10 Top Hairstyles for Summer 2021, According to Hairstylists
Stylist-approved ways to look cool and keep cool.
Ah, summer. There are so many things to love about the season: Long days spent at the beach, lazy afternoons on the porch, a cold glass of rosé (or orange wine). The only potential spoiler to all this fun? Untamed, frizzy, hot-mess hair. No matter your hair type, texture, or length, heat and humidity can make styling a serious chore. So to alleviate all your hot weather tress stress, we asked top stylists to share their favorite cute summer hairstyles this season.
There are a few universal things to keep in mind. One, whenever you can, get your hair up. "As the temperatures rise, I love to create fashionable summer hairstyles that keep your neck free. This keeps you cooler longer, but it doesn't mean you have to sacrifice on style," says celebrity hairstylist Laurie Heaps. Two: Have fun! Now's the time to play around with accessories, like brightly colored pins or scarves, and easy ways to add visual interest to otherwise simple styles. And when all else fails, don't forget that a simple topknot or loose bun is always a good backup option, notes hairstylist John Mouzakis, co-owner of 3rd Coast Salon in Chicago. (And to that point, he advises always keeping a few extra bobby pins or hair ties on hand, just in case).
1 Curly bob
Thinking of a refreshing cut? You're not alone: "Many people are donating their hair (cutting off the COVID, so they say) with lots of above-the-chin crops with a few shaggy layers," says Ashley Streicher, a celebrity hairstylist for Garnier. If you're looking for an on-trend update, a curly bob for the summer offers a ton of variety in terms of shape and style; they can be worn with bangs, blunt cuts, and eventually grown out longer lob-style. "The shape of this cut really gives curls the space to shine, and expressive hairstyles are a great way to show them off," says Miko Branch, a hairstylist in New York City. "I've seen a ton of people pairing their curly bobs with space buns or a unique part, such as a zigzag."
2 Micro braids
Braids are back in a big way this season, but not in the way you'd expect. Your classic French plait has been given a major upgrade: "It's all about micro braids this summer. Whether it be two face-framing pieces, incorporated into a top knot over a visible elastic for a wrapped look, or a few pulled back into a loose ponytail, this trend is all about adding discreet but impactful texture," says Sally Hershberger, a hairstylist in New York City.
When adding micro braids into a hairstyle, go into the process with an end result in mind as this will change both the size and the placement of the braid. "For face-framing braids, part the hair neatly down the center, secure about a half inch to an inch of hair closest to the front of the face, and braid tightly starting as close to the root as possible," suggests Hershberger. "Before securing with a clear elastic, I like to use my fingers to push down on the braid, starting at the top and working down, so that it flattens the braid out and makes it blend into the hair a little more seamlessly. With top knots and ponytails, braids can be a little larger in size, but should still be flattened out so they don't look bulky in an updo."
3 Mermaid waves
Hollywood waves and beachy waves are being replaced with mermaid waves this summer. Think of this style as the ever-so-slightly more polished take on the trend; whereas beachy texture is all about being messy and undone, mermaid waves are more uniform and intentional.
You can achieve this look with hot tools, but the aforementioned braid technique is another great way to achieve heatless curls. "To obtain natural waves after braiding hair, it is important to use proper products," says Millie Morales, a celebrity hairstylist and colorist for Garnier. "After washing hair, apply Garnier Whole Blends 10-in-1 Miracle Nectar Leave-In Treatment ($8; walgreens.com) and comb it all over damp hair to distribute the product. Then divide the hair in half and begin to weave a braid on each side. The final wavy look when the braids are removed should last for a couple of days!"
4 Curtain bangs
In case you haven't heard, curtain bangs are the hottest take on fringe that lets you compromise on commitment. Longer strands of hair are swept to the sides of the temple-quite literally like curtains-across the forehead for a face-framing effect. "This look is super-comfortable, easy to wear, and gives a super-youthful look to the face," notes Morales. Finish with a middle split to further complement the middle part.
