The year 2020 has been witness to a lot of ups and downs — from the COVID-19 pandemic and an unprecedented recession to sweeping hurricanes and burgeoning bushfires. We even saw the comeback of the mullet. It’s been a weird year, needless to say. But let’s not harp on the negatives. A lot of good has happened in 2020, too. Jennifer Lopez and Shakira rocked the Super Bowl half-time show. The Pentagon released some pretty wild UFO videos. And, along with the mullet, there came a lot of other hair trends that we’re actually pretty stoked about.
That’s right: 2020 has been a year for the books and, while many of us let our natural hair grow a little wild during COVID-induced quarantine, it’s no doubt that 2020 has been a year for getting creative to cope with the chaos. Some of the best hairstyles came out of 2020, from the celebration of natural curls to pixies and bobs to braids, oh my. Let’s reminisce on some of the best hair trends of 2020. (Here’s to hoping they’ve got staying power in 2021, too!)
Bobs of all kinds were huge in 2020
Bobs have been, and probably always will be, in style. The classic bob made a massive appearance in 2020, but it didn’t only come in one shape, color, or size. Traditionally, you may think of the bob as short and sleek. But, this time, the bob was a bit more natural-looking.
“I think the bob will still be a trend going into 2020,” Nicole Casamassima, stylist at the Nexxus Salon in New York, told Who What Wear at the start of the year. (And she was so right!) “Women want more versatility and can easily achieve a sleek and sophisticated bob with the right length for their face. Or, if they cut it to hit collarbone length, they can add tousled texture for a more youthful and casual look.”
In 2020, the bob was more of the latter — a relaxed look. Andrew Fitzsimons, celebrity hairstylist and NatureLab Tokyo ambassador, told Who What Wear that we backed away from the blunt-cut bobs and instead went with “a style that’s slightly longer and piece-y throughout, for a softer appearance.”
Lobs were a major 2020 hair trend, too
The lob — also known as the long bob — is another major hair trend that we saw a whole lot through the 2020 year. We probably saw so much of it because it just seems to work for anyone and everyone — and it’s a gorgeous in-between style for those who want to grow their hair out. It’s one of the best medium length hairstyles for women.
“The lob looks good with varying lengths, which makes it perfect for all face shapes and hair types,” Stacie Bowie, owner of Seattle’s Bowie Salon and Spa, told Glamour. “When it’s a little more grown out— i.e., past your collarbone and around your shoulders — it’s even easier to style and manage than the original.”
Because so many of us spent 2020’s COVID-induced isolation growing our hair out, the lob became that awkward in-between look that actually wasn’t bad at all. “With the right stylist, growing out your hair doesn’t need to be a dreadful experience,” Charlie Martin, Salon One Six One’s creative director and owner, told Glamour. “This cut works great with softened layers throughout the crown, not to compromise fullness around the perimeter or length.”
The modern shag layered up 2020
The shag has been a style we’ve seen through the decades and is one of the best hair trends in history, but the modern shag has a sort of edge to it that was incredibly popular in 2020. Perhaps because so many of us wanted an effortless hairstyle this year, as we focused on more important things that came up (think: family, health, survival…), the shag became a go-to look. It’s layered and textured but easy and effortless.
Nicole Coil, a stylist at Chicago’s Blueberry Moon, told Glamour that the modern shag has lots textured layers that create a “soft shape” and “works to give lift and volume to smooth styles.” The hair does all the work for you though — very little styling or maintenance are needed.
Hairstylist Tina Jimenez, co-founder of Northern Lights the Salon, told Who What Wear that “2020 will be about texture and ‘easy hair’ — more of a natural look.” That certainly paves way for the modern shag, which she said works best on air-dried hair styled with some texturizing products.
Braids made a comeback as one of the best hair trends of 2020
The year 2020 has been big on texture and ease, and one simple and surefire way to add texture with ease is by incorporating braids. Braids gave the people what they wanted: a natural, beachy look that was beautiful without a whole lot of elbow grease. If you think about it, the braid is sort of perfect. It doesn’t really matter what kind of state your hair is in — whether it’s been shampooed recently or if it’s been a big mess in a top-knot all week. You can always chuck your hair into a braid or have a bunch of braids done, and it’s all immediately and infinitely easier to manage. Braids are a go-to look that never fails to look great!
Plus, the beachy braids were convenient all year long — even in the winter season. “I think we’ll still see the trend of beachy waves and braids because you can wear them with your hair down and a winter hat won’t mess up the style,” Nicole Casamassima, stylist at New York’s Nexxus Salon, told Who What Wear at the start of the year.
