As soon as the light first appeared at the end of the lockdown tunnel, it seems there was a universal urge for major hair makeovers. Take the Beauticate team, for instance: the reopening of hair salons cued a flurry of cutting, colouring, and tinting – and even my addition of a fringe – that was unprecedented pre-pandemic. I’d put my money on it being down to a desperate need of a #TreatYourself moment (pretty well-deserved, in my opinion, after what 2020 has subjected us to), as well an strong desire to throw off the shackles of all things lockdown and iso, channelled through major hair changes. Below, a celebrity hairdresser talks the major hair trends she’s seen in her salon since reopening, plus the Beauticate team shares their own post-lockdown switch-ups.
We chatted to Monique McMahon, the very talented colourist behind Que Colour in Sydney’s Darlinghurst, about what her clients have been keen for when they’ve finally been able to get back in her chair. Her verdict? Easy, wash-and-wear hair. “We’re seeing clients that have been heavily colouring their hair thinking about utilising – rather than eliminating – their natural hair colour, which has been really exciting,” she shares. “We’re moving away from strong, heavy bleaching, and going for more of a tinted foil.”
Monique explains that they’re aiming for more of a glow, which they’ve dubbed a ‘nude finish’, in the salon. Subtle changes are also back in vogue: “We’re also moving away just one to two shades from your natural hair, rather than going in the complete opposite direction.”
A happy accident of lockdown is that the hair she’s seeing is suddenly in a lot better condition. “The heat styling products have been dropped, the hair colouring has stopped, and the overall health of the hair has improved, which is great. This is something we want to embrace as a colourist and be able to keep – we want to keep the health of the hair, keep the new growth coming through, and promote thickness.
All in all, it seems we want to change things up – and on a major scale. As Monique puts it, “People want to give themselves everything. The big job! The big colour, the new look. We love it!”
Sigourney Cantelo, Editor & Founder – The Big Bang(s)
Like so many of us post-lockdown I just had this icky, frustrated, I-know-I-want-to-change-something-but-I-don’t-know-what feeling. So I sat down in the chair and said to Joel (Wallbank at Edwards and Co who has been my amazing hairstylist for several years), “I’m thinking about dying all my hair black or red, or cutting it off… or getting a fringe.” No surprises why he went with the latter option. He decided to create a really nice “Curtain Bang” which gives you more flexibility with styling, it’s a lot easier to grow out than a traditional fringe, and you can part it to the side or the middle. (Watch this video on the process and this one on how to style them). It’s quite sexy and seventies too. When I got home Damien coyly reminded me that I used to have a very similar fringe when we met, so that was a major win and essentially I wound up the clock without even meaning to! N.B. Fringes are quite handy at hiding fine lines and frowns too. Viva la bangs!
Tess de Vivie de Régie, Features Editor – The Big Chop
I’ve typically always been fairly laissez-faire with my hair maintenance – it’s naturally fairly pretty but bland bronde hue, and pre-lockdown was much too long and without any real shape. Like many brides, I was reluctant to fiddle around with it before my wedding earlier this year but had hotly anticipated a major change once I’d walked down the aisle. But, as with so many plans in 2020, my post-nuptial hair hopes were dashed by salons closing for lockdown.
So it was a (literal) weight off my shoulders when I enjoyed a rather major hair transformation at Que Colour a few months later. The very clever colourists immediately assessed that I needed to pick out the colour of my naturally lighter ends, and dust them throughout my mane as ‘shimmer highlights’ to lift things out of mousy territory. I was also strongly advised to part with at least 30cm of my strands, as the length was doing “nothing for me” (strongly agree), as well as to cut in some face-framing layers to take the squareness off my forehead and chin. I’m totally enamoured with my post-lockdown hair, and if you’re also envisaging a major change, I’d very much encourage you to take the plunge.
Zoe Briggs, Features Writer – A Rosy New Outlook
Having not coloured my hair for at least five years or had it cut in nearly two, I am in a very easy routine with it. Look yes, you could call it a rut, but I don’t yet have any greys and it’s thrown up into a bun at least 23 hours a day, so doing much of anything to my hair has well and truly fallen off my beauty to-do list. When the offer came to trial Schwarzkopf’s new semi-permanent tint, CHROMAID, which lasts around 12 washes, I thought it was the perfect, low-commitment chance to dip my toe back into the soothing waters of professional hair care. Leigh Marsh, the owner of Lala Hair Studio in Brisbane’s Camp Hill, encouraged me to add a rich chocolate tone all over, then mixed a custom shade of rose to bring a little something fun to my ends.
It’s a fairly subtle change, bearing in mind my base colour is already quite dark, but one that has left me feeling like a new woman – even after I first washed my hair, post-blowdry, and Leigh’s smooth, mermaid waves (all the better for showing off the gradation of colour) were replaced by my own unruly curls. I haven’t yet ditched the bun, but every time I pass by a mirror and see a pink-hued tendril peeping out, I smile. Best of all, thanks to the CHROMAID bonding technology, my hair is softer than it ever was even during its years of being ‘virgin’ hair. I guess there really is something to this whole hair colouring game, and they do say blondes have more fun…
Marina Gainulina, Beauty Writer – Chaotic Copper
Anyone who knows me well enough (including my work wives) would tell you that when it comes to beauty, my creed is “more is more”. As much as I love, admire, and (unsuccessfully) attempt to emulate the chic effortlessness that Sydneysiders are oft renowned for, my Slavic roots have their own plans. Having ricocheted between OTT looks such as full scalp bleach blonde, on to mahogany, waist-length extensions, all within the space of a year, when I found out the latest colour trend for this (hot mess of a) year was copper, post-quarantine seemed as good a time as ever to try something fun and fresh. Remaining very on-brand with being noncommittal, my colourist and I agreed the best way forward for both the integrity of my strands, as well as, frankly, my mental health, was to dabble in a semi-permanent colour. Don’t be fooled – with this method, the results are still visible, albeit a lot more subtle and manageable than permanent dyes. Also, semi’s gradually wash out with shampoo (but not entirely.)
Full disclosure, this latter point turned out to be my saving grace. Although I loved the glossy rosé hue as I stepped out of the salon, that crush turned out to be very fleeting indeed. Cue that very same afternoon, me doing a complete 180, fuelled by rage and regret, cursing myself for making such a brazen beauty decision. In all fairness, the colour itself was lovely – the fact that the red pigment emphasised my naturally ruddy complexion, was not. To my relief, every consequent shower saw the dye gradually wash down the drain, and only two months later, I was back in the salon chair for a much more safe and suitable, cool-toned colour (which I will detail in an upcoming feature). Moral of the story? Have fun and experiment with your mane, but know what suits you and your skin tone, and make a considered choice with the help of your hairdresser. And don’t let the chaotic energy of 2020 push you into an equally permanently chaotic choice, just for the sake of change.
Holding shot: Instagram @rosiehw