What do high ponytails, half-up hairstyles and black winged eyeliner have in common? They're the signatures that Ariana Grande almost never leaves the house without. But she didn't always have these go-tos. Here's a guide to the recently-engaged star's many beauty looks, all the way back to her teenage years
Who’s that girl? A 15-year-old Grande first stepped into the spotlight with dark brown, naturally curly hair — a look she seemingly hasn’t sported in public since this photo was taken. But what has stayed the same is her love of black eyeliner, which she’d continue to wear on the regular.
Soon after her debut, Grande was already making major beauty moves. Her eyeliner evolved from her waterline to a sleek cat eye, and her brown ringlets transformed into a straight red lob for her role as Cat on Nickelodeon’s Victorious.
Grande’s bright red hair kept getting longer — and, it turns out, more damaged. The star shared that the constant coloring of her strands changed her hair for good.
“I had to bleach my hair and dye it red every other week for the first 4 years of playing Cat… as one would assume, that completely destroyed my hair. I now wear a wig on Sam & Cat,” she wrote in a 2014 Facebook post.
Eventually, she discovered what would become her all-time favorite hairstyle: the ponytail, which hid damage and made her feel confident.
“I feel like there’s a thousand different ways to do a ponytail,” she said in a 2016 interview with Byrdie. “A million!…It brings me so much joy, honestly. Every time I put my hair up, it’s like a surprise.”
Next came her second-most-worn style in her arsenal, the half-up ponytail. Here, she wore her strands parted to the side with loose curls, which she paired with a berry lip.
When Grande’s hair became too damaged from dying it red, she dyed it back to brown and began wearing a red wig to film her Nickelodeon shows.
“My real hair is back to brown and I wear extensions,” Grande said on Facebook. “But 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.”
This year brought her lightest hair color yet, a golden blonde hue (the half-up hair was here to stay, however).
We hardly recognize Grande with her hair down! The star briefly broke up with her ponytail, but the split didn’t last very long.
She quickly returned to her old half-up ways, this time introducing a cat-ear headband, which would eventually become a staple in her wardrobe.
No matter how much she wears a half-up hairstyle, Grande has proved her devotion to the full ponytail time and time again. And at the 2015 Grammys, she did so with a darker shade of brown.
A year later, she strayed away from her go-to cat eye, opting for a deep black smoky look and her usual nude lip.
As the star herself said, every ponytail has the potential to be different. She proved this philosophy at the American Music Awards, where she went for a butt-grazing pony perched at the top of her head — her longest length ever, thanks to extensions.
The ponytail remained, but the color changed. Grande debuted lighter tips at the MTV VMAs, continuing her hair’s “evolution.”
“The pony has also gone through an evolution, and I’m proud of that,” Grande, 24, said in her 2018 Fader cover story. “Old pony? I don’t know if she’s that girl. But new pony? I like her. I mean, it’s like a Victoria Secret angel without angel wings. It’s still her without them, but when she’s with them it’s like, Ohh, I get it, she’s an angel.”
Alas, her lightest color ever. Grande bleached her hair a bright platinum shade, which she wore sans ponytail and paired with uncharacteristically minimal makeup on the covers of Elle and British Vogue.
Recently, the singer’s beauty look has been a familiar one: Grande has been sporting her go-to dark brown hue in recent weeks, as she’s been stepping out with her new fiancé, Pete Davidson. Here, the star wore her hair pulled into two half-up baby buns, which she paired with neutral makeup and a black cat eye.