Bangs of all kinds were everywhere
Bangs were cool when we were kids, and they’re still cool nowadays. The year 2020 saw a whole lot of different types of bangs, from short fringe looks to side-swept bangs to blunt-cut bangs and more. Nine Zero One co-founder, Nikki Lee told Allure that the ’70s-style curtain bang that “sweeps to both sides” was a major look in 2020. Long bangs are flattering for anyone with any face shape. You can also part them in the middle and cut and style them to curve the cheekbones. If you want to take the leap and get bangs, be sure to learn the best bangs for your face shape.
But short bangs were totally in, too. It was just important to pay mind to your hair’s natural texture so as to not go too short. “I think hair texture plays a part in how short you can go with bangs,” hairstylist Ted Gibson told Allure. “Keep in mind that curly textures tend to shrink as they dry, so when your stylist is cutting, be sure your hair is dry.”
Hair accessories jazzed up 2020
Hair accessories jazzed up the year as one of the best hair trends of 2020, with everything from hair ribbons to butterfly clips to velvet scrunchies making a comeback from the ’90s and early 2000s. “Hair ribbons aren’t just for kids,” wrote Good Housekeeping. “Tons of celebs have been embracing the resurgence of hair ribbons, including Kate Middleton! A velvet bow tied around her ponytail adds a fun and playful twist to her otherwise formal outfit.”
Barrettes were also big and made appearances at the Met Gala. Ashley Graham gave us all some serious barrette inspo in 2020, too. Meanwhile, scarves and headbands added style to any outfit, and ’80s claw clips were “back and better than ever” since appearing in an Alexander Wang show. Accessories could make any hairstyle look that much better. Whether you rocked your hair up or down for most of the year, tossing in a satin hair wrap or a pearl-studded clip made it pop.
Natural afros were celebrated in 2020
Natural afros were celebrated big time in 2020. Stylists told Glamour that they saw a surge in tapered, cropped cuts that allowed people to rock their natural locks, including their afros.
“The tapered cut allows shorter sides and clean lines and leaves massive length in the top to achieve popular natural hairstyles such as twist-outs, rods, coils, and double-strand twists,” founder of Memphis’ A Natural Affair Beauty Lounge TaKeisha Berry-Brooks told the outlet. “Most are also experimenting with vivid colors to complete the edgy look.”
Other stylists agreed. “Natural curls and coils [were] taking the world by storm, and the shape of the hair is what [helped] make the best impact,” Shear Genius Collection founder Annagjid “Kee” Taylor told Allure. “The rounded ‘fro [was] one of the most popular looks.” She said that the rounded shape or the “lion cut” were her absolute favorite looks. “It’s cutting or trimming hair to shape the natural curls into the roundest form possible,” she explained. “A lot of women’s hair naturally grows in this shape, but some have to be cut and formed.”
The pixie was adorable as ever in 2020
The pixie was huge in 2020, though the pixie changed shape quite a bit. The 2020 version of pixie cuts was super short, hairstylist Michael Sparks, co-owner of Tabb & Sparks Salon, told Allure. “Shorter than we’ve seen the pixie cut in the past, this look has less movement overall and provides a [freshness] for the new year,” he said in the beginning of the year. And, because 2020 proved to be a year for the books, the shorter, the easier to manage, and, therefore, the better.
However long or short, however, the pixie has and will always be a staple look. It’s got a softness and an edge to it all at the same time. “The pixie is forever a classic because there are so many variations,” hairstylist Jasmine Ashley also told Allure. For 2020, she noted that “most clients [went] less ‘bangy’ and more flirty short cuts with a flare.” One thing is for sure: A pixie cut is one of the top short hairstyles that will stun!
Invisible layers cut into 2020 as a hair trend
Invisible layers were a quietly yet wildly popular style in 2020. The whole point of invisible layers is that they give you volume and texture without really looking like you have any layers at all. It’s like style without the effort — i.e. what everyone needed while juggling a pandemic, recession, political unrest, natural disasters, and everything else that went awry in 2020.
“The most modern variation of layering is a slight angle around your face, usually starting around your chin and working its way down to the length,” celebrity hairstylist Alex Brown told Glamour of invisible layers that are the opposite of harsh and choppy. She explained that the trick is to keep the layers long to keep them weightless and less obvious, but still add texture and volume. “Blending the layers is very important — they have to be cut properly to look seamless,” she said.
