The Worst Makeovers On America's Next Top Model

There's a lot to consider when determining what exactly the worst makeovers on "America's Next Top Model" have been. The reality series has certainly showcased its fair share of bizarre, horrendous, and questionable hair disasters, ones so bad that they can overshadow the flawless good looks of even the most striking model. But it isn't just looks that can be questionable in the spectacle of the show's notorious makeover episodes. 

The aesthetic renovations of "ANTM" contestants can often involve painful processes like repeated dye jobs or intricate weaves which can seriously damage delicate scalps. More often than not, the makeovers can also stir up some major emotions when models are asked to make drastic changes to their looks, often against their own best judgment and desires. 

In revisiting the reality competition, some modern audiences have winced at the treatment of models on the show. In 2020, Vox accused "ANTM" of having "delved into some tacky, exploitative moments," including "a ton of makeovers that feature endless rolls of young women crying on film." And how. With that in mind, get in that damn salon chair, brace yourself and remember it's only hair. These "America's Next Top Model" contestants wanted to be on top... and ended up getting some of the worst makeovers in the show's history.

Molly O'Connell's monstrous mop

Who ordered the ramen? In Cycle 16, Molly O'Connell was inexplicably made to look like a soba dish for six had been tipped over her scalp in one of the most bizarre makeovers in "America's Next Top Model" history. The trouble started when an outside "weave specialist" was brought in to sew the behemoth bouffant to O'Connell's scalp. Despite not wanting to "be the one girl who gets the crazy hairstyle," her weave had officially flown over the cuckoo's nest by the time it was finished — and everyone seemed to be in agreement that it was "hideous" and "ridiculous."

In their recap, Entertainment Weekly accurately described the look as "the weave that ate Manhattan" and accused it of looking "like it was trying to pry open Molly's skull to get at the sweet brain meat inside." The "crimped tentacles," they worried, may have also "tried to strangle her" in her sleep. Luckily, O'Connell survived, and the entirety of New York didn't need to be evacuated due to the threat of her Kaiju-curls.

As Fandom recounted, the "fickle" weave was so bad that "it had to be removed after only one week." O'Connell was then free to enjoy a successful run in the competition without having to carry a lifetime's supply of cup of noodles on her head. Sporting a shorter and "edgier" haircut for the finale, the model won runner-up of her season.

Brittany Hatch's out of control crimson wave

From one wild weave to another, Brittany Hatch's Cycle 8 crimson catastrophe was a double hit of horror. While the color admittedly lent the "America's Next Top Model" contestant a preeminent presence in the competition, the flame-hued fright wig became dry from over-dyeing and also grew exponentially thanks to the model's painful looking extensions. The ordeal of transforming Hatch's ear-length brown hair was evidently agonizing for the model who squirmed and squealed as they were sewing it onto her scalp. 

In the episodes that followed, the model was seen repeatedly crying over how sore and uncomfortable her new look felt. In an interview with Reality TV World, she revealed that was because they had to dye her hair "at least seven times" to achieve the right color. By the time they achieved it, her scalp "was sore and blistered," a situation aggravated by throwing extensions into the fray. 

As reported by Dazed, the model's hair "began to get out of control" weeks later when she didn't know how to maintain her damaged 'do. Tyra Banks described the parched mass as a "hamster that died on her head," and four episodes later it was removed. Which, as IGN noted, meant she "wasn't hiding behind a mop of hair" and could let her talents be seen. Those talents sadly included turning up late to go-sees and blaming everyone else but herself. She was duly eliminated and placed fifth in the competition.

Denzel Wells' stick-on chin fuzz

But why let women — or indeed, scalps — have all the fun? In "America's Next Top Model" Cycle 21, Denzel Wells experienced some next level insanity when he received a beard weave during his makeover. Although he was initially "nervous" about the procedure, he really needn't have been considering the "weave" was little more than a crescent moon of fur glued to his chin. Still, the 23-year-old was happy with his "Black Lincoln" look and rhapsodized that he was "loving" himself with the beard. Which is great considering that audiences were less kind about it.

