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Every era has its look—think Farrah Fawcett’s feathered waves in the 70s, big hair in the 80s, and pin straight strands in the 90s. So, what defines the hair trends for 2021? The answer is a lot. This year can’t be defined by a single look.
“The top hair trends of 2021 are ombre beach-waved hair, vivid colors, and embracing and enhancing your natural texture!” says Sarah Potempa, celebrity hairstylist and inventor of the Beachwaver. “There were cool haircuts like the wolf cut, which is a combination of a layered haircut and a longer shag. Curtain bangs and layers are big right now, as they add volume and make the hair move easier (vs. being weighed down). Waves have remained to be the most popular way to style your hair, but now with the ends out for a more relaxed look. Hair extensions are a huge trend in 2021, especially with the new color options of ombre, rooted, and vivids! Natural texture has been embraced in a whole new way with more education and routine tutorials online that help people find what’s best for their hair type.”
In other words, the top hair trends of 2021 were about embracing individuality and what works for you. That’s reflected in the best hair products to launch this year. Tending to your tresses and nourishing healthy strands also saw major growth. “The new types of popular hair products to hit the market this year were products that focus on hair health,” says Matrix Artistic Director Michelle O‘Connor.
Once again, as more proof that trends are cyclical, what’s old is new again. “One of the top hair trends of 2021 is the Farrah Fawcett-inspired hair,” O‘Connor says. “We began to see this voluminous and bountifully textured trend popping up everywhere. The next trend were chunky highlights, which are compliments of the early 2000’s. It started with a money piece and face framing bold color in the front of the hair. Now it’s making its way to living throughout the hair! Another can’t miss look is the shag—whether it’s on shorter hair resembling more of a mullet or carrying more length, it’s very lived in and messy. The shaggier, the better!”
It was also the year of extremes, according to Harry Josh, Global Ambassador for Goldwell and KMS. “The top hair trends of 2021 were extremely safe or extremely shocking,” he says. “There are two types of ‘extreme’ women coming into the salon, both very frazzled after an intense year. Those who want to go the extremely safe route don’t want to cut off more than an inch or touch their hair with color; they’re fragile as it is. Those who want to go the extremely shocking route are looking for a major change like shaving their head or going platinum blonde. You can’t blame them—it’s been an insane year; everyone is looking for something different.”
Something that’s always in style is wearing whatever feels and looks best for you—and getting the best hair products to maintain it and care for the health of your hair. “I would recommend that everybody creates a routine that is right for their hair type,” Potempa says. ‘The most essential hair products come in two categories. The first is your strengthening and cleansing routine. This should include shampoo and conditioner (or co-wash) that are sulfate-, formaldehyde-, benzophenone-, and paraben-free. I also highly recommend a T-shirt towel instead of a towel, as the fibers are very gentle and help to lay down the cuticle for less frizz. You also want to have the right brush for your hair type to help detangle and prep the hair. The next category is styling. Based on your hair type, you want to find the right tools for your hair.”
To help you do that, we’ve rounded up the best hair products for 2021, from shampoos and conditioners to stylers and hair masks.
BEST PRODUCTS FOR FINE HAIR
KMS Conscious Style Everyday Shampoo
“The newest launch from KMS is a mild, daily treatment that cleanses, detangles, and maintains the natural balance of hair and scalp,” Josh says. “This new collection features sustainably sourced, highly effective ingredients like oat oil, which is known to be moisturizing yet hydrating and moringa seed oil, which is super hydrating and protects hair and scalp from environmental stressors.”
Color Wow Xtra Large Bombshell Volumizer
Ready to pump up the volume? Truly an innovative formula, as one of the best volumizing hair products, this game-changing foam adds weightless volume without drying out or damaging the cuticle layer. Hair is bigger and better, and shinier, too. Even better, it doubles as a heat protectant.
The Beachwaver Co. Charcoal Shampoo Bar
“We just launched a Charcoal Shampoo Bar and the formula is phenomenal,” Potempa says. “It gets rid of any product buildup in the base of the hair. It has organic Shea butter and organic coconut oil, lathers really well to create a clarifying and volumizing effect with the charcoal, while still being sulfate-, paraben-, fragrance-free, and vegan. It lasts five times longer than the typical shampoo bottle and has compostable packaging.”
BEST PRODUCTS FOR WAVY HAIR
Nature Lab Tokyo Texture Wave Cream
Work your waves to the fullest with this cream that also conditions without weighing them down. Locks are left frizz-free with loads of movement and shine, yet still feel touchable. Work a little into your waves and scrunch until you get the texture you crave. (It’s one of the best air dry hair products.)
Guy Tang #MyTHICCBody Texture Spray
A texturizing spray is exactly what wavy hair needs to build body and volume and define its natural pattern. Hair is left super soft and perfectly mussed for that effortless look, so it’s truly one of the best hair products for wavy hair. Impressively weightless, it also provides heat protection up to 450 degrees F.
