‘Hair Enameling’ Is The Hottest (& Most Wearable) Style Trend

Photo: Christian Vierig/Getty Images.
First Copenhagen, then New York, now London: Fashion week is taking a step back from bold makeup and highlighting all things hair. You might've spotted natural textures and embellished braids, blunt cut bobs, and towering beehives on runways and street stylers alike. But closer inspection proves that one hair trend is outshining everything else — quite literally.
From Brandon Maxwell to Ulla Johnson, the fashion week look of choice is hair that's so glossy it's almost reflective. Recently, we brought you 'French Glossing,' which fuses permanent hair color with a more subtle hair gloss to create a multidimensional sheen. Before that, it was all about hair glazing — a salon movement dreamed up by Wella Professionals color trend expert Zoë Irwin, which enlists dye and bond builder to illuminate dull hair. But for 2022, dry texture is being sidelined for wet-look, slicked-back styles where the shine is amped up to one hundred. Think plastered fringes at Tory Burch and drenched lengths at 11 Honoré and Altuzarra. The heavily-lacquered look is glossy hair's rockier, edgier counterpart — and we're coining it 'hair enameling.'
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A new take on the wet look, hair enameling lends a shellacked shine, without being rock hard. The hype makes total sense. When your hair just won't play ball or you have a last-minute Zoom call, there's isn't much a handful of gel, dollop of mousse, or thin veil of hairspray won't sort. Hair enameling is the 2022 version of scooping your whole head of hair up into a messy bun or a claw-clip style, without the need to adjust or redo throughout the day — and it's ten times as Instagram-worthy.
At London Fashion Week, enameled hair took centre stage during the Mithridate show, where Richard Phillipart for L'Oréal Professional created sleek ponytails with a gelled side parting. Similar slicked-back and ultra-glossy styles were glimpsed at Vin + Omi and Nensi Dojaka, and at Bora Aksu where the models wore side bangs slicked down while the rest of the hair assumed a more airy, fluffed-out texture. It's far from a coincidence, says Wella's Zoë. "People are really embracing the trend of all things glossy and glowing," she says. "We saw nuances of shine adorn NYFW with the likes of Altuzarra dressing Gigi Hadid in his shimmery, sequined design" — with sections of her hair gelled to the side — "and models for Carolina Herrera featuring high-shine, wet-look hair." Zoë adds: "As we start to approach summer, I'm noticing more and more of my clients wanting to shed the dullness and bring the shine back into their hair."
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Editorial hairstylist Neil Moodie seconds this. "The textured beach wave has been around for so long now that it's considered an everyday look. In contrast, the slick, wet look is seen as a bit more refined and on-trend, fashion-wise." Our affinity for balayage and highlights means that waves and a focus on texture have reigned supreme in salons to show off every single nuance of color. The enameled look is a lot simpler, says Neil, and best enhances hair that is all one shade. Though technically an Autumn-Winter 2022 trend, Neil predicts hair enameling will take hold much earlier. "Not only is wet-look hair easy to do, it's also a very strong spring and summer trend," he says. "It allows for you to experiment with stronger and more playful makeup looks, too, and it just feels so refreshing."
You could say that the look takes inspiration from Korean skincare circles, specifically the incredibly-dewy 'glass skin' aesthetic. Similarly, whether you toss your hair up or decide to leave it down, it's all in the products. Flooding hair with moisture will minimize frizz and flyaways, so it might be a good idea to boost your conditioner with something nourishing, like Color Wow's Money Masque, or Cantu's Shea Butter Deep Treatment Hair Masque. If you have a TikTok account, you've probably seen that beauty enthusiasts are recreating hair enameling with lube (yes, really).
But if longevity is what you're after, stick to dedicated hair products. Try KMS Hairplay Styling Gel (a brand often spotted backstage at London Fashion Week), or Eco Style Moroccan Argan Oil Styling Gel, both of which are lightweight but lend hair that enameled luster and brush out easily. Not keen on gel? You can fashion the same look using a mousse, like Schwarzkopf Styling Keratin Hair Mousse, and a boar bristle brush. Or, you might like Wella Professionals Oil Reflections Luminous Smoothing Oil, which can be raked through towel-dried hair as a gloss-enhancing, leave-in treatment, and smoothed over dry hair when styling to dial up shine.
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If you're not quite into the wet look, you can still achieve an enamel-like gleam on dry hair. You may be familiar with the silk press, a chemical-free straightening treatment that uses heat from a hair dryer and flat iron to achieve smoothness. For high-shine hair all year round, Zoë suggests trying a regular color treatment like Shinefinity. "Launching in salons in March, this helps unveil that healthy-looking shine that you can see and feel, with an ultra-natural color result. It adds depth and dimension to the hair." What Zoë loves is that it can be applied on any base color, regardless of whether the hair is virgin or pre-colored. "Due to its gentle formula — zero lift, zero ammonia, zero drying alcohol — this shine treatment is suitable for all hair types," she adds. For those who want to crank up the gloss without adding color, try Kérastase's Chroma Absolu range, particularly Chroma Absolu Soin Acide Chroma Gloss: an intensely glossy treatment that works in just eight seconds in the shower and makes dull, dry hair silky. It's hard to beat but if you're on a budget, L'Oréal Elvive's Wonder Water comes pretty close.
With Copenhagen, New York, and London all in favor of enameled hair, Milan and Paris will likely follow suit. But in real time, you might want to rifle through your hair product stash — this trend is going to be big.
This story was originally published on Refinery29UK.
Update: When this story originally published, we did not include that this hair molding technique has been a part of Black women’s hair routines for decades and is not a new trend, as our readers have pointed out. We apologize for not including historical context and crediting where the hairstyle actually derived from.
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