A bad breakup, big move, or a promotion at work are all great times to get a fresh haircut, but so is the start of a new year. With the unpredictable, stressful, and tumultuous past 12 months finally behind us, it’s finally time to move forward. And there’s no better way to usher in the start of 2021 with an entirely different look.
While we might be focusing on what’s ahead, 2021’s most popular haircuts will have us all revisiting the past. And if next year’s hair trends are any indication, the ’70s are back, baby. Think heavily-layered shags, curtain bangs, and even mullets.
For anyone not feeling the retro vibes, low-maintenance cuts like blunt ends with minimal layers are great options that will hold up for months — especially if you’re looking to keep your salon visits minimal due to fluctuating COVID-19 restrictions.
And if you don’t have the patience to grow out your hair (or you aren’t ready to part with your bob), extensions can give you instant Rapunzel-length hair.
Ahead, three top hairstylists break down the eight haircuts that are guaranteed to become the most-requested looks of 2021.
Business in the front, party in the back, the mullet is the best of both worlds. “Miley Cyrus has been at the forefront of the modern mullet trend, with shorter face framing layers in the front and added length in the back,” says Justine Marjan, TRESemmé global stylist. “Ask your stylist to cut with a razor for a more lived-in and textured finish.”
Marjan recommends styling a mullet with dry shampoo, such as TRESemmé Between Washes Volumizing Dry Shampoo, for a grungy, lived-in finish.
’70s-style bangs are a small tweak that can make any existing haircut feel fresh for the new year. The retro look can be adapted by virtually any hair texture, including natural hair like Yara Shahidi’s 3C curls. “We will see more curly girls embrace the ’70s trend with bangs and shorter face framing pieces that really enhance the shape of their natural curls,” Marjan shares. “As with all curly haircuts, make sure your stylist cuts around the front dry and leaves it a little longer than you think so the curls don’t bounce up too much.”
Marjan’s a fan of using TRESemmé’s Curl Hydrate Curl Cream on damp hair to further hydrate and shape curls as needed.
“With a lot of people still working remotely and leisure activities heavily restricted, people are going to be looking to keep things simple in 2021 with haircuts that still look good when you air dry,” says Jamie Brice, amika pro educator.
For straight hair, Brice says to stick with a blunt cut to make hair appear thicker, along with a few soft angled layers around the face. For wavy hair (think Zendaya), add a few layers around the crown to give your cut some shape. Finally, for naturally curly hair (like Gabrielle Union), Brice recommends taking your curl pattern and shrinkage into consideration to keep things low maintenance. “A little length can go a long way!,” she says.
“Versions of the shag have come and gone throughout history, but with the return of curtain bangs in 2020, we’ll see more haircuts turn to shag territory as people get more comfortable with shorter layers around the face,” says Marjan. “This cut is amazingly low maintenance when done well, as it complements the head shape.”
The shag is an anomaly of a cut because it’s characterized by layers, rather than length. That being said, it looks amazing on virtually any hair texture and with or without bangs. Selena Gomez’s curly shag with bangs is a classic iteration of the cut.
Marjan recommends washing a shag cut with TRESemmé Keratin Smooth Pro Collection Shampoo and Conditioner to keep it smooth and silky.
For a more low-key version of the shag, opt for piecey, sultry, face-framing layers that will grow out with ease. Take Priyanka Chropa’s mid-length center-parted shag for example. “Ask your stylist for fashion layers – you know, the kind of layers that are carved out from the inside of your cut, and face framing layers that are perfectly piecey and unapologetically sultry,” says Bridget Brager, Herbal Essences brand ambassador and celebrity hairstylist.
Brager recommends treating your hair with a weekly nourishing hair mask, such as Herbal Essences Argan Oil + Aloe Vera Hair Mask to keep your scalp and ends hydrated and healthy. “You want this style to grow out beautifully and like all things, if you take care of it, it will!,” she adds.
Good news for fans of the iconic cut: both Brager and Brice predict the bob will still be going strong into 2021. “Bobs really stand out when they are stick straight and glossy (like January Jones), or when you style them with a flirty edge using a flat iron to add waves,” says Brager. She likes T3’s flat iron.
“This hair cut works well with most hair types, it’s just all about tailoring it to you and your personal style,” adds Brice. “So whether it’s shoulder length, chin length, or somewhere in between, blunt, choppy, textured or maybe even a little elevated, you have the opportunity to customize the perfect bob for you.” If you are using hot tools to style your bob, she recommends prepping hair with a heat protectant like amika’s The Shield Anti-Humidity Spray.
Curtain bangs are another 2020 hair trend you’ll continue to see more of in the new year. “Not only are they super cute, but they also make way for a softer and more graceful grow-out phase then traditional bangs, meaning you can go longer between trims,” Brice says of the look.
Aside from being low-maintenance as far as bangs go, the major selling point of curtain bangs is that they take any hairstyle to the next level, from a messy bun to a sleek ponytail like Halle Berry’s updo. Price suggests spritzing your hair with amika’s Brooklyn Bombshell Blowout Spray and a blow-drying with a round brush to give your pony extra body.
Growing out your hair is a jog, not a sprint — unless you take a shortcut with a set of extensions. “Extensions are a great way to get past that awkward stage of a short haircut instantly,” Brager shares. Just ask Kaia Gerber, who went from a bob to waist-length Rapunzel hair for Saint Laurent’s virtual spring 2021 fashion show.
On top of booking an appointment with a specialist to get your extensions installed, Brager says to ensure the quality of the hair is good. “Also, make sure the hair they have for you is similar to your natural hair texture – whether it is curly or straight, you want it to dry naturally and seamlessly as much as possible,” she adds. “From there, your hair potential is endless! Have fun!”