CANNELLA HAIR DESIGN – Believe it or not, 2021 was a big year for haircuts — COVID-19 be damned. We witnessed countless folks, including, but limited to, Bella Hadid, use salon closures as an excuse to play hairstylist, giving themselves bangs, layers, and buzz cuts from their homes. “An external change can be a simple and easy way to signify a transition that is internally more complex and harder to articulate otherwise,” therapist Nikki Nachum explained to Allure. “A new haircut becomes almost like an announcement to both yourself and the outer world that something is changing in your life.”
Now that businesses are opened back up, Nachum’s explanation has taken on a whole new meaning. People are sprinting right back to their beloved stylists for both touch-ups and full-blown transformations to signal this new phase of their lives as they re-enter the world.
The Top Biggest Haircut Trends
Due to the standstill the world was under for nearly a year, several haircut trends from last year poured into 2021, like mullets, shaved heads, and bobs. And now that summer is full force, new haircut trends have officially emerged, such as ’90s layers and curly shags. We asked hairstylists across the country to share the summer haircut trends their clients have been requesting the most lately.
While scrolling through this list, keep in mind what features on your face you want to enhance — instead of your face shape, says hairstylist Wes Sharpton, who works out of New York City’s Hairstory Studio. The latter just leads to body shaming, he believes. “You and your stylist can create a game plan to make sure these things are framed in the right way,” he adds. “We need to make it a positive experience and celebrate you, which is the most important thing at the end of the day.”
A major summer 2021 haircut trend Julien Farel, creative director and owner of the Julien Farel Restore Salon and Spa at New York City’s Regency Hotel, calls out is the curly shag. With more women embracing their coils after lockdown, the shag cut has become a fun way to experiment with different lengths and bangs — all the while keeping that cool, lived-in look going.
We’ve been seeing mullets everywhere lately. The modern-day version of the cut that defined the ’80s is a little more chill, though. “[We’re getting] a lot more of these, especially in slightly longer, less severe versions,” says hairstylist Bryce Scarlett. Look to Doja Cat’s 2021 Grammys mullet, which has a soft wave that frames her face beautifully.
The ’90s influence on beauty and fashion prevails with face-framing layers — or the “Modern Rachel,” as Chicago-based hairstylist Alex Brown calls the haircut.
New York City’s Ritsuko Hotaka says face-framing layers are an easy way to try something new without drastically changing up your hair’s length. This style of layers works best with straight hair, she notes, and thickness doesn’t matter.
When a client sits down in her chair for this look, Hotaka typically takes in their features to figure out how short the shortest layer is. Depending on your face and how it should be framed, it may start around your eyes or even your nose.
After many people have grown their hair longer than ever while in isolation, face-framing layers are a stunning way to add shape to the new growth, Brown says. If you have thick hair, in particular, this cut will also give it movement and take out bulkiness around your face.
As seen on Allure’s own Nicola Dall’asen, the undercut, which involved buzzing off the lower half of your hair — no matter what length it may be, is making its grand return as people reunite with their hairstylists. “[They] were cooped up in their homes for so long and just feel the real need to wear something that is super easy and also something that they couldn’t create at home,” Sharpton explains. “You can’t exactly give yourself an amazing undercut on your own. The return to the hair salon really opened the doors and gave people license to get a real statement haircut.”
If you have fine, silky hair, fear not — you can definitely make an undercut happen, Sharpton swears. “You don’t have to go fully round [à la Demi Lovato] to make it work necessarily, especially if you don’t want to lose that much hair,” he explains.
For those with thick hair, Sharpton especially recommends an undercut to remove bulkiness and extra heat from your head. “You will find it’s a great way to give your neck some air conditioning as this type of cut gets rid of a lot of hair, keeping you nice and cool during the summer months,” he adds.
As we’ve seen on countless celebrities, like Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, and Anne Hathaway, hairstylists confirm curtain bangs are having a moment. Brown recommends this retro fringe if you want to accentuate your cheekbones. Consider it highlighter without touching your makeup bag.
