Over the course of her 15-year-long career, Rihanna has successfully established herself as one of the most influential style icons of our generation.
This is in great part thanks to her innovative sense of style that constantly evolves, taking inspiration from all strands of fashion – from streets of Barbados to haute couture runways.
And when she’s not knocking us sideways with her extravagant sartorial choices, she is making our jaws drop with her fresh, trend-moving hairstyles that she likes to change as often as her outfits.
From her innocent chestnut locks featured in Pon de Replay music video to the avant-garde, gravity-defying bun seen at the 2017 Met Gala, we haven’t been able to look away from RiRi’s exquisite hairdos, each one marking a different style period in the singer’s aesthetic evolution.
To that end, let’s look back upon all the times the Barbadian beauty slayed us with her coifs.
Chestnut Brown for Career Debut
Robyn Fenty, who we would all later come to know and love as Rihanna, first stepped into the spotlight ten years ago, when she made us all bop our heads to a fun, pop-meets-dancehall album called Music of the Sun.
Rihanna, who was only 17 at the time when her first album hit the charts, enchanted the audiences worldwide with her sweet, girl-next-door look, embodied in soft, light-brown locks and long, see-through bangs.
Little did we know the young girl from Barbados would grow up to be a recoding industry powerhouse with a penchant for switching up hairstyles over and over again.
Good Girl Gone Bad Bob
In 2007, Rihanna’s look took a dramatic turn when she released her second album, Good Girl Gone Bad.
To keep in tune with the edgy theme of the follow-up release, RiRi chopped her locks into a razor sharp, jet-black bob, which she premiered in the video for the smash hit Umbrella.
Soon afterwards, girls around the globe rushed to their hairdressers’ hoping to emulate the coveted Rihanna ‘do.
This massive transformation is often regarded as the look that helped catapult Rihanna into full-fledged stardom.
Dark Pixie at the 2012 VMAs
Rihanna’s ability to stun everyone even when she’s keeping it understated is evident in the look she sported at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards.
She wasn’t afraid to go even shorter with her ‘do, cropping it into a flattering pixie cut reminiscent of Halle Berry’s early 2000s style.
The minimal nature of this hairdo helped put all the emphasis on Rihanna’s amazing bone structure.
Paired up with little more than a crisp white gown and statement red lipstick, this simple, yet bold hairstyle was all that it took for Rihanna to shine bright like diamond at the VMAs.
Golden Beach Waves at the 2012 Grammys
The Barbadian singer decided to go full beach-blonde at the 2012 Grammy Awards.
The dirty blonde look was styled with messy curls, dark roots and tousled bangs, inspired by the aesthetics of carefree ‘70s babes like Farah Fawcett.
The laissez-faire ‘do was complimented with a sleek Giorgio Armani gown and sultry, smoked out makeup, making Rih’s overall look a bona fide show-stopper.
2012 Rated R(ed) Era
In 2012, Rihanna released her hit-laden album titled Loud.
The cover featured a close-up picture of Rihanna with scarlet hair that would go on to become her signature color of this era.
Among the most memorable ‘dos of the red era are the tight curls Rihanna rocked at the American Music Awards in 2010. Combined with a sensual lace gown, this fun hairstyle gave Rihanna’s overall look a playful vibe.
Due to massive popularity of the vibrant hair color on Rihanna, this iconic phase in the singer’s hair evolution inspired many women to buck up and finally find their own shade of red.
Blonde Pompadour at the 2009 Glamour Awards
In 2009, Rihanna took her edgy hair tendencies to the next level by shaving off the sides of the head and dying the longer strands on top into lush caramel blonde.
At the 2009 Glamour Awards, where she won Woman of the Year Award, RiRi styled her short ‘do into a fashion-forward, yet occasion-appropriate pompadour.
The innovative hairstyle was a match made in heaven with the ivory, figure-fitting Stephane Rolland dress – a combination that truly made Rihanna look like the star of the night.
Soft Ombré Waves at 2013 Grammys
As much as the Barbadian superstar strives to push the envelope when it comes to style, sometimes she likes to surprise us all by showing up to an event sporting an elegant, timeless coif.
For example, she swept everyone off their feet with her beauty when she appeared at the 2013 Grammy Awards with soft, voluminous curls in light brown ombré reminiscent of her fellow pop queen, Beyoncé.
In combination with a breezy red chiffon gown designed by Azzedine Alaia, this refined ‘do completed Rih’s refreshingly understated, yet glamorous vibe.
2017 Met Gala Top Knot
When it comes to Met Gala, one of the most prestigious events in the fashion industry, everyone is always holding their breath in excitement to see what Rihanna will pull off next.
The theme for 2017 was inspired by the Japanese brand Comme des Garçons and its founder, the ever-innovative fashion powerhouse Rei Kawakubo.
Not only did Rihanna do the homework in regards to the event’s theme, she embodied Kawakubo’s avant-garde, otherworldly aesthetic from head to toe.
Flaunting a color-packed, structured mini-dress from the designer’s Fall 2016 runway, Rihanna completed the fashion-forward look with a sleek top knot with bangs that meshed perfectly with the voluminous nature of the outfit.
2017 Cannes Sleek Up-Do
At the second day of the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, Rihanna showed us once again to what extent she can masterfully juggle between high couture and quirky, laid-back style.
