With a new year comes the perfect excuse to give ourselves a fresh new look. Thankfully, there’s a whole host of new hairstyles and hair trends just waiting to be experimented with.
Whether it’s the return of ’80s mullets, but with a modern shaggy twist, or working this year’s most outrageous hair colours, the new year is the best time go big and bold. Though we’ve barely eased our way into January, we’ve already spotted a few coveted hairstyles and trends working their way down the runways and onto the streets.
Not sure what’s in and what should be left to the year we do not speak of? We reached out to three hairstylists to reveal the top hair trends of 2021 and their pro secrets to recreating them yourself.
Hair trends in 2021: Modern mullet
As 2020 drew to a close, an unexpected hairstyle made its return: the mullet. Made infamous by Little Richard and David Bowie, the gender-neutral roots of the divisive haircut is back with a modern twist. So far, we’ve seen the ‘do on Miley Cyrus, Rihanna during her Savage X Fenty fashion show, Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams, and even singer Troye Sivan.
The mullet involves having your hair cut short on the top of your head and around the temples – preferably layered if you’re going the whole hog – and left long at the back, either straightened smooth or tousled.
Celebrity hairstylist Den Ng says, “Traditionally, the mullet is done with highly sloped sides. In order to keep it modern, focus on keeping the sides more ruffled instead of shaved. Focus on micro-texture instead. This keeps the look more wearable.”
If you want to get the look yourself, hair and makeup artist Christian Maranion also recommends giving your hairstylist a good number of visuals for reference. “A good hairdresser takes the personal traits of your hair into consideration,” he says. “Is this hairstyle too high-maintenance for the client? Will his or her hair get frizzy from too much layering?”
Hair trends in 2021: The shag
A cousin of the mullet, the shag is the ultimate undone statement haircut. It’s choppy, full of texture, and makes for a refreshing change for those who currently have longer hair. The cropped layers will give your hair instant texture and up its cool factor. You don’t need to do much to a well-cut shag style on a regular basis too, as the shape would have already been cut into it.
“The primary and traditional difference is that a mullet is shorter in the front and the sides of the head – the back being significantly longer at various lengths of preference,” Christian explains. “Also, the apex of the head has a lot more layers to make it much more voluminous and feathered.”
“The shag is much longer compared to the mullet and there is a connection in front, at the sides and back that is well blended. The overall look is heavily layered and sometimes choppy which really helps to bring out any natural texture one might have in their hair,” he lets on. If you’re looking to grow out your pixie cut, both styles make for great transitional choices too.
For those with straight hair, heavy layers can give your hair a flattering shape. And if you have the time, Christian recommends creating waves with a curling iron. “The point is not to look overly done. A great example would be Taylor Swift, who has sported several lengths of the shaggy hairstyle,” he shares.
To style a shag haircut, hair and makeup artist Sha Shamsi suggests using a leave-in hair treatment if you have drier tresses, like IGK’s CRYBABY Anti-Frizz Smoothing Serum (left). If you have textured hair, Christian says all you need to do after you step out of the shower is to apply a good curling cream on wet hair, such as the MOROCCANOIL Curl Defining Cream (centre) and Cantu Coconut Curling Cream (right).
Hair trends in 2021: Chin-length bob with French girl bangs
“The fringe – it’s back, it’s blunt, it’s bold,” says UK-based hairstylist, Errol Douglas. “Clients will be adopting a braver, ‘let’s do this’ approach to their hair. We will be seeing customised cuts, structured shapes, and cool lines. Regardless of length, it’s going to be neat, precise, and exacting, with the straight and structured bob proving the standout style of the year.”
While we’ve certainly spotted plenty of chin-length bobs around, a fresh take on it is to pair it with French girl bangs. Shorter than your traditional fringe, it’s slightly cropped, with the point cut in just above or sitting on the eyebrow, rather than skimming lashes. The trick here is to make sure it doesn’t look too neat.
Actress Ana de Armas (above) recently revealed a drastic change to her look, chopping her formerly long, wavy brunette hair into a jawline-skimming bob with blunt baby bangs. The slightly ruffled texture is key to this French girl haircut. It’s what gives it that “I woke up like this” charm and an artfully dishevelled and yet sophisticated vibe.
You can also wear this haircut sleek and straight, just like YouTuber Haley Kim, who opted for a short bob with eyelash-grazing bangs. “The Dyson Corrale Straightener is the ideal tool for achieving this style,” Errol suggests. “Teamed with a precise cut, the Corrale’s unique flexing copper plates deliver greater control for reduced reliance on heat. This allows for perfect alignment of each section, delivering the look’s precise and perfect lines, yet with the added bonus of half the damage.”