Alterna Easy Does It Air-Dry Balm
Hot summer weather makes one much less inclined to sit under a blow dryer. When the weather calls for skipping hot tools, a finished look is still possible with this air-dry balm. It cuts down on air-drying time while enhancing natural texture. Weather-safe, it keeps frizz under control, protects from pollution and leaves hair smoother and more manageable with help from vegan botanical caviar, prickly pear oil, water lily extract and white charcoal.
BEST PRODUCTS FOR CURLY HAIR
Kerastase Curl Manifesto Refreshing & Restyling Spray
Reviving second day curls can be tricky, but this light-as-a-feather mist makes it foolproof, making it one of the best curly hair products. Spiked with manuka honey and ceramide to nourish, it instantly brings curls and coils back to life, reactivating their definition and refreshing between washes. It also fights frizz while adding shine, making it one of the best products for shiny hair.
Twist by Ouidad Boss Bounce Light As Air Buildable Styling Cream
You want a curl cream to be heavy enough to define your texture but light enough to keep hair touchable and with movement. Enter this buildable styling cream that’s just right. In addition to smoothing and hydrating strands, it also helps with flyaways and split ends.
John Frieda Hair Care Frizz Ease Dream Curls Curl Defining Creme Oil
Get the best of both worlds with this styler that blends the nourishment of an oil with the speedy absorption of a cream. One of the best anti frizz hair products, the conditioning formula works to deeply hydrate curls while defining them. Rosehip oil is the secret ingredient that gets the job done, leaving curls healthier than ever.
The Good Stuff Curl Hydration Butter
One of the main reasons curls lose their shape and become frizzy is because they’re dry. This curl butter doubles as a leave-in conditioner to quench hair’s thirst, locking in moisture to reduce breakage and strengthen strands. Loaded with coconut oil, it works equally well on curls and coils.
BEST PRODUCTS FOR COILY HAIR
Pattern by Tracee Ellis Ross Treatment Mask
Coily hair is delicate and this mask will give it the TLC it needs. Potent and ancient ingredients like rice water ferment and moringa seed extract soften and strengthen strands. Coils are left elongated and defined with smooth slip.
Salwa Peterson Chébé du Tchad Hair Cream
The hero ingredient, Chébé du Tchad, has been used by women in Chad for a millenia to care for their long hair and keep it healthy. The natural formula with organic, wild harvested and fair traded Chébé seeds sourced directly from Chad is a leave-in styling hair cream that truly does it all. It boosts hair growth, smooths, and protects. The ingredient list is rounded out with sea buckthorn to fight breakage, African shea butter to nourish, and avocado oil to treat damage.
Love Beauty and Planet Rice Oil and Angelica Essence Curls and Waves Pre-Cleanse Primer Treatment
Wash day is a lot more involved when you have coily hair and this pre-shampoo treatment is a great place to start. Infused with rice bran oil to restore and nourish, the clean formula is 100 percent biodegradable, using plant-based cleansers to prime hair. In addition to detangling, it also drenches strands in moisture.
BEST PRODUCTS FOR THINNING HAIR
Better Not Younger Lift Me Up Hair Thickener
The easiest way to fake a fuller head of hair is by spritzing this on. One of the best thickening hair products, it instantly adds fullness and body while protecting hair from breakage. The impressive ingredient list improves hair health and growth with biotin to stimulate keratin production, niacinamide to help hair follicle function, and ceramide-NG to protect the hair’s outer layer.
BosleyMD BOS Revive Nourishing Shampoo
Struggling with thinning hair is hard, to say the least, but this shampoo can help. It works by removing DHT, a hormone associated with hair loss, as well as pollution and product buildup from the scalp’s surface to create a healthy environment for hair growth. Pumpkin seed extract boosts hair growth, natural saw palmetto minimizes shedding, rosemary extract reduces scalp inflammation while increasing scalp circulation, and panthenol strengthens hair.
BEST PRODUCTS FOR DAMAGED HAIR
Augustinus Bader The Scalp Treatment
After earning a cult following for its skincare, Augustinus Bader launched hair care this year and it doesn’t disappoint. Their Scalp Treatment is a win for weak or thinning hair, getting to the root of the problem—pun intended. It balances the scalp to create an optimal environment for hair growth, soothing irritation. It strengthens hair and prevents shedding, leaving it healthier. The hero ingredient is the brand’s signature TFC8, the same in their skincare, a blend of natural amino acids, vitamins and synthesized molecules, which is why it’s one of the best hair products for damaged hair.
Goldwell DualSenses Bond Pro Fortifying Day & Night Bond Booster
In a major boon for hair health, bonding treatments were one of the best hair products to make a splash this year. Bonding treatments work to maintain the integrity of the hair shaft or cuticle, helping to prevent future damage. “The Goldwell DualSenses Bond Pro Fortifying Day & Night Bond Booster supports the bond protein network, which provides strengthening benefits that can instantly reduce breakage and split ends by up to 99% while imparting long-term strength and stability to each individual hair strand,” Josh says.
