Shakira: Once you put bleach on your hair, ‘it just never shines the same way’

Duchess of Cambridge visits University College London

Shakira covers the latest issue of Cosmopolitan. She’s 44 years old and she still basically looks the same as she did twenty years ago. She doesn’t look “worked on” at all, although who knows, she could be. I think it’s probably just good genes and money. Shakira will have new music coming out eventually, but really she’s just on the cover of Cosmo to chat about her life these days. Weirdly enough, I found the conversation about her hair to be the most interesting part! Some highlights:

Her favorite philosopher: “Socrates, of course. I think asking questions is the most ingenious way to discover the truth—if there is any truth to things. There can be many truths, like two sides of a coin. I often try to apply that to the upbringing of my kids. I’m a tiger mom and a helicopter mom and all these different moms.

Her baby daddy: “My mind never stops. I dream about my kids. I worry about them constantly. I torture my poor husband. Well, he’s not really my…I don’t know what to call him! He’s my baby daddy. I torture him about every issue I see with my kids.

Feeling alone helps women take leaps: “Yeah, aloneness—I like that word—is necessary. You can’t create if you’re surrounded by people and stimuli all the time. You need to see yourself in the mirror at times without makeup. And in that vulnerability of your life, that’s when the most honest thoughts surface.

Losing her voice for a time: “Even when I lost my voice. In that darkest hour of my life, I realized how lucky I was. All those people gave me everything I needed to heal. And I healed. Contrary to what the doctors said. [I didn’t do the surgery because] It was too dangerous. I cried every single day while my voice was gone. I never thought how important having a voice was until I lost it. I never stopped thanking my voice when it was back.

Why she went blonde & why she regretted it: “I just wanted to see my hair a different way. I changed my hair many different ways throughout my career. I love dark hair. I sometimes miss my super-shiny black, dark hair. It never got to be the same because once you put bleach on your hair, it just never shines the same way. I read something, in a compilation of wise advice for young people, that said, “Use sunblock and do not mess with your hair.” I’ve messed with my hair too much. Right now, my hair is feeling good again because I’ve left it alone a little bit. I’ve been blonde for too long. But it wasn’t a calculated move. It wasn’t like, Oh, I want to reach the American audience—let me be blonde and let me get a pair of blue contact lenses and bleach my skin. I didn’t want to be white. I just thought my curls looked cool with a blonde, beachy style.

On Black Lives Matter: “You know, I’m a person who has felt prejudice herself. When I first crossed over to the American market, many magazines would put emphasis on the fact that I was Colombian. I was called the second finest export of Colombia. I guess they were referring to cocaine as the first one. I was like, Why are journalists asking me about drug trafficking? My country’s so much more than that. I feel really touched by everything that’s been happening with Black Lives Matter and proud of young people today—how they’re not willing to take the sh-t. That’s one of the advantages of technology. People can really speak up and be heard. I wonder sometimes what would happen if a media outlet said similar things about me today. Back then, the gatekeepers could get away with stuff like that.

[From Cosmopolitan]

About her hair… I never really thought about “oh, she went blonde to appeal to whatever demographic.” I thought she was just experimenting with her hair, like many women do. And nothing will f–k up a brunette’s hair more than years of blonde bleach. It’s a wonder she’s gotten any of her old color, texture and fullness back. As for her vocal issue – in 2017, she had a vocal cord hemorrhage which took a while to resolve, especially since she didn’t have surgery. Most singers do opt for the surgery and there have been many artists with good results from the surgery, although there are stories about singers losing their voices forever post-surgery (ahem, Julie Andrews). Also, I agree with her about the necessity of aloneness.

Cover & IG courtesy of Cosmo.

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67 Responses to “Shakira: Once you put bleach on your hair, ‘it just never shines the same way’”

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  1. Amy Bee says:

    I always thought she bleached her to appeal to the American market. Britney and Christina were the main pop princesses at the time and Madonna became the icon she is when she dyed her hair blond. Maybe Shakira is in denial about that. She definitely regrets listening to her record label who would have told her she would have broader appeal if she went blond and lost 10 lbs. Yeah she lost weight too.

    • Kviby says:

      Blonde hair was quite popular then, so were highlights. Didn’t have to look natural. Not just in the USA, in Europe too. In France stars like Laam and Loana had obviously bleached hair. Weird blue purple and green contacts were popular. Being tan was also popular, not pale skin. I’m confused about why she mentioned skin bleach as at that time American women were still quite into the dangerous tanning beds which make them darker then I’ve ever seen shakira. That was certainly the ideal at the turn of the century when shakira released whatever wherever. Is bleaching skin a thing in argentina?