Invisible layers define the face, bringing attention to the cheekbones, Brown added. She said that light layering around the face, just past the chin, can “completely change your overall face shape.”
Natural curls bounced into 2020
Natural curls bounced into 2020 to stay. We’ve seen curly layers, curly bangs, and curly everything. “Lately all we hear is ‘save length but give me lots of layers,'” Robin Sjoblom, owner of Atlanta’s Southern Curl, told Glamour at the start of 2020. Sjoblom told the outlet that she uses a technique called a Rëzo cut, which helps maintain volume and length while giving natural curls some fun but soft layers.
Many trendsetters even went for the curly shag in 2020. “For wavy curls and dense, tight S-curl types, be sure to request internal — or ‘channel cut’ — layers to be added in after the shape is cut to encourage weightlessness and texture throughout for ease of styling,” curl specialist and Hair Lab Detroit owner Lauren Moser told Glamour. “For coily and kinky hair, this step is unnecessary since your curl type doesn’t need help with volume.”
Meanwhile, those with shorter hair embraced the curly crop in 2020, Naeemah LaFond, the global artistic director for Amika, also told Glamour at 2020’s start. “Women may take the opportunity to embrace their natural texture more than ever now,” she said.
The bronde color shaded the year
Many of us were faced with pretty big decisions in 2020. Do we move home to be with family or ride out the pandemic alone in the big city? Do we order pizza every night to cope with crippling anxiety or do we eat healthy while we’ve got more time to cook meals at home? Do we finally start that business we never had time to do before we got laid off in the recession or do we apply for new jobs? Do we keep our hair brown or do we bleach it blonde? That last one, while, ok, not life-changing, was a big question apparently. Because many people decided to go with “bronde” hair in 2020 — that is, blonde-brown hair. Indecision got the best of many of us, so we got creative.
“If you can’t make up your mind over whether to go light or dark for summer, ‘bronde’ is for you,” the cofounder and director of Goldie Sydney, Byron Turnbull, told Harper’s Bazaar. “Warm and glossy look, the main benefits of this hair color are that it’s achievable and low-maintenance, keeping hair super healthy while offering light and shade for pops of color and brightness.”
This hair trend slicked up 2020
What’s easier than keeping your hair just plain wet? You don’t have to do anything to it if you just keep it looking like you just came out of the shower — all fresh and clean. Or the ocean for that beach babe or surfer chick vibe. Perhaps that’s why the slicked-back wet hair trend was so popular in 2020. People stuck at home didn’t have to do much to it, and they got to feel like they were at the beach when they were stuck in the confines of their living rooms. Barney Martin, the owner and director of Barney Martin Hair, told Harper’s Bazaar that 2020 saw a “new love affair with gel.”
“This is brilliant for fixing low, sleek ponies for a minimalist look,” Martin explains. “Cue: wet look, slicked back finishes with a ‘more is more’ approach to gel. The high-shine and no-stray pieces really pare back with the luxe finishing.”
Face-framing tendrils came back as a hair trend in 2020
Face-framing tendrils were a thing of the ’90s, and they came back big time in 2020, too. The 30-year-old face-framing trend is still as beautiful as ever. It’s a simple look that makes messy look good.
“No need to try to perfect a sleek and severe hairstyle, this year is almost lived-in, effortless hair,” noted Good Housekeeping at the start of the year. “Pull a few strands around your face free after styling your hair,” the magazine explained. It’s as simple as that.
Whether you wear your hair totally up or half up and half down, face-framing tendrils add style to an otherwise simple ponytail or half-do. In 2020, we saw people braid them, wear them wavy, curl them below the chin, tame them pin straight, and give them a coiled bounce. However they were styled, they were equal parts cute and sexy — the perfect combination.
Crimped hair made waves in 2020
Crimped hair was once a fun and silly hair trend we tried out in the ’80s, ’90s, and early 2000s. It then had a bit of a break for the last two decades since but, in 2020, crimped hair made waves yet again. This time around, loosely crimped hair was cool — as opposed to the harsher, tightly crimped curls that used to be a thing. Freelance hair artist Rashida Parris-Russell told Flare that 2020 was all about loose, soft crimped waves.
She wasn’t the only one who seemed to think so either. “From the runways to the red carpet, we’re starting to see these uniform crimped waves on all of our hairstyle icons,” reported Good Housekeeping in September 2020. As InStyle also pointed out, major celebrities like Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Sophie Turner, Amanda Seyfried, and Joan Smalls all rocked the look in 2020.
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