Curtain bangs are much more low-maintenance than they look, Farel notes. “They are the gateway to bangs because they’re super easy for wash and go,” he adds. Plus, they’re long to begin with, so they’re easy to grow out and pin back when you’re working out. They can also easily be cut shorter and blended into face-framing layers.
“No matter your hair type, the key is getting the shape right,” Farel continues. “Keep the edges longer than the middle and the ends soft, starting in the center of the eyes and working towards the jawline.”
Farel is a fan of the structured theme among the haircuts she’s been doing this season. “The messy texture is gone and what has arrived is the polished look,” he explains. “Bedhead hair has morphed into more sleek styles of all lengths. We’re seeing more blunt, thick lines in haircuts.”
That’s not to say you can’t pursue blunt ends if you have curly hair, though. Just be sure to ask for one length overall.
If you don’t want to go too far above your shoulders, consider getting a blunt-ended lob instead. Best of all, this length flatters all face shapes and hair types, Farel says. However, as easy as it may look to execute yourself, he notes it takes precision to ensure the ends are sleek and uniform.
“The one thing that many folks are looking forward to doing is cutting off some hair along with most of 2020,” shares hairstylist Christin Brown. “Whether it’s going from long lengths to a shag or even a pixie, people are ready to let it go.” Now, doing the big chop doesn’t mean you have to get rid of all your hair. Here, Sanaa Lathan’s cut is a tiny bit longer at the top and tapered at the sides, instead of all one low length.
Though you may be working with less hair, that doesn’t mean that you should neglect it. Be sure you’ve got a leave-in conditioner to keep your strands moisturized. Brown, who works with Deva Curl, likes the brand’s Decadence Leave-In. “[It’s] great for wavy to curly textures since it is super lightweight, [and has a] thin consistency,” she notes. We like the Best of Beauty-winning Dove Amplified Textures Moisture Lock Leave-In Conditioner.
“A nice amount of my clients this year went with big chopping their hair to either a pixie or a tapered look,” Brown continues. “Both look incredible on all face shapes and [are] so liberating.” When Taraji P. Henson did her big chop, she went for a tapered pixie like this one you see here. Just be sure when you hit the salon chair, you speak to your stylist about what kind of pixie would look best for your face shape, Brown adds.
Short, Swoopy Bob
Short bobs do require a decent degree of maintenance, but we’re still seeing cropped cuts like this trending right now. One version of the bob hairstylist Sunnie Brook Jones says will dominate the season are “blunt and bouncy with a deep sweep. This can hit at the jaw or longest mid-neck depending on how brave you are and the texture and density of your hair.”
Hairstylist Clariss Rubenstein is partial to a particular iteration of this style. “I love it around chin length,” she says. “Also make sure there is a heavy weight line around the perimeter of the cut — it should be nice and blunt at the bottom.”
Short, Swoopy Bob
Another version of this style includes “lots of messy texture and fringe bangs,” according to hairstylist Sally Hershberger — even better if you’ve got some natural texture, as we see here on this model. Her bangs, which fall just above her eyes, are cut right after the first two bends in her curl pattern, which creates that bouncy, body-full look.
Short, Swoopy Bob
Kaia Gerber’s short, flowy bob is one of our definite favorites. When you’re sitting in the salon chair to get this particular style, Jones says to “ask your stylist to keep the ends blunt with just a bit of softness by chipping into the ends.”
Philippe Depeyrot, co-founder of Salon Bisoux in Washington, D.C., loves the “modern interpretation of the classic cut” you see here on Kerry Washington. He also notes he’s been seeing an uptick in clients requesting it. “This cut works for all face types,” he says. “It has been a really popular cut. I did two different versions of this cut today alone.”