      • L says:

        what ive learned is that colorism is very real, and sadly a lot of non-white folk (particularly melanin-rich) lighten their skin to bring it to a perceived “desirable” complexion (barf), and it is very depressing from a self-acceptance view. there is a lot of pressure to be light-complected from many angles, but then again not always truly *white-pale* per se. on the other hand, white women’s desire to have very tanned skin is just another can of worms, that i don’t have the energy for personally, haha, but too often it is steeped in cultural appropriation or other misguided notions. i learned some of this looking up skin lighteners for my own vitiligo ages ago, and a general yearn for knowledge outside of my own life experiences. it is a Big Subject with a lot of opinions from all sides. the beauty world has so much healing and acceptance to work on regarding these subjects. strides have been made i believe, but we’re no where near self-acceptance as a society in a big way, at least it appears to my eyes.

      • Sof says:

        “Is bleaching skin a thing in argentina?”
        Not at all, plus most people here are descendants of white Europeans. That being said, Shakira didn’t live in Argentina. Or if she did, she had to leave at the beggining of 2002 as her father in law was forced to leave the presidency in a huge social and economic crisis. All of them were persona non grata.

      • A. Key says:

        White people’s desire to have a tan is also socio-economical and reflects classism more than anything else. In Europe, especially the more inland and norther you go, people are pale naturally, and getting a tan means you had the money to spend a few weeks not working and lying on a beach in the Mediterranean enjoying life. Most working class families, especially back in the day, couldn’t really afford that so people who could would always get back from their summer vacations with tans and brag about their time to the rest of the plebs who had no money to lie on beaches. That’s the real reason white people, in Europe particularly, wanted tans. I don’t know about other parts of the world. And that is definitely a second-half of the 20th century phenomenon. When my great-grandma was young women were appalled to be tanned because it meant you were a peasant working in the field, while rich people could stay indoors and protect their pale complexion. It’s super ironic and ridiculous how these things work, but there you go. Europe is, more than anything, a super classist continent.

    • Becks1 says:

      I definitely thought it was to appeal to the American market, but maybe it was more a timing issue than anything – maybe she went blonde because she wanted to and it just happened to be around that time? It wasn’t like they hid the fact that she was from Colombia.

      • Cee says:

        No, it was to appeal to the american market. She lost weight, got tanned (her skin can be really pale) and suddenly dyed her hair a light blonde, which she has kept for over a decade, while also putting out english speaking music and working hard for the american market. She also changed her musical style, especially her songwriting.
        I’m glad to see her going back to her roots, hair-style speaking – it was also her best music to date.
        If you listen to her first 2 records you will be blown away by her. I really hope she goes back to that era because her music was something else.

      • Becks1 says:

        @Cee – I’ve been a Shakira fan for decades, I know that she changed, i’m saying maybe her motives were different from her record company’s, or maybe she is just remembering it differently. You notice the first line of my comment was “I definitely thought it was to appeal to the american market.”

        I’m very familiar with her early music and love it.

      • Cee says:

        Yes, sorry, I misread it.

        I actually worked at Sony Music and Shakira is a big deal, company wise. Her current contract has so many clauses it made my head spin LOL

  2. Twin falls says:

    I would have thought coffee not cocaine but that’s just me.

    • Ainsley7 says:

      Yeah, I was surprised that she assumed it was cocaine. They definitely meant coffee.

      • BABSORIG says:

        Oh dear, how do y’all know THEY meant coffee? This is Shakira’s lived experience and if she felt they meant cocaine then that’s what it is. I hate when people lecture others, and especially victims that have experienced racism what is and/or isn’t racism. Same feeling I got when John Barnes was bleating on about how the BRF were not racists when they asked about Archie’s skin color.🙄

      • FancyHat says:

        I am a massive Shakira fan and followed her for decades and it was definitely cocaine. I distinctly remember her being on TRL (back when it was must watch TV) and Carson Daly and Kid Rock spent the whole time she was on making cracks about cocaine to her.

        It also came up in just about every interview she did in America and Europe during her breakthrough it was ridiculous.

      • Laura-J says:

        I went to Colombia a few years ago and all the lovely people I met there mentioned that everything thinks Columbia is all kidnapping and cocaine. For the record I was there two weeks and had no kidnapping or cocaine. Columbia is a wonderful country with some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. “Second best import” was shady AF, and they 100% meant cocaine.

      • A. Key says:

        Nah, they definitely meant cocaine, because if we’re being honest, before Shakira, Colombia was mostly known for Pablo Escobar and the drug cartels there.

