Charting Leonardo DiCaprio’s Hair Evolution: From Perfect, Angst-Ridden Teen Heartthrob to…Now

Leonardo DiCaprio is a chameleon. He cuts his hair, he grows his hair. He wears a hat, he does not wear a hat. At one point, he appeared on his own Instagram wearing a bandana and most recently, he sported a slicked back ‘do and goatee to the Golden Globes. He’s a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in cargo shorts, and it only took us actual years to realize we’ve never sung the praises of that beautiful gift.

So today, we right that wrong. Roughly one month away from the Oscars, we’re finally paying homage to Leonardo DiCaprio’s transformative gifts. From this mid-nineties heartthrob hair to whatever-the-hell-is-happening-now, we’ve signed up to take you on this journey. Lest we forget his iced tips and center part.

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Romeo + Juliet (1996)

And here’s where it all began. I mean, yes: Leo had the same hairstyle in 1995’s The Basketball Diaries and even during his early nineties appearance on Growing Pains. But it was this — as in this moment specifically — that made our tween hearts swell and realize we were in love with the man with the jagged ends and centre part. It was dreamy. It was alt. It was a hairstyle that looked very, very good wet.

Which explains why he went where he did next.

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Titanic (1997)

Admittedly, the only difference between Titanic and Romeo + Juliet is a complete lack of product and an abundance of water — which is exactly the point. First of all, Titanic is set in 1912 so mousse and its corresponding tamers were reserved solely for the likes of Caledon Hockley and his weird, creepy friend. Secondly, Leo spends much of this movie soaking wet (at times even under water) which allowed his hair to move with the ease of perfectly textured art. Kind of like the Monets at the end of the movie.

In fact, Leo’s Titanic hair was the true Monet masterpiece of the movie. Because yes, far away we all loved it, but up close? With the obvious lack of dry shampoo? A big old mess.

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The Man In the Iron Mask (1998)

This, however, was an atrocity from which few of us will ever recover. I mean, why was his hair slicked back at the sides like that? Why wasn’t he give a barrette? Or more specifically, why not let him rock a centre part like the rock star king he was pretending to be? Do you think you King Louis maybe locked his brother in an iron mask because he didn’t want to see his hair anymore? Because even though we know this was a wig, I feel like most of us would’ve understood that reasoning. Goodbye forever.

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The Beach (2000)

This is Leonardo DiCaprio in his role of Every Guy We Went To High School With™. Do you remember how impressed we all got when dudes started substituting the wet jet look with wax circa Y2K? “It looks like bedhead,” we told ourselves, as if anyone’s parents were about to let us stay over to see that. So that’s why some of us stayed in our tenth grade fantasy world. There, we’d get to see Leo with bedhead every damn day. There, we’d get to say, “I think you should go back to your Romeo + Juliet look because it was very nice.”

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Gangs of New York (2002)

In theory, we should’ve known it was only a matter of time before Leo’s dedication to roles would eventually reach social media where we’d see hair like this outside the studio soundstage and in Leo’s real, actual life. But alas, 2002 was a fickle friend. And where we’d now see that hair tied back and paired with flip flops on a sunny Saturday afternoon, we could temporarily whisper “wig” to ourselves over and over, praying to whatever higher powers that be that our determination could make it true.

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Blood Diamond (2006)

Highlights, you guys. The tie that binds.

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The Departed (2006)

Granted, this gif is not from that movie per say — but it’s within the same realm thanks to its everyday realness. Frankly, The Departed’s aesthetic is easy: it’s standard guy hair. It’s the hair of our fathers and their fathers and the fathers before them, because this haircut works and looks good under a Red Sox hat. It’s the hair of someone working undercover. It’s the hair of an actor trying to be a character working undercover. It’s the sensible shoes equivalent of hair. It does its job in that it’s there.

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The Great Gatsby (2013)

I’ve jumped a few years ahead, but look: nobody needs me to include Shutter Island and/or Revolutionary Road and a detailed description of Leonardo DiCaprio’s vintage side part because who cares. Especially since his hair is basically the same in those movies as it is in Gatsby. Ultimately, nobody tuned into Baz Luhrmann’s retelling of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece for Leo’s hair, believe you me. So here it is, hair all dressed up and ready to go — before eventually landing in water. (Where it doesn’t look nearly as good as it did in Titanic, let me be real.)

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Django, Unchained (2012)

Okay fine, let’s go back and talk about this: we’ve got “a look” on our hands. And it makes me profoundly sad.

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The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013)

Just think of the amount of product you’d need in your hair to ensure it doesn’t move during a moment like this. It is peak eighties. Peak Wall Street. Peak gel or oil or something, no one can possibly be sure. It’s the male hair equivalent of the years we spent in high school, slicking our wet hair back with gel before scrunching it into a bun. It’s meant to be remembered, never to be repeated.

The Revenant: The Filming (2014) Here is a photo for us to understand what we were witnessing over a year go when the combination of a large beard and slicked back low ponytail were a thing Leo had to navigate in his day-to-day life. (Although at the time, I was hoping this was for a sequel to The Man In The Iron Mask.) I pray every night he wore a scrunchie to bed — and shook it out every time he seduced anyone.

The Revenant: The Filming Cont’d (2015)

Also, is this a bandana or a strange hat? Please weigh in on Twitter and if you ever run into him and have the chance to ask, “Why?”

Now: The goatee

Because this is the way Leonardo DiCaprio looks now. He chose a goatee. He made that choice. He said, “I will remove the beard but I will keep just a bit to remind myself who I am and what I’ve been through.” He said “I have great hair, but I would like to offset it by adding not a beard, not a moustache, but a goatee.” He said those things. Don’t ask him, but he for sure did.

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Also:

These were his expressions when forced to confront his aesthetic past (which he did while reading this piece).

Bless you, Leo. King of the World. King of my Heart.