Actresses Who Caused Lasting Damage To Their Hair For A Role

Actors will sometimes do just about anything for a really good role — and apparently, that even includes sacrificing their own hair. Numerous actors have agreed to dye their hair for a role. Often, the process has left lasting damage. In some cases, actors have even noticed that their hair began to fall out.

Dying can be dangerous. "The chemicals used to color/straighten/perm/etc. your hair can be extremely damaging if they're not used properly," hairstylist Chris Dylan told The Skinny. "So basically you'll end up ruining your hair, which means you'll need a hair stylist to fix it."

When actors have to use aggressive hair chemicals for roles, or, they have to dye their hair repeatedly this kind of damage can often occur. Keira Knightly, for instance, revealed that she had to wear wigs for years after damaging her hair, while Jennifer Lawrence got her signature pixie cut after dye damage. Here are 15 actors who suffered lasting hair damage for a role.

Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande is known for her signature high pony — in fact, we rarely see her with her hair down. As it turns out, the singer's hairstyle was actually born out of her hair struggles after a role. 

The singer played Cat in "Victorious" on Nickelodeon for four years — and during that time, she was forced to bleach and dye her hair red every other week. "As one would assume, that completely destroyed my hair," Grande wrote on Facebook in 2014. Eventually, Grande had to wear a wig to play the character. In her day-to-day life, she opted for a ponytail. "I wear it in a ponytail because my actual hair is so broken that it looks absolutely ratchet and absurd when I let it down," she wrote. "I tried wigs, they looked ridiculous."

But even though Grande had to wear a ponytail to hide her damaged hair, she also loved the style that became her signature look. "It's how I like my hair," she told Byrdie in 2020. "It's how I've always liked my hair."

Emilia Clarke

Daenerys Targaryen might have been a career-making role for Emilia Clarke, but it was also the role that destroyed her hair. The Mother of Dragons on "Game of Thrones" is known for her super long, ultra pale blond hair. While Clarke wore a wig for the first few seasons of the show, she decided to dye her hair blond for the show's final season.

"I decided to bleach my hair blond because I wanted it to be Daenerys's color for the last season," she told InStyle. "My hair was so fried that I basically had to cut it all off, like a proper Leonardo DiCaprio, 'Romeo + Juliet' boy cut." 

In another interview with Harper's Bazaar, she said that the bleach made her hair feel like "straw." Apparently, Clarke has learned her lesson. "I do nothing crazy to it now and use really beautiful products ... I really try and take care of it. But after bleaching my hair, I am learning to embrace my natural hair," she said.

Sophie Turner

Sophie Turner is another "Game of Thrones" actor whose hair suffered as a result of the show. Turner played the eldest Stark daughter, Sansa, known for her fiery red hair. 

Turner, a natural blond, had to dye her hair consistently while filming. "A few years ago I was trying to go back from red to blond, and it destroyed my hair to the point that I had to use a wig for 'Game of Thrones,'" she told Glamour in 2018. "They wouldn't let me dye it back red or my hair would've fallen out."

Since then, Turner has been more careful about taking care of her hair. She now uses the WellaPlex hair mask. "It repairs the bonds in your hair so that it doesn't just feel strong and healthy, it actually is stronger and healthier afterward," she said. "I use it every week, because with the job I have, it's a lot of dyeing, straightening, curling, and heat damage."

Keira Knightley

Keira Knightley is another actor who has experienced hair damage after changing her hair for a film part. Although Knightley didn't specify which film roles wreaked the most havoc on her hair, over the years, she has gone between blond and brown hair pretty consistently — blond in "Bend It Like Beckham," then a different shade in "Pirates of the Caribbean," then bright blond in "Love Actually," then dark brunette in "Pride & Prejudice" — the list goes on and on.

As the actor told InStyle, all of this dying took its toll. "I have dyed my hair virtually every color imaginable for different films," she told InStyle in 2016. "It got so bad that my hair literally began to fall out of my head!" 

In 2011, Knightley decided to stop dying her hair for roles and start using wigs. She said, "For the past five years I've used wigs, which is the greatest thing that's ever happened to my hair."

Carey Mulligan

Carey Mulligan has been through her own hair journey thanks to her acting career. In 2009, she starred in "Public Enemies" as Carol — for the role, she bleached her hair. Shortly after, she cropped her hair into an ultra short pixie cut. It turns out, the hair dye was to blame.

