The year 2020 has been a bottom-tier year (-1000/10, would not recommend). And while the COVID-19 vaccine has 2021 looking a bit more promising, between anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, and team "you can beat a deadly novel virus with ginger and anise tea," it appears we're still going to be dealing with the virus in a major way for most of it.
We've spoken at length about how COVID-19 restrictions have changed the way we engage with beauty, and that will continue through next year, whether it affects our makeup choices or, as we're about to discuss here, which hair-care products will be popping up on the market.
We can't give you the forecast for the state of the country or the world next year, but we can tell you what the hair-care product lineup is shaping up to look like in 2021. Here are some of the key trends we'll be seeing beginning on January 1.
Whether it's seasonal, stress-related, or it's one of the residual effects of COVID-19 infection (which some doctors believe could be due to the stress of actually having it), folks have been noticing a lot of hair loss lately. And in the spirit of capitalism, brands are happy to step up by providing products you can use at home to combat it.
"When treating hair thinning, you want to keep the hair itself in as good shape as possible, but more importantly, you need to keep the scalp healthy," says New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner. "A healthy scalp allows follicles to function to the best of their ability so hairs can grow."
We've been seeing plenty of brands pushing products catered to hair restoration. Though it's important to note that the hair restoration market is a tricky one to navigate, mostly because it's hard to tell how effective the products actually are. When you're shopping for products that claim to promote hair growth in particular (not formulas that promise to thicken your hair texture), check the ingredient list.
"Topical minoxidil is the gold standard of care for hair thinning," shares Zeichner. "This treatment dilates blood vessels to enhance circulation to the scalp. This means optimal delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the hair follicles." Women's Rogaine 5 percent Minoxidil Foam is a great, affordable product option for those looking to stimulate hair growth. It's so good, we even gave it a Best of Beauty award.
Peptides are also helpful. "Peptides are messengers that tell our skin cells to perform a specific job. Some stimulate collagen, others have anti-inflammatory benefits. There are also peptides that have been shown to enhance the activity of the hair follicles, which is why they are used in products for lash, brows, or hair growth."
Revitalash has launched a hair-care line aimed at caring for thinning hair. Its Thickening Shampoo and Conditioner are formulated with ingredients like flax protein to fight breakage, and biotin and keratin to help strengthen the hair. The range also includes a volumizing foam, which is packed with those ever-important peptides.
We're seeing the trends both on the affordable and high-end sides of the system. R+Co is releasing a luxury hair-care range, Bleu, which includes a volumizing and thickening shampoo and conditioner, as well as a thickening spray and a volumizing spray.
With salons continuing to open and close based on local COVID restrictions, getting a touch-up on your dye job will depend on what the case and hospitalization numbers look like in your area. With this in mind, brands are turning out a number of color-care and maintenance products that are user-friendly and affordable.
For those willing to take the plunge and lighten their hair (we strongly suggest consulting virtually with a stylist for this or, if it's safe/possible, to work with a stylist at your home), there are several at-home options. "While it may not be exactly like the salon, it's so helpful if you are in a pinch or are trying to go to the salon less," says New York City-based colorist Rachel Bodt. In January, L'Oréal Paris is releasing its Excellence Cool Supreme box dye, a range of hues that come in cool, ashy tones. Each is formulated with built-in technology to prevent your color from going brassy.
PH Plex is an accessible professional-grade three-step plex system that you can use to protect your hair from the ravages of bleach. Compare it to the in-salon lightening plexes (like Olaplex), but this is formulated for easy use by anyone at home. It rebuilds and reinforces the bonds that can easily be broken by bleach, without you, the user, having to do too much work measuring out how much you need to do so. And even if you don't lighten your hair, you can use steps one and two to strengthen your strands, which, as Los Angeles-based hairstylist Kendall Dorsey tells me over Zoom, is a boon to kinky and curly hair.
Blondes, in particular, need to pay special attention to how they maintain their color. "It's important to be aware of what tones you're adding to your hair because [blonde strands] are extra porous, so they will absorb color easily," says Los Angeles-based hairstylist Laura Polko. "Even using an oil that has a yellow tint such as argan is not ideal for blondes because it'll turn ends yellow."
Be sure you are maintaining your color with a purple shampoo and other purple-tinted products. Polko favors the Sun Bum Blonde Tone Enhancer Leave-In Spray, and we like the Best of Beauty-winning Beachwaver Co. BRB Blonde Purple Shampoo and Conditioner.
