As far as hair color trends go, balayage has reigned supreme for years. But as we head into a new year (buh-bye 2020), experts are predicting the year that was will still inspire our choices. Think: Color that grows out gracefully, chunky highlights for some wow-factor, and rich copper just to feel something.
But whether you stick with your trusted balayage (because let’s face it, it’s a beautiful and easy look to wear) or you evolve your hair color in the next year and beyond, the experts agree on one thing: Your color should always look healthy. “The thing all the color trends have in common is light,” notes Matrix Global Business Ambassador, Tabatha Coffey. “Hair should look rich, luxurious and taken care of, whether you are sporting deep chocolate, red, or anything in between.” Keep scrolling for the 2021 hair color trend predictions…
Hair Color Trend #1: The Cool Down
For 2021, Madison Garrett, colorist at Spoke & Weal, New York, predicts that brunettes will be moving towards “cooler shades with ashy undertones, instead of warm tones.” Rez agrees: "Ash browns will keep going strong through 2021. Cooler tones grow out gracefully, as they reflect less light—so regrowth and lines of demarcation will look less obvious with this color." He recommends using a blue shampoo (like Redken's Color Extend Brownlights) to keep brass at bay.
Coffey agrees that we will see a lot of “cool chocolate brunettes next year, as well as pearlized silvery blondes.”
Nick Stenson, Matrix Artistic Director, is also on high alert for the cool trend. "Our double-processed blondes or heavy highlighted blondes are going smoky," he predicts. "Not silver, but a slight ash tone to mute the warmth out of the hair.”
Hair Color Trend #2: Tonal Terracotta
Not all brunettes will be cooling things down though. “I predict more people will be switching to auburn hair in 2021,” says Rae. “It’s a rich red-brown that is pretty flattering for most. Depending on the intensity of the red, it can look like brunette with hints of red undertones or look like a dark deep reflective red. We can thank Zendaya for bringing my favorite trend back.” Matt Rez, a celebrity colorist and Redken's brand ambassador, agrees explaining, "More and more clients are looking to bring color into their lives after the difficult year."
Not sure auburn is for you? "Punchy copper reds and warm gingery hues will add vibrancy to your look, especially after the winter weather, which can strip us of our natural glow and can leave our hair looking flat and dull,” says Hale.
Celebrity hairstylist Adam Reed is predicting a move towards "tonal terracotta" next year. “It’s a deep and dimensional update for the new year," he says. "It is super tonal and is the perfect shift as we transition into 2021 and into the new season. Interestingly, when we think of terracotta, we associate it with a harsh orange but, terracotta actually has a very varied color palette and can range from deep pinks, oranges and ashes—it’s these gorgeous tonal differences that make the palate so diverse.”
Hair Color Trend #3: Pretty Solid
“There’s a move to strong, solid colours: think browns, blondes, red, blacks, but the tones are going to be more muted," says celebrity colorist Josh Wood and founder of Josh Wood Atelier in London. "I think, in some ways, it’s a slight reaction against balayage or heavily blended colors
“This shift to strong colors became evident to me as we created the polarizing onyx black and pale blonde colors at Prada, and deep black and red at Miu Miu," he explains. "Now, we are creating more solid colors in the Atelier. They aren’t as strong as the black, white and reds from the shows, but there is more focus on shine and gloss. If the hair looks healthy and well-conditioned, it’s on-trend, whatever the color. Well-conditioned hair is everything this season, linking into hair health as a symbol of our overall well-being.”
Hair Color Trend #4: Be Bold
Celebrity Colorist Nicola Clarke agrees with Wood that 2021 is the year to be bold. “More people are going bolder with their color choices," she says. "Take Dua Lipa, for example, who I took blonde on top and dark on the bottom. That bold look is here to stay.” Hairstylist Luke Hersheson notes that Dua Lipa’s colour is “the most interesting thing I’ve seen lately.”
If you want to go for a standout color, you need to be prepared for the upkeep, warns Clarke. That means regular root touch-ups (unless you want a deliberate root—more on those later) and glossing treatments to keep the hair shiny. “Products like Olaplex and Virtue allow us to push the boundaries of what hair can do, which means more people can opt for bolder color choices than ever before,” she adds.
Hair Color Trend #5: Color Full
“2021 will prove to be a colorful year,” says Wood. “This year, it’s about bringing out one’s personality with hair color and getting a color, be it from black to pink, that really suits you."
“Watch out for blue!” says Katie Hale, head of color at Charles Worthington Salons in the UK, "Whether you’re suited to icy blue hues, statement denim blue or a glossy blue-black."
Hair Color Trend #6: Rooted Blondes
"Rooted and dimensional colors will remain through 2021 for those who want to stretch out salon visits—or those who have to based on new social-distancing regulations," Rez says. With salons having to remain at lower capacity for the time being, a purposefully rooted style will allow for a more graceful grow-out. "Have your colorist do a shadow root over freshly done highlights and stretch the depth of color with lowlights throughout," Rez recommends. It'll soften the otherwise severe root while your hair grows. Rez adds, "The vertical dimension (via lowlights) and horizontal depth (via the shadowed root) will make your color look natural and effortless with pops of light." He says to tell your colorist: Keep the face-framing areas bright—roots to ends—for the ultimate pop.
Hair Color Trend #7: Color Contrast
Contrasting colors mean more shaded roots that allow you to go much lighter on the ends, and are more forgiving with maintenance. "Think dip-dye ends or a purposeful root, as it allows for fun bright tones, or much heavier, face-framing 'money pieces' that create high drama and high contrast,” notes Coffey.
Stenson agrees, saying that fashion colors are still holding strong, but this time with a strong root to show off the fashion mid-lengths and ends. "This also means you can go that bit longer between appointments as you won’t need to touch-up your roots quite so often," he explains.
“Curly hair with chunky highlights will be big,” adds George Papanikolas, Matrix Celebrity Colorist. “We will see lots of layering and all-around big, curly hair. Chunky highlights are fun and playful—plus that they won’t disappear into the curls. Adding a shadow root will keep the curls looking modern.”