The Most Bizarre Politician Hairstyles Ranked

Image is everything in politics. As leaders attempt to gin up support for whichever side of the issue they're on — for or against, right-wing or left — their carefully-managed appearances often bely their attempts at projecting confidence. Finding the perfect haircut for your face shape is a difficult enough proposition for those of us who aren't leading the free world; stylist Edward Tricomi told Today, "Each [face] has different haircuts that look perfect for them. Bangs or no bangs, blunt cuts, or long layers — it all depends on how you cut and structure someone's new look." 

Now throw in focus groups, opinions from family and colleagues, and an endless media circus ready to pounce whenever someone does something different, and you can see just how easily a political haircut might go wrong.

And boy, have some of the styles on this list gone wrong. What you'll find below is a ranking of the most bizarre politician hairstyles, ordered increasingly by weirdness. Some are odd because of just how much consternation they've caused, while others are an affront to simple widely-agreed upon aesthetics. There are Republicans and Democrats, international leaders and Americans, socialists and people who promote fascism. The one thing everyone on the list has in common is that their hair has made headlines because of how much it made people sit up and take notice for all the wrong reasons.

14. François Hollande

The most bizarre thing about former French president François Hollande's hairstyle is how normal it looks. Sure, his hairline is receding a bit, but there's nothing too odd about that; it happens to the best of us. The thing about Hollande's hair that lands him on this list, though, is the staggering amount of money he spent on getting it to look so normal.

Hollande led France from 2012 to 2017, after beating incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy by running as the country's first socialist president. According to France24, he promised that his presidency would be "normal," positioning himself in opposition to Sarkozy's more ostentatious leadership. However, Hollande caused a major scandal in 2016 (per BBC) when it was revealed that he pays a personal hairstylist nearly €10,000 each month to look... average. People on Twitter responded by photoshopping more elaborate hairdos onto the then-President, ones they felt would be more worth the amount French taxpayers were spending on the world leader's #CoiffeurGate. 

A government spokesman named Stephane Le Foll told The Guardian he could understand the concern, but added, "Everyone has their hair done, don't they?" Can't argue with that! (We could totally argue with that).

13. Hillary Clinton

Another hairstyle on this list because of how unremarkable it is: Hillary Clinton's style of choice while serving as Secretary of State under President Barack Obama. Clinton was known for tossing her hair back in a simple ponytail, often held together by a scrunchie bigger than one might expect from a top-level government official; she later joked in the Author's Note of her memoir "Hard Decisions" that she considered the suggested title "The Scrunchie Chronicles: 112 Countries And It's Still About My Hair" because of how often her ponytails were criticized.

While she was still in office, her underlings were not fans. One staffer told Elle that Clinton intentionally kept her hair long so she could save time by just throwing it up in a ponytail, clarifying, "But some of us are looking to ban the scrunchies." Even the late designer Oscar de la Renta revealed to Gotham magazine (via HuffPost) that he told the former first lady to get a haircut. "She said she couldn't do it then because when she arrived in a foreign country and asked for a hairdresser, Homeland Security would have to check the person out," he related.

At least Clinton has a good sense of humor about just how often her hairstyle made news; as Politico noted, she often talked about the undue amount of 'do attention. "If I want to knock a story off the front page, I just change my hairstyle," she once joked.

12. Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders is one of the most outspoken members of Congress, as apt to make headlines for his proposition to legalize marijuana and invest the money in disadvantaged communities as he is for the grumpy way he sat in a folding chair at Joe Biden's presidential inauguration. Sanders himself campaigned for president in both 2016 and 2020, and while he was out on the trail, his disheveled hair became one of his defining features, becoming an object of such fascination. BuzzFeed News, for example, has compared his wild hairstyle to those of Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, and Doc Brown from "Back to the Future." Eventually, it got to the point that his staff was tired of answering questions about it. Symone Sanders, then the candidate's press secretary — no relation — told Al Jazeera, "I think he's been asked more times than he cares about. He doesn't think his hair is pertinent news to Americans."

Sanders himself showed how little he cared about what his tousled hair looked like; when The New York Times Magazine writer Ana Marie Cox asked him about it, he went off on her. "Ana, I don't mean to be rude here. I am running for president of the United States on serious issues, okay? Do you have serious questions?" he asked, adding, "The media will very often spend more time worrying about hair than the fact that we're the only major country on earth that doesn't guarantee health care to all people."

