Well, that was weird — but certainly better than 2020. This year was a year of in-betweens. We're partway through finally getting out of the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to vaccinations, but we're also still in the middle of the once-in-a-generation event, which is still affecting people all over the world.
Things aren't completely "normal" yet but one thing is for sure, 2022 is looking a lot brighter than 2021. And with folks going out and interacting with people, families getting together, and in-person events returning, it's time for us to get back to business, and for us, that means fly coifs and more hair trends. However, pandemic culture is still very much a thing, and many of the habits we embraced during lockdown — letting our grays grow in, taking care of our scalps — aren't going away anytime soon. And hair-care brands get that.
We're here to help you navigate this no-man's land. With a little insight from experts, and a glance through our editor stashes of new and semi-newness, we've identified four hair-product trends that are likely to take us through 2022.
Products for Aging Hair
Just like your skin, your hair changes as you age. And we've been seeing more products and collections cropping up to address those changes: thinning, dryness, and graying. "With age, we know that our hair thins out. This is because of both a decrease in the number of hairs and a decrease in the diameter of the individual hairs themselves," explains New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D. "The active phase of hair growth, known as anagen, tends to become shorter with age, which means that hairs don't grow as long and fall out more rapidly."
As you age, the cells in your hair that produce its pigment also begin to slow, which is part of the reason why you start graying. "There's some data to suggest that this has to do with free-radical damage in the hair follicle," he adds. Your hair also tends to get drier as a result of decreased oil gland activity on your scalp that also comes with getting older.
Before you reach for any product, Dr. Zeichner suggests speaking to your dermatologist first. "It's important to distinguish normal age-related health changes with those caused by underlying health issues," he explains. "If you are experiencing any hair thinning, it's important to visit your dermatologist for evaluation. Your derm may take some bloodwork to test you for anemia, thyroid issues, or vitamin deficiencies."
Once you've confirmed that your hair changes are just a normal process of getting older and (hopefully) wiser, there are a few brands hoping to be your new go-to product. Hair-care offerings like Pantene's launching Generation Beauty, a CVS-exclusive range, is aimed at addressing the hair-care needs of two age groups: 20 to 35 and 35-plus. The latter selection of products is formulated to add volume to thinning hair, repair color damage, and inject a little vibrancy with the help of super ingredient hyaluronic acid.
Pantene's Full & Vibrant collection includes a small amount of histidine, which New Jersey-based cosmetic chemist Ginger King says is helpful, when it's included at a functional level, for "restoring the amino acids in hair and making it stronger." That said, just about anyone noticing sparser strands may benefit from these products.
If you're looking to bring in the big guns to battle hair thinning, Dr. Zeichner says to look for products that contain minoxidil. "Topicals like minoxidil are actually FDA approved to treat thinning hair," he explains. "The mechanism is unclear but it is thought to help increase the damage in the growth phase of the hair follicle itself and enhance the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the follicle."
Procter & Gamble's Hair Biology brand focuses on aging hair care, too. Its products have similar formulations to the Pantene offerings, except, as King notes, there appears to be the inclusion of biotin to help strengthen the hair. But, given its formulations, we think it's safe to say that anyone can reap the benefits of these products — not just those with aging hair.
Gray hair-care is also having a moment. "Once a color everyone desperately tried to avoid, salt-and-pepper hair [became] one of the biggest color trends of 2021," Los Angeles-based colorist Genevieve Barnoski previously told Allure. Generation Beauty also offers its Silver & Glowing shampoo and conditioner specifically to keep gray hair bright and soft with the help of vitamin E and biotin. King calls the formula for this one "quite traditional," noting the inclusion of violet 2 to counteract yellow tones. The one major difference, she noted, was that the surfactants, aka the stuff that actually cleanses your hair, were stronger in these formulas.
There's also Better Not Younger, a brand that launched a few years ago at Sephora. Its approach is a bit different, offering products that thicken, add volume, strengthen, and yes, tone grays. As King notes, each product has its own unique technology to address each specific issue and "good active ingredients like ceramides," which are lipids that add moisture and protect the hair strand from environmental stressors. The brand's options for brightening grays include its Silver Lining Shampoo (which includes antioxidant-rich hops to make hair appear thicker and smoother) and the Butter Hair Mask (whose green coffee extract makes your hair easier to detangle).
Shiny hair never goes out of fashion. "Glossy hair is (and should always be) a major trend," says Los Angeles-based hairstylist Clariss Rubenstein. And now that more people are gathering in person, it's understandable that folks would want their hair to look extra healthy and shiny. After all, you didn't do all those at-home deep treatments for nothin.'
Amika just released its Top Gloss Shine Spray, which promises to bring that glassy, bright-as-hyper-white-lights shine to your crown. L'Oréal Paris's EverPure Glossing In Shower Acidic Glaze is an acidic pH hair treatment that seals your cuticle and creates a super-glossy finish. "Acidity closes down the cuticles," explains King. "All hair-care products ideally should be in pH 3.5-5.5 range for best results." JVN is also launching its new Complete Nourishing Hair Oil Shine Drops, which includes hemisqualane, which King says is a silicone alternative that helps condition and adds shine to hair.