She combined the ultra-glamorous strapless Dior gown with a sleek, dark-brown up-do and pair of futuristic Andy Wolf Eyewear specs.
The understated hairstyle, which was parted at the side and tied into a low bun, allowed for Rihanna’s voluptuous bustier gown to be the star of the show.
Blunt One Length Bob at the Fenty x Puma Event
In 2016, Rihanna returned to reign the charts with her eight studio album titled Anti.
For this era, the Bajan beauty decided to go back to her beloved bob, this time cut into one-length box style, which she premiered in the music video for the lead single, Work.
The new ‘do was parted in the middle, evocative of the short and mid-length styles that were popular in the ‘90s.
The singer rocked the look at the Fall 2016 New York Fashion week, where the vampy style went together perfectly with the gothy athleisure aesthetics channeled in the Fenty x Puma collection.
Sleek Swoop Ponytail
This elegant hairstyle was one of Rihanna’s more wearable looks, and she rocked the luscious pony everywhere from her Diamond Ball charity event to Harvard University, where her confident hair flip became an instant meme.
This flattering look features a sleek, pin-straight ponytail that’s tied at the nape of the neck with a deep side part.
Stylish Undercut for River Island Colab
Rihanna’s love of combining the edgy with the elegant was once again seen in 2013, when she rocked a bold undercut at the launch party of Rihanna for River Island collection.
This punk-rock inspired style involves shaving one or two sides of the head, but keeping the rest of the hair long.
Rihanna would later be spotted wearing the undercut in many different ways: with voluminous, honey-colored waves on the cover of Rolling Stone or with sweeping bangs and pin-straight locks at the GQ Men of the Year Awards.
With the undercut, RiRi did not have to fully commit to the bad gal image, but could choose to give any hairstyle a touch of edge when needed.
Thanks to Rihanna and her fellow R’n’B star Cassie, who also rocked the partially buzzed look, the undercut became one of the most popular hairstyles of the past decade.
Luscious Faux Locs for Ocean’s 8
We all gasped with excitement when we found out Rihanna was going to star in Ocean’s 8, the all-female reboot of the wildly popular Ocean’s Eleven film series.
We were even more enticed when the first candid photos from the set surfaced online, in which the bad gal could be seen rocking a gorgeous set of faux locs.
It was soon revealed that Rihanna would be playing a savvy hacker called Nine Ball.
The beautiful mane of locs combined with cool Lennon-style glasses and Rihanna’s usual chilled demeanor makes us all the more eager to see how the Barbadian baddie will embody this role.
Wet’n’Wavy Bob at the Parsons Benefit
At the 69th Annual Parsons Benefit, where Rihanna was honored for her work in the field of educating and empowering women, the pop diva decided to switch up her jet-black bob.
The chin-length ‘do was parted in the middle and styled into shiny spiraled curls, giving the overall look a sensual, wet appearance.
RiRi’s beauty was completed with a touch of shimmery eye shadow and a coat of bold red lipstick, allowing her oversized tan suit (designed by Matthew Adams Dolan, a Parsons alumn) to be the centerpiece of the look.
Doobie Wrap at the 2013 American Music Awards
The proof that Rihanna can truly rock any hairstyle and still look like a million bucks came in 2013, when the fashion icon showed up at the 2013 American Music Awards rocking a doobie wrap.
This protective hairstyle, which involves wrapping the hair around the head and securing it with bobby pins, is often worn by black and Latina woman to maintain straight hair texture.
Doobie wrap is rarely seen in public, as majority of women wear it around their house or at hair salons.
However, we are all well aware by now that RiRi does not give a hoot about social conventions, and the singer chose this particular hair look for the event as a nod to her culture, but also the Old Hollywood finger waves hairstyles that were popular in the 1930s.
Still, not everyone was pleased about the doobie wrap, and Rihanna’s hair choice for the event ended up sparking some online controversy.
Perky Up-Do at the Los Angeles Valerian Premiere
If there ever was such a thing as “Rihanna’s signature hair look”, then it would have to be the curly up-do, which we have seen Rhi rocking many times over the course of her career.
Perhaps the most memorable event where RiRi was spotted rocking her bouncy up-do was at the Los Angeles premiere of the 2017 movie, Valerian.
RiRi dressed up the casual hairstyle with some serious princess couture in form of a feminine, pastel-pink tulle dress with a long train and opulent pair of ribbon Manolo Blahniks.
Long, Natural Locks at the Diamond Ball
At her second annual Diamond Ball, bad gal RiRi showed us once again that it doesn’t take a lot of work to achieve high glamour in the hair department.
At the red carpet, Rihanna was spotted wearing Rapunzel-like long locks that were brushed away from her face, allowing all that Fenty beauty to shine through.
The hair was kept notably minimal, with a natural bend that served as the perfect counteract to Rihanna’s opulent gold Dior gown.
We have now seen just how creative and influential Rihanna’s hairdos have been over the past decade.
Knowing her disdain for rules and love of experimentation, we have no doubt that whatever hairstyle she chooses next will be anything but boring.
And while the Barbadian fashionista is keeping us all on our toes, perhaps this list has inspired you to go and give your locks a fresh, innovative makeover they deserve!