Hair trends 2023: Box bobs, warm colours and messy buns

It’s also the year to embrace the innate texture of your tresses

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The good news is, natural and easy-to-maintain hair is back in vogue. Better still, the shades and styles are anything but boring, as recommended by the professional hairstylists we spoke to, who also share their top colour, cut and care predictions for the coming year.

Hot hair colours

Warm golden blondes and brunettes are the two most popular palettes for 2023, which is also in keeping with the high gloss and shine you should seek out this year.

“Less is more when it comes to colour in 2023,” predicts Karl Warner, artistic director at Pastels Salon. “My clients are generally opting for more lived-in colours and embracing a more natural look, whatever their chosen shade may be.

Those with warm skin tones can get highlights in honey, caramel, amber and golden brown, while those with cool-toned skin will better suit mocha and rich-chocolate shades
Tara Rose Kidd, founder and director, Tara Rose Salon, Abu Dhabi

“For this reason, I predict the biggest hair colour trend will be natural brunette, but with dimension rather than one flat brown shade. Ask your stylist to create depth by using multiple tones — for instance, use some golden, some copper and some beige tones, but always keeping the root colour uniform,” recommends Warner.

The colour lookbook at Tara Rose Salon in Abu Dhabi offers two other tones to play with: candlelit brunette and cinnamon & spice balayage.

“The first encourages adding low-contrast and mid-tone highlights to give the hair warmth, as if it were glistening in the candlelight,” explains Tara Rose Kidd, the salon’s founder and director. “Those with warm skin tones can get highlights in shades such as honey, caramel, amber and golden brown, while those with cool-toned skin will better suit mocha and rich-chocolate shades.”

There’s no such thing as a bad hair day in 2023. Let your natural hair flow
Doaa Gawish, founder and chief executive, The Hair Addict

If you want to experiment with or switch up your balayage, opt for fiery flecks and rich accents, recommends Kidd. “Dark brunette roots should just melt into notes of caramel, cinnamon and spice, combining seamlessly into one mega-multidimensional hue. You can even get a reddish tint to take your balayage to the next level.”

The next season of blondes, too, is “moving away from the icy, frosty and ashy look of the Scandi blonde trend and bringing in the sunshine”, says Kidd.

Sam Carpenter, hair artist and educator at Eideal, agrees. “Warm blondes will be the go-to this year. Think golden to peachy tones, and sun-kissed to soft balayage. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is one of the key muses of this look, as are JLo and Blake Lively.

“It should be said, though, that this on-point colour palette will need to be carefully adapted to suit your skin tone, so always ask a colour expert to mix your perfect shade,” adds Carpenter.

Whichever shade of brown or blonde you choose, one thing’s certain: cool tones are out this season.

If you do want to experiment with bright pops of colour this year, go all out and take your cues from Pantone’s shade of the year, Viva Magenta, recommend the experts at Goldwell, a German salon-professional haircare brand.

On hair, this translates as “a dynamic and digital-ready red shade that embodies excitement, passion and seduction”, says Angelo Seminara, global Goldwell ambassador.

Trending hairstyles

Healthy, hydrated, but lived-in hair is all the rage at the moment, according to Carpenter. “In recent years, embracing your hair’s natural texture has become more popular rather than forcing it into a contrived style. Just take a look on social media and you will notice a celebration of curls and coils as you would not have seen in the past.”

As Doaa Gawish, founder and chief executive of The Hair Addict, puts it: “There’s no such thing as a bad hair day in 2023. Let your natural hair flow and it’ll surprise you with its endless possibilities of on-trend styles.”

Gawish shares her top six styles with The National.

Scroll through the gallery below to see each style

1. Space buns: Release your inner Jedi with this look, straight from the Star Wars fandom.

2. Free-flowing but textured: Show off your curls with a little twist by styling it into a free-flowing braid.

3. Free-flowing but sleek: That’s not to say sleek trends will die this year. Rather, they are your go-to for a clean girl look.

4. Natural fringe: A fringe is your key to a cutie pie look and go well with winter outfits and beanies.

5. Faux fringe: Also known as "joker bangs" this hairstyle works with everything from bad hair days and gym looks to fancy outfits. Just try it and count your compliments!

6. Messy bun: The epitome of an I-do-not-care look, when done right, this will make you look effortlessly beautiful.

Trending haircuts - curtain bangs, tapered fringe and box bobs

Popular since last autumn, the tapered fringe will remain a favourite this season. The style is a cross between a straight fringe and "curtain bangs", which fall on both sides of the face. "The updated version has the fringe on the side and has established itself as the go-to fall trend, as seen on model Emily Ratajkowski,” says Myriam Keramane, founder of Myriam.K Paris. “Just try getting a fringe with a hair piece before you actually cut your hair, so you can see how it looks on you without risking the regret if you don’t like it,” she suggests.

Samantha Jane, style director at Pretty Wow, adds: “Soft wispy bangs are a more delicate way to introduce a fringe. Ask your stylist to keep the middle pieces shorter with some longer layers around the edges to frame your face.”

Jane also reckons short haircuts will make a comeback this year. "The box bob is great for making a powerful statement, with its sharp blunt edges. If you're not feeling brave enough to cut down to the jawline, aim for just above the shoulders, then you can style in a middle parting or throw it over to a deep side parting for a different vibe.”

Layered haircuts are also back, according to the team at Pastels. “Opt for styles that have plenty of movement. Framing your face with curtain bangs is also on point, and most face shapes can pull this style off; just ask your stylist to tailor it to you.”

For Kidd, the trick lies in the technique. “Technical cutting remains a big trend. What’s nice is that people are using the natural fabric of their hair to create texture rather than before, when the focus was on polished finishes. These styles are all about the cut and scissor work, so it’s important to find a stylist with experience in technical and precision haircutting.

“We’re also seeing a lot of shag-style haircuts with plenty of fringe and layers, at least for the current cooler months,” says Kidd.

Top care tip

The heat is on styling tools this year, as embracing both hair health and natural textures come into vogue. “For so long, girls and women have hidden their natural locks with heat-styling and chemical treatments, all of which have led to a vicious cycle of damage, split ends and lower self-esteem. However, this year is all about liberation and allowing natural hair to empower us by unplugging straighteners, wands and curlers to embrace textured hair,” says Gawish.

If you must use one, Carpenter advises: “One of the best ways to preserve the hair’s health is to turn the temperature down on your hair tools. It is also important to remember different hair types can handle different temperatures. A rule of thumb is that 160°C to 180°C should be the maximum temperature for all hot styling, except for finer hair, which should use 120°C-140°C.”

Updated: January 06, 2023, 3:27 AM