Shadow Roots Are the Coolest Low-Maintenance Hair Trend for 2021


If you haven’t made it to a salon since the pandemic started, fear not, as your overgrown roots are actually trending. That’s right—a shadow root is one of the coolest hair colors you can get this spring. 

Okay, so it’s a little more elegant than months-old grow-out, but it is way less upkeep than your usual hair color. Basically, a shadow root, also called a root smudge, is when your stylist goes back over your highlights or fresh color with a shade closer to your natural shade. This not only gives your hair a cooler “lived-in” feel, it extends the life of your color by fading into your natural roots, instead of leaving a harsh demarcation line. 

Lauren Grummel, a hairstylist in New York, loves this technique for both its ability to extend your grow-out, as well as adding pretty dimension. While a shadow root can be done on pretty much any shade, she particularly likes to do it on her blond-haired clients. “I love it for its subtle contrast,” she says. “Ask for brighter ends, with dimension through the midlength and less blond through the roots, and always brighter pieces around your face.” 

“I think it’s all going to be about the grow-out,” says Stephanie Brown, master colorist at New York City’s IGK Salon Soho, regarding hair-color trends this year (or at least until the pandemic is over). “Whether someone goes very natural or a little extreme, people are going to want their hair color to be able to grow out easily without having to touch up their roots as often. People want their hair color to last longer and not feel that it needs as much maintenance.” 

Reverse balayage has also been on the rise, and it’s another way to embrace the grow-out. “It’s great for anyone with lighter highlights wanting an easier grow-out,” says Grummel. “Ask for a root color that is about a shade lighter than your natural. It will blend seamlessly with the highlights and your natural shade, creating a lower contrast, but you’ll still have pops of the highlights.”

A big thing to note: Unless you’re extremely savvy with at-home hair color, these techniques are best left for the pros. And if you’re not ready to hit the salon yet? At least your roots will be in style. 

Bella Cacciatore is the beauty associate at Glamour. Follow her on Instagram @bellacacciatore_. 


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