Celebrities who look totally different with their natural hair

Celebrities tend to be style chameleons by nature, changing their looks to suit their latest roles. This means that, somewhere along the way, the celeb sheds their original look. And it all seems to start with the hair! What don't stars do to their coifs? Coloring, cutting, straightening, curling — celebrities tweak their hair more than most people change their sheets. So, when their natural hue or texture makes the occasional cameo, it can, frankly, come as quite the shock.

On one hand, it's almost impossible to imagine that certain stars' iconic tresses aren't natural (we're looking at you, Mandy Moore). But, while the following celebrities could likely rock any kind of locks, there's something undeniably cool about seeing their authentic hair. It's like peeking behind the Great and Powerful Oz's curtain.

Here are a few of Hollywood's natural hair transformations that'll surprise you — they very well may inspire you to update your own. 

Mandy Moore

Close your eyes and picture Mandy Moore. You're thinking of Rebecca Pearson from This Is Us, aren't you? Ever since NBC introduced the hit tear-jerking series, it's become difficult to separate Moore from her TV mom persona. So difficult, in fact, that it's rare for us to recollect that the star actually got her start as a teen belting out bubblegum pop in the '90s.

Although Moore's mane has been chestnut brown for more than a decade now, her hair's original hue is closer to the one she entered the industry with — circa 1999 "Candy" music video blonde. In an interview with PopSugar in 2017, Moore said those OG locks make her "shudder a little bit to myself" — her trademark brown "feels the most like me."

It's no wonder she never looked back after dying her hair darker for 2002's A Walk to Remember. "Well I was blonde then and, for the most part, haven't gone back since," she told Entertainment Weekly. "It was transformative because it came at a time in my life when I was only seen from the pop music landscape and through that lens. There was a real significance to coloring my hair." 

Zendaya

When you step into the spotlight as young as Zendaya did (she was barely a teen when she landed the role of Rocky Blue on Shake It Up), your "look" can become synonymous with who you are. For years, Zendaya straightened her naturally curly hair to align with her public image and, per the star herself, it was because she simply wasn't confident wearing her hair natural. 

"Growing up, I wasn't very confident in my curls," she told People StyleWatch (via Mic). "It wasn't like the hair that girls around me had. And nobody really knew what to do with my hair." Fast forward to January 2017, and The Greatest Showman star shared insight into her natural hair journey:

"When you've spent the past however many years growing your damaged hair back, avoiding heat, wearing wigs and trying every natural product in the world and you finally see a little curl pattern comin back," Zendaya wrote on Instagram, underscoring the sentiment with multiple praise hands emojis. In the time since, she's rocked it everywhere from award shows to movie premieres, and often doles out advice on caring for natural black hair

Blake Lively

Blake Lively is a bona fide movie star now, and the wife of Deadpool's Ryan Reynolds to boot. But to fans of the iconic teen drama Gossip Girl, Lively will always be Serena van der Woodsen. It was during her years on the show as an Upper East Side socialite that Lively first elicited hair lust in, well, everyone. She had (and still has) the highly sought-after beachy blonde waves that hair dreams are made of. 

Hair deity that she is, it wouldn't be hard to believe she sprang into being fully formed with these enviable locks. In reality, though, little Lively was born with hair considerably darker than her signature blonde shade. She nearly broke the internet during her pregnancies when she stopped dyeing and revealed her real roots. Lively's colorist, Rona O'Connor of the Lukaro Salon, confirmed to Allure in 2011 that, yes, Lively makes regular visits to maintain her "natural warm blonde" with "ivory highlights." 

That isn't the only hair revelation Lively has hidden up her sleeve. At one point, it was even super curly — just like her daughter James'!

Leighton Meester

Here's an ironic twist for you: Like her Gossip Girl costar Blake Lively, actress Leighton Meester does not share her character's hair color naturally. However, Meester's roots are closer to Lively's character, and vice versa! In fact, it was Meester's willingness to go dark that won her the iconic part of Blair Waldorf

"I kept going back and forth at that time between brunette and blonde and, obviously, blonde was winning. Because I grew up with blonde hair and it turned ashy light blonde around 13, 14, I wanted to recapture it as a teenager," she told Elle in 2018. Accordingly, Meester had been a blonde through and through when she auditioned for Gossip Girl — dirty blonde by nature and honey blonde by a box.

That wasn't going to stop Meester, though. "She came in and she was really funny, and really smart and played vulnerable. But there was one problem: she was blonde," series co-creator Josh Schwartz told Vanity Fair in 2017. So what did Meester do? She went right to the sink and dyed her hair brown to secure the role which, c'mon, was pretty darn Blair Waldorf-y of her. 

Gabrielle Union

In March 2017, Gabrielle Union launched her own haircare line called Flawless. The concept? To provide quality products that would allow women with textured hair "to have great hair days." The move was a long time coming for Union, who opened up to her Instagram followers that year about coming to terms with her own natural hair. "Around 25 years old, I stopped using relaxers and slowly grew my natural hair out," she revealed. "It's been a helluva hair journey." 