    • Twin falls says:

      I’m sorry. I focused on the word guess in my response instead of the larger context of the statement and her experience.

  3. A. Key says:

    I like her but I am honestly surprised by this and I don’t buy it at all. The last time she had natural hair and looked like her natural self was over 20 years ago (just google “Shakira young”), before she made it big outside of Colombia, and she never went back to her natural look since. She capitalized on this sexy blonde chick look and has always marketed herself as such. If she really regretted it she could have changed it 20 years ago…

    • Cee says:

      She changed her hair and overall look by the time she released her first record in english. Before that she looked like the young Shakira you mentioned. She was already huge in Latin America and in Europe, but she wanted to crossover, too.

    • Turtledove says:

      I just googled her young photos. My god, she was stunning with the dark hair. She is obviously gorgeous and would be with any shade, but wow. So different with her natural dark hair.

  4. Mika says:

    Oh whatever. Sometimrs your natural hair colour looks like shit and you wanna be prettier. Sue me.

    • BABSORIG says:

      Right? All the accusation about how Shakira is lying she did abcd because of this and that are so freaking ridiculous. She’s talking about her feelings and her reasons for why she this what she did, but posters on here are projecting their own biases onto her, goodness!

    • Otaku fairy says:

      Yeah, there’s often an assumption that a woman of color has a deeper, sadder reason for experimenting with things like hair color or eye color than a white woman or a man does for doing the same thing. Some don’t realize that a person may just think it goes nicely with what’s already there, or just find some color appealing for other reasons. It’s an argument that can even be used as a shield if the person wants to discuss racism at a later time.

  5. Eurydice says:

    I don’t know if she’s had work done, but this doesn’t look like her. Maybe it’s because I usually see her smiling, or maybe it’s because Cosmo covers always look weird.

  6. OSTONE says:

    Shakira is one of my favorites. Her rockera stage my most favorite. Black hair Shakira had some tunes!

  7. Jezz says:

    I’m so stupid, I thought she was a natural blonde!

  8. Miranda says:

    She speaks the truth. I first bleached my naturally dark chocolate-colored hair when I was in my early teens, and I’ve basically been forced to keep it that way ever since, because when I tried going back to my natural color, the damage was glaringly obvious, impossible to repair, and difficult to even camouflage, no matter what products I’ve tried. And it not only dried out my hair, but also gradually turned my natural curls to mere loose waves. Lockdown was the best thing that ever happened to my hair, and leaving it alone for all that time brought back some moisture, but the curls seem to be gone for good. It now requires like, an entire bottle of hairspray and divine intervention to get my hair to hold any curl at all.

    • Katherine says:

      You just need grow it out. Any new growth coming out of your head is going to be your natural pattern and color. Damaged hair mostly won’t go back, apart from the least damaged bits, those might go back a bit or even all the way. If you dye your hair your natural color, it won’t look great, but it would allow you to grow it out with less stress and it won’t be damaged anymore. And depending on your length, in a year or two (maybe three if you wear it pretty long) you’ll have a whole head of healthy natural hair. And you can go from there.

      • Miranda says:

        I think I’ll have to try this! Like I said, my hair did get healthier during lockdown, and I also considered cutting most of it off then, but decided against it because I still thought my wedding was just a few months away at that point and I didn’t want to do anything drastic. Now that we’ve postponed again, I guess I don’t have that excuse anymore.

    • YELLOW says:

      Like Katherine says, grow it out. I’m a natural blonde, but dark, and even I had trouble with wanting my hair darker. Once you lighten it, it won’t hold darker dye color for as long. You might try a natural henna/indigo and other plant mix. Buy it online from hennaforhair, or similar, as they sell only pure henna/plant dyes that do not react with your hair even if it’s dyed. There are a ton of mixtures on their site that you can test on hairbrush hair…and the dark colors are easiest…especially dark brunette or jet black. Plus, it’s super shiny. To get dark brown, do a henna treatment for 2 hours, then after the rinse, put the indigo mixture on. It will fade a bit eventually, so you have to do it every 5-6 weeks, like regular hair dye… but it will work until your hair grows out…and it makes your hair feel healthier and super shiny in the meantime. Good luck.

      • Miranda says:

        Thanks, I will definitely look into this! One of my sorority sisters used to use henna on her hair and it gave a very faint red tint to her almost-black hair, so I always assumed it could ONLY do reddish tones!

  9. J ferber says:

    I don’t care about her hair, but I do care that she hides her money and refuses to pay taxes. That takes the shine off her for me.

    • Kviby says:

      Panama papers?

    • Léna says:

      This !!