11. Sarah Palin

When Sarah Palin was selected as John McCain's running mate in 2008, angling to be his vice president in the race against Barack Obama, the former governor of Alaska burst onto the national political scene. She almost immediately made headlines for her idiosyncratic hairstyle, which featured... shall we say... volume. Her hairstyle quickly became fodder for jokes, including an op-ed in HuffPost, which accused her of hiding things under all that hair.

The style was emblematic of the "bump-it" trend exemplified by "Jersey Shore" star Snooki; the AV Club even said the former governor was "Basically Snooki." When Tina Fey iconically played the VP-hopeful on "SNL," their matching hairstyles were one of the most easily-identifiable ways to tell who Fey was portraying. According to the Houston Chronicle, the company that made the infamous accessory even sent Palin a bunch of bumpits to thank her for popularizing the style.

In the first months of the campaign, per CTV, the candidate reportedly spent more than $100,000 of campaign funds on style, including maintaining her hair while on the trail. However, she disputed the claims and pushed back against critics, claiming that there was a double standard that doesn't get applied to men. "Oh, if people only knew how frugal we are," she told the Chicago Tribune. Her bump-it budget was not made public.

10. Chris Minns

The COVID-19 lockdown affected everyone differently. In Australian MP Chris Minns' case, with hair salons closed around the continent, he let his hair grow out; several months into the pandemic, he found himself receiving comments online for what people called his "mullet." His hair was coiffed impossibly high in the front and looked scraggly in the back. Leaning into his newfound popularity online, he tweeted that people could be forgiven for thinking he was "Ace Ventura" star Jim Carrey, who sported a similar look in the 1994 film to the one in Minns' tweet. 

The New South Wales Labor leader chose to turn his impending haircut into a fundraiser, soliciting donations for the Bill Crews Fund, which supports homeless and otherwise disadvantaged Australians. A GoFundMe set up to benefit the foundation, titled "Cutting the Minns Mullet," managed to raise $7,223 AUD.

He drew headlines when he finally changed up his hairstyle in 2021, timing his cut with the reopening of salons around Sydney. "I don't know what his problem was. I would have loved to see him in the Parliament with a mullet," his rival Dominic Perrottet told reporters (via the Daily Mail).

9. Kim Jong Un

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un's inscrutable hairstyle is one of his most recognizable traits, if you don't count the numerous draconian laws he has passed that make his people swear loyalty to him. The noted Manchester United fanboy's hair is infamously shaved on the sides, slicked back on top, occasionally parted down the middle, and, according to photos on Twitter, seems to be growing taller over time. The Guardian noted that his newer haircut appeared to reference his grandfather, Kim Jong-il, who evidently wore a similar style to seem taller. According to the BBC, so proud is the dictator of his sense of style that he has forced students around the country to all get the same chop.

When Donald Trump went to North Korea in a much-publicized show of support for the hopeful nuclear power that has threatened American shores with its weapons, Jimmy Kimmel quipped, "Imagine Kim Jong Un meeting Donald Trump, just the two worst haircuts in the world, together." Kimmel's insult didn't stop one Hanoi barbershop from offering either "the Trump" or "the Kim" to patrons for free, according to CNBC. No word on how many people took him up on his offer; this may have been one of those "you'd have to pay me" situations.

"I would say he should maybe get another hairstyle and another hair stylist. And also treat his people better," hair expert Dr. Glynis Ablon told InsideHook.

8. Geert Wilders

Far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders attempted to lead the country in 2017, positioning himself as what Vox called the "Dutch Donald Trump," campaigning primarily on Islamophobia. Like his American counterpart, Wilders made headlines around the world for his hairstyle, an obviously-dyed 'do that downright defies description. It's slicked-back, but also poofed-up? It's somehow tucked into itself? Voluminous, but also, receding? It's unique, whatever it's called. 

"The Daily Show" host Trevor Noah pointed out the similarity between Wilders' hair and two other politicians with striking hairdos, Trump and his British ally Boris Johnson, positing, "What is it with these villains and their hair?'s obvious what's going on here: We've been invaded by mind-controlling aliens who look like bad hair."

