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What color is ariel’s hair in the new little mermaid?

The upcoming live-action remake of Disney’s The Little Mermaid has generated a lot of buzz and controversy over the casting of Halle Bailey as Ariel. Many are excited to see a Black actress take on the iconic role, while others have expressed disappointment that Ariel will look different than in the 1989 animated classic. One of the biggest questions surrounding Halle’s casting is – what color will Ariel’s iconic red hair be in the new film?

A Brief History of Ariel’s Hair

In the original Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale published in 1837, Ariel is described as having “eyes as blue as the deepest sea, but, like all the others, she had no feet, and her body ended in a fish’s tail.” Her hair color is not mentioned.

Disney’s 1989 animated adaptation of The Little Mermaid introduced the world to Ariel and her bright red hair. Animator Glen Keane designed Ariel with flowing vivid red hair to give her a fiery, passionate personality. The color contrasted beautifully under the sea and also symbolized Ariel’s desire to break free from her world. For over 30 years, Ariel’s red locks have become an iconic part of her look and a symbol of her curiosity, spirit, and determination.

Why Change Ariel’s Hair Color?

Casting a Black actress as Ariel has naturally sparked questions about how she will look in the live-action remake. Halle Bailey has dark brown hair, so keeping Ariel’s hair bright red does not seem realistic or natural. However, Ariel’s hair has always been symbolic, so the filmmakers and fans are curious to see what color and style they choose for Halle as Ariel.

Some have suggested that Ariel should keep her red hair, arguing that her hair color should not have to change just because of Halle’s natural hair. Others counter that keeping the bright red would seem like a caricature or false. Many agree that Ariel’s hair should reflect Halle’s natural beauty and identity as a Black woman.

What Halle and the Filmmakers Have Said

For now, Halle and the filmmakers are keeping details of Ariel’s look under wraps. In an interview with Variety, Halle promised that her Ariel will still have “the red hair” but did not elaborate further. Director Rob Marshall teased that he is going for a “fresh take” on Ariel’s iconic look.

Costume designer Colleen Atwood seemed to confirm that Ariel will not have bright red hair. “I think the most important thing is to tell that story with authenticity and sincerity,” Atwood told USA Today. “It’s a beautiful story and I think Halle is going to be amazing as that character. It’s such an iconic character, so I think that’s very exciting too.”

While plot details are still scarce, it seems likely Ariel’s hair will reflect Halle’s natural beauty as a young Black woman, while still honoring the iconic character. Fans will have to wait for the first trailer or promo images to know for sure.

Fan Edit Images Imagine Halle as Ariel

While we wait for official images from the new Little Mermaid, some talented fans have created photo edits imagining Halle Bailey as Ariel. These images give us a sense of how Ariel could look with Halle portraying her.

Many edits keep Ariel’s long flowing hair but opt for deeper reddish-brown, auburn, or ginger colors that reflect Halle’s complexion and natural vibrancy beautifully. Some even add enhanced natural curls or braids. The colors complement Halle while still nodding to the iconic red shade.

Other fan edits imagine Ariel with vibrant red hair in creative new styles. Some give her ombré hair that fades from bright red to brown. Others use accessories like flowers or jewels in her hair to add pops of red color. These edits prove that Ariel can still honor the iconic red hair in new, natural ways.

What Reddish Hair Colors Could Halle Wear?

If the filmmakers want to subtly nod to Ariel’s signature red while still retaining some realism, what reddish hair color options could work for Halle Bailey? Here are some of the red-spectrum hair colors that could complement Halle’s skin tone beautifully:

  • Auburn – Deep reddish brown with warm, peach undertones. This natural-looking shade would complement Halle’s complexion perfectly.
  • Copper – Vibrant metallic reddish-orange that makes a statement while still looking natural.
  • Strawberry Blonde – Blend of red, gold and brown for a soft reddish-blonde hue.
  • Red-Brown Ombré – Darker reddish-brown hair color that gradually fades into a richer, lighter red at the ends.
  • Reddish-Black – Very deep red tint almost appearing black, allowing subtle red hues to peek through.

