Style & Beauty

Hair Trends: The Long and the Short of It

Outdated ideas about how you’re supposed to look have gone out the window—it’s time to experiment!

By Lola Augustine Brown


Something wonderful has happened in the world of hair and beauty: the old rules about what you’re supposed to look like when you get older no longer apply. Grey hair is sexy. Long hair is just as appropriate as short hair on older women and men. Fun bright hair colours are fashionable, and everyone, no matter what age, is welcome to paint her hair with splashes of pink, blue, purple, or brightest red.

If you’ve been wanting to try something new and fun with your hair, spring is the perfect time to experiment and perhaps change your look. We chatted with three stylists from across Canada to see how best to enjoy the latest hair trends and love your new do.

Cuts That Suit
Those with longer hair will love knowing that the versatile shag is back in style. “Think a lot of layers, worn-in beachy-looking hair with lots of texture,” says Gianpaolo Colombo, Sebastian Professional’s top stylist and artistic director at Hairafter Salon & Spa in Toronto. “We’re going back to the ’80s, where hair is big and tousled, which is a great look on pretty much everyone.”

If you prefer to go shorter, Colombo says that pixie cuts and shorter choppy styles are also super-hot, which is great news for women who want to grow out hair colour and celebrate their natural grey (another big trend, but more on that later).

Jessica Stotts, master stylist at Workshop Salon in New Westminster, BC, says that going short can act like an instant facelift, making you look brighter and more youthful. “I love seeing the change that a great short cut gives to my older clients, and they’ve loved going short, too,” she says.

When it comes to cuts for guys, the beautifully shaped barbershop styles that have been around for a while continue to be very fashionable.

“It’s always nice to see guys sporting those short sides and a longer top, that’s very classic-looking,” Colombo says. “Side parts are also still around, and on-trend for men is growing the hair a little longer and keeping the texture there if your hair is wavy. You don’t have to shave your head once your hair gets thin—keep it short and choppy and that can look really sexy. It’s nice to leave some length on top so that you can play with it.”

For the Love of Colour
If you’ve been playing it too safe with your hair colour, you may not be doing your look any favours and can end up looking blah, Colombo says. “When people go for flat-looking black and brown colours, it just makes them look older, and people often go too dark with their hair colour,” he says. “If you’re going grey, why are you dyeing your hair black? One week later you see that skunk line growing in.”

Instead, Colombo recommends going lighter with hair colour as we age because it’s softer on the skin. “Think warmer golden, red, and mahogany tones, as these are going to bring more warmth to your skin, which creates a more youthful look and brightens you up,” he says.

Growing out your grey is a trend that’s somewhat life-changing: once you get through the growing-out stage, you’re left with a hairdo that requires much less maintenance—and less expense.

“So many of my clients have embraced their grey because they were over the constant need to colour their hair and they love it. They tell me that they feel free,” says Melissa Corkum, stylist at Alchemy Clothing and Hair Salon in Saskatoon. “Less maintenance is always a good thing. You’re a slave to colouring grey hair, and that’s not a good experience.”

You’ve no doubt noticed that younger people are paying to have their hair coloured grey, so the trend is one that transcends age. You also don’t have to simply embrace the grey you have, as not all grey hair comes out a stunning silver. A good stylist will be able to enhance your grey.

Once you have grey hair, you can have fun with it by adding in some bright streaks or pastel tones. “Pastels are super-cool because they’re low commitment and wash out quickly,” Corkum says. “These are semi-permanent colours that sit on the top of the hair and don’t penetrate, so you’re looking at having them for only six to 10 washes and then they’re completely gone. These days, you’re allowed to have fun and do whatever you want. Society isn’t judging you for having a good time with your hair.”

When it comes to hair colour for men, Colombo says that if you’ve been going for a full-on jet-black dye job, the time has come to ditch that look. “Embrace your grey hair,” he says. “What I give a lot of my clients is a salt-and-pepper feel by combing the natural tones of their colour in, but leaving some of the grey in place. Instead of them looking like Elvis, they look natural and sexy instead.”

Taking a Leap
If you’re ready to make some big changes with your hair, you need to find the right stylist to help you do that. Stotts says that consultations are key when choosing a stylist. “Talk with him or her first to make sure that you want that person doing your hair; that five-minute conversation could make or break it,” she says. “You’re forming a relationship with your stylist and you need to be able to trust that he or she will give you what you want.”

Educating clients about what works best for their hair and how to style it themselves when they get home is every stylist’s responsibility, Colombo says. “As a stylist, you should always teach your clients how to style their new hair in two or three different ways, and provide them with the tools and products they’ll need to achieve those looks at home,” he says. “You want your client to be able to look good 99 per cent of the time, because they’re your best promotional tool. You want people to stop them and ask them where they got their hair done.”

Illustrations: iStock/CSA-Printstock (long) and CSA Images (short).