7 Low-Maintenance Hair Trends That Are Going to Dominate in 2021

Here we are in 2021, and although it has already been as full of unexpected twists and turns as its predecessor, we're still optimistically planning to make the most of this year. We've already (albeit tentatively) started mentally assembling fancy outfits for backdated weddings and have even been predicting the nail colours, new boot styles, and jeans types that will be big news over the next few months. But with so much uncertainty still swirling around, there's one question that lingers at the back of our minds: What will the defining hair trends of 2021 actually be? Admittedly, they don't have much to live up to.

Back in March last year, when hairdressers across the country were forced to close their doors, no one could foresee the impact it would have on our tresses. Those who couldn't bear the thought of grown-out roots had little option but to reacquaint themselves with at-home box dye, while others with shorter hair or fringes had to become nimble with a pair of hairdressing scissors pretty quickly.

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Some of you may have found this liberating and have since adopted low-maintenance routines, but for others, time spent away from the hairdresser's chair has only reaffirmed their love of the salon. What we want to know is, Where does that leave us and any potential hairstyle trends in 2021? Will we start to favour understated 'dos over styles that require upkeep every eight weeks, or is "more is more" going to be the mantra for any hair devotee? We decided to go right to the source to find out, asking top hairstylists for their input. Scroll below to find out what they think will be the biggest hair trends in 2021. 

1. SOFT BALAYAGE 

"When it comes to colour, you don't want something that requires too much precision," reveals hairstylist to the stars George Northwood. "Something that has become a bit of a signature of ours is a softer, natural balayage. With the disturbance of COVID and salons shutting for months on end, people are stepping away from that fresh, highlighted look that is quite high-maintenance and is tricky to maintain well at home without your colourist."

"Over the first lockdown, a lot of my clients saw their natural colour growing through and have actually gotten used to it," Northwood continues. "So we are now seeing a lot more clients who are now experimenting with keeping their hair closer to their natural colour, which is far more easily managed and can see you through those longer gaps between appointments, which is a smart move in these times of uncertainty."

Another top hairdresser who shares this sentiment is the authority on hair colour, Rita Hazan. "I believe that people will start to embrace low-maintenance colour in 2021," Hazan explains. "After having gone so long without a salon visit during lockdown, this is bound to happen. Single-process colour and/or covering grey roots are simpler to do at home, even with a home kit. Just find a colour that is closest to what you have. Like soft balayage, subtle highlights are also low-maintenance and can grow out nicely, even with roots, because there isn't too much of a contrast.”

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THREE WAYS TO DO SOFT BALAYAGE COLOUR:
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2. SHORT, TAPERED CUTS

"After surviving one lockdown, I'm finding many of my clients are looking to hone their grown-out styles and are instead looking for short, tapered cuts, either in their natural form or relaxed," says Nicole Pembrook, owner of International Beauty Expert, who you may know from Instagram as the Healthy Hair Doctor. "These looks are timeless, chic, and easy to style. Opt for length at the crown, keeping things shorter at the sides."

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THREE WAYS TO DO SHORT, TAPERED CUTS:
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3. SILVER

"I’m starting to see a lot of women (and men) learning to embrace the grey and steering away from drastic changes," reveals Hazan. "I would say that it's just as important to look after the quality of silver hair. You need to try and remove any yellow or orange tones that can find their way in when growing out colour. Using a gloss between washing and conditioning is perfect for this. My breaking-brass gloss will help keep a cool tone, but you can also use purple shampoos."

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THREE WAYS TO DO SILVER COLOUR:
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4. CHOPPY LOBS & BOBS

"As we are currently in this cycle of going in and out of lockdown, I think more people will be looking for an easy-to-maintain style," says Northwood. "A lot of our clients have been requesting the effortless, undone bob, which is one of my signature styles that originated from working with Alexa Chung. I think that this will continue to be popular going into 2021, as it’s quite a relaxed, messy style, meaning that when it grows out it will still look effortlessly chic."

"Shoulder-length bobs will be popular: the shag, the blunt textured bob, the cheekbone-skimming bob," confirms Rosslyn Orr, salon director and head technician at Charlie Miller South St Andrew Street. "Almost all of my clients are asking me about low-maintenance, choppy, and unstructured styles."

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THREE WAYS TO DO CHOPPY LOB & BOB CUTS:
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5. COPPER

Red was one of 2020's breakout colour trends, and it's a look that Natalie Cole, salon director and head technician at Charlie Miller Fredrick Street, predicts is set to continue under a more muted guise. "Coppers will be chestnut warm and more muted. As life becomes more subdued, there will be a move towards a more natural look that doesn't require a visit to the salon every few weeks. That's something all my clients want—colours with longer lifespans."

"For me, it's all about that subtle hint of colour," affirms Pembrook. "This shade looks great on any hairstyle."

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THREE WAYS TO DO COPPER COLOUR:
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6. LONG LAYERS

Bobs and lobs might be proving popular, but long hair is arguably less demanding. "I think it's a good time to reflect and be inspired by what worked and looked effortless in the past," suggests Nicholas Hardwick, principal stylist at Josh Wood Colour. "’70s and ’80s hair—don’t run away just yet; I’m not talking frizzy perms—like long layered, wavy cuts is a look that stands the test of time. Layers are key, as you won't have to come into the salon all that often to get them freshened up. Blunt, one-length styles require a bit more maintenance, so I'd advise going messier with the finish."

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THREE WAYS TO DO LONG, LAYERED CUTS:
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7. FRINGES

"Wearing masks is going to continue to be non-negotiable, and many of my regular clients have been having fringes cut in to complement them," says Amber Swift, salon director and head technician at Charlie Miller Holy Corner. "Generally easier to maintain in the colder months, as heat can often present styling problems, fringes help to frame and define the face, so I see the logic in wanting one to complement your mask. I'd recommend going for a choppier, more relaxed cut that's easier to replicate should a more serious lockdown be put in place again." 

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THREE WAYS TO DO FRINGE CUTS:
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MUST-HAVE PRODUCT:

Opening Images: @chanelmckinsie, @taniceelizabeth@greceghanem

Up next, 12 (actually) effective products for hair growth, according to Amazon reviews.

Maxine Eggenberger
Deputy Editor

Maxine Eggenberger is Who What Wear UK’s deputy editor and has over twelve years of experience in fashion journalism. She been creating engaging and elevated style content for Who What Wear UK since 2018, covering runway reports, emerging trends, long-form features, self-styled shopping stories, and columns, including her edit of the best new-in buys. She ensures the highest editorial standards are met across the site, works closely with influencer talent on content initiatives, represents the brand at industry events, and regularly contributes to social media. Previously, Maxine appeared on TV in her own fashion segment and has interviewed countless celebrities—everyone from Victoria Beckham to Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o. 


Prior to Who What Wear UK, Maxine’s career began when, after completing her first-ever internship, she was offered a position on the Look magazine fashion desk. She accepted, leaving university a year early in the process. She went on to become the title's fashion news and commercial content editor, with a stint as InStyle.co.uk’s fashion writer along the way. She later served as Look’s acting Editor in Chief before embarking on a successful freelance career, working with Grazia, The Pool, and Marie Claire amongst others. Maxine works remotely from her countryside home near Edinburgh.