If I had a dollar for every time I A) gasped at the rather sad sight of my hair or B) asked myself what on earth I was going to do with my hair, I'd be a very rich woman. Our hair routine—just like our skincare or makeup—is an ever-evolving journey and pinpointing the best products, cuts, styles, colors, and accessories for whatever kind of season we're in—be it mental or environmental—can be challenging. And, after the past year and a half or so, many of our hair MOs have shifted more significantly than they ever have before.
Trends are fleeting and in the case of beauty, in particular, the hold and influence trends once wielded in the past have definitely loosened. I mean, it's your head—do what you want! Now more than ever, we encourage you to shed any intimidation, expectations, and maybe even fear when it comes to approaching new looks.
So while we don't believe trends should completely dictate your beauty choices, they can definitely offer a helpful dose of inspiration, especially in the strand department, which can be even more fickle than our skincare and makeup aesthetics. To shed some light on what hair trends are really popping this fall, I asked a handful of expert colorists and hairstylists to share some insight. From cut to style to color to accessories, keep scrolling for the most noteworthy hair trends of fall 2021.
Trend #1: '90s-Inspired Pixie Cuts
"I've been seeing more and more women embracing the vibe of a super-short pixie haircut like Toni Braxton’s back in the '90s!" exclaims Redken x Mizani Brand Ambassador, Leysa Carrillo. As far as the aesthetic of your pixie, the options are endless—you can go the route of ultra-short gamine or a longer, disconnected look with lots of texture added in.
"My timeless advice is that a picture is worth a thousand words, notes Rodney Cutler, Redken Brand Ambassador, and owner of Cutler Salons NYC. "Always bring photos of looks and styles that you love along with photos of things you don't like. These reference images will help you and your stylist get on the same page while you're exploring new looks."
Trend #2: The Curtain Bang
Yep, curtain bangs are still here and likely here to stay. (We see it having legs through the rest of the year and beyond, TBH.)
"We are seeing a strong return to beauty after the past 18 months of quarantine, working from home, and time away from the salons," notes Cutler. "The most immediate trend we've spotlighted is the curtain bang. Swept away yet versatile, this trend paves the way to create change in your look while still maintaining some length."
If you don't already own a set of creaseless clips, we highly recommend making the investment. They're a must-have in every pro stylist's kit, and celebrity hairstylist David Lopez says they're one of the best-kept secrets for keeping the shape and style of your curtain bangs on lock.
"Pinch your bangs together right at your hairline, set with a clip, and swoop each side out to create a 'C' curtain shape before gently clipping those ends as well," says Lopez. "Allow it to set for a couple of minutes and then release." For five more helpful styling tips, click here.
Trend #3: The Shag
Another highly requested trend? The shag. "Even though we've seen the resurgence of the shag time and time again, the 2021 version reads softer (think 1990s-era) and not as disconnected as it was back in the '70s," explains Cutler.
"This style was massive in the '70s, and now it's back in a big way," agrees celebrity hairstylist Ben Talbott. "Think texture, layers, and heavy bangs—I truly feel like it's the biggest hair trend right now. Think Billie Eilish, Natasha Lyonne, Selena Gomez—even Halle Berry has done it in the past. This style naturally works well with curly and wavy hair, and the more texture you have, the better. When you're at the salon, ask for grown-out soft curtain bangs and lots of textured layers leaving a little length through the front. This look takes a little styling, so I recommend adding a bit of Bumble and Bumble's Thickening Dryspun Volume Texture Spray ($31) or Philip Kingsley's Curl Activator ($33), and some Ouai Matte Pomade ($24) to the ends to really bring out the texture of the cut. If you want a little more polish, try using the GHD Curve Creative Curl Wand ($199) to add some movement."
Trend #4: The Wolf Cut
If you like the vibe of the shag but are feeling even more daring, cue the wolf cut, an emerging trend Cutler says has been gaining momentum just in time for fall.
