CLEAN GIRL BRUNETTE AND HOURGLASS LAYERS: THE HAIR TRENDS SET TO GO VIRAL FOR SUMMER 2024

When the warmer months finally settle in our hair goals begin to shift. As the sun lightens our locks naturally, a sunnier tone can seem extra alluring. And as for styles, anything that takes the weight off falls into favour. But what is the defining mood for summer 2024 specifically?

Tom Smith, artist at Olaplex and international creative colour director at Evo, is nicknamed the ‘hairvoyant’ for his ability to predict the next viral hair trends, and says the coming season is all about looks that signal “health and wealth”. That’s styles which preserve and protect while looking neat and chic and “playful and decorative elements offering a carefree and energetic vibe,” such as what he has dubbed hourglass layers.

As for the enduring trend of the year? It’s the “year of the brunette,” says Smith. “The indulgent and rich tones of winter and spring are developing into cleaner and crisper alternatives,” he confirms. Think charcoal and the TikTok friendly ‘clean girl’ brunette. Oh, and the side partings previously lambasted by Gen Z as a sign of Millennials' deeply uncool status? They’re here to stay after spring’s resurgence — and getting even further from the centre.

Here’s a rundown of the key cuts, colours and styles for the summer — and how to achieve them.

Bootcamp braids

Braided ponytails “are the major ‘health signalling’ hairstyle of the moment,” says Smith. Think Zendaya’s show-stopping Challengers hairstyle for the London premiere (yes, she had a helping hand from extensions). Though it’s not just for the red carpet, he insists. “Worn low, or high on the head, classically braided or twisted, in one or more braid, this look is hugely practical for the warmer months, and connotes strength yet femininity.”Remember, especially if relying on natural length, that “the lower the base of the braid or ponytail on your head, the longer the braid will appear to be,” says Tom. It’s best created the day after washing your hair to give added grip. To style, “If your hair is prone to fluff, prep the hair with a generous amount of serum or cream. First secure the ponytail in place with a hairband, and then braid the remaining hair securely fastening the end with a second band.” Try Larry King’s Flyaway Kit (£20, larrykinghair.com) to smooth and flatten any rogue hairs or bumps when finishing the style.

For textured hair, Charlotte Mensah the creative director of Hair Lounge says she’s seeing “intricate” cornrow designs take centre stage this summer. They’re a great protective option for hotter months, and she recommends “one of the simplest and most beautiful ways to wear cornrows is straight back for a classic braided look.” To revitalise your scalp and enhance new growth try Mensah’s Manketti Oil Salt Scrub (£60, harveynichols.com).

Hourglass layers

Super long hair has been growing in popularity for some time now, and if you’ve gone to great lengths to grow out yours, now it’s time to sculpt it, says Smith. “Hourglass layers are less about flattering one’s face and more so flattering one’s body, with the length sitting just at the narrowest part of the waist, enhancing the ‘hourglass’ shape. The ends should taper around the waist which is achieved with clever layering to ensure the correct balance of the bulk of the hair,” he explains.Of course, long hair needs to be healthy to look good, so a weekly bond builder, such as Living Proof’s Triple Bond Complex (£19, livingproof.co.uk) should be incorporated, and oiling the ends of your hair regularly will help maintain hair health — especially if you’re going out in the sun a lot this summer. Smith also advises, “Avoid sleeping with your hair loose – instead secure with a large silk scrunchy at the nape of your neck or to one side and gently secure multiple scrunchies down the length to keep the hair in place and avoid friction during the night.”

Fringes that stand up to summer

Leubner is seeing many requests for what she has dubbed as Britney bangs. “It is a small, full fringe disconnected from the rest of the haircut as opposed to the shag-style fringes we have been seeing,” she says. Think a more modern version of the Jane Birkin look, and a spin on Spears’ cute early pop days aeshetic.

And while summer may not seem like a great time to cut in hair that falls over the face, Larry King salons are seeing its new fringe menu lead to an uptick in people asking for face framing layers. The Celine, French girl inspired style, cut in a V so it sits softly into the hair is ideal for beachy hair and wavy textures, framing the face “whilst seamlessly blending into the sides.”

Smith confirms that he’s seeing more and more clients embrace their natural texture with curly fringes reigning. To ensure yours falls nicely he suggests requesting it is cut twice during your appointment. “Once technically to ensure a perfectly balanced grow out, with a second step of extensive visual refinements which is designed to mould and enhance the natural texture, so they have the option to airdry or blowdry their new style.” The trick for making a fringe bearable in summer according to Leubner is keeping excess oil at bay. “Everyone with a fringe understands the importance of dry shampoo. I recommend using Oribe’s Gold Rush (£45, cultbeauty.co.uk) preventatively, adding it in the morning to absorb any oils from the face. Loose setting powder on the forehead will also help,” she says.