L’Oreal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths 8 Second Wonder Water
No, it’s not too good to be true—this aptly named Wonder Water only takes eight seconds to work its magic. The rinse-out hair treatment instantly transforms hair, leaving it incredibly silky and shiny. It’s especially great for long hair—or those trying to reach that goal.
JVN Complete Instant Recovery Leave-In Serum
To say Jonathan Van Ness knows a thing or two about hair is an understatement and this serum from his new line is proof. The styling serum repairs the outer shaft of the hair, leaving it super silky and protected from split ends, making it one of the best hair repair products and the best smelling hair product. The scent—a blend of amber, cashmere musk, lemon and mandarin—is just as addictive as the results.
BEST PRODUCTS FOR COLORED HAIR
Matrix Total Results Unbreak My Blonde Sulfate-Free Strengthening Shampoo
“Matrix Total Results Unbreak My Blonde is targeted for anyone who has chemically lightened their hair to revive all types of hair and textures from chemical damage,” O‘Connor says. “This collection is infused with citric acid to gently cleanse sensitive hair, leaving hair three times stronger, shinier, and softer.” That’s why it earns a spot as one of the best products for bleached hair.
Moroccanoil Color Depositing Mask
“Color has come so far—for example being able to completely transform black hair to platinum blonde—that consumers are looking for products to protect their color, while keeping hair nourished and healthy,” Josh says. These color depositing masks truly offer a shade option for every hair color. A cinch to use, they enhance hair color while doubling as a deep conditioning mask, helping to extend your hue between salon visits.
Pureology Color Fanatic Top Coat
“Everyone wants to protect their color,” Josh says. “Whether it’s a shampoo, repairing mask or styling product, clients want to protect and maintain their color treated hair.” The Pureology Color Fanatic Top Coat will help do just that. Available in two different color variations (purple or blue) as well as clear, this high-gloss treatment tones color and neutralizes brassy, yellow, or orange tones while smoothing and conditioning hair. You’ll look like you just stepped out of the salon.
Rita Hazan Lock + Block Protective Spray
Rita Hazan has colored the locks of so many A-listers — including Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez and Mariah Carey, to name a few — so her hair color knowledge is tops. That’s evident in her eponymous product line. This standout will keep your hue looking fresh. Simply spray it on from roots to ends to block UV rays, fight frizz and nourish with vitamins and antioxidants.
Oribe Silverati Illuminating Treatment Masque
Whether you’ve embraced your natural silver strands or followed the trend and dyed them, gray and white hair is notoriously tough to maintain because it’s so prone to yellowing. That’s where this transforming mask comes it. It corrects yellow tones while delivering mega moisture.
Moroccanoil Blonde Perfecting Purple Shampoo
Blondes know how easy it is for their color to start getting funky fast and that’s long before it even comes in contact with chlorine. That’s why a purple shampoo is something every blonde needs in her shower. This one has violet pigments to neutralize brassy tones and color correct blonde, light and gray hair. The sulfate-free formula features the brand’s signature ArganID technology to seal the cuticle.
BEST FOR ALL HAIR TYPES
Drunk Elephant Cocomino Glossing Shampoo
Founder Tiffany Masterson applied her skin-care philosophy of clean, powerful ingredients to the scalp, since after all the scalp is skin, too. Celebrity hairstylist Chris McMillan happens to be her childhood friend, so he collaborated on the line, which doesn’t disappoint. The sulfate-free, color-safe shampoo manages to walk that fine line of leaving hair squeaky clean and deeply nourished, courtesy of coconut-based surfactants.
Drunk Elephant Cocomino Marula Cream Conditioner
The almond scent isn’t the only delicious thing about this conditioner. Its coconut amino acid blend leaves hair silky soft with a body boost, stronger and more manageable. Drunk Elephant has shown us how good marula oil is for our skin, so now they’re spotlighting marula butter for your hair with the same hydrating effect. There’s also vitamin E rich mongongo oil to sooth and moisturize. They all team to smooth and detangle strands while protecting against heat styling damage.
R+Co Balloon Dry Volume Spray
True to its name, a few spritzes deliver the weightless bounce and shine of a new balloon. Hair is left touchable and tossable with major hold. The hero ingredient is zeolite, a volcanic mineral that adds grip and texture even to limp hair. There’s also calendula for moisture and shine. Its Dark Waves scent is a blend of cardamom, pineapple, tangerine, lavender, bamboo and blonde woods.
Kérastase Genesis Defense Thermique Blow Dry Primer
Kérastase has been at the forefront of treating hair as effectively as skin care, and its latest line protects from everyday damage to keep weakened hair healthy. This blow dry primer does more than save strands from the heat of a hair dryer — it also prevents tangles and split ends to minimize damage, especially while you’re styling.
Nexxus Scalp Inergy Gentle Exfoliating Scalp Scrub
Between dry shampoo, sweat, sebum and whatever products you applied, there’s a lot on your scalp. But this scrub gets rid of it all with gentle yet effective micro-exfoliating sugars. Impurities and buildup are washed away, leaving moisture in its place.