I'll be the first to admit it: I love a big, dramatic hair transformation. I totally get that a celebrity haircut and/or color change can feel gimmicky, especially since it's designed to get people talking about the project they're promoting (spoiler alert: it usually works). But celebrity hairstylists do dramatic hair changes exceptionally well these days. Thanks to extensions, wigs, and other hair magic, celebrities can debut a short hairstyle one day and long tresses the next. But when they cut their actual hair and really lean in on a new look, it feels even more daring.
Of course, big hair changes are not necessarily a new phenomenon—actors in movies and TV shows have utilized the "big dramatic haircut" to signify an important change in the character's development. Sometimes it works (the "Rachel" on Jennifer Aniston's Friends character) and sometimes it absolutely, wholly does not (the "Felicity" on Keri Russell). But, even when it doesn't work, it's always interesting.
Below, the 32 most dramatic celebrity hair transformations.
An upcoming film role was part of the reason Cara Delevingne shaved her head (she was to play a cancer patient in Life in a Year), but she also told WWD, "Just doing it really was liberating...The kind of power and not needing hair to be beautiful, and that was the message I really thought I needed to spread."
Kaley Cuoco (whose long hair on The Big Bang Theory was pretty well-established at that point) teased us with a shorter haircut for a while before she finally went all in in 2014. She cut it in April to a bob and then in June cut it even shorter. "Thank you @clsymonds for bringing out my inner Peter Pan :)" she wrote on Instagram at the time.
Appropriately described as "fiery," Megan Fox went from a soft auburn to a cherry, fire-engine red color (with a bob haircut to match, obviously). She was promoting her new book of poetry Pretty Boys Are Poisonous and, in an incredible move, her hair matches the book cover.
Hailey Bieber kicked off 2023 with a fun long bob (giving us major "new year new hair" energy). With the caption "Oops," her fans immediately went wild for the look—we wouldn't be surprised if the picture on the right was screenshotted then taken to hairstylists all over the place.
Julia Fox can (and does) rock a lot of different hairstyles as a model. But when she went all out and debuted this look for New York Fashion Week (the matching eyebrows!!), it was intense even for her. She called it her favorite look of the week, adding, "As for hair and make up...I did it myself yeah."
Debuting a new "French bob" haircut in 2023, Zoe Saldaña gave everyone massive hair envy—particularly since it was a fun, short, summer cut, and everyone loves chopping their hair off in the hot weather. It's a precise but still soft cut, and a serious change from her normal longer style.
If you're unfamiliar, Emilia Clarke had some serious wigs to play Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones. But for the show's last season, she decided to really go for it and match her actual hair to her character's hair, showing all of us why it's such a good color on her.
We could choose a lot of different hair transformations for Ariana Grande—this one is by far not the most intense. But when the actor, who had played Cat Valentine on the show Victorious and Sam & Cat, her hair was fried from dying it red so often. So getting it to a more neutral, natural color was a necessary change, but also an important step away from the character for Grande.
While Dua Lipa is no stranger to hair experimentation, when she showed up to the 2022 Grammy Awards with her long dark hair dyed platinum, it was a (welcome) shock. Lipa and her stylists wisely decided to keep her roots and eyebrows dark, so that her natural color still shown through (and felt grounded to the rest of her outfit).
The number of hairdos we've had from Lady Gaga could fill a book (note to Lady Gaga: Please make a coffee table book with just pictures of your hair. I would buy it.), but on the awards circuit for A Star Is Born she was keeping her hair her signature blonde—until this light blue concoction at the 2019 Golden Globes.
This honey blonde hair on Keke Palmer should be required viewing for ever hairstylist: It's the perfect shade, incredibly dimensional without feeling too jarring. It was a big change for the star, and it's the perfect refresh for anyone who's been through a breakup and is feeling fantastic.
Zendaya has given us hip-length extensions, a red curly bob, and a hilarious and amazing bowl hair cut wig. She's just that excellent at pulling off different hair colors and styles! But I appreciated this softer style that still required a cut of several inches and a modernized curly bob styling that I adore.
It's hard to explain exactly how much Taylor Swift (who, up until this point, had made her long, blonde, often curly hair an important part of her look) made fans excited with this shorter hairstyle. It began the first of many different cuts and colors, but this initial experimentation was a terrific fit for the evolving star.
As style writers noted at the time, J. Lo cut all her hair off for her appearance at Paris Fashion Week—and the bob absolutely suits her. Now, literally days later, she was back to donning a longer hairdo, but I'm putting in a petition now for her to keep it this length.
Zoë Kravitz has given us many a short hair and shaved head moment (she's an incredibly style chameleon, and she's giving us even more looks on her social media) but this blonde bob to black pixie evolution was a glorious change. The softer makeup helped complete the transformation.
