She’s an actor, producer, writer, and a comedian, but Aubrey Plaza is more than just a screen chameleon. Add ‘understated beauty influencer’ to the list—both before and after she shot to fame for her sardonic performance as April in Parks & Recreation—and you’re on the money.
While Plaza doesn’t exactly fit the mould of one who takes joy in meticulous hours-long prep, a 10-step skincare routine and over the top glamour, the deadpan comedian has actually undergone a slow but steady beauty transformation over the years, and frankly, it’s been a joy to watch unfold.
From her lengthy locks to becoming a bona fide poster girl for a short and chic bob, Plaza’s iconic brunette hair has had many lives. But it turns out her most dramatic change was yet to come. As she stepped back into the cultural zeitgeist in the second season of The White Lotus in 2022, Plaza surprised us all by debuting a new bright blonde Marilyn-esque mop. Suffice to say we’re obsessed.
So now that she’s well and truly proved she’s the jack of all trades in the world of entertainment and hair inspiration, we decided to take a stroll down memory lane to witness Plaza’s transformation for ourselves. Keep scrolling for her most iconic beauty looks over the years.
2009: The noughties fringe
If you didn’t have a side-swept, eye-brow grazing fringe in the 2000s… yes you did. Everyone with hair longer than two inches trialled the era-defining style at one point or another, and Plaza was right there with us as she made her big break on Parks & Recreation.
Her viral Parks & Recreation character April shot Plaza to fame and landed her roles in several major films at the time including Funny People. For its premiere, she rocked the fringe once again, this time elevating her look with silky straightened tresses and a smokey-eye makeup look.
2010: The lob
Cya noughties Myspace fringe—Plaza’s iconic lob era kicked off in 2010 when the actor revealed a freshly chopped ‘do and lengthier bangs.
2011: Face framing
Plaza kept her hair similar length throughout 2011, but she shaped the style by chopping slightly shorter bangs which framed her face.
2012: The long and short of it
The Parks & Recreation star kicked off 2012 at the NBC Universal Winter Tour All-Star Party with a silky straightened hairstyle that gave it a little more length. She finished it off with a soft-glam makeup look.
By the end of the year, Plaza let her hair grow well past her shoulders, adding a slight wave to give it some volume.
2013: A surprise chop
Plaza started 2013 as she left 2012—with a lengthier dark wavy ‘do and dramatic makeup.
But she later decided to go back under the scissors for the return of her iconic lob.
What a difference a year makes. The actor cemented herself as a lob aficionado in early 2014 with a chic, bouncy short style. Letting her hair do all the talking, Plaza opted for neutral makeup as she attended the Vanity Fair Oscars After Party.
But several months later, it appeared Plaza was keen to get some quick length. Just two months after the Oscars, she appeared with a much longer, wavier hairstyle—either her hair grows really fast or she was making use of some convincing extensions. What’s more, she’d lightened her shade a little with splashes of honey brunette.
2015: The light years
While the extensions didn’t last, Plaza’s lightened tresses did. She went back to a short chopped bob with her signature side-swept fringe.
2016: Bob supreme
Plaza kept her signature bob in 2016, also opting for red-lipped dramatic makeup (manicure included) as she attended the Vanity Fair Oscars After Party.
The poster girl of enviable bobs was having a real moment in 2016.
2017: Honey brunette
Plaza went a shade (or four) lighter by stepping out with new honey-toned tresses in 2017. She also started to grow out her short chop—it was iconic while it lasted…
Longer hair meant more experimentation with styles, and this 60s inspired half-up ‘do she wore to the Ingrid Goes West premiere was a moment.
2018: Shoulder grazing chic
Plaza’s hair was growing as fast as her career. The actor rocked a longer, windswept brunette style in 2018 combined with simple, yet glamorous makeup looks.
2019: Great lengths
A decade after she shot to fame on Parks & Recreation, Plaza’s hair was the longest it had been in 10 years—a full circle moment.
2020: Lockdown locks
Plaza started 2020 much like the rest of the world—roaming around freely and completely unaware of the life-altering event about to unfold. She rocked her usual dark tresses and opted for a neutral toned makeup look on Oscars night.
But come late 2020 (and a brief appearance between Covid lockdowns), Plaza revealed she’d also done something many of us couldn’t help but attempt while confined indoors—she’d switched up her hair once again. While not a dramatic change, Plaza’s appearance in a Zoom call revealed she’d lightened her hair. She was also glowing without any makeup.
2021: Another year, another change
Plaza maintained her lighter tresses for the first part of 2021 along with new long bangs which framed her face.
But later in the year, she returned to her darker roots. Her dark, vampy CFDA Awards look was one of her most memorable to date.
2022: Marilyn Monroe blonde
While her 13-years in the spotlight has seen plenty of subtle beauty transitions, Plaza proved the best is always yet to come. Her lengthier brunette hair almost made it to the end of 2022 before she decided to make a dramatic change.
Yep, Plaza is now a certified blonde bombshell, and we couldn’t love her new look more. Nor could we be more excited about whatever comes next for her—whether it’s a lob, bob, blonde or brunette, it seems Plaza will always pull it off.
Despite her brief time as a blonde, Plaza was back to her classic, rich brown by the 2023 Met Gala, opting for a stunning bun updo with curtain bangs, alongside her white, jewel-encrusted dress.