It’s not just hair. Hair is history, symbolism, representation, culture, a form of expression, and a conversation starter. It goes beyond the surface of superficiality when you look at the real roots of what hair is and all that it encompasses. In today’s age, hair has revolutionized into a powerful form of pride that are seen in movies, advertisements, and mainstream media more than ever before.
You can thank celebrity hairstylists for pushing the conversation forward when it comes to hair—particularly hairstylists of color who never turn down an opportunity to showcase black hair in all its glory. Society’s in a new age of hair where it is worn as an act of resistance in many cases. These 25 black hairstylists have created groundbreaking looks that go down in history. Because of them, young brown children who are on a journey to embracing their hair will have all the inspiration they need.
Clients: Rihanna, Zendaya, Rita Ora, Laverne Cox, Jourdan Dunn, Serena Williams, and more.
Brooklyn-born hairstylist Ursula Stephen has been trusted by celebs for years to whip their hair into shape, including Bad Gal RiRi. She also opened a salon in Brooklyn in 2013 that features some of the best stylists the borough has to offer.
Clients: Taraji P. Henson, Yara Shahidi, Brandy Melville, NeNe Leakes, Cardi B., Kelly Rowland, and more.
Celebrity hairstylist Tymothe Wallace is the creative mind behind actress Taraji P. Henson’s ever-changing hairstyles that stun the red carpet and the big screen. With over 10 years in the industry, this Chicago native has made a name for himself when it comes to hair.
Clients: Oprah and other A-list celebs.
Andre Walker has been credited as the originator of Halle Berry’s iconic pixie cut, and he’s been Oprah’s hairstylist for over 20 years. Enough said.
Clients: Tyra Banks, Iman, Jennifer Hudson, Nicki Minaj, Tiffany Haddish, Regina Hall, and more.
Oscar James takes the art of hairstyling to the next level. No wonder he’s touched the hair of such high-profile celebs in major ad campaigns like Revlon, Pantene, and more.
Clients: Solange, models, and influencers.
Shani Crowe‘s architectural braid designs are untouchable. They’re a work of art and they are in a league of their own. Each style celebrates the African diaspora in a beautiful way and has graced the pages of Elle, W, and more.
Clients: Teyana Taylor, Cardi B., Duckie Thot, Yara Shahidi, Nicki Minaj, Usher, and more.
Kendall Dorsey doesn’t just do hair, he knows hair. With over 15 years of experience in hair as a stylist and educator, his diverse clientele of A-list celebs and influencers calls on him to create stunning styles for award shows and the runway.
Clients: Alicia Keys, Naomi Campbell, Iman, Tracee Ellis Ross, Kerry Washington, Solange, Taraji P. Henson, Jourdan Dunn, and more.
Chuck Amos is a legend. This man has been editorializing the hair of icons for years, and it’s amazing because his styles only get better with time.
Clients: Mary J. Blige, Gabrielle Union, Zendaya, Joan Smalls, Sanaa Lathan, Missy Elliot, and more.
Beyond being a celebrity hairstylist to the stars and star of Bravo TV show Invite Only Cabo, Larry Sims has become a household name and is using his platform to educate aspiring hairstylists on their journey to success with his seminar.
Clients: Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, and more.
Tippi Shorter is the first African-American woman to be a spokesperson for haircare lines Clairol and Pantene. Not to mention her first-ever celebrity client was Foxy Brown.
Clients: Cardi B., Kehlani, Ella Mai, Justine Skye, Jordyn Woods, and more.
Cardi B. and Kehlani’s resident hairstylist Kahh Spence, who also is an OGX brand ambassador, has a way with his hands. From touring with Kehlani to making his own custom wigs, it seems like styling comes natural to him.
Clients: Issa Rae, Jill Scott, Yara Shahidi, Skai Jackson, Teyonah Parris, Yvonne Orji, and more.
Felicia Leatherwood specializes in natural hair, and her stunning styles will make everyone want to embrace their natural texture. She’s been in the hair business for over 20 years and wants to inspire all women to own their textured tresses.
Clients: Real Housewives of Atlanta and more.
You probably recognize celebrity stylist Derek Jae from his television debut on Bravo’s Real Housewives of Atlanta, where he styled each star of the show. He’s been providing his expertise to the hair industry for over 15 years and has appeared on Chris Rock’s popular documentary Good Hair and in many hair shows.
Clients: Priyanka Chopra, Laura Harrier, Tessa Thompson, Jourdan Dunn, Uzo Aduba, Joan Smalls, Ashley Graham, Ruth Negga, Olivia Palermo, and more.