    • ML says:

      It is true she’s been accused of tax evasion… on the other hand I confess that her involvement with UNICEF, and various other children’s and antipoverty charities causes me to have a soft spot for her. Plus she seems to have a brain.

      • FancyHat says:

        She’s always seemed to be very smart. She took college courses during her downtime sand brings professors on tour with her so she can learn while touring.

        She also created her pies descalzos charity when she was 19-20 and it has gone on to build many schools in Colombia and Haiti.

        As for her blonde hair, her manager during her crossover was Madonna’s old manager and seemed to really want to Americanize her.

      • Arpeggi says:

        She’s been named in the Pandora papers. It’s kind of hypocrite to advocate against child poverty when you hoard your money in tax havens and not pay your share to provide a social safety net to your fellow citizens.

  10. Kviby says:

    When you dye bleached hair back to brown it’s not the same as before, also it fades quickly and you have to keep dyeing it. Also the damage seems more noticeable vs just keeping it bleached. Low lights are a better option than all over brown dye. Dyed black hair often looks artificial even if that was the natural colour. Hair dye cannot work miracles, use with caution!

    • AnnaC says:

      I’m in my early 50’s and have never colored my brown hair (my grandmother didn’t go gray until her early 60’s so fingers crossed!). Whenever I go to a new hair stylist it’s the first thing they comment on, that when they touch the strands they can tell I’ve either never colored it or it has been years since I did. Makes me wonder what the heck is in dye that leaves such a long lasting coating.

      • Kviby says:

        It’s not a coating bleach removes pigment and you can dye it back to a similar colour but it’s not sparkling in the multifaceted way like it was. Plus if it is damaging your hair texture will be less smooth. It’s not that dye leaves something on your hair, it takes something away that you never get back (unless you grow it out.)

  11. Robyn says:

    I understand what folks are saying about how dye can change the texture of your existing hair, but how does bleaching your hair affect the new growth? That doesn’t make sense.

    • AMJ says:

      Same. I’ve had my hair dyed red, blonde, black and once they grew out they just were back to my basic brown. They’re still nice, shiny, not damaged. Maybe it’s blow-drying and excess styling with curling iron/straightening that does the damage?

    • OriginalLala says:

      I don’t think it does, or at least it didn’t for me – I have near black curly hair and about 5 years ago my stylist lightened me up gradually to a light blonde. It wasn’t very damaged but it affected my curl pattern and became pretty dry, I’ve since gone dark again and most of the hair that was bleached has grown out and been cut and the new growth is back to my original curl pattern.

    • Tessa says:

      That’s what I keep thinking as well.

    • Kviby says:

      It’s hard to be patient so you end up keep dying it basically. It doesn’t affect how hair grows

  12. Cee says:

    Shakira, I don’t care why you changed your hairstyle the moment you released your first record in english. All I care about is you going back to Pies Descalzos and … y dónde están los ladrones?, go back to the music that made your career, to the songwriting and lyrics with meaning and poetry.

    Signed, an all time fan from the early years who disliked your over produced techno-pop songs with generic lyrics and heavy breathing a la #FreeBritney

    • Jess says:

      Me too! Please bring the Latin, curvy, black hair, poetic and real Shakira back. She was the best! PS: Inevitable is my favorite Shakira’s song.

      • Cee says:

        Inevitable is fantastic. The way it starts out slow and then explodes is just… chef’s kiss. Her singing is beautiful. I still sing that song out loud now and then. Her MTV Unplugged is a master piece.

        I miss this Shakira SO MUCH.

      • Kviby says:

        That’s my favourite too. Only discovered her 90s stuff a few years ago and have listened to it hundreds of times already

    • FancyHat says:

      Her Fijaction Oral Vol 1 is her best work in my opinion. As good as DELL and PD are, FO1 is better.

    • Sof says:

      Her MTV Unplugged was everything!

  13. Leigh says:

    I have always loved and envied her beautiful curly hair no matter the color. It does look cool blond and beachy, but the dark hair is gorgeous too. I always wanted curls exactly like she has but never wanted to go through the hassle of trying to perm it or something. She looks great, whatever she is doing!

  14. Sof says:

    Shakira, everyone in Latin America knows why you decided to dye your hair blonde at the same time you started to sing in English, so please shut the f up. Not to mention the content of her songs went down the drain to sound more American Pop.

    There’s also this other thing: Shakira was branded as Arabian at first, hence the song Ojos Así. She used to give interviews about her heritage and them BAM, she is suddenly 100% Latin American. That is something about her that always rubbed me the wrong way, she didn’t need to exploit these things to make it, she was super talented.