"The surprise trend this year is the resurgence of the wolf cut; a soft, shaggy combination between a classic shag haircut and a severe mullet," Cutler explains. "It's the perfect option for the brave client looking to explore new territory. Try using Redken's Full Frame 07 All-Over Volumizing Mousse ($20) at the roots of your cut to add volume and light texture with soft control."
Trend #5: Embracing Natural Texture
"After an extended time away from the salons (and more specifically keratin treatments), natural textures are back in a big way," continues Cutler. "For those people lucky enough to have natural texture, it's all about embracing the curls and waves which inspire individuality and creative movement. The adaptation to this more natural look is all based on the comfort level of your hair type and maintenance routine with the right stylist guiding you. A sea salt spray like Redken Fashion Waves 07 ($16) will activate your texture and provide a beautiful beachy look."
Trend #6: Bold Color Choices
You can check out our full fall color trend report here, but bold color choices (along with lush, rich hues—we'll get to those in a minute) are just it for fall 2021.
"Bold colors and platinum blondes are also back in vogue," Talbott tells us. "Billie Eilish has undergone a platinum transformation, Georgia May Jagger had a pink moment, and Florence Pugh and Cardi B have embraced their own daring iterations. If you don't want to commit to permanent color, try working with wigs or temporary color alternatives. It's a quick, fun, and easy way to switch up your color or style without the commitment."
Trend #7: Bangs, Bangs, and More Bangs
"We're going to see a lot of bangs this fall, predicts celebrity hairstylist Jillian Halouska. "Curly, straight, messy, sleek, long and short, and minis. Chunky thick long side bangs parted in the middle, textured just above the brow, flirty soft wispy curls falling just over the eyes—everything! Regardless of the rest of your haircut, bangs always make a statement."
Trend #8: Curled Ends
"I've been loving the luscious look of straight, mid-length hair with the ends curled," Halouska adds. "Be sure to add a shine spray to the styling process to add a subtle autumn glow."
Trend #9: Blown-Out Ponytails
"Gorgeous ponytails! Ponytails can be high, medium, or low, as long as you've got that nice round bed at the bottom this fall," Halouska tells me. "Blow your hair upside down to create volume, and use a large-barrel curling iron to round the ends. Spray some hairspray on a boar bristle brush, and run it lightly over the hair to smooth down any pesky flyaways."
Trend #10: Two-Toned Color
"Experimenting with two-toned color is a cool and easy way to update your look in time for fall," Halouska says. "Think chunky, noticeable color that's super fun. Using colored shampoos will help reds and pastels retain their lifespan."
Trend #11: Squared-Off Bob With a Middle Part and Bangs
"For anyone who's looking to lose some length this fall, I love the vibe of a squared-off bob that hits around the midpoint of the neck," explains Halouska. "Keep it fresh by parting it down the middle and adding a wispy face frame. As far as styling, a hair powder helps keep the texture and root volume while a fine-tooth comb will give you a nice straight part."
Trend #12: Teeny-Tiny Accent Braids
"I'm a huge fan of the '90s reprisal we're having with hair trends this season," says Nine Zero One Salon hairstylist Sierra Kener. "Think Spice Girls–inspired baby braids. If you want a slick, borderline wet look, I love Johnson & Johnson's Baby Oil Gel ($7). Or, let your strands dry naturally to boost texture and add your braids after! In Common's Magic Myst Universal Hair Elixir ($35) will keep it shiny and soft."
Trend #13: Layers à la Rachel
"This fall, all-over layers will be huge," says Kener. "Think Jennifer Aniston's character, Rachel, from Friends. Ask your hairstylist for lots of movement and plenty of face-framing layers." (Speaking of layers, can we just have a moment of appreciation for Brad's layers, too?)
Trend #14: Rich Shades of Brown
"Rich brunettes thrive in the fall," says Nine Zero One Salon hairstylist Ashley Ruiz. "If you're looking to go darker, I think It's the best time to have a warmer, deep brunette tone like luxurious shades of chocolate and chestnut. You can go for all-over color or add in lowlights for extra dimension—just make sure the end result has a reflective finish. Warmer hues tend to have less fading, so it's a great option if you're looking for something more low-maintenance."