On the heels of the rollercoaster that was 2020, it should come as no surprise that 2021’s biggest hair and makeup trends tend toward the extraordinary. Whether you’re the type to embrace high-octane glamour at every chance or habitually keep things glowy and natural, 2021’s prettiest beauty trends have something to offer every bride-to-be with an extra-special, wedding-day touch.
For the glamour-inclined, Ryan Trygstad, a celebrity stylist and co-founder of Mark Ryan Salon in NYC (his clients include Emma Roberts, Laura Dern, and Kelly Ripa), tells Brides, “I’ve noticed that because of COVID, when it comes to wedding beauty, people are ready to glam it up. Everyone is so over not being social and staying inside that they want to have the biggest celebration while feeling the most glamorous on their special day.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum, some soon-to-be-wed women are more accustomed to the au natural effect that lockdown has spurred. “Brides are leaning toward more natural, lived-in looks,” Claire Balest, a Tennessee-based hair and makeup artist, says. “Spending the better part of a year embracing your natural hair texture and wearing less makeup than ever has done a bit of reprogramming on all of us. It has forced us into a sort of minimalist place, and swinging to the other end of the spectrum doesn’t feel natural quite yet.”
Gorgeous skin is another huge focus to serve as the perfect base for wedding day makeup, according to Balest. “This begins long before the wedding day, but people are putting in the time now. Simple beauty is what women want to feel ‘effortless,’ and that always begins and ends with great skin,” she says. Adding, “Brides are aspiring to stand out without feeling over the top.”
For those craving unique wedding day beauty without too much effort, Lakeisha Dale, an NYC-based makeup artist, licensed esthetician, and Melaskin Studio owner, predicts an ease-in effect with a “bring it” sensibility. “The last thing a bride will want to do is be stressed on her special day. However, she’s going to want to show up and show out for what may arguably be one of the first big events that they and their guests have attended since the pandemic has started,” she explains. Her prediction: a rise in not-too-fussy wedding day beauty with a singular bold statement so that brides look and feel like themselves, but in a memorable way that suits one of the most important days of their lives.
Wherever you lie on the beauty spectrum, keep reading for a breakdown of 2021’s biggest wedding hair and makeup trends, as predicted by Trygstad, Balest, Dale, and more.
The 2021 Hair Trend: Lived-In Texture
Whether you opt for an updo or down and tousled, lived-in, textured styles will be popular with brides, according to Balest. “We’ve spent a year giving our hair a bit of a break and growing more accustomed to our natural textures,” she explains. Adding, “It can feel a bit over the top right now to have every hair in place. Opting for a more lived-in style mimics the freedom we’ve been giving our locks and might make a bride feel more like herself.”
Echoing Balest, Kristen Shaw, a Los Angeles-based hairstylist, says loose, almost straight waves are perfect for achieving a look that’s equal parts relaxed and refined. “It’s part Kate Moss, Part Sienna Miller, part effortless-French-girl vibe,” she says. “[It’s] a sophisticated way to elevate your look while letting other things like dress, jewelry, or makeup do the talking.”
For a modern take on the bridal updo, Shaw says, “I believe we’ll also be seeing quite a bit of romantic, textured updo’s.” Rather than tight and sleek, the hairstylist predicts a rise in loosely-pinned looks with small pieces framing the face or nape of the neck. “I think a lot of people this past year have found some glimpse at the beauty of simplicity, and this kind of hairstyle exudes this for weddings in 2021,” she explains. “It’s subtly stunning while also making you feel at ease over not over-fussing and over-styling your hair.”
One of Trygstad’s go-to hairstyles for brides is a half-up, half-down textured beachy look, which he predicts will continue into 2021. “It’s great for the bride who wants a more casual look and has to have a section of the hair to place the veil,” he says. One of his pro tips for a distinctive take on this trend is incorporating other vegetation accents besides flowers. “Greenery is so beautiful in the hair, especially against all ivory and white,” he says.
To amplify the effect of natural hair texture, Kelli Patten, a lead stylist for Claire Balest, says, “always get the hair extensions,” but warns, “like lash extensions, don’t overdo it! Your wedding photographs will thank you.”
The 2021 Hair Trend: Adorning Accessories
Hair accessories have been hugely popular for everyday style, and as a result, Trygstad predicts a rise in wedding day hair accessories for an extra-special, embellished touch. “This year, I’m loving a high and tight updo with beautiful accessories like pearls, vintage hair ornaments, or a statement headband for the fashion-forward bride.”
Balest seconds the headband prediction and says they’re a modern and easier-to-pull-off alternative to crowns and tiara. “They’re fun, feminine, and there are some incredible options for making a big bridal statement,” she says, suggesting options from brands like Jennifer Behr and Lelet NY. Hill House Home has a romantic and trendy assortment, too.
