Rihanna is the princess of reinvention. Her hair, in particular, has been a key tool of her expression. Though short-lived, each of Rih’s ever-changing hairstyles forms an intricately pieced puzzle of her early twenties.

That fateful night in 2009 took Rihanna from good girl gone bad to bad girl gone brokenhearted. To ensure she was never seen as a helpless victim, Rihanna aesthetically enslaved the masses with her whips, chains, spikes and short blonde cut with buzzed sides. Most telling was her November 2009 “20/20” interview with Diane Sawyer where she sported a lifeless brushed-back ‘do that signaled a flat line to whatever femininity was left. Rih’s 2010 blood-soaked mane was, if nothing else, a stylish exaggeration that complimented the controversial bubble that consumed her. In choosing one of the boldest colors in the spectrum, she began to control headlines, instead of falling prey to them. 

It literally took great lengths to get the Barbadian beauty back to sharing the girlish island vibe we first fell in love with.  Once her rouge hair touched her shoulders, Rihanna was reborn. With a bevy of sweet smiles to match, Rihanna released 2010’s LOUD, along with wispy, feathered curls, unruly waves, French twists and polka dot headbands. Her current amber-highlighted brunette mane is unmistakably identical to the tresses of a 2005 “Pon De Replay” Rihanna. Her new ‘do immediately gave her retro darling status with big looping curls reminiscent of Hollywood starlets of yesteryear.  She’s instinctively juxtaposing her uber-feminine look with edgy unisex garb. Not everyone’s hair story can be as juicy as Rihanna’s, but the singer is definite proof that beauty and style can be powerful, cathartic mediums. —Kimberly Walker