There are certain indisputable truths in life, and the fact that Beyoncé can pull off just about any look is one of them. In the videos for her eponymous visual album, the star showcased a wide variety of hairstyles, ranging from her pixie that rocked the world to her trademark long waves — and just about everything in between. Eager to get the details on each look, InStyle caught up with Bey’s hairstylist Neal Farinah, who created 15 out of the 17 dynamic looks for her videos, and has been working with Knowles for seven years.
“We have had such iconic moments together,” he told InStyle.com exclusively. “I’ve worked on campaign and publication shoots with her, she was the first female artist to headline at Glastonbury, and I had the opportunity to do her hair for both presidential inaugurations. It was a historic moment — she sang for Barack Obama and the First Lady, and it was hard to explain how I felt at that moment, because while I was doing her hair, I feel like I was representing everyone, and I felt proud and very grateful.”
As if working on 15 of her new videos didn’t keep him busy enough, Farinah was simultaneously working with Beyoncé during her Mrs. Carter World Tour. Filming often took place on the same day as a show, and the multiple hair changes — her pixie and long bob included — always kept fans guessing what she’d try next.
“People were seeing her with long hair one day, short hair one day, and they didn’t know what was happening. We’d work on the videos while on tour, so sometimes we didn’t have much time to go back and redo her hair,” he said. “People were speculating, but what she was doing was working on her masterpiece of a visual album.”
InStyle asked Farinah to give us the details behind each of her versatile hairstyles, and to find out the inspiration behind each of the looks, including her long, sexy waves in “Jealous,” and her ombre bob in the artistic “Mine” video.
Beyoncé surprised all of us when she revealed her ultra-short pixie, and little did we know that the change came for her “Pretty Hurts” video. “We were showing all of the trials and tribulations women have to go through, and showing the pressure it puts on women to look a certain way, because the myths about how a woman should look, they’re crazy,” said Farinah. “Beauty comes from within, and it’s not about what people think of you. They’ll always think different things, not everyone will love what you do, but it’s about empowering and loving yourself. If you want short hair, go get some short hair! If it makes you feel beautiful and confident, go for it—do what makes you happy, is the statement we wanted to make.”
“Blow” showcased more of a classic Beyoncé look—shiny, defined waves, with platinum, face-framing highlights. “We wanted to give the world the different sides of Beyoncé with her visual album,” said Farinah. “She comes up with most of the creative ideas, and has a strong idea about how she wants to look. If she loves something, she embraces it, and she wears it well.”
“Drunk In Love”
For her shoreside duet with husband Jay-Z, Farinah gave the star’s bob a roughed-up, tousled texture. “The look was very undone and beachy,” he said. “She was going to the beach and feeling sexy with her man, so her short bob was given a wet, beachy look.”
“Flawless,” “Yoncé,” and “XO”
Farinah showcased a long bob in many of Beyoncé’s videos—namely, “Flawless,” “Yoncé,” “Drunk in Love,” “Partition,” “Mine,” and “XO”—making slight changes each time to fit the specific mood and theme. “We wanted to keep the look fluid and consistent, because Beyonce is known for her hair, so we did a soft wave with a textured, messy feeling, and all throughout the videos, you’ll notice that was consistent,” he told us. “There were slight changes. We’d change the color a little bit, change the length, add extra curls or asymmetrical details.”
“Blue,” featuring Beyoncé’s daughter Blue Ivy Carter, was a touching celebration of motherhood, in which the star went for a gorgeous, natural look with long, flowing strands. “It was about color in the video, so we used a few different dimensions of color in her hair,” said Farinah. “It was very blonde, and we kept the texture big and natural as it wasn’t about glammed-up hair in this instance—it was about a mother having a moment with her child, and no woman goes to the beach with really glammed-up hair!”
“In ‘Jealous,’ we gave Beyoncé a sexy, flowy, slightly tousled bedhead texture with a matte finish,” said Farinah. The look was complemented by a deep wine lip, and a coordinating bordeaux leather coat. “The video was about making your husband jealous, so that’s the mood we wanted to set.”
For “Rocket,” the focus was on Beyoncé’s sexy, bedhead waves. “We kept it long so it would look especially sexy during the fall,” Farinah said. “I think men and women should embrace their sexuality, and sometimes channeling that means having hair that’s flowing. Beyoncé wanted to celebrate sexuality and femininity, and she wanted to empower women—that’s what she’s all about.”
For the incredibly artistic “Mine” video, Farinah played with color to create a bolder effect than the previous videos where Beyoncé wore a bob. “We bleached the ends very blonde because we wanted to make the style different than ‘Yonce,’ ‘XO,’ and ‘Flawless.’ It was one of my favorite videos because shooting it was almost like a small movie production, but it’s hard to pick an absolute favorite,” he said. “Especially knowing that the journey was really tough—we were on tour doing that, and then we’d do the videos. Knowing how hard we worked on each video makes me love all of them so much.” The feeling is mutual—it’s hard for us to choose a favorite, too!
“For ‘Partition,’ we wanted to keep it a little long, but it was more of a classic bob,” Farinah said of the curled, slightly-retro feel of the style. “It had a smooth classic texture, and it was all about sexiness. We were giving the world different sides of Beyonce, and we were trying out new styles and new ideas—she’s a girl who can rock anything.”