#1 Voluminous dish
At the 2014 Screen Actors Guild Awards, Nyong’o graced the red carpet with a short ‘do and taper fade. According to stylist, entrepreneur and natural hair expert Cortney Veney, taper fades are super easy to do on 4C hair. You’ll need to constantly brush and detangle the hair as you cut it, “so you don’t create holes from the hair curling back up,” she explains. “Once you’re done with the cut, select the top and use a curling cream along with a light mousse to shape and shape the hair.” If you are brave enough, scissors can also be used to cut the hair all the way around. For the perfect finish, apply a light gloss.
#2 Geometric taper
In February 2014, Nyong’o graced the red carpet at the BAFTAs with a beautiful geometric haircut that showed off the authentic texture of her hair. “When tightly coiled hair is combed out, the curls separate and create a fuller, softer, malleable fabric called ‘fro’ or afro texture,” explains trichologist Bridgette Hill. It’s important to make sure your hair is full of moisture to minimize frizz and dryness.
#3 Middle part moment
A week later, Nyong’o experimented with another geometric haircut, opting for a center part to show off those beautiful coils. Hill tells us that this look is all about “maintaining a healthy, well-groomed scalp and achieving the right hair shape.”
#4 Modern crown
The acclaimed actress continued to rock a shorter crop for the 2014 Academy Awards, this time finishing off the look with a pretty cream headband. To recreate this look, Hill recommends starting with wet hair. “Use a leave-in conditioner followed by a generous amount of setting gel,” she says. “Comb the setting gel through the top of the head and use Invisible Waves ($5) across the top of the head to create Lupita’s soft wave pattern.” To create the soft waves, it is important to let your hair dry with the clips, so do not remove them too soon.
#5 Burgundy Topknot
Nyong’o’s burgundy topknot, finished with an embellished headband across her forehead, was perfect for the 2014 Met Gala, which celebrated innovative couturier Charles James. Veney tells us that preparation is key when replicating this look: “4C hair naturally wants to roll, so using a leave-in conditioner, a texturizing paste and light hold gel will help keep it in place space.” When all products have been applied, the hair is smoothed with a brush and blow-dried. As for the top knot, tease the hair out and use bobby pins to secure it. To make the style last all day or night, use a medium hold and shine spray.
#6 Angelic Afro
At the 2015 Golden Globe Awards, Nyong’o’s ‘fro was styled in a rounded halo silhouette that perfectly complements her face shape. For this style, Veney recommends starting with clean hair and then “applying a blow-dry serum, blow-drying the hair and trimming it a bit before creating a rounded shape.” Once your hair has been trimmed, create volume with a pick, shape it into your desired shape and apply a textured hair paste and a light hold spray. Finally, finish it all off with some shine.
#7 Braided Updo
At the 2015 Screen Actors Guild Awards, the star wore small braids in a cascading pattern towards the crown. Additional braids wrap around the base of her ponytail, showing off her natural spikes. Hairstylist and Matrix global artistic director Michelle O’Connor emphasizes the importance of starting with freshly washed hair. “I recommend using a serum for a proper scalp treatment and then blowdrying the hair using an anti-breakage spray,” she advises.
#8 Elegant decoration
Although Nyong’o has become an overarching fashion icon on the red carpet, her beautiful hair always takes center stage. Easy to replicate on all hair types, this polished and elevated updo complements her green Gucci dress perfectly. The key to recreating this look is molding and securing the ends for uniformity and modernity. “To keep the style in place, additional support or filler may need to be added,” says Hill.
#9 Sky high
Nyong’o’s go-to stylist, Vernon François, was responsible for this head-turning look. This sleek, textured updo stays in place with a combination of elastics and other styling aids. “The inverse of this style would be the long bubble ponytail, which can be achieved by securing elastics evenly down the length of the ponytail,” explains Hill.
#10 Raised high bangs
Are you dying to copy the actress’ high ponytail that she wore to the European premiere of Black Panther? Hill explains that it won’t require over-sanding or straightening the hair, as “it’s important to lengthen the curl pattern for the best results.” She adds that this look is easy to achieve after the hair has been in braids or twists: “When the hair is unwound from braids or twist sets, hair extensions and stretching curls leave a pattern like the loose ends in Lupita’s ponytail.”
#11 Subtle sophistication
This look is all about accessories. “Hair jewelry and accessories instantly change any hairstyle,” says Hill. “Black ropes [add] a monochromatic elegance to Nyong’o’s cropped ‘do.
#12 Gilded Glamour
Although Nyong’o’s hair has been pulled back here, the key to achieving this look involves straightening her hair for “length and smoothness, then weaving a piece of jewelry through the hair for added effect,” according to Hill. After weaving the jewelry, secure the style with bobby pins, then use edge control to smooth out any flyaways. Some hair types may have a harder time securing this style than others, so if you need extra product, don’t overdo it, as this can “cause shedding on the hair,” says Veney. Instead, look for the right products that keep your hair smooth and in place.
#13 High Fashion
Nyong’o wowed everyone at Cannes in 2018 with a natural updo that focused on the beauty of her hair texture. The key to achieving this look is sanding the roots securely back to your desired set-up position while allowing free-flowing movement at the crown. Hill suggests isolating the hair in two large sections (in front of the ears and behind the ears) and “secure the section in front of the ears with a scrunchie to keep it isolated.”
Once this is done, scrunch the section below the ears in a twist, “working from the bottom up towards the top of the secured hair with the scrunchie.” Finally, secure the twist by getting to where the scrunchie was attached and integrating the top section until you achieve the desired shape. To set the style, Hill recommends using your favorite moisturizing or curl-defining product.
#14 Short and sweet
For the 2019 BAFTA Los Angeles Tea Party, Nyong’o opted for a shorter ‘do. “This look is better if the hair is clean and cut to shape,” says hairstylist and Imbue creative director and ambassador Michelle Sultan. She recommends using a leave-in conditioner to enhance your natural texture, along with a curling sponge to create and define coils.
#15 Relaxed fullness
This is one of many braided styles that Nyong’o has worn over the years. While this style embraces the texture and fullness of her hair, the medium braids that complete the look give it a fresh, modern feel. To achieve this look, O’Connor suggests stretching your hair using a hold gel, then parting it down the middle before braiding it on each side. Sweep the braids around the back, leave out loose microtextured tendrils in the front, and use a hold spray for a tighter hold. Add gloss to finish.