Hair trends in 2021: The big chop
Demi Lovato’s chop was the haircut heard around the world. Short, blonde, and shaved on the sides, her edgy pixie is perfect for taking on the new year. Elsewhere, Halsey bid farewell to her long braids and got a buzz cut – a style that isn’t entirely new to her. Since then, she’s experimented with different hair colours, including a fun blue and green hue, as well as hot pink.
“It’s probably one of the best hairstyles for Singapore but also one of the hardest to maintain,” Sha says.
While going short is not for the faint of heart, Christian is all for it. “I love that we’re finally getting to a place where one can truly express themselves with any style, colour, and vibe,” he says. “It’s liberating and truly brings out one’s individuality.”
“No one should feel pressured into thinking they have to look a certain way or play a certain trope because of gender, status, or social construct. So whether its buzzcut season or shaved sides, give it a try and don’t have any regrets,” Christian advocates.
Hair trends in 2021: Hidden highlights
Hair trends come and go, but we’re predicting that hidden highlights aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Also known as underlights, hidden highlights involve highlighting the bottom layer of your hair while leaving the top section untouched. “It’s a method that usually leaves the top layers of hair alone, so you don’t have to deal with root touchups unless you chose a colour that isn’t your own,” Christian shares.
“If the hidden highlights are bright colours like pink or blue, then there’s definitely more maintenance involved,” he continues. This style lets you show off your highlights only when you want to, like when you tie up your hair or lift it up for a quick peek-a-boo style. Perhaps the best part about this colour trend is that you may be able to wear this even if you have a strict dress code at work.
With all the hues in the spectrum to choose from, what makes this trend an exceptionally fun one is that you get to experiment with the boldest of colours. “I think it’s now more about how these colours are displayed and how they move with you,” Christian says. “How they look when you tie up your hair or when you braid it, it could be a whole new presentation.”
Sha Shamsi has also spotted loads of blue, pink, and green hair that are taking centre stage, so if you’re up for a bit of adventure, you can try them in the form of hidden highlights.
Hair trends in 2021: Grey is here to stay
While there aren’t many things from 2020 we’d welcome with open arms, grey hair is one trend we’re happy to see back this year. Not only are more women embracing their God-given greys, but more are also going full silver with a little help from hair dyes. From icy silver to stone grey, there are plenty of variations to play with.
Spin-off shades have seen an uptick too. “Mushroom blonde”, a greyish beige (or “griege”, as it is sometimes called), skyrocketed on Pinterest, with more users seeking out the shade for some much-needed hair inspo. “Grey as a hair colour is one of the most versatile, I think. Almost anyone can sport it. I especially love it on older people who naturally are greying and decide to go all out,” Christian shares.
Of course, for us Asians, it’s not going to be easy to achieve – there’s much groundwork to put in first. In order to go grey, you have to pre-lighten the hair to a clean white blonde and then tone with a personalised grey mix tone. Be warned that it could take several rounds of bleaching to lift your natural hair pigment. However, the results are absolutely worth it.
Protecting your hair colour with a purple shampoo is crucial too. It can keep your colour bright and brass-free, saving you a lot of trouble and trips to the salon. Even better, the right shampoo can cut through discolouration and damage caused by heat styling, hard water, chlorine, and the environment.
Check out our recommendations to find your perfect match:
- 21 best colour shampoos that will keep your coloured mane vibrant for a long, long time
- 18 best shampoos for coloured hair that repair your damaged tresses and care for your bold look
Hair trends in 2021: Brondes have more fun
Bronde is nearly the most universal shade out there. It’s perfect for brunettes who want to go a little brighter, for blondes to take it down a notch, and first-timers who are nervous about jumping in with both feet. This shade is the ideal low-commitment colour for anyone looking to switch things up in 2021.
Celebrities like Gigi Hadid and Ashley Benson have embraced the blondish-brownish hair colour, and so have folks our Instagram feeds. Models, influencers, bloggers, and vloggers alike have all been showing off warm, multi-toned variations of bronde and we’re totally here for it. While our sweater weather left us at the beginning of January, we can still keep things warm and cosy with this autumn-inspired hue.
“I think it was originally made famous by Kim Kardashian, who was slowly transitioning from her dark hair to a blonde,” Christian shares. “As the name describes, its an in-between colour. It can be either warm like caramel or cooler like ash.” If you have darker skin, he notes that it’s a great colour to sport, as the shade won’t look too contrasting against your skin tone or make you look ashy.
According to Den, beige blonde has been popping up on his radar as of late too. It blends both warm and cool shades with an overall ashy undertone. Light and dark blonde hues create dimension, making the colour customisable and, in turn, flattering on nearly anyone.