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Pop Stars’s Pink Hair Phases, Ranked

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Earlier this month when Dua Lipa conscripted boyfriend Anwar Hadid to dye her hair, we thought the singer was about to embark on one of the most hollowed touchstones of a pop star’s career: the pink hair phase.

As it turns out, Ms. Lipa’s temporary foray was more a part of the lockdown boredom hair trend than it was a definitive career move (in fact, she’s already moved on to orange hair dye).

Still, we couldn’t stop thinking about the potential era-marking power of pink hair in a pop star’s career. When played right, it can be a powerful tool in the whole perpetual “image reinvention” game. We’re not talking temporary experimentation (yes, Rihanna looked really, really cute that one time in that pink pixie cut, but that turned out to be for a single night). We’re talking complete eras. When someone says, “Remember when they used to always have pink hair?” you instantly think back to a specific album cycle (or at least, the promotion of a major single). Here, a quick ranking of pop star’s pink hair phases.

Editor’s note: We’re aware there was a time in 2007 when a certain pop star was spotted frequently in a pink synthetic bob wig, but in reverence to human decency, we will not count that as a definitive professional phase.

TBD: Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga in pink wig and makeup.

It’s hard to find some fashion statement Lady Gaga hasn’t flirted with before, but after some previous dips into the pink wig well, she seemed to signal a total devotion to the hue to promote her upcoming album Chromatica (or, at least, its lead single “Stupid Love”). Then the album got delayed, Gaga put on some glasses, reverted to natural hair tones, and started raising funds for Covid-19 relief. Will the pink hair return eventually? We’re not sure, so it feels premature to rank the moment.

9. P!nk

“But pink hair is so central to P!nk’s whole thing, she literally named herself after it!,” you might think. Technically: wrong! The woman born Alicia Moore adopted her stage name from a character in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, and the devotion to pink hair dye was really only limited to her debut album Can’t Take Me Home. This was a time when the idea behind P!nk’s career was to launch her as a one-white-girl version of TLC (she worked with many of TLC’s producers and label head on the record). It worked enough to get her on TRL, but she seemed like a novelty act. P!nk began to let up on the neon hair dye at the same she let up on the cultural appropriation. At the beginning of her Missundaztood era, the pink streak remained, and by the end of it she was not only fully blonde but fully evolved into the pop star with a surprising staying power we know today.

8. Justin Bieber

In recent years, Bieber has treated his hair like an afterthought (if he’s even thought of it much at all). Though, to kick off his Changes era, he very, very quickly went pink for the video for “Yummy,” but returned to his more regular dirty blonde quicker than that song fell out of the top 10.

7. Madonna