"It turned to straw," she said of her post-"Public Enemies" hair to Time Out Shanghai. "And I got stuck with the short hair thing." In fact, Mulligan emphasized that she wished she had never had to cut her hair so short. "I loved having long hair," she said.

Apparently, Mulligan's hair actually stopped growing after she cut it short. "She would do anything to have long, natural hair again, but she can't grow it," an unnamed friend told The Daily Mail at the time. "She's been recommended to take the pills for six months. While her hair is slowly but surely growing back, it's taking a long time and she doesn't feel she will have her confidence back until she's happy with it."

January Jones

January Jones is a natural blond, but over the years, she's done her fair share of dyeing for roles. In the 2013 film "Sweetwater," the actor went red for her role as Sarah. That same year, her character in "Mad Men" went brunette. Presumably, both roles were filmed in 2012 — and by early 2013, Jones was struggling with hair damage as a result.

"I have been every color and now my hair is falling out in clumps," Jones said to Grazia on the red carpet at Sundance Film Festival that year, adding, "I've been blond, red with extensions for this film, then blond, then black, and now blond again. I'm going to have to shave it off and wear a wig."

After all of the damage, Jones was careful to give her hair a break. "My hair was ready to fall out at that point," she told Marie Claire. "When we were on hiatus [from 'Mad Men'], I cut my hair really short and didn't do anything except condition it for the whole summer."

Jennifer Aniston

Jennifer Aniston has also struggled with hair damage over the years. For Aniston, who famously starred as Rachel Green in "Friends" back in the '90s and early 2000s, it was hair extensions rather than hair dye that were the main culprit.

In 2011, shortly after the show came to an end, Aniston debuted a dramatic trim with a brand-new bob. As her longtime stylist, Chris McMillan, told Allure at the time of her chop, "I'm loving bobs again ... It's nice to take the extensions out of the hair and do something more natural."

Aniston later revealed that the extensions she had worn sporadically throughout her time on "Friends" (perhaps most famously in Season 6, when Rachel's hair reached Rapunzel lengths) had been damaging her hair. "The real reason I cut my hair?" she said to InStyle. "My real hair was getting thinned out again from all the extensions. It was starting to look fake."

Nikki Reed

Nikki Reed played the icy Rosalie in the "Twilight" franchise — for the role, she dyed her naturally brunette hair a light shade of blond. That is, she did until her hair started to fall out.

"My hair fell out," she told MTV News after the first film (via Access Hollywood). "It took 36 hours initially to make me blond, and every other day, I was bleaching my head and my skin," she went on. After all of the damage in the first film, Reed and her team decided to try re-creating the look with a wig instead. "This time around, we are testing out different wigs and stuff," she said.

As Reed later told ClevverTV, she went through a lot of wigs after that — and it was hard because she had no control over what her hair looked like from film to film. "My hair color changed all the time," she said of her wigs. "We look like different people in every movie."

Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence got her big break as Katniss, the District 12 tribute turned rebel in the "Hunger Games" franchise. The character famously had dark hair. In fact, the book describes her "straight black hair." Although Lawrence didn't wear a full wig for the film, she did wear a couple of extension hairpieces in some scenes. That meant that she had to dye her hair darker. 

However, the hair-dying process wasn't great for her hair. As she told Yahoo!, her hair was "fried" by the end of it. "My hair couldn't get any uglier," she went on (via E! News). In another interview, Lawrence laughed, "In a roundabout way, Katniss did ruin my hair."

Lawrence sought the help of her stylist, Mark Townsend. "Her hair did get quite damaged from all the coloring she had to do for different roles so she needed a good trim, but Jen wanted more than a trim," Townsend told Into the Gloss. She ended up going for a dramatic pixie cut — and wore a wig for the last few films!

Anna Paquin

Anna Paquin played Sookie, the halfling at the center of "True Blood." Although Paquin loved her role, there was one thing she wished was a little different: her hair. "Well if Charlaine [Harris, author of the 'Sookie Stackhouse' novels] and the creators had written her as a nonnatural blond, I would be spending a lot less time in the hair salon getting my roots retouched, and my hair would probably be a little bit longer because it's gradually getting shorter as the ends break off because I'm a fake, fake, fake blond," Paquin told Digital Spy in 2009.

Luckily, Paquin's hair damage wasn't too horrible thanks to her hair stylist. "I have a very talented colorist," she said to Interview Magazine in 2008. "And I'm not changing it back between seasons." 