Still not sure? Smith says trying sculpted bangs is the perfect way to flirt with a fringe without committing. “First create a side parting, and then take the front section separately to the rest, spray a working hairspray and then brush it through position it carefully, letting it fall across your forehead, then secure in place either by tucking behind your ear, using a hairclip or accessory, then finish with another mist of hairspray. For a softer look, use a straightening iron to bend the hair into place with a curve and set with hairspray – no pins required.”

On the note of side-partings, Smith insists they’re here to stay after being seen on all hair lengths in spring. Be sure to set yours while hair is drying for added staying power.

Boyish bobs

All our hair experts agreed that low-maintenance bobs are going to be trending this summer. “Opt for the boyfriend bob,” says salon owner and celebrity favourite Larry King. “It’s a slightly androgynous aesthetic, gently rounded at the front with shorter pieces framing the face, evoking a 1990s vibes,” he explains. Picture Gigi Hadid’s recent cut, and ask for softer edges and layered texture.

The “aim is for a relaxed, effortless look,” says King, who explains it’s about a natural finish, with no need to blowdry. Making it great for summer. Though do bear in mind this style isn’t the easiest to pull off and due to its lack of structure is best suited to those with more prominent cheekbones.

If you’re styling on holiday Leubner recommends wearing it “pushed back with a little sea salt spray or texture cream. Just add glowing holiday skin.”

Though if are keen for a polished take on the style, Smith advises styling it as what he calls a Bell-Bottom Bob: with an outward flick at the bottom to give the style shape and volume. “Gently pre-dry the roots of your hair in a downward motion, then use a small round brush with the help of a styling mousse or heat protector spray to flick out the ends,” he explains.

‘Clean girl’ brunettes

“Months after ‘clean girl’ first became a leading trend in beauty, we’re seeing the influence in hair,” says Smith of the trend for pared-back, understated brunettes as seen on Hailey Bieber and Lily Collins. “It can be achieved with an all over colour or with very subtle sun-kissed dimension” created by highlights, he says.

This look is free from ashy tones and requires hair to look in optimum health. To maintain it try using “a blue shampoo or pigmented toning conditioner, which can help to keep your colour fresh,” Smith advises.

If your hair is naturally darker, add shine by going charcoal. “The undertone is neutral rather than warm or cool and is as deep as a brunette can be without appearing cold or black,” says Smith. It can be achieved with a simple toner if hair is dark naturally, and while it’s flattering for warmer and deeper skin tones, he says that for those with “fairer skin who want to try the deepest tones, the summer is a good time as the skin naturally warms in the longer daylight hours.”

Be sure to maintain a glossy finish with moisture masks, shine sprays and serums. We like Colour Wow’s Extra Mist-ical Spray (£28, lookfantastic.com).

Low-maintenance blonde

Of course, there are still those holding on to their blonde roots, though Freddie Leubner, an educator for Bleach London, whose clients include Maisie Williams, notes that this season we’re seeing “more natural and golden” blondes over lighter tones.

A shade she calls butterscotch is gaining popularity for “ultra low maintenance” hair. It can be achieved with “fine babylights woven throughout the hair with a slight blend at the roots, while the mid lengths and ends are kept bright.” Then “choose your fighter with the toner: caramel, buttery bright or beige,” she says, and recommends using a home toner such as Glaze (£16, glazehair.com) between dye jobs as well so it doesn’t get too bright.

Custard cream blonde

If you’re looking to make more of a statement and are up for the maintenance, Harriet Muldoon, the colourist behind some of London’s coolest blonde dye jobs, for the likes of Mia Regan and Poppy Delevingne, suggests experimenting with what she has dubbed custard creme blonde. She says that the statement shade is a bottle “blonde with a pale undertone of yellow to give it that rich effect.”

As with other coloured hair looks, bond builders and masking will maintain hair health after bleaching, though Leubner warns to take extra care with a bleached look as “UV rays can be as damaging as bleach, so wear a hat or invest in a UV protecting spray.” She also recommends a detoxing shampoo to remove build up and maintain your colour. Her choice is K18 Peptide Prep Detoxing Shampoo (£39, k18hair.co.uk).

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