Understandably, many people took a step back from bold, bright beauty choices over the past year. More natural hair looks in particular were embraced thanks to either their low maintenance upkeep or simply because a trip to the salon wasn’t feasible. But now, one thing is for sure —in 2021, everyone is eager to refresh their hair color, especially with warmer weather (and hopefully more opportunities to socialize) just a few weeks away. Luckily, the top summer 2021 hair color trends range from subtle to over-the-top, so you have a variety of hues to choose from.
In fact, Cherin Choi, a Los Angeles-based colorist, is expecting a lot of requests for drastic hair transformations this summer. “Clients are wanting to have the hair they’ve been thinking about all pandemic, and it’s been fun doing the big changes,” she tells TZR. But on the other hand, the hair expert believes some are cautiously asking for low-maintenance and natural shades due to the ongoing lockdowns. “I’m experiencing a mix of ‘carpe diem’ with ‘let’s see where this goes,’” the colorist explains.
And just like current fashion trends, nostalgia is also playing a major part in up-and-coming hair looks. “The ‘70s are having a huge comeback, with a boom of redheads paired with all of the curtain bangs, mullets, and shags last year brought back,” Sabrina Yamani Yamga, a colorist at SPACE by Alex Brown in Chicago, tells TZR. Though, of course, there are colors in the list below that are catered to brunettes and blondes, too.
Ahead, discover eight of the top summer 2021 hair color trends, according to the experts. Make sure to book your appointment ASAP, because hot girl summer waits for no one.
Summer 2021 Hair Color Trend: Contrasted Brunette
Bianca Hillier, a colorist based in Los Angeles, predicts contrasted brunette will be big this summer. “This look offers extreme dimension and movement for a sexy feel,” she says. “With the highlights to the scalp, this technique can give the illusion of a lighter natural base — however, it will require frequent maintenance.” The look seen on influencer Rocky Barnes above involves a light brown base color with highlights a slightly lighter shade than the base.
Summer 2021 Hair Color Trend: Mushroom Blonde
“Just like the colors of a mushroom, this mostly ashy combination of blondes and browns mixed together create a dimensional glow for dull brunettes looking to freshen it up a bit, [or] for overly bright blondes to tone it down,” Michelle Cleveland, Wella Master Color Expert, tells TZR. To add to that, the colorist says the look is super low-maintenance; perfect if you don’t want to trek to the salon every eight or so weeks for a touch-up.
Summer 2021 Hair Color Trend: Money Piece
Fact: Money piece (dying your two front strands a different color than the rest of your hair) is the hair trend that won’t quit. And according to Matt Rez, Redken brand ambassador and a celebrity colorist who works with Camila Mendes and Kaia Gerber, it’s here to stay for summer 2021. ‘This is another way of creating the illusion of brighter hair without having to commit to completely going lighter,” he tells TZR. When it comes to this hair trend, it’s totally up to you what color you decide on for the front pieces — you can go with a blonde, or alternatively, a vibrant color such as pink.
Summer 2021 Hair Color Trend: Copper Ginger
MATRIX celebrity colorist George Papanikolas says copper ginger hair is a major trend embraced by celebrities and models alike. Plus, he notes that it can be customized to complement each persons’ skin tone, from a strawberry, deep ginger, copper penny, to even a cooler auburn. “If you’re unsure about a sudden change, the easiest way to dip your toe into copper is to do a copper gloss over your highlights or natural hair,” he explains. “Variations of the trend have been seen on celebs from Gigi and Bella Hadid, and model Carmen Solomons showing the versatility of the trend on different skin tones.”
Summer 2021 Hair Color Trend: Pastels
“For blondes that have a temporary change of heart, a pastel pink is a summer go-to,” Hillier says. “[It’s] low-maintenance and when formulated properly, [it] can simply fade more and more out of the hair with each and every wash.” And to upkeep the look, the colorist says it only needs a simple gloss to refresh.
Likewise, with most of the world continuing to work from home, Katy Kavrazonis, Covet and Mane’s lead educator, thinks fashion colors will emerge again. “Pastels and vibrant colors are a great way to have fun with your hair, and you don’t have to stay married to the color for too long,” she explains. “Fashion colors fade quickly so they are temporary!” But, as you typically need to first bleach your hair for a fun color, it’s not quite for those who prefer a low-maintenance look.
Summer 2021 Hair Color Trend: Caramel Balayage
“Variations of this hair color [balayage] dominate our Instagram and Pinterest feeds more than any other shade, and can range from blonde, tortoiseshell, and of course the most popular now: caramel,” Papanikolas explains of the color technique, which eschews foils for a hand-painted technique that has a gradation of lightness down the hair. “The reason balayage continues to stay popular is because it has a universally flattering end result since it sits right in the middle of the hair color spectrum, and can be adjusted to be warmer or cooler to suit each person’s skin tone.” If you prefer warm, the celebrity colorist says caramel is your tone. Bonus: as balayage grows out it looks super natural (meaning no harsh lines where the color ends and your real tone appears) which means you won’t have to rush back to your colorist for a touch-up.
Summer 2021 Hair Color Trend: Soft Blondes
“Blondes are also going to be softer — even the platinum is more warm and golden,” Yamani Yamga explains. The colorist says the look is still bright, but less of a violet base and a lot more honey. “One of the best inspirations comes from Anya Taylor-Joy’s gorgeous warm platinum, done by the iconic Tracey Cunningham.”
Summer 2021 Hair Color Trend: Framing The Face
Lorri Goddard, a celebrity colorist whose clients include Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Chloe Moretz, says when it comes to summer hair trends, it’s all about framing your face (like Jamie Chung’s recent look above). “Framing one’s face is really all about a double down on shine and also enhancing the eyes and skin,” she tells TZR. “It feels really good and very sun-kissed to have that light around your face.” Plus, she says it’s great because it goes with any complexion, and it can be taken much blonder than your natural color, or it can be a more subtle version. While it looks similar to the sought-after money piece look, Goddard says it’s more than just the front two strands of your hair — rather more all-over highlights around the face. Last summer, the colorist did a softer version of the look on Huntington-Whiteley. It’s the perfect beachy hair for summer ‘21.