Beauty lovers will agree: there's nothing better than a fresh haircut to fully reset in a new year—especially on the heels of the rollercoaster that was 2020. Whether you're looking to shed off the year's past stressors with a several-inch snip, desperate for a transformational New-Year-who-dis chop, or eager for an arguably unnoticeable but totally invigorating trim, some of NYC's top hairstylists expect 2021 to usher in a range of trendy new cuts for every desired hair length. From iconic and super-nostalgia-inspired shapes to effortless-looking snips for those reveling in the whole undone-at-home vibe, keep scrolling to discover 2021's top biggest trends, per the pros.
If 2021 had an official haircut, the experts unanimously agree: it's the shag. "As a result of quarantine, a lot of people have been coming in with very grown out hair with no shape as they hadn't had the chance to get a proper haircut (outdoor garden haircuts included)," Dhiran Mistry, a dry cutting specialist at David Mallett New York, tells Byrdie. "I love all the movement and layers that you can add to a grown out haircut."
Ryan Trygstad, a celebrity stylist and co-founder of Mark Ryan Salon, says a shag is the cut for 2021 (his clients include Emma Roberts, Laura Dern, and Kelly Ripa). "What makes this feel modern is a bang. This is the modern version of Jane Fonda's Klute haircut. The whole top moves forward and is more fringey—there is no real part," Trygstad says.
Sky Kim, a stylist at Serge Normant at John Frieda, agrees that a shag with a soft fringe will be big for 2021. "Recently, there's been a huge covet for shags, and I am here for it—I think it will carry on to the next year," Kim tells us. She says it's the perfect face-framing cut with an edge—the shattered layers create softness and will grow out beautifully, adding, "This cut looks good with short to long hair, whether the hair peaks through your neck to longer and shattered layers with long hair."
For anyone who attempted an at-home bang trim during quarantine, Kim says there's a bonus to a shag cut: "It will be a nice transition to connect all those shorter pieces."
Draw The Curtain
Curtain bangs will be in high demand throughout 2021, according to Mistry, Trygstad, and Kim. "If someone has long hair, it's time to add a longer curtain bang (like Sienna Miller in the movie Alfie)," Trygstad says. "Face-framing or curtain bang captures the vibe of this cut without losing length."
"Curtain bangs are a result of people wanting a change but not ready to chop all the length to change their look drastically—they work really well to frame the face," Mistry says. "I love hair loosely tied back with these bangs down—such a great effortlessly chic look." The stylist recommends blow-drying with a round brushing and applying a serum (his pick is Shu Umera's Essence Absolute Nourishing Oil) at the ends for a replenishing touch.
For natural and textured hair, Kim says this type of soft fringe works really well. "People who are bored with their hair will be experimenting with bangs but still able to keep all of that length from 2020!"
"Long hair is coming back as all the people that didn't get haircuts were also not doing so much heat damage to themselves," Mistry tells Byrdie. Kim echoes this sentiment: "I think everyone is letting their hair grow and focusing on the health of it. Since everyone has gotten used to not doing much in 2020, it's super low maintenance and helps to make it look full without doing much." Her prediction: long, blunt hair for all textures and long and natural locks for those with curly or textured hair.
To maintain healthy, flowing locks, Kim suggests regular nourishing hair masks (her top pick is Briogeo's sulfate, silicone, and paraben-free Don't Despair Repair formula) to keep hair soft and shiny as well as nourishing leave-in for smoothing and replenishing. "A little goes a long way," she warns.
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Big (And Natural) As Life
Mistry says, "the bigger, the better," when it comes to natural and textured hair in 2021. Celebrities like Kerry Washington, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Taraji P. Henson started wearing their hair natural in the past year, and many others have followed suit.
"People are really headed back to wearing their natural texture and steering clear of keratin and chemicals," he notes. In general, the natural hair movement eschews chemical relaxers and heat tools in favor of deep conditioning masks and curl-defining products, helping "naturalistas" embrace their natural curl pattern.
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Trygstad says 2021 is all about shorter haircuts in general, but his favorite? "I'm loving the bold, one-length bob," he says.
Kim says nostalgia plays a huge role, cueing the shift to short. "I think the '90s hairstyle comebacks are big, and next year I think people will be taking it to the next level and will play with a modern Princess Diana look, mostly inspired by the new season of The Crown," Kim says. "It's a classic look and gives you a sense of nostalgia and newness that we all have been craving."
When styling, Kim suggests a texture spray for a lift at the roots and a finishing cream at the ends. "Style it in a matter that looks right to you," she says.
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Meet Me In The Middle
Kim predicts a rise in mid-length haircuts with soft, face-framing layers as another low-maintenance look for 2021. "It's a cut that will grow out beautifully and give you a little texture and good for all hair textures," she says, suggesting a texturizing spray for a little oomph.
For curly and textured hair, she says mid-length cuts with layers and bangs are the vibe for 2021. "Another fringe moment for curly and textured hair babes," Kim says. "2021 will be about playing with all your layers you've grown from 2020. Plus, bangs look so good with curly and textured hair! It's just such a fun way to express yourself." When styling, don't skip on the curl cream to enhance your natural coils and fight frizz—Kim deems Christophe Robin's curl cream her favorite. "It has just the right amount of hold to maintain the style for the day."