Katja Herbers, Dutch star of Paramount+ show "Evil," tweeted about Wilders' hair when he lost the 2017 election, noting that he sported a curly mullet in college and must devote significant time to straightening it these days. She also noted, "Geert Wilders [dyes] his hair blonde & wears blue contacts," tacitly linking his appearance to his promotion of white nationalist ideology. Herbers was far from the only one to make that connection; the National Post also tied Wilders' bleached locks to his alleged racism. Hair: it's political!

7. Trey Gowdy

Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy announced in 2018 that he would no longer seek re-election, evidently upset that his costly hearings into the Benghazi tragedy (via Vanity Fair) hadn't turned up any actionable dirt. "There is more civility in a death penalty case than there is in some congressional hearings," he complained to Politico shortly before announcing his retirement.

Gowdy had gone viral the year before for what GQ called his "questionable" haircut, sported while he himself was questioning former FBI director James Comey. "Trey Gowdy should investigate why his barber is in open revolt against him," "Daily Show" writer Jason O. Gilbert tweeted at the time, attaching photos of Gowdy sporting several surprising styles. Sometimes Gowdy's poof of hair appeared to make his head pointy up top; other times, the thin strands were combed back in a style reminiscent of your average midwestern mom. Upon news of Gowdy's retirement, Gilbert added, "Trey Gowdy is retiring to dedicate himself full-time to his search for a barber that doesn't hate him."

His bad haircuts go back a while; when he was a prosecutor before launching his political career, he frequently appeared as a commentator on "Forensic Files." Fans of the classic true-crime show who find themselves rewatching old episodes have tweeted screencaps of a younger Gowdy, wearing a number of no-less-curious coiffures. 

6. Martin Van Buren

Haircuts go in and out of style, so it would be unfair to look back too far in history to point out the weird ways people used to wear their hair. That's why you won't find people like George Washington or Thomas Jefferson on this list, even though their powdered wigs would certainly count as "bizarre" were they to show up on the scalp of someone in power today. However, we'd be remiss if we didn't include Martin Van Buren and the most wild sideburns in White House history. They started somewhere around his temples and ended around his lips, projecting out an impressive distance from the sides of his face. OGLE, a beauty school, notes that just 11 American presidents ever had facial hair, and... boy, did he.

Fans of history still make jokes about Van Buren's 'burns. "I dare someone to bring back the Martin Van Buren hairstyle," tweeted "Fantasy Footballers" podcast host Andy Holloway in 2022, while "Family Guy" writer Chris Regan imagined Van Buren being relieved by Trump's election, his ghost exclaiming, "Hooray! A President with weirder hair than mine!"

5. Boris Johnson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is as known internationally for his unruly bed of thinning blond hair as he is for his politics. An ally of the former mayor of London told Politico that BoJo likes it that way, clarifying, "The second he gets out the [barber's] chair he sticks his hands through it and ruffles it all up. So however the barber tries to style it, it will look like a mop."

However, in 2020, the beleaguered leader insisted to the mother of a confused (and concerned) journalist that he does indeed brush it, despite all appearances. According to the Daily Mail, the PM laughed that he keeps a brush in his office and tries to run it through his hair every now and then. "Please give your mother my very best wishes for Christmas and apologize for my hair," he said. "I do my best with it."

Allow us to present one alternate explanation. Dominic Janes, a professor of modern history at Keele University, has suggested in The Conversation that the outlandish hairstyle is an intentional political display with a long tradition in British history. Johnson's unwillingness to conform to traditional standards of male fashion, in other words, turns the brash leader into an "anti-dandy." Alternately, it might just be mind-control aliens, as "The Daily Show" host Trevor Noah once proposed. Occam's razor and all that!

4. Donald Trump

Donald Trump's bizarre combover is the stuff of legend, and discussion surrounding his trademark style may in fact be responsible for the last decade of American political history. When Seth Meyers hosted the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2011, back when Trump was touting the racist conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama wasn't born in America, the comedian infamously joked, "Donald Trump often appears on Fox, which is ironic because a fox often appears on Donald Trump's head." Some in the media, such as The New Statesman, have speculated that Trump decided to run for president in part because he was embarrassed by the jokes on his behalf that night.

