From Hair to Nails, These Are Autumn's Most Important Beauty Trends


Is it just me, or was that the shortest summer of all time? Sure, officially, there might be a few weeks of it left, but the constant switching between extreme humidity and non-stop rain means that I'm more than ready to start looking ahead to fall—and, thankfully, so is the rest of the beauty industry. We've already predicted what our wardrobes might look like for autumn and winter, so I thought there was no better time to tap my beauty contacts for what our beauty habits will be looking like as we move through the final months of 2021. And trust me when I say that things are looking up. While there will be experimental color switch-ups in our makeup bags and at our hair appointments, there's also a welcome return to self-care and nourishment as we seek out comfort in our skincare and body care routines. Plus, nail art's popularity looks set to grow.

Ahead, I've spoken to experts in all things hair, nails, makeup and skincare to decipher the beauty trends that will be everywhere this fall. Keep scrolling for their predictions and to get ahead of the biggest autumn trends for 2021. Trust me—they look just as good on Instagram as they do in real life.


Perhaps the biggest hair trend of 2021 so far has been the return of the fringe, and all of the hair experts that I spoke to were equally vivacious about its autumn comeback. "Bangs! All kinds of bangs," exclaims Gia Burgos, Fekkai stylist, when asked about their hair predictions for autumn 2021. "Curly bangs, curtain bangs, classic bangs, [a fringe] is a great way to make a drastic change without losing length in your hair," Burgos explains. 

And while anything goes when it comes to fringes right now, there's no doubt that as we move into autumn, there will be a shift towards more maximalist styles. "Fringes are back for autumn/winter 2021, and I think thick, full fringes will be particularly popular," says Callum Standen-May, creative stylist at Bond Shoreditch. "[Thick] fringes look super stylish when paired with any hair length, from a short bob to a mid-length cut or long locks, and are a great way to instantly update and transform your regular hair look for the new season."


Hair color trends tend to be cyclical, so it's no surprise that experts are predicting the return of copper, red and auburn this autumn. However, one of the more unexpected hair color predictions comes with smokier undertones. "I predict that brunettes will be moving more towards ashy undertones, rather than warm," says Burgos. "And the same goes for blondes, who will be asking for pearly or silvery tones in their hair."

Adam Reed, UK editorial ambassador for L'Oréal Professionnel, has coined this the "big smoke blonde," and it's going to be huge for autumn 2021. "We'll see colour across all hair tones become more ashy to add some dimension to your natural base," explains Reed. "Blondes that are a mix of a beautiful golden blonde with smoky, ashy tones and sandy tonal highlights for a stunning greige finish."


As much fun as it is to switch up our hairstyles and colors with the seasons, autumn 2021 also sees a renewed focus on the importance of our actual hair health—in particular, our scalps. "A healthy scalp is the foundation of healthy hair, similar to needing good soil to grow plants," explains Sharon Wong, consultant dermatologist and hair specialist. "Incorporating exfoliating acids regularly in your haircare routine removes dead skin cells, excess grease and product build-up, helping to maintain healthy cell turnover of the scalp and unclog the hair follicles, providing the best environment for the emerging hair fibre."

And hairstylists are equally enamoured with the idea of us all incorporating scalp-care products into our haircare routines for healthier scalps. "Exfoliating masks are key to remove product build-up and clear clogged follicles," advises Burgos.


After 18 months of pared-back beauty routines and forgotten makeup bags, autumn 2021 is going to mark makeup's big comeback, starting with the eyes. "This autumn, there will be a return to classic glamour," predicts Jon Rummins, national education executive for Chantecaille. "Think smoky, sultry eyes with bold pigments. We will definitely see more neutral, warm tones but with flashes of accent color. Think regal emerald green blended with bronze or golds for an ultra-flattering, glamorous effect."

Chanel makeup artist Zoë Taylor also predicts that eyes will be where it's at for autumn. "I think bold, colorful eyes are definitely going to take off," she says. "It's a great trend because it allows you to be as playful as you like. It's a great excuse to get creative with color as well as texture—there are no rules!" And as for colors to look out for? "Aqua blues and oranges will be found in everyone's makeup bags, one way or another," Taylor says.


While 2021 might have been the year of low-maintenance makeup so far, there's one category that has continued to dominate: brows. From Refy's sell-out brow collection to basically every celeb I've interviewed this year pledging their allegiance to Soap Brows, it seems that our quest to perfect our arches is far from over.