DpHue recently dropped a gift set aimed at getting maximum shine, with the help of its beloved Apple Cider Vinegar Scrub and Rubenstein's favorite, Gloss+, which is created to boost your dye job and give your hair some extra shine. "It's so easy to use and the results are totally comparable to a salon gloss," she says. Use it as you would any other at-home gloss — apply to clean, damp hair for three to 20 minutes, then rinse with cool water. The set comes with the clear version of the gloss, which you can mix in with the colored options to create a custom formula.
The shine factor also applies to your extensions. Hairstylist Priscilla Valdes uses the Best of Beauty-winning ColorWow Money Mask on her hair extensions to make them shiny. The inclusion of blue sea kale in the formula adds a bit of damage protection (which is great, especially if you've been using hot tools on your pieces) and a hydrolyzed vegetable protein complex smooths your cuticles. For regular hair-washing maintenance, you can also try the shampoo and conditioner in L'Oréal Paris's EverPure Glossing line.
Beyond what our stylists say, it's clear that regular folks are embracing super-shiny hair, too. Take for example the "clean look," which has been taking over Tiktok. Inspired by the fresh-looking models off-duty, the trend relies on shiny, pulled-back hair to match a minimalist, no-makeup makeup beat. Because the look is so pared down, making sure your skin and hair are glowing is a requirement — one easily achieved with the help of some product.
So show off the hair you babied all year long — the best way to do so is to literally let it shine.
Hair looks its shiniest when it's smoothed down, so it makes sense that this look would be trending, especially when you consider it is a must for people with straighter hair textures looking to achieve the aforementioned "clean look."
If you haven't already, expect a slew of hair-smoothing products and get yourself acquainted with pomades — they'll be your best friend. "A style that's down, parted in the center, or up and back requires a loose pomade," says Rubenstein, who suggests Monat's Restyle Instant Sculpting Taffy, which contains prolactin to protect your hair from environmental stressors and UV rays. However, there are new products either coming down the pipeline or already here to consider.
Virtue Labs just launched its 6-in-1 Styling Paste which you can use to add texture or smooth down your hair. It contains shea butter to moisturize and a chia seed complex for a bit of heat protection, too.
For curlier and coily textures, Bumble and Bumble's Bb. Curl Gel Pomade provides similar benefits with the addition of coconut oil and shea butter in its formula when you're looking to pull all that texture back into a bun, puff, or pony. Drybar is finally jumping into the textured hair market with a line for coils, which includes its Gin Twist Edge Control Gelée for smooth edges. The formula includes amla seed oil, rich in vitamins to nourish your delicate edges, coconut oil for moisture, and proteins to strengthen your strands.
The best part of this iteration of the smooth hair trend is that it does allow people of all textures to participate. You don't have to have naturally straight hair to smooth it down, and even when you do, there is still the opportunity to show off your waves, curls, and coils, too.
The Skinification of Hair
This trend has been steadily bubbling for the past few years, but in 2021, we saw more brands adding familiar skin-care ingredients to our hair-care products. Hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid, ceramides, salicylic acid, and others are turning up in our shampoos, conditioners, leave-ins, and everything in between. These ingredients work to resurface our scalps, bust buildup, hydrate, and support hair health.
"When the scalp is out of whack — meaning there's poor circulation, an oil imbalance, or a buildup of cells — we see not only flakes and inflammation, but hair that looks and feels unhealthy, and may even shed before its time," New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Francesca Fusco, M.D. previously told Allure.
Products like Augustinus Bader's new hair-care line focuses on enriching the scalp and the strands to support scalp health and, ultimately, improve the quality of your hair. The entire line makes use of the brand's signature TFC8 tech in each product — the same cocktail of vitamins that's in all its skin-care offerings. With the inclusion of ingredients like vitamin B5 to encourage cell turnover and make your scalp an overall better place for hair growth, it's clear that the brand, like many others, is leaning into the skin-care vibe.
The Inkey List's Glycolic Scalp Scrub is another great example of this trend, harnessing the power of the chemical exfoliant to gently erode product buildup. Alterna just launched its Caviar Moisture Intensive Ceramide Shots, which come in little concentrated capsules of serum that add moisture, fight hair breakage, and soften your strands.
R+Co's newly released Sleep Masque intensely moisturizes your hair as you sleep with the help of — you guessed it — ceramides which seal down your cuticles for a healthier look. JVN's new Complete Instant Recovery Leave-in Serum harnesses the power of niacinamide to give your hair a sheen and repair any damaged keratin.
But whichever popular products you reach for in 2022, keep in mind: healthy hair is always trending. So make sure you are creating the best possible situation for your crown to thrive in the new year.
This was originally published on Allure.