A collage of Michelle Dee and Nikki de Moura wearing crowns.

When it comes to pageant hairstyles, the motto is clear: go big or go home! The traditional tends to be grandiose and full of volume since the goal is to stand out in a sea of shimmering gowns and . Think Catriona Gray’s soft, loose curls or ’s elegant .

In recent years, many trailblazing have chosen to depart from the cookie-cutter ‘dos of the past and celebrate their individuality. It’s a risqué move, but according to professional pageant coach , it’s been a long time coming. After all, boldness is one of the core essences of being a true queen. So, how have pageant hairstyles evolved over the years?

Natural Curls Are Taking Over Pageant Hairstyles

Look through the gallery of Miss Universe hairstyles from the past few decades, and you may notice that every winner almost always has blown out to perfection. Flowing hair with was the unspoken rule in pageantry for the longest time. Who would dare challenge the status quo and risk losing the coveted tiara?

It took 67 years for the world to witness Zonzibini Tunzi make history as the first woman to ever be crowned Miss Universe in . However, her decision to wear a short afro was not without pushback. Her friends and team urged her to put on a weave, which she thought was not worth the effort. She also wanted to compete in a look she liked best – her authentic self.

Tunzi isn’t the only beauty queen who chose to embrace her curls on stage. One of JV Canta’s favorite pageant moments is when Miss Grand Philippines 2023 Nikki de Mourastepped out with her iconic yellow dress and glorious kulot hair. “She gave naturally curly Filipinas a good representation on both local and international stage,” she adds. Hopefully, these ladies continue to inspire future generations of pageant hopefuls to never be shy about their .

Bald = Beautiful

When you think of pageant hairstyles, a close shave is unlikely to cross your mind. The standard for most beauty contests includes hair, which leaves little to no room for bald women. But against all odds, Miss Universe Tanzania 2007 Flaviana Matata and Miss World South Africa 2020 ShudufhadzoMusida proudly strutted their chiskop haircut on the circuit.

Both Matata and Musidacould’ve easily opted for wigs to increase their chances of passing the preliminary rounds. However, by going against the norm, they break barriers and redefine what it means to look beautiful. It also sends a powerful message that you don’t need hair to be a woman. A shaved head is not always a cry for help! Most importantly, it’s not brave to walk around with a bald head – it’s simply a choice.

Short Hair Deserves a Crown, Too

It’s a rare sight to see pageant hairstyles for . So, it was a big surprise when Miss Universe Philippines 2023 Michelle Dee chopped her long mane before the grand evening. JV Canta called her “fierce, fashion-forward, and fresh hairstyle” a clever branding strategy, seeing how it became her trademark look. Even long after her beauty pageant journey, she remains a popular figure in the public eye.

Of course, pageant fans like JV Canta can’t leave out the controversy that is Miss France 2024 Eve Gilles’ . Some hated her elfin crop because it was too boyish, while others accused her win as nothing but a wokeism agenda to check off the diversity box.

“Whenever something new or different is presented on a pageant stage, there will always be some critical comments from various people,” Canta says. “Pageant fans can be the most critical audience simply because they care deeply about what's being shown to them.” There are a lot of conversations to be had about , especially in pageants. Should we measure the worth of a woman by the length of her hair?

Healthy Hair Is the New Trend

In her years of experience as a pageant mentor and judge, JV Canta has seen firsthand the toll traditional pageant hairstyles can take on contestants. “Beauty queens can sometimes be persuaded to change their naturally beautiful hair to fit the pageant mold.” The damaging hair transformations not only wreck their hair health but also affect their self-esteem. “Eventually, they question their own actions, beliefs, and choices about what they consider beautiful,” she explains.

It doesn’t mean that women shouldn’t don wigs, wear extensions, or straighten their hair. What matters is making choices for themselves, not for society.

That said, a day in the life of a pageant queen is packed with shoots and hairstyling moments. Take it from Canta, who recommends Cream Silk Triple Keratin Rescue Ultimate Repair & Shine to her clients. “I have always loved it for reviving hair from signs of damage. It also works on diverse hair types,” she claims. If constant styling leaves your hair weak, use Cream Silk Triple Keratin Rescue Ultimate Hairfall Defiance to help tame frizz, restore dullness, and strengthen hair against breakage.

Pageant hairstyles are no longer just about waist-grazing manes and high updos. Now, they represent beauty in all its cuts and forms. Sure, it may take a while for beauty pageants to be fully inclusive, but it’s good to know that we’re on the right track.