The 2021 Hair Trend: Hollywood Glamour
For a feminine and romantic wedding day look, Trygstad and Shaw predict a turn toward Hollywood-glamour-inspired hairstyles. “Everyone’s stayed inside so long, and this is the perfect way to wow a crowd,” says Shaw of the timeless look.
Trygstad says, “I also love a classic old Hollywood glamorous wave with something new and modern, like tiny flowers sporadically placed and tied into the beautiful, glamorous waves.”
The 2021 Hair Trend: A Party Pony
Balest says the party pony will be big for 2021 brides, whether for the reception or a late-night celebration. “[It] refreshes the entire look, even if you don’t change your dress,” she explains. “It’s casual but chic. There’s a pony for everyone, whether the placement is low, high, or in the middle.”
The 2021 Makeup Trend: Color, Crystals & Shine
As a move away from traditional bridal glam, Dale predicts a turn toward creative makeup looks, with jeweled eyes at the forefront of the trend. “I predict brides will be choosing more dramatic, almost high-fashion looks to shake up the monotony that the pandemic has created,” she says. “Think editorial beauty: flat black pearls in an assortment of sizes on or around the eye or Swarovski crystals in place of liquid eyeliner. Dramatic and eye-catching, but not overdone.”
Jonet Williamson, an NYC-based makeup artist, seconds the jeweled makeup trend, predicting an overall emphasis on eyes. “With mask mandates still in place, I wouldn’t be surprised to see bridal masks coordinating with wedding dresses, which would lead to eyes being more of a focus. I believe brides will be more open to playing up their eyes in a more editorial sense.”
She says high-shine looks via dewy highlighters will be big, too. “Because more weddings are being viewed virtually rather than in person, brides are looking for new ways for that awe to translate across the camera,” she explains of the trend’s allure. “For brides that would usually go for a classic minimal look, this can be achieved by adding reflective crystals and balmy textures to the skin.”
Another bold eye makeup trend on the rise, according to Balest? Color! “This is the trend for the brides who have been struggling with the minimalist makeup looks of 2020. Choosing to be more playful with the shades on your eyes is a great way to make a statement,” she explains. “It doesn’t have to be over the top—try choosing one brighter shade to feature that complements your skin and make sure to keep everything else a bit more toned down to keep it simple. Bright colors are cheerful, uplifting, and fun—all of which we need more of these days.”
The 2021 Makeup Trend: All About Skin
Many women overhauled their skincare routines throughout the pandemic, which Dale and Balest predict, will lead to a rise in wedding day makeup that showcases healthy skin. “With most people starting to invest more in their skincare products to improve skin at home, I predict that people will be looking for a complexion look that will accentuate all of their improvements vs. using full coverage makeup unnecessarily,” Dale tells Brides. “Complexion looks have taken a ‘skin first’ approach, and I predict that will continue for brides to play up the eyes, cheeks, or lips in a fun way.”
“Bridal beauty begins and ends with great skin,” Balest says. “We have spent the past year wearing less makeup than ever, which has directed our attention to what really matters—our skin. Brides are going to be focusing a lot more on their skincare habits, which will make a huge difference in how their makeup looks on the wedding day.”
For brides who want an effortless, ‘no makeup’ makeup look on their wedding day, Dale says a simple look with a pop of color on the cheeks or playful highlighter placement is a mesmerizing look to try, especially when the light hits the face just right. “These are brides who still want to look like themselves, just a little more elevated and playful,” she explains.
Balest says lightweight foundations will be essential among 2021 brides to let beautiful and healthy skin show through. “Choose a lighter weight formula with a radiant finish, one that looks like actual skin,” the makeup artist suggests. “You want your skin to look like skin. Stay away from formulas that look like actual makeup on the skin.”
The 2021 Makeup Trend: Bold Lips
For an emphasis on lips rather than eyes, Williamson and Balest agree: bold and bright colors will surge in 2021. “Where a nude lip used to be the go-to for a bride. I can see a shift to more brides opting for bolder color on the lips,” Williamson says. “Our favorite lippies have been missing from our everyday beauty routines because of mask mandates. Brides opting to wear a clear mask and a bolder lip is a great way to feel a bit more glamorous for your special day while staying safe.”
Suggesting colors like bright pink, mulberry, or deep rose, Balest says a bold, blurred lip will pair well with beautiful skin and a softly defined eye. “This look is romantic, easy to wear, and can make a big impact,” she says. “It has a minimalist feel but is still striking. Brides are aspiring to stand out without feeling over the top, and this is the perfect look to achieve that.”