No doubt you’ve seen this year's hottest hair colours - on your favourite celeb, on the runway, or on that effortlessly cool girl at the coffee shop - even if you haven’t heard of them. We spoke to Michelle Surace, much-loved Sydney hairdresser turned Keune ANZIS Digital Education Director, to give us a run down on what the 90's revival looks like when it manifests itself as E-Girl hair, where Aussies sit on tress trends compared to the rest of the world, and why a money piece is the contouring technique you need in your life (and your mane’s.)

IT-GIRL COLOURS

Isolation has resulted in many things, but on the beauty front, one of them is definitely letting our mane grow. Lengthy, spaced out visits to the hair salon means regrowth aplenty, with the upside being a prolonged break from colour. Michelle believes that the latest new season colour trends have morphed and blossomed from that, saying “Where colour was quite lived-in before, and it still is – but we’re working with a little bit more dimension in the colour, a bit of a higher contrast. You can see a little bit more focus on that heavy face-frame now, whilst working with a really natural base of the roots. I think that’s kind of elevated that lived-in look that we’ve been going with for a while.”

Image: Instagram @jenatkinhair

TRENDING CUTS

Length is definitely still in, perfectly suiting the latest trending colour styles that we detail below. On the other hand, for post-pandemic hair, Michelle has seen a shift: “I think people are a lot more open to change. So there’s been a lot of 70’s layering still going on, to go along with that face framing.” Some subtle shaping and layering around the face may be just what the doctor ordered to take your post-iso look from slightly drab, to full-on fab.

Image: Instagram @ashleyhairla

TO FRINGE, OR NOT TO FRINGE?

Fringes are definitely in! According to Michelle, the preference is for the sweeping-bangs variety – softer, wispier, and often coupled with a face-frame highlight. She explains: “We’re seeing less of a front fringe, and more free-flowing, natural-looking fringes. So a little longer, a little more in-the-eyes also – as annoying as that can be to wear, it looks great!”

E-GIRL VS MONEY PIECE

We’ve had a few years of the face frame as the hair contouring technique du jour, with the latest, more striking version dubbed the ‘money piece’. A personal favourite of mine, and what I requested at my hair appointment, think of the money piece as the face frame, but elevated, better: “It’s a lot heavier, with a higher contrast.” The money piece itself is the ultra-light highlight that artfully frames the circumference of your face and neck, highlighting your features, with a dark base serving as a contrast whilst remaining relatively natural (and much easier to maintain, in and out of salon.)

The E-Girl trend, on the other hand, is for those willing to really amp it up: think heavy, block fringe, created of a lighter colour. No blending or babylights here, this one’s all about that contrast, baby! An ultra-thick face frame, unlike the money piece. “With this, you can have contrast of either dark bases and really light blonde, or we’ve even seen a pop of colour for some as well.” Michelle explains. Speaking of colour…

COLOUR POP

Think you’ve seen (and heard) the last of millennial pink? Think again. When it comes to adding cheeky drama to E-girl hair, it’s the softer colour pop of choice to contrast a brunette base, as are peach and copper tones. For blondes, Michelle says, “baby-blues and pastel turquoise act as a really fun contrast colours.”

Image: Instagram @beyonce

NEW (HAIR) RULES

If you’re thinking the E-girl trend may sound too brazen and intimidating, then don’t worry, you and me both. And, as it turns out, Michelle wasn’t convinced on the strong look either – that is, until she saw popstar Dua Lipa rocking it on Instagram, crediting her for the rise of the trend. “She’s got that block contrast and it does take me back to the 90s, and that whole top deck look. However, she pulls it off and I think that was that line that got me over. She definitely convinced me that it does have a cool edge to it.” Although not a trend for the faint of heart, but if you can carry the cool-girl vibe all the way through, from your hair to your style and makeup like Dua, your chances of pulling the trend off increase tenfold.

Image: Instagram @dualipa

OLD FAITHFUL

As I was sitting in the chair, asking for balayage, and scrolling for inspo-images of friends and celebrities who have been rocking this same trend for years, Michelle confirmed that it was, without a doubt, still the most requested colour technique. “I can’t tell you how many times you hear balayage in salon. You’re thinking, “I’m going to do something really different today…”

As for the intricacies and variations of the colour, seemingly some things have shifted – such as a steady growing love from clients preferring warmer tones (albeit still predominantly blonde.) “Whether it’s a darker blonde for a brunette base, or those really light, bright blondes – everyone’s after that lived-in, low-maintenance, but still bright colour.”

EUROPEAN VS DOWN UNDER

When it comes to the trend face-off between Aussies and Europeans, safe to say there’s a world of difference. Speaking of the French origins of the balayage – name and technique – it was little surprise to me when Michelle said, “(The French) are a lot more subtle than we are. Over there, it’s working two or three shades off your natural level; subtle pieces; not too much enhancement on that face frame, either. It’s very lived in – even down to the styling.” Seems like the stereotype for the French having a penchant for all things natural hold’s some weight, then.

WHAT’S TEXTURE GOT TO DO WITH IT?

Predominant hair textures differ here to those in Europe. Working as a stylist for many years, Michelle elaborates: “Over here, a lot of clients have Anglo-Saxon hair – lighter bases, finer textures, and it’s easier to lift, in comparison to, let’s say, Italian hair. Again, a lot darker bases, so their colouring techniques are different to best suit their clients. Here you see a LOT of blondes, unlike in Italy.” Naturally darker bases mean naturally softer, easier-to-maintain upkeep, an envy of bleach blondes everywhere.

Image: Instagram @kyliejenner

LONDON LOVES

Our British counterparts are a lot more experimental, eager to try a variety of styles, colours, and cuts. “There’s the Vidal Sassoon sort of cuts, with their classic finish,” Michelle explains. “But then you’ve got that Brixton colouring, those extreme colours. People are willing to try cropped fringes, pastel tones, and bright colours, so there’s a good mix of everything.” Much like in Australia’s cosmopolitan Sydney, although arguably even more diverse and beautifully multicultural. Michelle elaborates: ”It’s nice to see people from all walks of life, with different hair types, and after all different hairstyles and colours.”

As for the Australian market? We’re taken more by the neighbours to the east. With similar lifestyles and climates, and therefore tastes, it’s no wonder Aussie manes take inspiration from the beach babes of LA. “We’re heavily influenced more by the Cali-blonde lived-in colour than that UK edge.”

Story by Marina Gainulina. Holding shot: Instagram @jenatkinhair

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