In their recap, Vulture lamented that "people wear better-looking fake beards in fourth-grade Nativity plays" and noted that Wells' enthusiasm for the look "made the whole endeavor sadder." Cosmopolitan suggested that the cheap-looking fake beard looked like it had "been fashioned from another contestant's offcuts." Meanwhile, someone on Reddit described it as being one of their "sleep paralysis demons," while a meme posted to 9GAG suggested, "this guy has the same beard 'The Little Rascals'  had when they tried to get a loan."

It was, to put it politely, something of a laughing stock. Curiously, Wells' look was short-lived with Tyra Banks admitting that the "shape" of the beard weave was all wrong, per Vulture. Arguably, everything about the chin toupee was an affront to humanity but sure — it was the shape that was at fault. 

Cassandra Whitehead's emotional chop

In Cycle 5 of "America's Next Top Model," Tyra Banks took issue with Cassandra Whitehead's "beauty queen" attitude in the judging room and decided there was only one thing for it: Off with her hair! Specifically, the show host wanted to chop off the Miss USA wannabe's long locks, and replace them with a blonde pixie crop reminiscent of that worn by Mia Farrow in "Rosemary's Baby." Almost immediately, and for the rest of the episode, there were tears. 

The radical style looked phenomenal on the model, but she was less sold on the idea that she should act more "mod" and "edgy" with the look. Something which Whitehead took to mean that she couldn't act feminine anymore. The model never quite found her footing with Farrow's form, so of course Banks pushed for an extra inch and half to be cut from it. Horrified, Whitehead walked. "It wasn't just cutting an inch and a half of hair," she explained, "it was the last straw in them completely trying to change who I was."

Speaking to TV Guide after leaving "ANTM," Whitehead defended her reality show rebellion by describing how her decision was about more than a makeover. Like Rosemary having the devil's spawn forced upon her, the model felt she was being bound by a begrudging personality transplant. "They wanted me to act edgy and punk [all day, every day]" she explained, "I think it's important that you act like a lady." 

Ann Markley's unflattering jumbo highlights

At the very least Cassandra Whitehead's "America's Next Top Model" makeover looked great. The same, sadly, cannot be said for whatever X-Men atrocity was burned into Ann Markley's hair in Cycle 3. Ever the optimist, the Pennsylvanian model sat in her salon chair enthusing about what it might be like to be blonde, and uttered the fatal phrase, "I'm very open minded about it." When her chunky highlighted look was finally revealed, she was dabbing tears away from her face and complaining that she hated how "short" the shoulder length cut was.

The look in and of itself isn't exactly terrible, and in 2020 the style surprisingly became a modern trend with stars like Kylie Jenner and Dua Lipa rocking chunky highlights with aplomb. Arguably, the problem was that the awkward combination of the shoulder-length cut with severe blonde streaks did not totally fit Markley's face. The model's labored hair stood in stark contrast to her easygoing, girl-next-door features, encasing her stunning features with as much delicacy as a Lego picture frame around the "Mona Lisa."

Having finished a respectable fourth in the competition, the contestant changed her name to Annalaina Marks and has enjoyed a thriving modeling career since. As her Wilhelmina agency portfolio and Instagram account both showcase, the model has continuously been at her best when her chocolate brown hair is allowed to flow long and full of natural character, framing her features without unnecessary fuss and distracting blocks of blonde. 

Michelle Deighton's botched blonde

Making a transition to blonde is no easy feat. The bleaching process can be painful and damaging, and the after-care necessitates all manner of lotions and potions to defend it against becoming a flavescent husk. In "America's Next Top Model" Cycle 4, poor Michelle Deighton experienced every step of this agonizing process during her makeover — and it arguably wasn't even worth it.

During the bleaching stage, the professional wrestler was in so much agony that she was visibly shaking. However, she was later ecstatic with the end result, saying, "They put me through hell but I'm loving it now." Right away, the tone appeared a little brassy and, even for all the makeup, it left her looking washed out. Sadly, those issues continued for the rest of the season. As The Things put it about "how bad" the look turned out, anyone who's gone blonde "know[s] the up-keep it demands and ... this situation [didn't allow] her to handle it." Quite.

