Now that we’re solidly halfway through 2021 (truly unclear how this happened — isn’t it still March ?!), we’ve officially seen a few things in the hair-color world. Specifically, the fleeting spring hair trends that went hard … and faded even harder … and the hair-color trends that are still burning bright and here to stay for the rest of the year. I’m talkin ‘gorgeous pastels, caramel blonde colors, monotone blacks and browns, and even some bold, contrasting shades.
So if you’ve been avoiding the hair salon and are finally ready to venture out and make some changes — whether that’s just a subtle gloss or a total color change — we’ve gotchu covered with the 26 best hair color trends of 2021. It’s not too late to test one of these out before some fall hair trends start creepin ‘up, so please get ready to screenshot and copy your favorites ASAP (which I’m guessing will be # 14 and # 3).
1 Honey-Blonde Hair for 2021
Welp, we finally found it: The very definition of honey-blonde hair, and it’s on Mandy Moore. This warm-blonde hair color is a hugely popular trend right now since it’s the perfect transitional shade for brunettes wanting to go blonde without committing a maintenance white-blonde shade. PS, If you’re also wondering how you can get these perfectly ~ undone ~ waves, that’d be the work of some flat-iron waves.
2 This Two-Toned Hair-Color Trend
Calling all indecisive folk — your time has come! This 2021 hair-color trend is all about juxtaposing light and dark shades, like Mabel’s creamy-blonde roots with her chocolate-brown ends. This trend looks especially gorgeous on curly hair (hi, built-in dimension and texture), so feel free to create some tight curls — or just re-define the curls you’ve got — with a skinny curling iron or wand.
3 Melted Hair Colors for 2021
There’s truly no better word to describe this hair-color trend than “melted.” The perfect blend of strawberry, copper, and blonde, this look starts deeper at the roots, then gradually melts into a soft mix of brighter shades toward the bottom. And because this trend relies on technique versus shade alone, you can ask your stylist for blonde, brown, or even straight-up pink hair colors.
4 Rainbow Hair Colors for 2021
It shouldn’t be too surprising that as the country happily and (cautiously) opens up again, that our hair-color trends are reflecting the ~ mood ~. See: Rainbow and pastel hair colors, like this gorgeous lob haircut that somehow feels both bright and subtle, all at the same time.
5 The Single Streak Trend in 2021
Mmkay, we all know that pop-of-color cliche, buuut what about when it’s a pop of bleach blonde? That, my dear friends, is what we call a new hair-color trend. As we sail into the second stage of 2021, you’ll see more partial bleach jobs, like this cute sprig of blonde on Gaby Santan’s long curly hair.
6 Dyed-Bangs Hair Trend
The best way to showcase your post-pandemic DIY bangs to the world? Dye ’em a gorgeous, jewel-toned color for all to see. I mean, how freakin ‘cool does this dyed-bangs hair color look? Skill is key here (just look at the matching dyed pieces underneath), so please don’t try to do this look on yourself.
7 Dark Chocolate Hair Trend for 2021
TO one-dimensional, dark-chocolate shade like this one is a majorly popular color choice in 2021, and lucky for you, it’s also one of the easier colors on this list to DIY with a little box dye. But if you choose to dye your hair yourself this year, it’s still best to stick with a color that’s only two shades darker than your natural color.
8 This Bronzey Brunette Color
If your favorite hair-color trend is a dark-chocolate shade, BUT you want the teeniest bit of dimension to keep it feeling summery, try adding a few subtle highlights to your brown hair. Even if you’re not a hot-weather person, you can still get the look of sun-lightened strands with a little help from your colorist.
9 Warm-Brown Balayage Trend for 2021
This soft ombré (sombré, if you will) fades flawlessly from dark chocolate to warm brown, which is everything I want my hair to be by the time winter rolls around this year. It doesn’t hurt to just be Olivia Munn either, but hey — I’ll take her hair color too.
10 The Streaky Highlights Hair-Color Trend
2020 brought us, uh, many new things, but it also ushered in a bit of the ~ old ~: the chunky, face-framing highlights that your mom was rocking 20 years ago. Now, 2021’s version of the hair-color trend is a slightly more subtle version — think streaks, not chunks—like these on Brittany Xavier.
11 Toffee Tones for 2021
If you have naturally dark-brown hair and want to lighten it up for the rest of the year without doing anything too drastic, try adding a few golden pieces to your dark hair with balayage. The way these toffee-colored highlights hit right at the cheekbones brings the perfect amount of warmth and brightness around the face.
