The warm weather may have held on as long as possible, but it’s officially time to start bringing out your coziest knitwear and most on-trend boots. And since nothing pairs better with a wardrobe refresh than the hair switch up to match, we spoke with George Papanikolas, Matrix brand ambassador and celebrity colorist, for details on the most requested hair colors.
“Going richer and deeper for fall is a great way to refresh hair that’s been bleached out over the summer,” says Papanikolas, who divides his time between the Andy LeCompte Salon in LA and the Rita Hazan Salon in NYC. While celebrities like Bella Hadid and Megan Fox are serving up plenty of mocha mane ideas, and even devoted blondes like Hailey Bieber are going darker, Papanikolas shares that there are plenty of lighter trends to try, too (just look at Anya Taylor-Joy’s platinum hair or Jennifer Lopez‘s increasingly blonder shag cut).
“Any time you color your hair, especially when you go lighter, the hair is more prone to dryness and damage.”
Papanikolas warns of being prepared to invest in the right post-color haircare products. “Be sure to incorporate a bond-protecting system [into your routine], which helps nourish the hair and gives luster and shine,” he advises of maintaining healthy hair in the long run.
If you need some inspo ahead of your next salon appointment, here are his top five hair colors for the fall and winter seasons.
Going darker with your hair has been the traditional route in the fall and winter seasons, but if you’re a blonde who loves a bold look, Papanikolas suggests venturing into platinum territory with a cooler, pale blonde color. “Anya Taylor-Joy rocks this statement color, which pairs perfectly with a warm fall wardrobe,” Papanikolas says of the light blonde look. Before you commit, you’ll want to talk with your colorist about achieving an icy hue without sacrificing your hair’s health (the darker your hair, the longer the process to get there will be). Either way, frequent trips to the salon will definitely be in your future.
“To maintain the color, regular root touch ups are required,” Papanikolas notes.
“Waiting any longer than four weeks can result in yellow bands in the hair,” he explains, adding that bleached hair also requires a more selective haircare routine because it’s more fragile. “To keep locks in optimum condition, Matrix Total Results Unbreak My Blonde helps preserve the integrity of bleached hair, keeping it hydrated and soft,” he says of the sulfate-free system, which includes the brand’s Strengthening Shampoo, Strengthening Conditioner, and Reviving Leave-In Treatment.
Balayage reigns supreme when it comes to adding the most impact with the least maintenance possible. The coloring technique involves hand painting highlights onto the hair for a more customizable finish that can be as subtle or bold as you want. Because balayage color is often deeper closer to your roots and lighter towards the ends of the hair, the color grows out more naturally (meaning you can stretch out your color appointments).
Depending on your current color, you can go more espresso, caramel, auburn, or even platinum with your balayage, and Papanikolas says that it can be suitable for all hair types, too. “Bleach on curly hair can disrupt the natural curl pattern,” he explains of what he calls curlayage color. Going to a colorist who uses a non-ammonia lightener will ensure less damage to the hair, according to Papanikolas, as will using more moisturizing products at home (his go-to products for curly textures come courtesy of Matrix’s manuka honey-infused A Curl Can Dream collection).
Reds and coppers of all intensities had a moment over the summer, and they aren’t disappearing just yet. Instead, they’re adding a spicier tone into the mix that’s perfectly suited for the colder weather that’s setting in: Auburn-ginger.
“The best way to define it is having a copper base with a brown undertone,” Papanikolas shares.
“Since red fades so fast, it’s easy for your colorist to play with tones and vibrancy,” he says, adding that you should ask your colorist to add extra copper to the ends of the hair to balance the color out and keep it from looking dull.
“If you plan to highlight over auburn hair, be sure to finish with a copper or gold hair gloss,” Papanikolas suggests. “The tone-on-tone gloss acts like pantyhose over your highlights, creating a softer, more sophisticated auburn.” To delay the color fade as long as possible, wait at least 48 hours after the color was applied before washing your hair (and use cooler water!), and stock up on dry shampoo to cut back on washing your hair.
Hailey Bieber’s colorist Cassondra Kaeding wrote on Instagram that the model’s smoky blonde is her “most requested hair color of 2021.” Papanikolas calls this “The It color for fall,” noting that blondes who are looking to copy Bieber should request reverse balayage (since the color is getting darker rather than lighter). “By reversing the technique, you are adding depth at the roots and midshaft,” he explains.
“This softens the contrast between the highlights and base color and makes the remaining highlights pop.”
Because this creates an ashier effect, the key to maintaining the look is to prevent the color from turning brassy. Papanikolas shares that the best way to achieve this is by swapping out your usual shampoo for one that’s blue-based. Eva NYC Brass To Sass Brunette Shampoo and Conditioner, for instance, are sulfate-free formulas that neutralize orange and brassy tones while hydrating and protecting the hair with ingredients like blue tansy, spirulina, and juniper berry extracts.
Darker colors in the fall, and especially, in the winter will always be classic. Plus, because they can be done in a single process, they’re much gentler on the hair. You can keep things on the chocolate or chestnut side (like colorist Matt Rez did for model Camila Morrone) if you want something that’s more brown, or go full on espresso (like the shade Christopher Pierce gave actress Megan Fox) if you want an inky black hue.
Either way, it’s a brown color that you’ll want to request at the salon. “The key to getting glossy black hair is to not color it black at all,” says Papanikolas of the seemingly counterintuitive trick to getting rich, dimensional dark color. “Instead, opt for a dark or medium brown, which to the eye will read as black, but will reflect more light,” he explains. To give your hair that glass-like sheen, you can ask your colorist for a glossing treatment in the salon (or try an at-home clear gloss like colorist Rita Hazan’s Shine Gloss).