Meet Halsey, Pop Music's New Beauty Icon

Photo: Chris McKay/Getty Images.
In an era when wigs have lost their taboo and neon hair color is worn by even the most unexpected stars, there's no denying that it's tough to stand out. However, this rainbow of options makes the journey to "find your look" a captivating one, especially when the person happens to work in pop music.
Enter Halsey, the 21-year-old American pop singer-songwriter who has arrived on the scene just in time to throw the industry a (beauty) curveball. In her short career, she's tried more hair colors and lengths than most of us could dream of, only to shave her head for reasons you may not expect (but more on that later).
Not that she needed the attention: Her debut album, Badlands, has already hit gold. She has millions of devoted fans, and she's in the middle of a nationwide tour. (Oh, and there have been Justin Bieber moments along the way, too.)
Her beauty transformation, which you'll see ahead, is punctuated by an even-more-unusual collaboration with MAC: a limited-edition grey (yes, grey) lipstick that just launched this week as part of their Future Forward collection. Not surprisingly, she mixed the shade herself, but not in the lab. "I did it with acrylic paints, and I sent them a swatch board of all the colors," she told us. "I don’t think they were expecting me to be that involved. They were like, 'Oh wow, you were really excited about this.'" And that she is: "I fucking love makeup," she says, which is why this project had to bring more than just a pretty color to the table.
"I wanted to do something that's an easy step to trying something daring," Halsey told us. "And something androgynous, because makeup has become such a broad thing that is appreciated by all genders. It’s not a gay thing, it’s not a straight thing, it’s not a girl thing, it’s not a boy thing." But it's even more than that: "The way we present ourselves and the way we look really does have a big effect on our state of mind and our personality. That’s why I change my hair so much," she explains. "I definitely have different personalities with different hairstyles, so I hope that whatever personality this lipstick gives people is a really confident, badass one."
Ahead, we documented more than a dozen of the star's best beauty moments, narrated by the musician herself.
Warning: The sudden urge to take a risk may occur.
1 of 14
Photo: Robin Marchant/Getty Images.
SiriusXM Studios, May 2014

"This was from my first radio visit, ever. I think I was 18 years old in this picture. Everything is just bad! I think I got this dress at Marshalls. I was super broke; that was the one leather jacket I owned. I was really nervous — it was my first time being on the radio, on the first radio station that ever played my music."
2 of 14
Photo: Via @Iamhalsey.
Selfie, August 2014

"This was during the four days I had purple hair. I only kept it for a few days because it was such a pain in the ass — purple fades so quickly. This is the first time my last boyfriend, who produced my album, ever talked to me. I posted this picture and he tweeted me and said, ‘You look really pretty,’ or something like that. We ended up dating for, like, two years."
3 of 14
Photo: Via @Iamhalsey.
Selfie, September 2014

"This is all my real hair! It was a very different time in my life! This was when I shot the first 'Ghost' video [ed. note: second, and totally different version, here], right when I signed my first record deal. This was inspired by Chloe Sevigny in Gummo, when she wears the tiger bathing suit with the white shorts — we drew a lot of inspiration from that."
4 of 14
Photo: Via @Iamhalsey.
Selfie, November 2014

"Oh my gosh, this was the bubblegum-pink hair. I had this one for a while. These are really big lashes — I miss those. I used to wear really big lashes, and in this picture, I’m wearing circle lenses. I wore them a whole three times in my life. They’re Japanese contact lenses that make your eyes look anime, [because] they make your [irises look] bigger."
5 of 14
Photo: Chris McKay/Getty Images.
Shaky Knees Music Festival in Atlanta, May 2015

"This is one of my favorite hairstyles I’ve ever had. It was a blue shoulder-length bob that was yellow on the side, from shooting my album cover. But nobody could know that is what my hair was going to look like, so I had to buy blue eyeshadow and color on the side of my hair myself. You just kind of brush it in."
6 of 14
Photo: Mike Lawrie/FilmMagic.
Boston Calling Music Festival, May 2015

