As a millennial who grew up finding most of my beauty inspo on the internet, Pinterest has always been my go-to hub for discovering the latest hairstyle trends. From the revival of shaggy hairstyles to face-framing highlights, I've clicked the “save” button on so many pins (whether I actually plan on trying them or not).
The latest hairstyle trend circling Pinterest, however, is nothing like the ones I'm used to seeing. Alternative hairstyles (or alt hairstyles) are unique, colorful, and edgy. Wondering how to try alternative styles? Or, if you’re new to the trend, want to learn more about what they are? Keep scrolling for everything you need to know, plus 23 of the hottest alternative hairstyle ideas to try in 2021.
What is an alternative hairstyle?
Alternative hairstyles are nothing like the traditional loose waves and French braids you’re used to seeing. These unconventional, bold looks are unique and edgy—think rockstar and grunge hair from the ‘90s or early 2000s emo hair but with a modern twist. Alt hairstyles are all about bold layers with texture, bright colors, and unique patterns.
Searching for alt hairstyle inspiration? From grunge style hair to punk hairstyles, keep scrolling for the 23 trendiest (and edgiest) alternative hairstyles to try.
Alternative Hairstyles To Try Now
Love it or hate it, the hair world hasn’t stopped talking about the mullet. Luckily, this modern take on mullet hair features more blended layers that make the grunge hair style way more wearable.
Mullet With Shaved Sides
Amp up the edginess of your mullet by opting for shaved sides.
Short And Fluffy
This short and fluffy alt hairstyle is all over Pinterest, and we’re completely obsessed! Pro tip: This ‘do is all about volume. If you have fine hair that tends to fall flat, apply a formula like Redken Big Blowout Heat Protecting Jelly Serum throughout your hair before styling. This gel serum amps up your locks with instant volume and gives your hair a soft, bouncy finish.
Want to try a mullet—but don’t want to lose all of your length? Your stylist can create a customized version of a mullet that allows you to maintain longer hair towards the back of your head while keeping the classic mullet look towards the front.
The wolf cut is the shaggy hair trend of 2021. It’s edgy, low-maintenance, and can be customized for any hair texture.
Crimped hair is back! While this alt style was popular decades ago, it’s seeing a major revival in 2021.
‘90s Grunge Crimped Hair
This variation of crimped hair is extra messy and voluminous, a nod to ‘90s pop stars from the era. Amp up this classic grunge hair style by giving it extra volume using Redken Full Frame 07 All-Over Volumizing Mousse.
Unconventionality is key when opting for an alternative hairstyle, and few things are less conventional than asymmetrical layers. If you’re already working with shorter hair, ask your stylist for an asymmetrical bob where one side is longer than the other.
Half-And-Half Bubble Ponytails
Begin by parting your hair down the middle. Working with one side at a time, take a section of hair from your crown and leave the remaining hair loose as if you were creating a half-up ponytail. Use a clear hair elastic to secure the section of hair at your crown.
Next, move one or two inches down the length of the ponytail and secure another hair elastic. Gently tug on the hair between the first and second elastic to form the appearance of a bubble. Repeat these steps down the length of the ponytail and repeat these steps on the opposite side. Secure your alternative hairstyle with a few spritzes of strong-hold hairspray like Matrix Style Link Style Fixer Finishing Spray.
When it comes to unconventional bang styles, baby bangs take the cake. Unlike traditional bangs that graze your eyebrow, baby fringe is extra cropped and typically falls halfway on your forehead.
Speaking of unconventional hair, space buns are out-of-this-world cute. Create two even sections of hair on each side of your head by parting your strands down the middle of your head with a fine-tooth comb. Gather one section into a high ponytail on either side of your head and secure it with a hair elastic. Repeat these steps on the opposite side. This will create a pigtail look.
Take your first pigtail and twirl the section around itself to form a twist. Wrap the twisted hair around the base of your pigtail and secure it with a hair elastic. Repeat these steps on the opposite side and finish off with a few spritzes of hairspray to complete your space buns hairstyle.
Half-Up Space Buns
Try a space buns hairstyle while showing off some of your length with a half-up space buns ‘do.
Big Bold Curls
Searching for alternative hairstyles for curly hair? Embrace your natural texture and incorporate a bold hair color to give your locks ultimate alt girl vibes. Use a hair gel formula like Matrix A Curl Can Dream Light-Hold Gel to help define your curl pattern without flaking or crunch.
If you’re a lover of the classics, you can’t go wrong with a short shag. Give your cut an alternative twist by opting for color-blocked bangs.
Modern Long Shag
Not vibing with short hair but still want to try a shag cut? Embrace the shaggy hair trend but keep your length by asking your stylist for a long, choppy cut.
Alternative hairstyles aren’t just about styling and cuts. Hair color plays a major role in transforming hair from conventional to uncommon. One of the most popular alternative hair color trends is coloring your face-framing streaks a different shade than the rest of your mane. If you’re feeling really bold, choose two fantasy hues, like this lime and neon green pairing.
Here’s another gorgeous take on face-framing color: A neutral brunette base with neon green face-framing highlights.
Black And White Contrast
You likely heard of high-contrast color, and this black and white take on the trend is totally grunge-inspired.
Another alternative hair trend we see everywhere is color-blocked hair. The best part? There are so many ways to customize this trend and make it your own! Opt for color-blocked bangs or get creative with a unique pattern.
If you’re looking to edge into alternative hair (without going too edgy), start by crafting two matching braids on each side of your face frame. Leave your bangs untouched and use a few spritzes of texture spray to complete your look.
Mohawk hairstyles are an alt-inspired classic. We love mohawk hair on extra short hair like this lengthy pixie cut. Start with damp hair fresh out of the shower, or use a spray bottle on second-day hair to wet your strands.
Work a dime-sized amount of hair gel like Biolage Styling Gelee All Purpose Styling Gel throughout your hair to add volume, smooth frizz, and create a firm hold. Then, use your hands to smooth your hair upwards to create the shape of a mohawk. For a more texturized look, finish your look with a few spritzes of texturizing spray like Redken Triple Dry 15 Dry Texture Finishing Spray.
Not afraid of a big change? Go edgier than ever by shaving your head. You’ll get bonus points for adding flair to your buzzcut with a fantasy hair color!
Buzzcut With Design
Make your buzzcut even edgier by having your stylist create a unique design on the sides of your head.
Interested in trying an alternative hairstyle? Use our salon locator to book an appointment at a salon near you.