And even though Paquin's hair may have been breaking thanks to her role in "True Blood," she continued to dye it even after the show ended. "This week, we're on purple and blue," she said to Entertainment Weekly in 2014.

Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron played Imperator Furiosa in "Mad Max: Fury Road" in 2015. Viewers were surprised to see that Theron had opted to fully shave her head for the role. It turns out, Theron asked to shave her head after several hair experiments with bleach for the role had gone wrong in the run-up to the film. Her hair was left seriously damaged.

"I had done a press junket. My hair was really fried," Theron told Entertainment Weekly. "And I had a night where I thought, 'You know what? What if we just shave it?'"

Although being completely bald was a big change for Theron, she actually ended up enjoying it. "After that, I was 20 minutes early to everything in my life," she said. "It was unbelievable, like how much time we spend on our hair." Theron even found a new meaning to her own femininity. But, she added, "It's also nice to have hair."

Margot Robbie

From "The Wolf of Wall Street" to "Barbie," Margot Robbie always seems to have gorgeous hair in her films. However, as Robbie explained to Harper's Bazaar, each role has required a lot of styling and it's left her hair in pretty awful shape.

"It's from dyeing it, and having hot roller sets," she said. These days, what we see on the red carpet is apparently an illusion. "I've got really s*** hair so it's kind of hard to do my hair well," she said. "I really need a hairstylist to do my hair if it's going to look good. I have like three hairs left on my head. A hairstylist will come in and put all this fake hair in and it looks luscious and amazing."

Luckily, some film hair stylists have given her hair a bit of a break. In "I, Tonya," for instance, stylist Adruitha Lee used wigs to rescue Robbie's hair from the dye. "Her real hair wouldn't have survived it," Lee said to Refinery29 of all of the different shades required.

Lili Reinhart

Lili Reinhart starred as Betty in the "Riverdale" series. Based on the "Archie" comics, the series was filled with iconic characters — and, of course, Betty was blond in the comics. A natural dirty blond, Reinhart had to dye her hair for the role. Stylists also curled her hair before tying it up in Betty's signature ponytail.

After seven years of dying and curling for the show, her hair was in rough shape. "My hair is damaged as hell from being on my show and just from heat styling in general," Reinhart told Allure. "So I try to take really good care of my hair. I use a lot of Kérastase. I really like the brand." Reinhart also uses Olaplex, she said. 

In the future, Reinhart's hoping to find a project that allows her to wear a wig. "I kind of promised myself if I were offered a role where they said I need to be a redhead [or] I need to be a brunette that I would have to wear a wig because my hair has been through so much," she said.

Anya Taylor-Joy

Anya Taylor-Joy is another actor who has ruined her hair for a role. "I did this one project where they bleached my hair from root to tip every Sunday for three and a half months," the actor told InStyle (via Yahoo! News). "Then I dyed it brunette, and the stylist said, 'Oh, that's so cute. You have an undercut.' She lifted up my hair and the whole bottom was completely fried off. I was like, 'Ah, okay, bleach is bad, good to know.'"

According to an interview with Harper's Bazaar, the project in question was her "second job," which was "Morgan."

Like many other actors, Taylor-Joy now prefers to wear wigs rather than damage her own hair. "I think I got saved with Beth [in 'The Queen's Gambit] because of the amount of time that I had with her," she said, explaining that she wore a wig for that project rather than dye her hair red. 

Tia Mowry

Tia Mowry found fame in "Sister Sister" alongside her twin, Tamera. In the show, the twins often had straightened hair — as Mowry later told InStyle, all of the heat styling ruined her natural curl pattern. It was only years later that she felt confident enough to start embracing her natural curls. 

"I started to see this incredible movement where natural hair was being celebrated and being embraced," she said. "This was amazing, because for so long I felt like my natural hair wasn't being celebrated. I did not see it in magazines. I did not see that being depicted as beautiful."

However, getting her hair back into a healthy state took a long time. She had to use hair accessories to hide her hair and eventually had to chop it all off. Plus, she used a lot of products. "I was nurturing my hair, I started to put oils in it — natural oils from coconut oil, jojoba oil, putting in the leave-in conditioners, and just really monitoring what I'm putting on my hair and my scalp to help it grow," she said. Now, it's finally back to its healthy, curly self.