5 The wet look
Easy and effortless, this gives you that "sun goddess" vibe, with no need for complicated styling steps, says Ramón Garcia, a Los Angeles hairstylist and brand ambassador for Authentic Beauty Concept. Best of all, there are no hot tools required, and it works well on a variety of short lengths.
Start by applying a shaping cream through damp hair to keep it moist and give it some grip, then layer that with a mousse to provide hold and create that slicked-back structure.
Try: Authentic Beauty Concept Amplify Mousse ($25; ulta.com). Comb all your hair back and let it air dry, finishing with a light mist of hairspray to set everything in place.
6 Half-up topknot
When your hair isn't long enough to pull up completely, try this versatile 'do, pulling back just the front section. "This is a great look for work or play, and works especially well on second-day hair," points out Mouzakis. (An added bonus, since really, who wants to be washing and re-styling their hair every day, especially during the summer?)
Take the top section of your hair, stretching from temple to temple, and pull it up, twisting it into a loose topknot and securing with either a hair tie or bobby pins. You can either brush it back or keep it parted in the center, then wear the rest of your hair straight or with a little texture, Mouzakis says-both look just as good.
7 Beachy bun
Rock this look whether or not you just spent a day enjoying the surf and sand. There are two secrets to success here. One, lots and lots of texture. If you are lucky enough to be coming off a beach day, all that saltwater and wind will probably have done the trick. But if not, you can easily recreate the same effect with the right type of product. Try misting a wave-enhancing spray on damp hair before air-drying or blow-drying.
Either way, start by sweeping hair up and securing into a high pony. Add even more texture at this point by sprinkling the ponytail with a texturizing powder, like BioSilk Volumizing Therapy Texturizing Powder ($10; walmart.com). This both creates volume and gives the hair just the right amount of grip so that it won't slip. Use a clear elastic and loop hair into a bun-the messier the better. But don't stop there. The key to this summer hairstyle for medium hair is to then repeat this process, looping the bun into another bun to add more structure, Heaps says.
8 Scarf braid
"I love a fun braid with a headscarf, especially for hot summer days," says Jenny Cho, the Suave celebrity stylist who created this look. Adding some texture and volume to your hair pre-braiding is key to ensuring the finished plait looks nice and full, so start by applying an apricot-size dollop of mousse throughout towel-dried hair. Blow-dry or let it air-dry, then pull it back. Create a traditional French braid, treating the scarf as part of one of the three sections of hair you're braiding. Secure the ends with an elastic, then knot the scarf around that. Finish by tugging on either side of the braid to loosen it and make it appear thicker.
9 Twisted pony
There are few styles easier-or more practical-than a ponytail, but here it gets a summery and special upgrade. You'll want a bit of texture to your hair, so if your strands are stick straight, consider using a large-barreled curling iron to add loose waves. Otherwise, if your hair already has some texture to it, simply let it air dry; this is also a great style to create with second-day hair.
First, mist some dry shampoo into your roots. Not only will this help absorb excess oil or sweat on a hot summer day, it's also a good way to add some volume and height, key for making this pony look anything but basic. We're loving the new Alterna My Hair My Canvas Another Day Dry Shampoo ($29; ulta.com). "Brush all of your hair into a ponytail, making it as loose or as tight as you want," says Garcia. Secure with a hair tie, then take one small section from the pony and wrap it around the base, loosely pinning it in place. Finish by pulling out a few pieces of hair around your face to soften the look, he says.
10 Loose chignon
Don't fight your natural texture-curls, waves, and everything in between-embrace it in a chignon. First, loosely pull your hair back into a ponytail at the nape of your neck. Using bobby pins, pin a section of hair from the middle of the ponytail an inch or two above the hair tie, repeating this until all the remaining length has been pinned up. The best part? "It doesn't have to be perfect," says Heaps. In fact, the more undone the better; you can even pull out a few pieces as needed for more texture and dimension. This is the style to opt for when you need your hair to look just as good at the start of the day as it does at the end. You can also dress it up by wrapping a printed scarf around the base of the ponytail.