Chatting with WWD in 2017, Union elaborated on the pressure to style her hair straight — often with unhealthy consequences. "I went through a phase where I would leave my relaxer on so long, thinking the longer I leave this relaxer on, the straighter it's going to be," she said. "Cut to lesions, like open wounds in my scalp, trying to chase something that was unrealistic, and eventually probably in my mid- to late-20s I decided to give up my relaxer, and I went natural." 

But Union is also adamant that everyone's individual hair journey is "amazing, valid, worthwhile and beautiful, no matter what." Well said, Gab. Well said. 

Nicole Kidman

When Nicole Kidman first burst onto the Hollywood scene in the 1990 film Days of Thunder, her cascade of gingery corkscrew ringlets nearly stole the show. As the actress' star continued to rise, though, that captivating coif of curls gave way to hair that was straight and blonde. It's a look Kidman has cultivated so well over the course of her career that her natural hair is little more than a distant memory.

However, let it be said that no one regrets the transition more than Kidman. When asked by PopSugar Australia what advice she'd give her 20-year-old self, the actress didn't have to think long. "I wish I had left my hair alone!" she said, laughing. "Because I kept straightening it I would always be told, 'Your curls are so beautiful' and I never believed them."

She reiterated this regret to Australia's WHO Magazine (via Today), saying, "I wish I had my curls back. I tortured them to death. I always say, 'Don't ruin the ringlets!'" Admittedly, it would be killer to see Kidman's ringlets resurrected. 

Sanaa Lathan

Stunning Sanaa Lathan isn't afraid to try out new styles when it comes to her hair. "I love weaves and wigs and all of that!" she gushed to Hype Hair in 2015. And, in 2017, she readily shaved her head in preparation for her role in the Netflix film Nappily Ever After. But in recent years, Lathan's love for wearing her hair natural has sparked more buzz than any buzzcut.

"I've been wearing my hair natural a lot lately," Lathan told Hype Hair. "For me, it's all about changing it up. In terms of my real life, I'll put it in cornrows and put some conditioner in it and then take it out and it's really big and wild. I've been loving that lately."

In 2018, Lathan really seemed to embrace her short, tight natural curls — showing off the look while listening to Ella Fitzgerald at home, relaxing with her cousins on Easter, and vacationing in Mexico

Emma Stone

Red hair is a thing of beauty, but not everyone can pull it off — especially people who don't naturally have the distinctive hue. If ever there was an exception to this rule, though, it's La La Land actress Emma Stone. You may be thinking, "Wait, she's not a redhead IRL?" The shade comes across as so organic on the actress that it's hard to believe she's really a blonde. Yet, true story. 

Tracey Cunningham, co-owner of the Byron & Tracey Salon in Los Angeles, often works with Stone to color her mane. And according to Cunningham, Stone feels most like herself when she's red. "I forget Emma is not a natural red-head — she's a blonde! She looks like such an authentic red-head with this coloring and her personality!" Cunningham told People in 2017. 

To keep Stone's hair healthy despite the constant coloring, the celebrity colorist relies on twice-weekly applications of Olaplex No. 3 at home. "All my girls, including Emma, love it," Cunningham insisted. 

Taraji P. Henson

Can Taraji P. Henson do no wrong? The Empire actress is essentially on top of the world, and rightly so. She's a relentless advocate for women, and that includes encouraging them not to cave to societal pressure when it comes to straightening hair.

"We have shame when it comes to our hair. What we've been told, 'You hair is nappy.' It's not nappy, it's curly. That's a curl, that's a coil. That' energy leading up," she explained during an interview with HuffPost. With this in mind, Henson — who'd been wearing her natural hair under wigs and weaves or straightening it for years — made 2017 a turning point by chopping her hair off and wearing it naturally more often.

She hopes that in doing so, girls will see their natural hair for what it is. "It is a crown that God gave you," she told HuffPost. "Our hair defies gravity without any products. Do you know how powerful that is? That's powerful." 

Meghan Markle

Being Prince Harry's bride means dealing with the constant specter of scrutiny. Couple that with the fact that she was an actress before her royal engagement, and that means Meghan Markle gets photographed a lot. As such, the public has become accustomed to seeing the Suits star rock long, sleek (sometimes loosely curled) locks. 

However, fans suspected perhaps Markle — whose mother is African-American and father is Caucasian — could have naturally curly hair. One of those fans, TV host Kamie Crawford, proved persistent enough to ferret out a few throwback photos of Markle pre-fame (and pre-Prince). "SOLVED MY OWN CASE!" Crawford exclaimed on Twitter. "We got curls in the royal palace y'all!!!" Crawford also joked about wanting to start a petition to "get Meghan to wear a fresh wash & go around the palace." 

And why not? Markle's hair looks gorgeous both ways, likely a result of how well she cares for it. In an interview with Beauty Banter, the actress-turned-royal-bride shared her secret for healthy relaxed hair: "Kerastase (masquintense & the oleo relax line) and Wella, which has a hair oil that I am obsessed with. It smells like vacation and makes your hair slippery and touchable." Sold!