When it comes to our hair routines, the last year has proved difficult. It’s safe to say that the majority of us spent 2020 with our hair scraped back off our faces, chucked up into a bun or wrapped up in a scarf. With salon appointments few and far between, we’ve been left battling grown-out roots, fading colour and general damage and chucking it up has proved quite effective at putting the problem off. It might please you to know that this year promises bigger and better things.
The truth is, while it might seem as though our hair has been put through the wringer, for most of us, the situation isn’t as bad as we think. In fact, several hairstylists I have spoken to this year have been surprised to find out that a lot of their clients’ hair is healthier than ever before. Why? Because we’ve been giving our strands a serious break. Less heat styling, colour treatments and bleach application, as well as many of us turning to nourishing at-home masks and serums mean that our hair is in a much stronger state than it was this time last year.
And while we sadly didn’t get to live out our hair colour dreams this year, things are looking up for 2021. With salons re-opening in England today offering us all some much-needed hope that we can get back in salon chairs on a regular basis again soon, our strands are finally ready for a bit of a refresh. To help provide serious inspo for the year ahead, I caught up with some of the best stylists and colourists out there to get their predictions on the hair colour trends they anticipate will be everywhere this year.
It might seem a little crazy to suggest that super high-maintenance rainbow brights will be a key colour trend for 2021, but the truth is, it’s never been easier to achieve. “We have definitely felt a move towards two particular colour tribes recently: those who want to subtly enhance their natural colour and those looking to make an almost rebellious statement,” says Mark Leeson, Revlon Professional global artistic ambassador.
However, opting for a bold, bright style isn’t actually as far fetched as it might seem. Having learned our hair lessons in 2020, this year’s styles are all about keeping things adaptable. Paul Edmonds, celebrity hairstylist and owner of Paul Edmonds London explains, “Experimental shades can be achieved through the use of conditioners that have colour in them. It’s simple, easy and washes out. But be warned—it’s difficult to achieve with green pigments!”
Balayage might have reigned supreme over the past decade, but just know that it’s not going anywhere for 2021. The natural-looking, low-maintenance colour trend is set to be one of the most in-demand hair trends of next year. “Balayage has given clients much more confidence to play with colour, and this trend will continue to adapt in 2021 to achieve more striking colour results. We’ll see colourists add chunkier ribbons colour with a mixture of high and low lighting and freehand balayage,” says Andrew Barton, creative and communications director at Headmasters.
For a more exciting take on traditional balayage, stylists are recommending opting for a lighter style that can be tweaked with toning shampoos and semi-permanent colour at home. Doing this will help to keep blondes frosty, brunettes chocolatey and coppers bright. If you fancy a change, celebrity hairdresser Lorraine Dublin recommends opting for a pastel shade. “To do a blonde balayage with pastel colours, choose complementary colours for your natural hair shade and skin tone and then alternate the two slices throughout the hair. Make sure you’re using a colour shampoo and conditioner and a good serum so your hair doesn’t dry out.”
“A lot of people are embracing their greys, and we have seen a huge trend in people wanting to dye their hair silver. There is something visually arresting about this depth of tone which, unless natural, can only really be achieved in the salon chair,” warns Leeson. If you’re looking to go grey artificially, be prepared that it might take a few appointments to get your desired finish, especially if you have dark or brunette hair.
Now, if you’re already naturally transitioning into a fully grey look, it’s time to embrace your natural colour and make the most of it. “The best colour looks come from working with your natural colour, especially if you are going grey. Don’t hide it like you might have done before but work with it! Create youth by lifting the hair colour around the face, and then distribute colour around the ends and connect at the back. This look keeps plenty of natural hair through the parting, which also gives a soft grow-out line,” advises Edmonds. To maintain a glossy finish and keep the colour looking clean, opt for silver shampoos and anti-pollution products.
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Notoriously difficult to achieve and even harder to maintain, red hair is back for 2021. With salons being out of action for so long, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing a resurgence in high-impact colour trends that require an expert hand. “Despite the challenges of 2020 and many clients not seeing their stylist for months due to lockdowns, red hair is making a huge comeback—from pillar-box red to muted tones and deep mahogany with a smoky hue,” says Barton.
The key to keeping things vibrant and fresh is in at-home care between appointments, explains Leeson. “Often perceived as difficult to wear, there is actually a red hue to suit every skin tone, from cherry to burnt copper and tangerine, but definitely book in for a consultation with your stylist before embarking on a big change. For a cleaner, more even tone, I always suggest an at-home toning treatment. They are a must for reds, as the colour can fade quickly.”
Looking to go lighter this year? Go all or nothing. “Clients are wanting to come to the salon more than ever and are choosing more high commitment statement colours to almost rebel against the strict rules of 2020. We see this in the trend for super-luxe blonding. We’re seeing more people opt for global blonding as part of their beauty regimen with salon visits for root retouching and toning every 4–6 weeks,” says Barton.
However, while for some an all-over blonde style is too much effort, for others it can be a zero-fuss, low-maintenance solution. “Bleached, natural and short afro hair is very trendy at the moment. It’s very low maintenance, too. Once bleached professionally, clients will be able to use semi-perm wash out colours at home with ease,” says Dublin. Just beware that bleached strands require serious nourishment and care, so be sure to use moisturising oils and strengthening treatments.