Kate Hudson called this pixie cut "liberating," which makes sense: Her long hair is pretty legendary (and it looks a lot like her mom Goldie Hawn's hair), so this was a huge change. She cut it for a role, in Sia's Sister, and her hair has since gone back to its traditionally long length.
Katy Perry later told Ellen in an interview that this pixie wasn't exactly by choice: She'd dyed her hair platinum, and it was (horrifyingly) starting to fall out. But she said she liked the face-framing cut, and I can't disagree with her: The blonde is a nice, fun touch.
Thanks to wigs and extensions, Rihanna gives us a different look every time we see her. But what felt so big about this blonde hair and shaved sides was that it felt like (at least part of the haircut) was her actual hair. She went from this long pixie to a number of increasingly shorter styles, and then ended up with this extremely enviable 'do.
No one was a more iconic blonde than Britney Spears, so when she blessed us with a honey bronde color in the '00s, we all collectively lost our minds. Spears was debuting her "Curious" fragrance, which frankly, now that I think about it, absolutely tracks with the new hair color.
Emma Stone has gone blonde more than once in her career, but this 2010 'do was a jaw-dropping moment for fans, as she had mostly given us her signature red as well as deeper auburn colors. Stone would go on to effortlessly rock that blonde color as Gwen Stacy in Spider-Man.
Sarah Jessica Parker
This 2001 cut into a curly bob was intense for its time, as Sarah Jessica Parker (star of the hugely popular Sex and the City) debuted the show with longer curly locks. She'd had her hair shorter before and would cut it short again, but the cut was important for the character's growth.
Miley Cyrus has given us many a wild haircut, but this was the start of a (very successful) run of short haircuts for the singer. She'd previously had layered hair that she sometimes wore very voluminously, so these shaved sides and bouffant made for an important signifier in her evolution.
Florence Pugh knew exactly when to debut her new shaved head: the Met Gala (she later explained it was for an upcoming role in We Live in Time). This pink version showed up shortly afterwards at (where else?) Paris Fashion Week, and was an even more elevated version of the original cut.
Frankly, if anyone's going to pull off a shaved head that's been dyed blonde, it's Kristen Stewart. But back in 2017, she was just getting started with her cool and edgy vibes, and people were shocked and delighted to see her new cut at the premiere of Personal Shopper.
Queen Bey has given us many a cool hair cut and color, including going full silver. She is incredible with wigs and extensions, and it's always a fun surprise to see her latest red carpet look. But this straighter, blonder 'do felt like such an everyday change from her darker curls that it changed the whole vibe of her look.
At the Tony Awards, Lupita Nyong'o shared a bold shaved head look that had a gorgeous "henna headpiece." Her hair had been on the shorter side before, but this striking shave and graphic design had everyone in the beauty world talking—and inspired her makeup artist to do a matching bold look.
After the Harry Potter films, the erstwhile Hermione decided to go for a big change with a full pixie cut. I actually really like it, but it was controversial since Watson's hair had previously been so much longer. In 2014, she explained, "To be honest, I felt more myself with that haircut. I felt bold, and it felt empowering because it was my choice. It felt sexy too. Maybe it was the bare neck, but for some reason I felt super, super sexy."
Jennifer Lawrence is on record as not liking this pixie cut. "Obviously my advice is don't do it. Think everything through," she said, adding that every photo of her with the cut needs photoshopped extensions. Apparently it was growing out weird and felt too long, which is why she chopped it all off.
Katie Holmes, new mom to Suri Cruise at the time, got on the bob bandwagon (lots of stars were doing it, including Victoria Beckham), and fans were shocked—Holmes usually favored long locks, and most people knew her from her wavy Dawson's Creek days. But this version was cute—it started life a bit blunter and then softened.
In the film V for Vendetta, Natalie Portman literally has her head shaved—while weeping uncontrollably—in what was (obviously) a single take. Apparently she liked the feeling of the fuzz, director James McTeigue later said. Portman later did say she wouldn't do it more than once, though.
Jennifer Aniston apparently hated the "Rachel" haircut, particularly how much work it took to maintain. She literally told Allure in 2011, "I think it was the ugliest haircut I've ever seen." And yet, it's hard to overstate: Every person who watched Friends fell in love with the character's shorter locks and wanted it for themselves.
The opposite of the Rachel: The Felicity! In season 2, Keri Russell's character cut off all her hair, and fans revolted (the haircut is literally blamed for the show's ratings tanking). Russell would later say (in a message to her younger self): "Your life is going to be so exciting, but whatever you do, don't cut your hair short during the second season of Felicity...No, I'm serious. People will freak the hell out. You'll get hate mail. You'll even get death threats. But, gradually, your hair will grow back and your fans will forgive you, but you will never—and I repeat never—forgive your fans."