"The trend for browcare will continue into autumn 2021," says Rummins. "But we will see light, feathered brows with natural definition. My go-to product is the Chantecaille Full Brow Perfecting Gel ($52) which combs, fills and sets while enhancing the natural brow shade, all in one sweep!"


When it comes to the color that we'll all be wearing on our lips this autumn, our experts were in agreement: red. And while it's not exactly a groundbreaking hue for the latter half of the year, it's the texture that changes everything. "I love a red lip, and they are definitely going to be big for autumn/winter 2021," says Taylor. "But this season, it's all about playing with texture—either keeping it super matte or as glossy as possible."

And while ultra-mattes have been bubbling away at the surface all year, it's this shift towards sheen that really has us excited. "We will see a comeback for bold, glossy lips, which really pop," explains Rummins. "Think eye-catching berry tones—the ideal shade to transition from day to evening."


(Image credit: @aysha.sow@asos_lotte@fongminliao)

Summer might have been a bit of a washout, but there's no doubt that a return to socializing will have taken its toll on all of our complexions. "Post-summer skin recovery is likely to be a focus for autumn 2021," predicts Andrew Markey, MD, FRCP, consultant dermatologist. "So the development of good night-time retinoid habits balanced by daytime pigmentation and calming treatments, such as vitamin C and niacinamide, is essential."

Anita Sturnham, MD, a GP specialising in dermatology, also points out that a focus on more even skin tone via scientific ingredients will be key for next season. "Every autumn, I see an increase in patients seeking help with uneven pigmentation. This tends to be exacerbated after periods of time spent in the sun on holidays," Sturnham explains. "Prevention is better than cure, so the daily application of a broad-spectrum sunscreen is key." However, if you already have signs of pigmentation, then Sturnham suggests incorporating an antioxidant serum into your routine "containing ingredients such as vitamin C, niacinamide, panthenol, ferulic acid or CoQ10" to help to slow pigmentation down. 


(Image credit: @monikh@caitlinmiyako@aimeesong)

Autumn has always felt like a moment to reset for me, with the shorter days and colder nights providing a much-needed moment to recharge at home. Sturnham believes that this 360 approach to self-care will extend to skincare, too. "Autumn will be about focusing as much on what we put into our bodies at the same time as looking at what we put onto the skin directly," she explains. "I have always been a big believer in this approach, and my clinic brand philosophy is based around this holistic approach. Consumers today are much more aware of the links between gut health, hormone balance and well-being and the impact these have on skin health. As such, we're seeing a growing trend for efficacy-backed beauty edibles and tandem products that work both internally and topically."


Finally, one of the biggest fall skincare trends will take place below the neck. "As the weather changes, we also often see changes in the skin on our bodies, typically more dryness," explains Ifeoma Ejikeme, MD, MBChB, MSc, skin expert and medical director/founder of Adonia Medical Clinic. "Use an emollient body moisturiser like Dr Sam's Flawless Body Therapy ($36), which contains bakuchiol, niacinamide and lactic acid—all great for hydrating skin."

Markey confirms that this interest in "off-face treatments" is set to grow in autumn 2021. "Niacinamide is a very helpful calming and restorative 'master molecule' and is perfect for particularly sensitive areas like necks and chests. I recommend Beauty Pie Über Youth Neck & Chest Super Lift Serum-Spray ($14, member price)."


Nail art has dominated the manicure landscape since salons reopened back in April this year, and our penchant for playful prints looks set to grow. "The fall/winter season is such a fantastic time to try out some new looks to match your wardrobe," says Juanita Huber-Millet, Townhouse founder and creative director. "This season's nail art themes will include the ever-popular negative-space mani reimagined with '70s retro influences. Think bold print pops, like flowers and animal prints, and French tips with an autumnal twist."


As a lover of a chic black mani all year round, I'm delighted that autumn sees a welcome return to deeper, moodier hues when it comes to nail polish colors. "I think in general, when it comes to autumn trends, there are two distinct camps," explains Carla Opoku, founder of Cienna Rose. "One is going to be a lot of barely there nails, flesh tones and coffee and cream hues, and on the flip side, there will be lots of gothic-inspired colors from deep, dark burgundies, midnight blues and even black, as seen at Philipp Plein, Anna Sui and Rodarte."


After all that color and print, the final fall nail trend for 2021 feels like a breath of fresh air. "There's no doubt negative space has already made a huge impact this year and has featured in every top nail artist's Instagram feed," says Nailberry founder Sonia Hully. "No matter the season, a nude should never be overlooked, so we are certain that neutrals will dominate the negative-space manicure this autumn." 

Mica Ricketts