On top of struggling with the stress of the competition, Deighton also developed impetigo, a bacterial skin infection which left sores on her forehead and chin. All the while, her yellowing hair looked like it wasn't receiving the much-needed attention it needed. Her washed out look only highlighted her distressed dermis and left the model feeling insecure about whether she even belonged in the competition. Her lack of confidence and lackluster look may have held her back, and she finished sixth. Who said blondes have more fun?

Marvita Washington's horse hair mullet

Spare a thought for poor Marvita Washington of "America's Next Top Model" Cycle 10, a woman who "looked at the utensils" beside her in the salon and assumed she'd pulled up to the wrong stable. Alas not. As Tyra Banks explained in the episode, she had a crazed plan for the model's mane — a horse inspired look (yes, really) which the "ANTM" host suggested she'd "kind of invented" as she'd never seen it before in her life. There may have been a sound reason for why the "horse man hair weave" hadn't been a huge trend prior to this moment, however. The equine inspired Tennessee top hat was an acquired taste, to say the least.  

Opinion was divided as to whether the look was less of a win and more of a whinny, with Ranker suggesting the hairdo looked "less like a majestic pony" and more like "a mullet from the golden age of glam metal." On the contrary, Entertainment Weekly, suggested the style "totally rocks" and agreed with Washington's assertion that it made her look more feminine. The oddball look certainly suited the model's out-there personality, but the bold aesthetic arguably inhibited her performance options when it came to photo shoots and styling. 

Washington's horse fell at the fifth hurdle and she was eliminated, placing tenth overall. Presumably her hair was put out to pasture not long afterwards.

Chelsey Hersley's extreme dental work

The good thing about hair makeovers is that no matter how bad the chop, it always has the chance to grow back. For "America's Next Top Model" Cycle 15's Chelsey Hersley, her makeover was a lot more drastic, permanent, and baffling. The model was asked to get the gap in her teeth widened for the competition, and like a good Top Model she sat in the dentist's chair and let him shave off a quarter of a millimetre from her front teeth. 

Entertainment Weekly mused that the shocking change made her resemble comedian Dennis Leary, but applauded her "can-do attitude," which was still evident following the show. In an interview with Digital Spy, Hersley suggested the aesthetic procedure was no biggie and she trusted it would help her career. "I didn't even blink an eye about it," she said. "You can barely tell the difference." All that teeth chiseling, and Hersley only placed runner-up. But arguably, that wasn't the most shocking part of the story. 

Just four years earlier, Tyra Banks had criticized Cycle 7 contestant Dani Evans for having the same gap in her teeth, and for refusing to receive dental work on the show to change it. The Victoria's Secret Angel challenged her decision by asking, "Do you really think you can have a Cover Girl contract with a gap in your tooth?" Years later, she arguably answered the question for Hersley — and that answer was still no. Only this time, she'd recommended the look. 

Sara Blackamore's haunted eyebrows

A running goal throughout the makeover episodes of "America's Next Top Model" seems to be based around messing with the aesthetic perfection of models in the most ridiculous ways possible. For poor Sara Blackamore, her Cycle 15 makeover involved a chocolate brown dye job paired with bleached eyebrows. On top of making her eyelids look like Casper the Friendly Ghost was taking a nap on them, they also pushed her into Lisbeth Salander territory — and not in a good way. 

It was an edgy look which proved to be debilitating for Blackamore, whose facial poses seemed to lack any expressive fluidity. In their recap, the Los Angeles Times suggested that the model's dark hair and bleached brows combo "left her looking perpetually surprised," which may have stunted her skill set. Harshly, she was eliminated that same episode when her "attempts at 'seductive' were not up to snuff," according to Entertainment Weekly. But then, serving a powerful come hither look without eyebrows is probably akin to trying to hit a home run without a baseball bat. 