    • Cee says:

      I miss her, too. And yeah, we’ve always known lol

      Isn’t she lebanese?

      • Sof says:

        You are right, my mistake, I never paid much attention to which country she was referring to, but even though I was I kid I still remember how she would dance like an odalisque wherever she went.

      • Kviby says:

        She is Arabic when she’s in Latin America because the majority there isn’t immigrants from the Middle East.
        When in North America it was more known that she came from South America and already had many Spanish songs, only bigger fans would know that her family were recent (?) immigrants to South America
        Like most people think Salma Hayek is “just Latina” because she’s basically “from mexico” even though her last name is Arabic too. I imagine more Mexican people would know that she is not 100% Mexican

      • Cee says:

        Shakira is latin because she’s colombian the same way I am argentinian. Her ancestry is lebanese (not middle eastern), italian and spanish, therefore she’s a latin woman with lebanese, italian and spanish ancestry regardless of where she is in the world.
        Ethnicity and nationality are two very different things. You can be mexican and lebanese (like Salma) just like you can be american and spanish (like Eva Longoria)

  15. Originaluna says:

    I always liked Shakira and agree with some of the commenters here that her early work is much better than the latter but, you know, that happens a lot for big artists and she’s trying to stay relevant. I guess I’m happy she didn’t go to trap music… Yet.
    That being said I think the secret for her youthful look is great genes too but also something most celebs dread : she has healthy weight. Adding some weight makes her cheeks fuller and thus youthful. She had some years (i think she wolf era) that she was extremely skinny and looked a lot older than now.
    I keep thinking that a lot of celebrities who desperately want to look younger would definitely achieve that by simply adding a little weight. That makes them look younger and, that’s why when they get pregnant most look amazing.

    Anyway.. Just a thought.

  16. Jessica says:

    Back when she originally dyed her hair, that was totally the look, so I believe her when she says it wasn’t calculated. Everyone was blonde, no one wanted brunette hair. I did blonde highlights myself at the time! Luckily I realized how bad they looked and went back to au naturel. I can’t imagine destroying my hair like that for decades, I haven’t done anything chemical to my hair for 7-8 years. It’s not the most fashionable hairstyle but it’s healthy and shiny.

  17. ennie says:

    She did compose and sung heartfelt songs, nice rythm, great lyrics, but after going big, something happened and she became very commercialized. All the songs I hear now are reggaeton. I bet she rakes money with them, tho.
    Inlike that artists evolve and adapt, unlike, let’s say Luis Miguel, but she seems to have stayed in that wavelenght. Like someone said elsewhere, she composed Dia de enero or Underneath your clothes to that Argentinian exboyfriend of hers, and Me enamore to Pique 😆. Playful, but nothing like the others.
    Love her Bicicleta collab, back to her roots.

  18. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Such an 80s photoshoot. I’m having flashbacks.

  19. Mash says:

    My comment is both long and might sound harsh, but I swear I’m a fan, lol. I think her truth is always somewhere in the middle. Over time as a fan of her and her work I think I’ve gotten all these mixed messages. You have her beginning as a pop-rock, poetic musician who over time started either genuinely experimenting with her sound or just doing whatever was trending to stay relevant (the pure pop, reggaeton, country, etc). Since she’s talented she’s been a success and written bops but I think its useless for fans to say this or that is the “real” Shakira – her rocker image was decades ago and she has enough power in her career to decide what she puts out. I think the hair color topic is a mix of marketing and genuinely wanting to play with her hair as many women do. I remember she gave an interview once saying, “My man, Gerard, prefers meat over bone” yet when I watch her videos I can count ribs sometimes. She’s in a youth/beauty obsessed profession, I cant blame her for using that filter that softens the face and lines in her Instagram pictures. I remember watching her MTV Diary episode and while there was clearly a racial component to who was in the record company party and who were the recipients of her Pies Descalzos work – she never mentioned it. At the same time, I remember a Spanish (in Colombia?) language interview where she was asked about how her father felt about her sexy image specifically because he was Arab (her answer was basically its not up to him – damn right!) We have an interview in 2006 where she says she isnt a feminist (despite her entire life being proof of it) but thankfully in 2020 she said that she is. Optimistically we can say she’s grown or pessimistically we can its whatever is trendy! We also have her tax evasion issues…

  20. Joanna says:

    I’ve had Non white people ooh and ahh over my white skin and blue eyes. My female hairdresser who is Dominican always tells me she loves my blue eyes. I’m flattered but it’s also sad how those attributes are considered more desirable and how even non white people have absorbed a “white is better” message.