We love a practical trend, and root growth is arguably the mythical apex where hair trend meets hair necessity. As we take a breather from salons and have a more relaxed attitude to our hair in general, root growth exemplifies the trend we need right now—and not just because access to root touch-ups is still not within reach.
Having overgrown roots has always been edgy. There’s something about looking like you couldn’t be bothered that has a tremendous amount of appeal, like you’re too busy to care about your appearance—but you still look great. I would date the literal roots of this trend to the mid-90s, best exemplified by Drew Barrymore in her devil-may-care phase, when bleached blonde poured out of almost black roots. This added dimension to her style and heightened her persona at the time, which was as free-spirited as they come.
The look has since been adopted by many others—either purposely or because they’ve missed an appointment—but the results are the always the same, a certain sultriness reads like you’re not trying, with an overgrown root basically being a cheat sheet for that.
Balayage and Beyond
The argument could be made that the root growth trend created balayage, a heighted display of embracing natural growth that is lightest at the very tips. From balayage (and all of its variations) to Billie Eilish’s neon slime roots, there’s something about breaking up color at the crown that tells a different kind of story.
“I love the root growth trend!” says celeb stylist Monaé Everett. “It shows the celebs being more accepting of their natural look, and their similarities to those of us without hairstylists on call. I’m here for showing a little root because it makes hair color more of a fun accessory rather than an attempt to change one’s self. I especially love the women who are emboldened by the root trend and showing off their greys,” she explains.
However, there are some don’ts when it comes to a too harsh root contrast. “The caveat in my appreciation for the root growth trend is the stark line in the different hair colors, often brunette with blonde ends or grey roots with brunette ends. Once we are outside of quarantine, if you’d like to continue the rooted look, you can make a small request to keep it cute. To avoid these harsh lines, ask your colorist for a few highlights to break up the jarring lines between your hair colors. This helps the haircolor blend a bit better as it grows out,” continues Monaé.
Overgrown roots make a statement, especially when the colors are heightened—and when you’re DIYing that quarantint. “I see more celebs playing with fun bright colors than I do roots in and of themselves. I think the reason this is happening is because bright colors like pink, blue, purple etc., are incredibly simple to formulate,” says celeb hairstylist Cash Lawless. “Professional colorists can make these colors look unbelievably beautiful but for an at-home application deposit-only colors are a fun change while minimizing the need for technique. Bright colors like these have paired well with natural roots for many seasons so it only makes sense this would be the natural progression.”
And of course, with the COVID-19 crisis, there really isn’t a root touch-up option, depending on the steps involved. “The COVID climate is our current reality which means all of my clients are holding off on highlights (since it’s never advisable to do DIY anything with lightener/bleach),” says celeb colorist Chad Kenyon, noting that an at-home kit is the best way to polish and perfect tonality “and blend the roots into mids and end that are a bit lighter.”