Pantone Unveils 2 Colors Of The Year For 2021

photo of women with pantone colors of the year

Here at, we always look forward to seasonal color trends. What we anticipate most every year at the beginning of December, however, is the unveiling of Pantone’s Color Of The Year. These hues don’t just predict trends in home decor and fashion, but also inspire hair colorists (and color daredevils) around the world. 

If you’ve been anticipating the reveal as much as we have, you’ll be happy to know that Pantone just unveiled two (yes, two) Colors Of The Year for 2021: Ultimate Gray and Illuminating. Read on to discover all you need to know about the two shades, plus a few creative ways to replicate them at the salon. 

What is the Pantone Color Of The Year for 2021?

After a year like 2020, we can all use a little brightness and shine in our lives. Inspired by the illuminating sunshine, Illuminating is a bright yellow shade that contrasts perfectly with Ultimate Gray, a neutral gray inspired by natural elements. 

“Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, the union of Ultimate Gray and Illuminating is one of strength and positivity,” Pantone’s press release reads. “It is a story of color that encapsulates deeper feelings of thoughtfulness with the promise of something sunny and friendly.”

If you’re wondering how to try illuminating and ultimate gray as hair colors, we’ve got you covered! Keep scrolling for six of our favorite ways to wear the shades. 

Good hair day by @michelleoconnorbeauty.

All-Over Yellow

If you’re not afraid to make a big, bold change in 2021, opt for Illuminating yellow as an all-over color. We promise—you won’t regret it! Prolong the vibrancy of your hue for as long as possible with a shampoo and conditioner system like Matrix Total Results Keep Me Vivid Shampoo and Conditioner. This system gently cleanses and conditions to protect the vibrancy of fast-fading hair colors. 

Good hair day by @jessicamoll_nhstylist.

Illuminating Lob

There’s no doubt that Illuminating will be topping the top color trends lists for months to come, which means you’ll also need an on-trend haircut to pair with it. We love how this striking shade compliments a lob haircut

Good hair day by @hair_by_love.

Illuminating Balayage

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: balayage is never a bad idea! Opt for Illuminating yellow balayage to leave your look as natural as possible while keeping root touch-ups to a minimum. 

Good hair day by @paudictado.

Embracing Gray

We’re all about embracing gray hair, which means there’s no better time to opt for a full head of Ultimate Gray. If you're going gray at the salon, use a system like Redken Color Extend Graydient Shampoo and Conditioner to keep your hue brass-free. 

Good hair day by @haleycorinhair.

Face-Framing Gray

If you’re not ready to commit to a full head of gray hair, ask your colorist to paint only the strands framing your face. Paired with a dark brown or black base color, this look is seriously eye-catching. 

Good hair day by @menageried_.

Ultimate Gray With Pop Of Color

Whether you choose face-framing highlights or peekaboo color, there are so many ways to add a pop of color to your gray hair. 

Interested in more expert hair tips? Use our salon locator to book an appointment at a salon near you. 

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