Understandably, the invisi-brow wasn't a keeper for Blackamore who told Digital Spy that over time she eventually dropped the drastic style. "I kept the dark hair but I dyed my eyebrows back," she explained. "I kept it for a while and then I think people started wondering like, 'What is up with her?!'" Sheesh people, don't you know the haunted look of a Top Model when you see one?

Brenda Arens' '80s pop nightmare

Upon entering Cycle 14 of the competition, Brenda Arens' stunning red mane was, as she put it herself, one of her "best asset[s]." So of course, the "America's Next Top Model" goon squad of the makeover room took a sharp razor to the devastated model's hair with feverish delight. Tyra Banks explained that the long hair made the model look "too sexy," while Jay Manuel posited that it made her look "a little older" than she was.

Arens christened the inoffensive pixie cut with her own tears, but that wasn't the end of the makeover. Later, she was given a side-buzz undercut in an "80s pop style" which was so unflattering that her delighted competitors were watching the cut with victorious ardor. "They're probably thinking, 'Oh yeah, my competition is not my competition any more,'" Arens said of her fellow models. Per Reality TV World, she continued to receive criticism that she was "looking old" in her pictures, and she placed eighth upon elimination. 

Damningly, Arens told the outlet that the hairstyle only worsened the issue. "Short hair matures you a couple years," she explained, "I hate to say this ... but I feel like I was set up." Meanwhile, Manuel countered to Entertainment Weekly, that it wasn't the hair that was bad (of course not!), but the model's attitude to it. He suggested, "She would've gone further in the competition if she had gotten over the emotional attachment to her hair." Sure.

Saleisha Lashawn Stowers' meme-inspiring bowl cut

When Saleisha Lashawn Stowers received her strange avant-garde makeover, the "America's Next Top Model" Cycle 9 contestant proved her power as a model by absolutely owning the unusual concave crop. Inspired by the radical bob of silent film star Louise Brooks, the look was arguably more of a riff on the cool-girl bowl cuts of Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman Karen O and British model Agyness Deyn. 

Either way, it was an insanely difficult cut to pull off without looking like something her mom had done for her at home with a mixing bowl and a set of craft scissors. Not that the internet has ever appreciated that fact. Despite winning the competition with what Mashable once described as "a sad mushroom," the cut has long been the subject of various memes. Countless of which have compared Stowers' look to that of Dora the Explorer, while one on Reddit jokingly (and accurately) compared the look to Octavia Spencer's odd hair in horror thriller "Ma."

Upon winning the coveted Top Model prize, Stowers received criticism that she had too much prior modeling experience to even compete in "ANTM." As reported by Reality TV World, however, the model played down her previous experiences and suggested that the judges were actually "a little harder" on her because of it. Throwing a strange Ringo Starr special on her mop top was certainly a potential obstacle that she managed to overcome with style.

Laura LaFrate's far-out flag waver

By Cycle 19, "America's Next Top Model" broke reality TV boundaries when they dared to ask the question: What if we brought some British models into this warzone? The answer was the same drama as always, only this time there were some different accents in the mix. For whatever reason, proud American model Laura LaFrate was chosen as the woman to best represent her country with a bizarre red, white, and blue hairdo which made her look like a mid-eruption July 4th confetti cannon. 

The USA chant in hair form thankfully wasn't a full dye job. As described by Dazed, the look saluted "the US flag" by bleaching the model's hair "platinum, before red and blue clip-ins were added." Intentionally or otherwise, it made the model look less like she wanted to be on top of the modeling industry and more like she wanted to be on top of a flag pole. 

Sadly for her home country, her patriotism wasn't even rewarded in the long-run and she lost the title to British model Sophie Sumner — a woman who, disappointingly, wasn't given an equivalent Union Jack look during her own makeover. Speaking to Digital Spy, LaFrate denied that there was any bad feeling in losing to her British counterpart, and assured the outlet that US and British model relations were good following her loss. "Even though London can be really dreary," she gushed, "the people, they're just incredible."