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What’s that strutting and shimmying just over the horizon? Could it be that a true Hot Girl Summer is finally on its way? If one considers Coachella, it sure seems that way. After literal years of yearning, 2022 promises the sunny and celebratory months the world has been collectively dreaming of, replete with gatherings, festivals, and travel (Oh, my!). And what better way to welcome the upcoming season than with a brand new summer hair color?
Summer’s new hues are all about warmth, movement, and playfulness, with each favored shade designed to shine best beneath the sun. “Festivals and outdoor concerts are back in swing, gardens are blossoming, and with us all getting outdoors after two years of lockdown, I find that clients are eager to experiment with their color,” says Blackstones Collective colorist Phoebe Nathan. “My clients today simply want to lighten up.”
In the spirit of brighter days ahead, TZR chatted with five celebrity colorists about the hair colors that are set to define this summer. Rich and tonally intriguing, fun and buoyant, experts are seeing options that skew subtly radiant — in more ways than one. Scroll on for seven summer hair color ideas to inspire you ahead of your next salon appointment.
Warm is the keyword when it comes to summer’s blonde. A departure from the icy and ashy lengths of seasons past brings a buttery beige that reads a hair more natural-looking than cooler iterations. “Whereas ashier tones absorb light, golden tones reflect light to create a shinier, brighter blonde,” says Nathan. “I find that it also tends to warm up the skin in a really beautiful way.” Thompson agrees, adding that soft warmth is better for hair condition (less lifting of color means a gentler process), and more flattering on the full spectrum of skin tones. “I love that we are going warmer,” she says. “Hair lightens naturally from the sun, and the natural remaining pigment in the hair as it lightens from nature is always warm.”
While more solid colorways are on the rise, subtle highlights are here to stay. The best way to achieve that lived-in, just-for-you detailing? Balayage. “Gen Z call blondes cheugy because they haven’t yet had a great balayage highlight,” says Emily Baum, colorist and founder of Beauty Supply. “A great balayage highlight can create lightness and movement in all the right places while simultaneously allowing you to grow your hair out with grace.” Nathan agrees, citing a parallel trending of skin-focused, natural-effect makeup, emphasizing what you have rather that overhauling completely. “Subtle highlights that are no brighter than just a few shades above your natural color gives the same effect as sheer lip balm used as blush — delicate, easy to style, and a quick addition that elevates an entire look.”
Red hair is undoubtedly in, and it’s more inclusive — and individualized — than ever before. “Copper tones are my favorite of the red color family and honestly the only formulas I mix for clients,” says colorist Erin Mckay. “Whether they’re more natural or more vibrant, copper tones still look like they could have been created naturally.” Sally Hershberger veteran Aura Friedman has an entire mood board dedicated to copper, while Nathan calls the hue the number one trend of the season — or, perhaps, ever? “This has to be my all-time favorite hair trend,” she says. “Copper can be a universally flattering color when, paradoxically, you create something bespoke for every client: It can be bright and bold, or muted and subdued for a more natural look. It’s very flexible, and a great way to welcome the incoming warmer months.”
For those hesitant to embrace an entirely new shade, a slight stain is a romantic means of elevating your existing hair color. “Our summer inspiration at Spoke & Weal is fruit stains,” says Christine Thompson, owner and color director of Spoke & Weal. “These look healthy and fresh and can be accomplished without over lightening [the hair]. For summer we will see these showing up in deeper colors: deep cherry, passion fruit, peach, and apricot for blondes.” Nathan echoes the sentiment, adding that she’s been seeing pastel peaches, berry pinks, and citrus stains. Looks like classic strawberry blonde has some sweet new competition.
Just call it the Hailey Bieber effect. Blondes eager to make a change that centers on depth and a celebration of their natural color are the most common candidates for this in-between trend, a favorite among colorists and social scrollers everywhere. “This color results in more natural tones and less dramatic dimension — not only will you look like you’re a trendsetter, your eye and skin color will look more enhanced,” says Mckay of this particular shade of bronde. “And if that not enough to convince you to go deeper, your hair color will last longer and your hair will be healthier because you’re highlighting it less.” Far from falling flat, this of-the-moment shade feels undeniably chic, a new kind of classic that will likely carry over to the autumn months and beyond.
A warm-up needn’t mean abandoning your identity as a brunette. Rather, the latest looks enhance the deeper shade, breaking up any opacity for a more fashionable fluidity. “I’m seeing brunettes who usually reject any warmth in their color start to embrace more of a chocolate brown hue,” says Nathan. “Brunettes as a whole generally tend to ‘pull’ warm when they color their hair (I speak from personal experience), and it’s been so nice to see more of my fellow brunettes embrace their natural golden and copper undertones.” Baum calls this brand of brown the brunette version of a sun-kissed moment: brown on brown highlights with low contrast, creating a subtle sense of movement. “This is not your basic brunette,” says Mckay. “This is rich chocolate hair color that is laden with gold tones. It’s a very classy look that says confidence.”
This color camp is all down to whimsy, and how following said whims can help showcase a more idiosyncratic you. “It’s all about expressing yourself, from multicolor to solid bright color blocking on graphic cuts like bobs,” says Friedman. Nathan notes that the possibilities around playful shifts are endless. “I’ve seen those with shorter buzz cuts experiment with bleaching their hair, and then painting intricate flowers or brightly colored abstract patterns on their head,” she says. In addition to catching eyes (and possibly hearts), fanciful notes have no boundaries, meaning they can be easily tailored to suit styling and maintenance goals.