With the plethora of frosted highlights, space buns, hair clips, and zig-zag parts, it’s safe to say that the resurgence of the late '90s and early ‘00s beauty is back and here to stay. “The Y2K [hairstyle] trends are cool because they are playful, nostalgic, and require minimal effort,” says Rubyna Kim, StyleSeat hairstylist. TikTok has racked up 14 million views (and growing) on #Y2Khair tutorials. And celebs like Megan Thee Stallion and Lizzo are even showing up with hair clips and space buns to red carpet events.
This resurgence of Y2K hairstyle trends isn’t exactly how you remember them, though. Instead, they pull from both past and present trends to feel more fashionable and less cringe. “Y2K hairstyles have come back with a ‘same, same but different’ twist this time around,” says Tara Simich, CEO and founder of Mermade Hair. “It still gives you the nostalgic vibes, but with a modern execution. Expect fluffy blowouts minus the teasing combo and coloring techniques, for a more sophisticated look.”
Although the nostalgia trend continues to gain speed, the experts all agree that butterfly clips and zig-zag parts won’t last much longer — so what hairstyles are about to take their place? “We expect a lot of big hair energy in 2022,” says Simich who believes mid-2000s movies will be your go-to inspiration for Y2K styles going forward. “Think layered fluffy Mandy Moore locks, more Bring It On volume at the roots, Jessica Alba Step Up bangs and tighter curls giving us all the Mean Girls vibes.” Smirch continues.
Ahead, check out nine of the most popular Y2K hairstyles that are back, better than ever, and worth a try.
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“Baby braids are small thin plaits (read: braids) on both sides of the face to add a roped texture to any hairstyle worn down,” says Amy Abramite, creative director and hairstylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago. To achieve at home, begin with hair’s natural texture and a center part. Next, section two small tendrils and create a three-strand braid with loose tension and secure with elastics if needed. Abramite recommends adding a lightweight paste like Fiber Groom Elastic Texture Paste over braids to add hold and prevent from unraveling.
Whether they’re braided tendrils or two simple strands of hair, framing your face with layers makes for an effortless look that’s still noticeable enough to grab some attention. “This cut allows you to craft an actual shape around the face to give flattering dimension and texture,” RUSK Hair Global Creative Director Matt Swinney tells TZR. Test the style by pulling out small sections of the hair from an updo to soften the style. Abramite suggests applying an oil like the Elixir Ultime LHuile Original Hair Oil to the tendrils to add moisture, shine, and separation.
Flipped Out Ends
Flipped ends can elevate and add dimension to any look, even if it’s a sleek, straight bob. “Originally inspired by the ‘60s, this look was brought back in the early 2000s accompanied with more layers,” says Jasmine Burnside, editorial and celebrity hairdresser. To achieve easily at home, blow dry using a round brush and prep the hair with a heat protectant. “While blow drying, encourage the hair to flip out by directing the hair with the round brush and airflow. To smooth the surface of the hair and lock in that perfect flip, use a 1-1 and 1/4” curling iron,” Burnside adds.
High pigtails went viral in the ‘90s as soon as Baby Spice sported them on a Spice Girls tour. In recent years Ariana Grande, Hailey Bieber, and more It girls have made the trend cool again. Instead of thinking child-like pigtails, today you can wear them in sleek braids, teased out, and with hair accessories for a more elegant and grown-up look. For extra volume, try the RUSK Thick Body & Texture Amplifier.
The uniform zig-zag waves that were made popular in the early ‘00s with crimp hot tools have made a recent resurgence on TikTok with a new name: mermaid hair. The 2022 update to crimped looks has wider waves that are still beachy but more polished for any kind of outing. Be sure to spritz on a nourishing leave-in conditioner for extra moisture and shine.
Retro Space Buns
According to Abramite, space buns — dual top knots placed side-by-side with a center part — are a “natural progression following the singular top knot or chignon.” To style, begin with a part down the middle of the head and create high ponytails with elastic bands. Next, twist the tails around the bases in a circular motion building volume, and secure with hair pins. Mist the buns with a flexible hairspray to hold them in place.
Claw Clips Buns
Kim reaches for a Y2K claw clip for the ultimate, chic lazy girl updo. It’s sophisticated and versatile in a messy bun or half up, half down style. Plus, claw clips come in all shapes and colors. Her tip: “Leave a few face-framing pieces out, as it will contour the face pretty nicely.”
Think: Mandy Moore’s iconic hairstyle in the “Candy” music video from 1999. The sleek spiky bun has been seen recently on the likes of Olivia Rodrigo, Doja Cat, Dua Lipa, and even at the 2022 Met Gala as worn by Gigi Hadid. “Braids, spikes, knots, and an overabundance of hair accessories glittered the scene in the early 2000s,” Clayton Hawkins, a celebrity hairstylist who works with Rodrigo, Elizabeth Olsen, Rachel Zegler, and Dove Cameron, previously told TZR. “Now that it’s making a resurgence, remember: There are no rules when it comes to Y2K hair. Make it your own and make it weird.”
Achieve this look by securing your hair into a sleek high bun with hair spray or clear gel to smooth fly-aways, then pin or tuck hair ends through the front of the elastic to fan out around the bun in spikes.
Money Piece Highlights
Money pieces were a defining style of Y2K trends, and the chunky highlights are back and thriving among celebrities and influencers alike, including Lizzo, Bella Hadid, Kim Kardashian, and Beyoncé. "The 'money piece' refers to a coloring technique in which the front hairline is lightened to frame the face and freshen your overall hair color," Andrew Fitzsimons, hairstylist to Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian, previously told TZR. He explained that the look is a more refined take on color jobs of the past. "Think of it as a less dramatic version of Ginger Spice's face-framing blond. Rather than a dramatic shift in color, it's your color, lightened."
This time around, the trend won’t require you to fry your hair à la the ‘90s stick straight look — the trend works well with all hair textures. “For girls with curls, individual curls can be highlighted to create a chunk or bold highlight,” Jessica Wall Innella, Aloxxi Artist and owner of Renaissance Salons, previously told TZR. “Fine, straight, or coarse and wavy hair can have strategically placed chunky highlights for more contrast.”
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