7 Celebrity Summer Updos That Beat The Essence Fest Heat

Essence Festival is a celebration of all Black everything, from fashion to beauty to business. And for four blissful days in New Orleans, half a million aunties, cousins, friends, and sorors gathered to do just that. But what you might not know looking at all those smiling attendees, is that it was hot as hell outside. With temps as high as 90 in the heart of Louisiana, festival goers had to get creative to stay cool. And it resulted in some seriously memorable styles.

While there were a few brave souls who wore (and slayed) their long hair and big ‘fros, more celebs opted for updos — especially for a full day of press and parties. The looks were just as fashionable as they were functional, and fitting for any event you have this summer. Ahead, check out the looks we’re pinning for our next outdoor, too-hot-to-handle event.


Felicia Leatherwood assembled Essence Atkins’ box braids into a fishtail woven with string for the McDonald’s 365 Black Awards.

Photo: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images..

Janet Jackson closed out the festival (and shut down the house) with a long, crimped power pony styled by Cassidy Blaine, who used Moroccanoil products.

Photo: Via @janetjackson.


Gospel singer Koryn Hawthorne slicked her curls to one side for the SiriusXM Praise Channel live broadcast sponsored by Ford.

Photo: Ryan Theriot/Getty Images..


At #InsecureFest, Issa Rae wined down while wearing an elaborate twist, also created by Leatherwood.

Photo: Peter Forest/Getty Images..


Ella Mai pinned her curls up — and slicked those edges down — for her day two performance at the Superdome.

Photo: Paras Griffin/WireImage..


At the My Black Is Beautiful dinner, Queen Latifah moved the crowd to tears with her speech — and had them staring with her sleek, wrapped updo.

Photo courtesy of My Black is Beautiful/Jasmine Alston.

“Hairline realness,” Vernon François described of Amandla Stenberg’s intricately-laid edges.

Thanks to Ford, McDonald’s, My Black Is Beautiful, and the New Orleans Multicultural Tourism Network for providing travel and accommodations for the purpose of writing this story.

Photo: Via @vernonfrancois.

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