These shades would allow Halle to wear red-toned hair while staying true to her natural beauty. The filmmakers could also use styling, lighting, and accessories to add pops of brighter red throughout for a modern, fresh take on Ariel’s iconic mane.

Ariel’s Hair May Be More Symbolic

Rather than trying to force bright red hair onto Halle Bailey, the filmmakers may take a more creative, symbolic approach to honoring the color’s significance. Here are some ways Ariel could incorporate red in her overall look:

  • Costuming – Red accents in her mermaid attire, like a vibrant red seashell bra, jewels, or flowers in her hair.
  • CGI Effects – Bright red animated effects when she swims or uses her mermaid magic.
  • Lighting – Reddish lighting when she is on camera to give a subtle red cast.
  • Accessories – Vibrant red hair accessories like ribbons, headbands, or streaks.
  • Makeup – Warm reddish eyeshadows and lip colors.

Rather than forcing Halle’s hair to be an unrealistic bright red, using these creative touches may be a beautiful, magical way to honor the iconic color in a fresh, natural way.

Black Ariel’s Hair and Representation Matter

However the filmmakers choose to approach Ariel’s hair, it will be meaningful for Black girls and women to see Halle Bailey portray the beloved princess. For decades, straight, smooth red hair has been portrayed as the pinnacle of beauty and femininity. Ariel’s hair became part of that damaging “ideal.”

Seeing a dark-skinned Black Ariel thriving with natural hair sends a powerful message about beauty standards. Little Black girls with curly, kinky, or natural hair will get to see themselves reflected in the protagonist of this iconic story.

Showcasing Halle’s hair, skin, and features beautifully will show that natural Black beauty deserves to be highlighted and celebrated. Her hair will demonstrate that Black hair is versatile, beautiful, and magical in its own right – whether red, brown, or any other color.

Ariel’s Hair Evolution in Other Live-Action Remakes

The Little Mermaid isn’t the only live-action Disney remake featuring iconic red-headed characters. How hair color has been handled in other remakes may clue us in to how Ariel’s hair will be adapted:

Film Character Hair in Animated Version Hair in Live-Action Remake
Maleficent Princess Aurora Flowing blonde hair with curls Flowing blonde hair with loose waves
Alice in Wonderland Alice Straight, medium blonde hair Frizzy, voluminous blonde hair
Lady and the Tramp Lady Dark brown cocker spaniel fur Dark brown cocker spaniel fur
Beauty and the Beast Belle Long brown hair Long brown hair

As this table shows, live-action remakes tend to stick close to the animated versions when it comes to hair color. Princess Aurora and Belle remained blonde and brunette. Minor styling changes reflect realism and the actress’s natural texture.

This precedent suggests that Halle will likely wear a deep reddish-brown or auburn shade rather than bright red. Her style may also include more volume and curls reflective of Black hair. But the color will likely be in the red family while staying true to Halle’s beauty.


The reveal of Halle Bailey as Ariel sparked much debate about whether the iconic redheaded mermaid can or should be adapted for a Black actress. But hair color has always been symbolic for Ariel – representing her spirit, uniqueness, and desire for more.

Rather than insisting on an unrealistic bright red, the filmmakers seem poised to celebrate Halle’s natural beauty while finding creative ways to honor the meaning behind Ariel’s fiery red mane. This modern, inclusive take on The Little Mermaid has the power to redefine beauty standards for a new generation.

While we’ll have to wait for official photos to know for sure, one thing is clear – Halle will embody the soul and heart of Ariel, no matter what shades of magical red, brown, or black adorn her hair. Ariel’s hair color won’t define her – Halle’s talent, grit, and connection to the character will redefine this Disney Princess for the better.