Want a 2020 take on the ultra-popular bob? Try an asymmetrical style, like this one on Taraji P. Henson. “It’s no secret that I love a bob hairstyle and the asymmetrical bob is no exception,” explains Fitzsimons. “The great thing about bobs, asymmetrical and otherwise, is that they look good on a variety of hair types and textures, so you can get versatile with your styling options. The asymmetrical bob is cut shorter in length in the back and longer in the front — or, for an edgier look, longer on one side than the other.”
Hairstylist Harry Josh is also here for this kind of cut, especially since it expands your options if you want to get a dye job. “Asymmetrical [bobs] can take on more solid, bold hair colors and less of a highlight, making it easier to experiment with.”
The New Pixie
Zoë Kravitz goes back and forth between short and long hair, but her pixie is a surefire favorite — and it happened to be seriously on-trend all this year. “The pixie is forever a classic because there are so many variations,” says hairstylist Jasmine Ashley. “Most clients are going less ‘bangy’ and more flirty short cuts with a flare.”
The New Pixie
2020’s take on pixie cuts were either super short or just a bit longer than normal. There’s no in-between. The brow-grazing length Selma Blair is sporting here feels very modern and fresh — plus it has a way of making the eyes shine.
The New Pixie
Much like Kaia Gerber’s pixie of haircuts past, the latest pixie haircut trend has more of a long, A-line shape. “It’s low maintenance in the sense that you don’t have to spend a ton of time blow-drying your hair,” Hairstylist Glenn Ellis says. “All my clients call this the ‘wash and go’ haircut because you can leave the house with it wet and it dries perfectly on its own.”
Taylor Swift wore the modern shag for all of 2020 and well into 2021. No one is happier about the return of the shag than Hershberger, though. “[It’s] been one of my longstanding favorite hair trends,” she says. But this cut isn’t for anyone who is scared of layering. “[It requires] a ton of layers, which help to create the texture for a cool, lived-in look.”
However, the cut is amazing for those who are all about embracing their natural texture. “Even for curly-haired girls who might be too scared to go with adding bangs, this cut works with all curl,” Farel adds.
The ’70s have been calling all year and celebrities have been answering — Dua Lipa, at one point, included. “The shag is a mainstay in style,” says hairstylist and co-founder of Spoke & Weal Salons, Jon Reyman. “It’s sexy, strong, and flattering.” Feel free to try a shag with or without blunt bangs, he adds. Plus, you can work the cut into any length of hair you desire.
“Natural curls and coils are taking the world by storm and the shape of the hair is what helps make the best impact,” says Annagjid “Kee” Taylor, hairstylist and founder of Shear Genius Collection. “The rounded ‘fro is one of the most popular looks. The cut will keep your coils healthy and your curls full of life. Although there are so many ways to cut your curly hair, right now [a] rounded [shape] or the ‘lion cut’ are my absolute favorites. It’s cutting or trimming hair to shape the natural curls into the roundest form possible. A lot of women’s hair naturally grows in this shape, but some have to be cut and formed.”
Tracee Ellis Ross, who has her own hair-care line, looks modern and gorgeous here with her full curls.
Curly hair naturally wants to be voluminous, and 2020 has been all about embracing and enhancing that. Consider your texture, face shape, and how you typically like to part your hair before you decide on which cut to go with. If you’re into a side part, look to Teyonah Parris.
Hairstylist Anthony Dickey, the founder of Hair Rules Salon in New York City, says that in order to get a rounded ‘fro “all 4C textures should be cut [while] blown out straight.” He also recommends avoiding shampoo that lathers to keep curls hydrated — not stripped dry. His own line, Hair Rules, includes the stellar No Suds Cleansing Cream.
Curled ends have been huge this year, whether they’re flipped under or flipped up. While Marsai Martin is wearing her hair straight and flipped out here, this look can also be achieved with a protective style like box braids, which the Black-ish actor has done before. Klein agrees that the chin-length look is making a comeback, in part because of its versatility. “[Chin-length] hair can be styled straight and structured, creating a sharp line, or tousled, textured, and playful. My favorite part of this haircut is [that] it exposes the neck and collarbone.”