12 Subtle Highlights for 2021
Looking to try a new hair-color trend now that you’ve got your post-quarantine shaggy haircut and bangs? Try asking your colorist to add a few subtle highlights scattered throughout your roots and ends to add even more depth and dimension to your style and be fully on trend for the rest of 2021.
13 Chestnut-Brown Balayage Trend
Did someone say dimension ?! If you love yourself some highlights and lowlights, you need to try this 2021 hair-color trend, which strikes the perfect balance of bright blonde and warm chestnut. Don’t be surprised if you see a lot of people wearing it come fall 2021.
14 Highlighted Curls for 2021
Really want to show off your curl type and pattern? I highly recommend you try getting some soft, subtle highlights throughout your curls to add dimension and fullness. Just promise me you won’t try highlighting your hair yourself. Because the color process can alter the texture of your curls, you want to make sure to work with a pro for the best results that won’t damage hair.
15 This Rooty-Blonde Hair Color Trend
“Blonde hair” and “low-maintenance” are generally not two things you hear in the same sentence, but a rooty-blonde look like this will help you prolong the time between visits to the salon — and help you look good while doing it. Definitely the chill hair-color trend we need in 2021.
16 Bright-Blonde Hair Colors for 2021
If you’re able to see your colorist on a regular basis right now, this bright-blonde hair color trend will definitely be worth all the extra time spent at the salon. And for those weeks in between, become BFFs with a purple shampoo to stop the warm tones from turning brassy.
17 Grown-Out Blonde Shades for 2021
Warm-toned blonde shades were huge in 2020, and the natural-looking shade hasn’t gone anywhere in 2021 either. A little bit of a shadow root will help soften the look of the highlights and help your color grow out a little more seamlessly, so if you’re still not comfy going to the hair salon, you can leave this one to do its thing at home.
18 Glossy, Shiny Hair for 2021
If you want to try something new for 2021 but keep it close to your natural hair color, get a hair gloss at the salon or try an at-home version. While some glosses simply add shine, others can leave a tint to your hair so you can switch up your color ever so slightly without a major commitment.
19 The Auburn Hair Color Trend
If you want to finish out 2021 in the best and brightest way (and who doesn’t?), This warm, fiery red hair color is the way to do it. Although it might not last the longest or be the easiest to maintain—Sorry, but red is notorious for fading fast—this bold color, à la Keke Palmer, is worth trying at least once in your life.
20 Cinnamon-Brown Hair for 2021
This natural-looking shade of cinnamon is a great hair-color choice for 2021 if you want to go red but don’t want to overcommit yourself. To maintain the health of your strands in between appointments, make sure to add a deep-conditioner and a hot-oil treatment to your regular routine.
21 This Rusty-Red Hair Color for 2021
The perfect balance of red and brown tones, this auburn hair-color trend is a solid choice for brunettes looking to add a little warmth to their look in 2021.
22 Copper-Red Hair Colors for 2021
The subtle highlights throughout this fiery-red shade create depth that makes this hair-color trend look like actual shiny, copper. And it works particularly well to balance out pink undertones in someone with fair skin.
23 Pastel Pink Hair-Color Trend for 2021
There was no shortage of bright, fun hair colors in 2020 (what’s a person to do when they’re stuck inside with a lot of time and a lot of hair dye?), And now that we’re in 2021, we’re seeing the bright shades transition to softer, more pastel colors like this one. If you’ve been wanting to try a true trend, please stock up on that temporary hair color ASAP.
24 This Multicolored Hair-Color Trend for 2021
But why limit yourself to just one shade of pink? If you love to experiment with your hair-color trends, go all in with lots of different shades and colors in 2021. Just make sure to see a pro colorist if you plan on bleaching your hair first for the best color payoff.
25 Ash-Blonde Hair for 2021
We’ve spent a lot of time talking about warm, golden tones, but don’t forget about ash-blonde hair if you love a cool-toned blonde. There’s about a million ways to wear ash-blonde hair, like this dark ash blonde, and you’ll be seeing them all in 2021.
26 Silver Hair Color Trend for 2021
A step up from ash-blonde, you’ll find silver hair. Some celebs and influencers have already jumped on the gray hair trend in 2021, and it’s a particularly great choice if you’re looking to hide some grays without all the upkeep of a darker color.
Chloe Metzger Deputy Beauty Director Chloe Metzger is the deputy beauty director at Cosmopolitan, obsessively writing about new makeup launches, the best hair products (curly girl here; whattup), and the skincare formulas that really work for every skin type (follow her on Instagram to see behind-the-scenes pics of that magazine life). Brooke Shunatona Brooke Shunatona is a contributing writer for Cosmopolitan.com.
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