You can thank Lacy Redway for creating some of the jaw-dropping styles to hit the red carpet. She’s risen to the top because of her innate love of hair and has been a voice for the representation of women of color in the industry.
Clients: Kylie Jenner, Cardi B., Paris Hilton, Ciara, Nicki Minaj, and more.
First off, let’s acknowledge the fact that Tokyo Stylez is a vision. The way this man knows how to slay a custom wig is honestly unmatched (and he looks so good modeling his own work on Instagram). Kylie Jenner has been relying on him for her ever-changing hairstyles, and here’s why: He’s the truth.
Clients: Mary J. Blige, Beyoncé, Mindy Kaling, Tia Mowry, Angela Bassett, Ava DuVernay, Nicki Minaj, Zendaya, and more.
Queen Bey’s longtime hairstylist Kim Kimble is one of those hairstylists who doesn’t need an introduction—her work speaks for itself. Let’s just say she’s the mastermind behind the iconic, symbolic styles in Beyoncé’s visual album Lemonade.
Clients: Lupita Nyong’o, Solange, Serena Williams, Willow Smith, Ava DuVernay, Ruth Negga, Kerry Washington, Tracee Ellis Ross, Uzo Aduba, and more.
You can call on Vernon François for all things curls. He is a textured specialist who has mastered the art of reviving natural hair and taking its look to the next level. You have to give his very own hair products a try—his Mist Nourishing Water ($18) is my favorite curl refresher. He’s also a genius at architectural styles that symbolize deeply rooted, rich cultural expressions.
Clients: Tyra Banks, Iman, Brandy, Gabrielle Union, Jennifer Hudson, Kerry Washington, Taraji P. Henson, and more.
Kiyah Wright is a two-time Emmy Award–winning hairstylist trusted by the stars. Her next-level work has graced the pages of just about every magazine imaginable and the way this woman works color is unreal.
Clients: Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Debra Messing, Angelina Jolie, Ashley Greene, Lupita Nyong’o, Gabrielle Union, and more.
I grew up watching TLC’s What Not to Wear show with my mom, so Ted Gibson has a special place in my heart. He can transform someone’s entire look (and mood) with his hands and that alone deserves to be applauded. He’s worked with high-end designers for the runway and has created iconic looks for editorial spreads.
Clients: Maxwell, Kanye West, Zayn, Pharrell Williams, Idris Elba, Trevor Noah, Danai Gurira, Jidenna, Amber Rose, Jaden Smith, Robert Glasper, and more.
Vernon Scott is simply incredible with his craft. He pushes the limits and creates boundary-breaking styles that usually break the internet—like this revolutionary buzzcut he styled for Black Panther star Danai Gurira.
Clients: Michelle Obama, Kerry Washington, Tamron Hall, June Ambrose, and more.
Johnny Wright was former FLOTUS Michelle Obama’s go-to hairstylist. Need I say more?
Clients: Zoë Kravitz, Janelle Monáe, Solange, and more.
In charge of creating the awe-inspiring visual masterpiece that was Solange’s beaded hairstyle for her revolutionary song, “Don’t Touch My Hair” is Nikki Nelms. Loved by Hollywood It girls like Janelle Monáe and Zoë Kravitz, Nelms knows all about hair elevation—hence the reason many of her hairstyles have sparked important cultural conversations.
Clients: Yvonne Orji, Gabrielle Union, Kerry Washington, Mindy Kaling, Naturi Naughton, Uzo Aduba, La La Anthony, and more.
Takisha Sturdivant-Drew has taken her craft seriously since her cosmetology days in New York. Her career has taken off styling A-lists and the most loved women in Hollywood. Remember when Kerry Washington wore her naturally curly hair on the red carpet? This was all her doing.
Clients: Rihanna, Mariah Carey, and more.
When you look at Yusef Williams, you’re essentially looking at a hair mogul in the making. This man is the brains behind Rihanna’s showstopping looks. To keep up with the nonstop slay of pop star Rihanna is no easy feat, and he absolutely kills it every time.
Clients: Models, influencers, and actresses alike.
Stasha Harris has a special talent when it comes to hair braiding that is unmatched. I had the pleasure of working with her on her first-ever viral braid videos, and this woman has gifted (extremely fast) hands. You have to see it to believe it. You can book your next appointment at her two Brooklyn locations—you won’t be disappointed.
Clients: Yara Shahidi, Zendaya, Uzo Aduba, Logan Browning, Kelela, and more.
Finally, you can pretty much bet that Nai’vasha Johnson has styled the who’s who of Hollywood. I particularly love the way she plays with texture with natural hair.