Musician St. Vincent favors a classic, chin-length bob, and this ultra-straight styling makes it even trendier. Depeyrot likes this cut because of what it can do if your hair is pretty thin. “It’s great if you have fine hair because it gives the illusion of fuller hair,” he explains. “It’s also very versatile because you can make it edgy or classic and it works with a fringe.”
Hairstylist Justine Marjan told Allure she’s seen clients embracing their natural texture much more this year. “As more and more people are working from home and social distancing, many are taking this time to focus on self-care and lay off heat-styling while salon visits are stretched,” she said. After wearing her hair in box braids for quite some time, Gabrielle Union took them out and let her natural curls out to play.
Looking for a low-lift way to achieve texture and volume like Lili Reinhart is repping in this selfie from the summer? Try letting your hair air-dry 90 percent of the way — then spritz in some texturizing spray and throw it in a bun for a bit. When you let it down, you’ll have naturally messy waves, no curling iron needed.
Megan Thee Stallion gave us all another look at her gorgeous, thriving natural hair. After documenting stylist Kellon Deryck washing out her curls with a quick video, she re-emerged with all that texture straightened into the silky style you see here.
For those with Afro-textured hair, a one-length look can be a great way to maintain the length you may have been growing out over the course of this pandemic. “Most curly folks on their natural journey have the goal of achieving long, healthy hair by any means necessary,” says Brown. “Some will get their hair cut often to keep their ends trimmed, which promotes growth, but most aren’t aware that their hair can be cut in its curly state vs. straightening it.”
If you choose to wear your hair straight, be sure your stylist is using a heat protectant. Also, note that one-length haircuts are probably best if you’re not wearing your hair curly very often. “Some women pick a one-length hair cut like Megan Thee Stallion because they are trying to grow their hair out,” notes Brown. “If you are going to do a one-length cut, it looks best when straightened for a modern sleek look.”
TikTok star and Item Beauty founder Addison Rae also favors the one-length cut. “It’s a super simple cut that gives a bold statement,” says Ellis. “I give this haircut to my girls who want to leave their hair long without the fuss of layers. It’s also my favorite haircut come summer because you can put every piece in a ponytail with no issue.”
Emmy-nominated hairstylist Derick Monroe told Allure that buzz cuts are an awesome way to have a cool-looking hairstyle “without having to worry about the maintenance that comes with color and blowouts.” Halsey’s blue and green-printed style is prime proof of this. The “Graveyard” singer waited until October to buzz her head, but many other stars, like Tiffany Haddish and Ruby Rose, have had fun with the trend, too.
Ruby Rose has been a fan of the buzz cut for quite some now — and this year, the actor experimented with different colors and patterns, just like our girl Halsey. Here, they obviously went for a neon green hue, but they’ve also tried rainbow, as well as hot pink and blue.
Tiffany Haddish took her buzz cut super low in July of 2020 because, as she said, she wanted to see what her scalp looked like — and maintained the super-short length through 2021. This kind of buzz cut is the biggest of Big Chops. If you wish to get your haircut this low, be sure you’re still adding moisture to your scalp. “Condition the hair and scalp as though you have a full head of tresses so that as your hair grows out, it will be well-nourished,” hairstylist Derick Monroe previously told Allure. Try to find a hair oil or leave-in (when you start getting that teensy amount of length) to keep your strands healthy from the jump.
Bella Hadid cut her own curtain bangs during quarantine, and she’s been making the brow-grazing fringe look fire ever since. Taylor tells Allure, “Short bangs are cute, but long bangs are sexy, [and] we all deserve to feel sexy after months of quarantine.” We couldn’t agree more.
Camila Cabello’s signature fringe is on the long side and frames her brown eyes beautifully. The best part about long bangs like this is that you can easily pin them back or to the side when you feel like spicing up your look.