If you're looking for easier color maintenance in a gloss, Tresemmé is releasing a set in January. The range includes four hues: a clear gloss, a light blonde, dark brunette, and light brunette option.
Scalp care was big in 2020 as we predicted, and it will continue into 2021. With more people experiencing hair loss and hair maintenance being put into our own hands, it's becoming ever more important for us to care for our scalps at home. This time around, these products are multitasking, formulated not just to give you a healthy scalp, but to also stimulate hair growth, clarify the scalp and actual hair of impurities, and fortify your strands.
Hair and scalp clarifying, in particular, has been gaining popularity. "With a lot of people splitting their time with either a house upstate or with family, we have seen clients come in with a lot of mineral buildup on their hair," shares Bodt. L'Oréal Paris is launching its EverPure Scalp Care + Detox Scrub, which exfoliates your scalp while working simultaneously to bust the buildup that can keep your hair from thriving as it should.
CoLab is releasing its $7 Overnight Renew Dry Shampoo in January, which absorbs any excess oils with the help of aluminum and rice starches, and offers a bit of conditioning to your scalp as well.
There are more options than ever if you are looking to add extensions to your hair. Whether you're playing with styles, textures, or colors, brands are working to satiate our hunger for switching up our hairstyles, and they're also working to make it easier than ever. "No-commitment makeovers that you're able to do at home, what's better than that," says New York-based hairstylist David Lopez, who is an ambassador for Glam Seamless extensions.
And when we say easy, we mean easy. We've been seeing a lot of ponytail extensions — Luxy Hair has just released a line of clip-in ponies, and Instagram-favorite brand Insert Name Here has steadily been adding to its extensive collection of clip-in ponies and wigs.
Influencer Freddie Harrel is setting things off for the folks with textured hair, launching Radswan, which right now is offering three styles of wigs that mimic the texture of kinky, coily, and tightly-curled hair.
But as the market for wigs and extensions continues to grow, it's important for consumers to understand that this hair — whether it's human or synthetic — needs to be taken care of.
"As people invest in human hair extensions, they learn that just like the hair attached to your head it needs a little TLC," notes Lopez. "Sulfate-free hair cleansers and buttery conditioners will refresh and revive hair extensions in a snap."
The hair underneath your extensions and wigs need to be taken care of, too. Be sure you're giving that hair the attention it needs, especially if you're a fan of changing your hair often. SheaMoisture is launching a hair-care product line aimed at helping you maintain your wig and the natural hair underneath. The seven-piece offering includes a Bonding Glue, Flyaway & Wrap Mousse, 2-in-1 Conditioner and Detangler, Oil Shine Spray, Bond Release Spray, Scalp Soother, and Residue-Remover Shampoo, and will be available this January.
It looks like Zoom calls will still be a thing in 2021 as people continue to work from home. Whether you feel your hair could use a color touch-up or you simply don't feel like spending too much time styling your hair in general, hair accessories are a great way to cheat and make yourself look like your own version of presentable.
"Hair accessories easily change the mundane bun or ponytail into something refreshing, or covers up greasy or grown-out roots," says hairstylist Sunnie Brook, who mentions Lele Sadoughi headbands and Lelet NY hair accessories among her favorites. There are also more affordable options you can find at your drugstore, too. Scünci is a blessing to the drugstore with a number of affordable, stylish options. We're particularly fond of the ongoing partnership they have with influencer Sincerely Jules, which offers super cute barrettes, scrunchies, clips, and more.
Hair accessories can also be helpful in maintaining scalp health when you use them strategically. "Be aware not to tie [your] hair up too tight — it'll put stress on hair and lead to more loss. I personally like to use headbands and bigger scrunchies to create the illusion of fuller hair without the tight tugging on hair follicles," notes Polko.
Affordable Curl Care
Thanks to the natural hair revolution, there are more options than ever for curly-haired folks. Larger drugstore brands are eager to profit off this shift, and next year are unfolding major additions to their offerings that specifically address the breadth of curl types out there. Nexxus is launching its first-ever curl-care collection. The lineup includes a pre-poo, shampoo, and conditioner, as well as a defining leave-in conditioner.
Suave Professionals is adding to its options for textured hair with the Castor Oil & Mango Butter collection, which includes a scalp oil, anti-breakage treatment, leave-in conditioner and styler, and defining gel. The brand is also launching a Luscious Curls Collection comprised of a shampoo, conditioner, and curl-defining cream. Dove is also expanding its Amplified Textures line with its new Hydration Boost Scalp Tonic and Define N' Moisture Styling Gel.
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