"This was a wig, and when I started wearing blue lipstick — this is what inspired the [MAC shade]. This was a cool day. I had a septum piercing — I look like a punk rock Marilyn Monroe."
7 of 14
Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images.
Billboard Hot 100 Festival, August 2015

"This is a wig, and I hadn't been wearing wigs for a while. Then I just randomly decided to wear this one. I cut it myself, the bangs and the length! This was a scary day because I forgot I was wearing a wig and I did a lot of backbends, but it stayed on and looked so cool in the pictures — I got really lucky [it didn't fly off]!"
8 of 14
Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images.
MTV Video Music Awards, August 2015

"This is when I had the sides of my head shaved tight, and my dye job was awful. My roots are really bad, it’s growing out [here]. This is also the first red carpet that I ever did — ever! I was so nervous, there were so many flashing cameras in my face. I was panicking. I didn’t know how to pose, I didn’t know what to do, everyone is screaming [on the red carpet], and I didn’t think anyone was going to know who I was. As I’m walking out, I’m thinking they’re going to be like, ‘Who the hell is this girl?’ Then I walk out and all of a sudden, like 40 [photographers] start going 'Halsey! Halsey!' I was panicked, but I think I kept my cool."
9 of 14
Photo: Lorne Thomson/Redferns.
KOKO Music Festival in London, September 2015

"This is one of the coolest hairstyles I’ve ever had — this is my Badlands hair. I got this done at Bleach, which is this really cool salon in London — I think this is Lou Teasdale’s company. She’s famous for being One Direction’s stylist. We did the pastel pink and the blue on top — it’s ombré, and it looks like my album cover. This was my first London show, too, so having this kind of iconic hair for me was a moment."

10 of 14
Photo: Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images.
Museum Of Modern Art Film Benefit, November 2015

"Every time I see this picture I want to go back to blonde — every. single. time…This is my favorite look from the past year. The stylists gave me these Daisy Buchanan finger waves from the '20s, this really bright pink lip, and they brought my eyes out a lot with this bold brow. That necklace had its own security guard. He followed me around to make sure I didn’t break it, or leave!"
11 of 14
Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic.
NBC's Today Show Performance, November 2015

"This was a bad day in hair history — this was the day that Justin Bieber and I looked like twins, which is a time in my life I don’t want to relive [laughs]. He had to wear a hat, or it would have looked like Justin Bieber was trying to make out with Justin Bieber on the Today show. This was right before I shaved my head because it was so dead from bleaching it. This was a very cold day. Also, a last minute day. We didn’t rehearse at all — we had never sung the song together before. We got on stage on live television like, ‘Let’s go!’ It was really scary."
12 of 14
Photo: Via @Iamhalsey.
Selfie, December 2015

"When I shaved my head, one of the reasons I did it was because of all the reasons I didn’t want to do it. They were really shitty reasons, things like, ‘Will this boy still think I’m pretty?’ One day I was like, ‘All of the reasons that I don’t want to shave my head are not for me. I want to shave my head, so I should do it.' It was a scary moment for me. I could have walked around like a girl who knew her head was shaved, wondering if people were looking at me because my head was shaved, or dressing because everyone is looking at my head, [but I didn't]. A lot of people say, ‘You can have any hair color,’ or, ‘You can wear anything,’ but it’s because I carry myself like I can. I never let anything wear me…Look in the mirror, know that you look good, and go."
13 of 14
Photo: Rindoff/Le Segretain/Getty Images.
Chanel Show During Paris Fashion Week, March 2016

"This is one of my least favorite hairstyles I have ever had…I was feeling a little helmet-y. I like the retro vibe, though. This is a graphic look that was inspired by the '70s, kind of a Twiggy-inspired look, an Edie look. I have never done something like this before. I change my hair a lot, but I’m pretty boring with my makeup. I normally do lashes and a brown/nude lip. I am trying to branch out this year. I’ve been buying dresses, which is weird for me!"
14 of 14
Like this post? There's more. Get tons of beauty tips, tutorials, and news on the Refinery29 Beauty Facebook page. Like us on Facebook — we'll see you there!

More from Celebs & Influencers


R29 Original Series