His hair was a point of fascination during the 2016 presidential election, including an infamous moment where Trump allowed "The Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon to mess his hair up in order to prove it was real and not a toupee. The "SNL" alum really got his hands in there, pulling the combover to the side, revealing it to be A) attached to his scalp and B) more fluffy and voluminous than we might have otherwise known.

Throughout his presidency, Trump made headlines whenever windy days lifted his combover away from his head and exposed his scalp, and geometry-defying photos of Trump's wild waves went viral frequently online, with observers trying to diagram how, exactly, Trump's hair appears to go this way and that, a comb-over and a comb-under, all at the same time (via Time).

3. Valentina Petrenko

Valentina Petrenko is a Russian senator whose gravity-defying hairdo went viral in early 2018, when Alex Bruce-Smith, a writer for Elle and Marie Claire, tweeted about it. "have just discovered Russian federation senator Valentina Petrenko's hair and need to share this news," she wrote alongside photos of Petrenko's hair-square. Social media users were fascinated with the towering, curly updo, a structural feat that ends in what appears to be a sort of flattop. Responses compared her to Elsa Lanchester's iconic wig in "The Bride of Frankenstein" as well as "RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars: Season 3" contestant Thorgy Thor. (The night she got eliminated, of course).

According to Newsweek, Petrenko dislikes being asked about her hair, reportedly complaining to one Russian outlet, "I'm so tired of answering these questions. I just have curly hair." She claimed that the odd hairstyle was much easier to maintain than it appears, insisting, "I lift it upwards with some hair pins, that is all." Newsweek also reported on her political leanings. Petrenko is a member of Russian President Vladimir Putin's former party, but she also was involved in securing the release of kidnapped children in 1993 by offering herself as a hostage swap. See: even people who wear their hair in a way that draws comparisons to the villains from "The Hunger Games" can do good things sometimes!

2. Michael Fabricant

Though Donald Trump and Boris Johnson have two of the most infamous hairstyles in political history, British politician Michael Fabricant's hair is even more curious. Like the others, his hair is an unnatural shade of blonde that looks like it probably comes from a box, but unlike the others, he doesn't let it blow wild. Instead, he wears his hair in a perfect bowl around his face, his long bangs swooped inartfully to the side, confusing observers the world over. He insisted in 2014 to the Mirror that it isn't a wig, but he did admit, "...there is some — but only some — enhancement of the follicular area." No word on which part of his "follicular area" had some help.

In 2019, one of his colleagues appeared to be discussing Fabricant's hair while the Tory MP was speaking, according to video shared by the BBC. Fabricant told the BBC that his colleague was new to the office and that Fabricant assumed, had the fellow known he was on camera, "he would have behaved in a more grown-up way." That British humor... so biting!

International hair-watchers aren't the only reason Fabricant made headlines in 2022; he also sparked controversy for tweets that many said made light of rape (per The Guardian), and then tweeted that people are "professional offence takers." Sometimes first impressions are accurate, after all.

1. Ted Cruz

During the second impeachment trial of President Trump, Texas Senator Ted Cruz made headlines of his own by sporting the most bizarre political haircut yet to walk the halls of Congress. It appeared to be short in the front and long in the back, with the greying sides either shaved or slicked back into what looked like an odd triangular undercut. One viral tweet writer mused, "was Ted Cruz mid-hair cut when the impeachment stuff started?

The 'do sparked numerous other comments on Twitter, including one person calling it "Business up front, insurrection in the back," referring to Cruz's involvement in the January 6th attack on the Capitol. Another compared him to "a rebellious teen in a '90s TV show," attaching a pic of a similar style from an episode of "Home Improvement," while yet another social media user pointed out his resemblance to Yolandi Visser, a member of punk raver band Die Antwoord.

This was not the first time the noted Cancún tourist connected haircuts to politics. Just to prove a point, he got a chop during COVID at the salon of a woman who proudly broke early-lockdown rules, according to ABC7 News. He had even previously tweeted about mullets shortly before sporting one himself. When several people were identified and arrested during the June 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, Cruz sarcastically said of the photos, "Angry white guys with mullets. Clearly, the racial conscience of America."