love her hair,” said Ari Parker, about her decision to do the big chop.

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We’ve always been obsessed with Tanika Ray’s naturally fabulous, super defined curls, and this year, the diva rocked them in more ways than one. At the Victoria’s Secret “What Is Sexy?” party, she wore effortlessly tousled waves with bold, bright accessories.

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While droves of naturalistas are big fans of Solange's ever-changing curls, Solange was quick to point out she is not nearly as interested in talking about her hair as some others are. Earlier this year, she addresed what she called the "natural hair police" on Twitter. "Look, all I’m saying is my hair is not very important to I don't encourage it to be important to you," Solange tweeted. "I don’t want to talk about no damn mo."  Although Solange is keeping mum on her hair, that's not going to stop us from saying we think it's fab!

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Kim Coles showed off her naturally, curly coif at the Loving Your Mane natural hair meet-up event in New York City. Coles, who big chopped in 2011, added extra pizazz to her short curls this year with a spicy cinnamon hair color.

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Jill Scott graced the October 2012 cover of ESSENCE in a stunning, super-short haircut.  "This is the simplest form of myself, " Scott said in ESSENCE, about her short hair. Not one to be boxed in by a hairstyle, Scott also made it clear she loves switching up her look. "For me, hair is an accoutrement. Hair is jewelry. It's an accessory. Tomorrow, I may want a wig down to my butt, and I'm gonna rock it, and the next day, I may want a big Afro, and I'm gonna rock that too."

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It's no secret Chrisette Michele is a hairstyle chameleon and has worn nearly every hairstyle in the book. Throughout the year, she sported a cute, curly cut, but made a drastic hair change with a hot, honey blonde hair color.

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Ledisi has been growing her locs out for years, but in 2012 she upgraded her 'do with a bold, red hair color.  "The red really makes my face pop out," said Ledisi.  "It gives a nice, soft dewy thing when I wear it down, and when I wear it up, it's edgier."

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The natural hair blogosphere went into overdrive when a photo of First Lady Michelle Obama wearing a halo of kinky curls hit the Internet. Although Mrs. O looked stunning in the photo, it didn't take long for us to realize something about the picture seemed a Sure enough, we discovered those curls actually belonged to blogger Maeling Tapp of Natural Chica and had been Photoshopped onto the picture.

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Yaya DaCosta is known for rocking her natural curls, and this kinky, coily look she sported at the 2012 Women for Women International Gala is one of our favorites of the year.

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In February of this year, Tracee Ellis Ross decided it was time for a new hue and debuted a head full of crimson ringlets. Ross worked her red hair for a short while before returning to her natural brunette color a few months later. "I loved being a redhead! I always wanted to try it," Ross revealed.  "I loved it, but truthfully, I am at heart with what God naturally gave me. I just feel more comfortable [in my natural color] so I went back to it. But [having red hair] was fun! It was so much fun."

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Natural updos are typically a favorite style among curly girls. At Lifetime's Steel Magnolias premiere in New York City, Adepero Oduye styled her natural tresses into a sleek and elegant pompadour.

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Can you say “hair crush?” Corinne Bailey Rae's fluffy curls were every bit of flawless each time we saw her in 2012. This frizz-free twist-out she wore at the Friars Foundation Honors event is one of our top picks.

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The braided topknot became a style staple for several celebs in 2012. Kandi Burrus, Beyonce, Chrisette Michele and Solange were a few divas who rocked sky-high braided buns.

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Willow Smith

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Throughout 2012, Eva Marcille was a fan of wearing her signature, super-short pixie cut, but recently the "Diva" debuted waist-length box braids at the Let The Kids Grow Foundation Holiday Gala. This could certainly be an indication that the box braids trend will continue through 2013.

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We secretly envy Esperanza Spalding’s lush halo of coily hair, which she proudly flanuted at this year's Academy Awards.


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