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Head into 2021 with a look at trends in make-up, hair and fashion Image Credit: NYT

The new year is here and with it comes the itch to freshen up our lives and try something new. After a tumultuous 2020, we could all use some new tips and tricks, whether it’s to revamp our wardrobes or upgrade to a fashionable new haircut. We spoke to three experts from the worlds of fashion, hair and make-up to guide us on what to look out for this year.


Slip dresses

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According to Dubai fashion stylist Kelly Lundberg, the trend of the slip dress will continue on from 2020 into the new year. The slip dress, which often comes in smooth and silky materials, has a straight fit and resembles a petticoat. It was especially popular in the 1990s and has made a comeback in a big way. “There’s just going to be interpretations of it, whether it’s going be long silk dresses or whether it’s going to be little spaghetti straps and a little bit shorter. It’s the versatility that I love about them,” Lundberg says.

Denim is in

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Classic styles will always be in fashion, and denim jeans are definitely here to stay according to the stylist. However, it might be time to ditch the skinnies for a while.

“Denim is all about high waisted at the moment, which I think is just such a super flattering trend because it comes to your natural waistline,” Lundberg says. “High-waisted but instead of skinny high-waisted, [jeans are] definitely going to be a little bit looser, a little bit more comfortable. I’d even see a bit of a nod from the 70s — a wider leg at the bottom. So keep an eye out for that!

Voluminous fits

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Go big or go home! In 2021, Lundberg predicts that tops and other pieces of clothing will take on a more voluminous fit. Think puffed sleeves or oversized blazers and knitwear. Oversized clothes have been super popular as people opt for comfort over style more and more, especially during the pandemic where being at home is the safest thing to do — no one wants to squeeze into a tight outfit, but we won’t judge if you do!


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Sometimes, certain fashion trends might not be appropriate to wear in the region, but Lundberg has some creative ideas for how to adapt this runway favourite and make it suitable to wear in the Middle East.

“Easy ways to wear them is to wear something underneath them — so wear a dress underneath and put the bralette over the top or to wear it with a blazer. So, if you’re doing something super high-waisted and put the blazer up then you can still incorporate the trends but make it more culturally sensitive,” she says.

Modern black dress

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Forget the little black dress. This year is going to be about the MBD — modern black dress. “The take on that is it’s just about the simplicity,” she says. Whether it’s a dress with unique cut outs, or made with sporting fabric, Lundberg says it’s all about “that one piece that you can pair with sneakers but you can [also] do it with boots.”


Celebrating natural hair

Millie, a hair stylist at Dubai salon Kozma and Kozma, says the industry has seen a shift towards more natural styles and textures. People are ditching hair straighteners and curling tongs and embracing their hair as it is. “When we look to the runways we can see a major increase in models wearing their hair in its most beautiful natural form,” she says.

Colours to watch out for

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If you’re planning a hair colour makeover, then it’s good to know that rainbow bright dyes will give way to more sun-kissed, rich tones in the new year.

“We see that colours are shifting [away] from more ashes, blues, purples and greens and we are embracing glistening golds, coppers, reds and rich browns,” she says.

The hair colouring technique balayage — where colour is “painted on” for a blended and natural highlights look — has been in fashion for years, and Millie says 2021 will see the style evolve and become more up-to-date.

“[Balayage] embraces your natural hair while adding a low maintenance colour and I think this classic staple will continue to grow using the balayage technique and the classic money shot piece [face framing highlights]. We are seeing that people are loving that bold section of colour at the front of the hair whilst keeping it natural and well blended towards the back,” she says.

Messy cuts

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Embrace the messy look this year! “For years we’ve been on a blunt cut path. With short hair we can see in the upcoming year we are starting to move more towards the messy, layered texturised hair cuts. With the blunt hair cut still being embraced but evolved with disconnected layers being in high demand. The 70s are coming back but instead of bed head we are getting more structured messy styles,” Millie says.

Natural products

Like in the skincare world, people are getting more educated about the products they use. This is no different for the hair industry.

“The products and product brands seen taking off and exploding are also moving towards a more natural product range without any nasties and major reduction in the use of harsh chemicals and ingredients,”

Scalp care

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One of the top trends is scalp care products such as scrubs, serums and tonics that help boost scalp health and hair growth.

“We will also see a huge increase in scalp care. Taking care of your scalp is something that hasn’t been spoken about or popularised over the years. This is a very important area that we all need to pay more attention to,” she says.


Focus on skincare

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Watch any make-up artist do their work, whether in numerous tutorials online or while on the job, and you’ll notice that they prep the skin before anything else touches the face. Proper skincare is an important part of making make-up look flawless and also a major part of Ayesha Farooq’s own practice.

“I definitely see the huge rise in skincare to continue. I’m huge on skincare myself,” says the Dubai make-up artist and entrepreneur.

Subtle beauty

Ayesha says that natural beauty looks will be big in 2021, with bold colours and over-the-top styling taking a back seat. This trend of subdued beauty is not only making a comeback on the runways and in magazines, but is also seen more and more on social media.

Eye-focused looks

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, apart from checking for our keys and wallets before leaving the house, we now have to make sure we’re carrying our face masks. For those who love wearing make-up, Ayesha says all is not lost.

“Let’s talk about our favourite friend — face masks. I don’t see it leaving us anytime soon. So I see a lot of people shifting the emphasis of their looks towards the eyes — having something a little more bold or accentuating and emphasising the eyes,” she says. Whether it’s a bold eyeliner or a wash of bold colour, let your eyes do the talking.

Monochromatic looks

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Less is more these days, and this is reflected in the trend of using one shade or tone for the eyes, lips and even cheeks. It’s similar to what our mothers used to do — use the same lipstick as a blush and even a bit on the eyes. “I definitely see people moving towards monochromatic looks, even with my brides. It’s becoming a favourite for everyone,” she says.