Mermaid hair: get inspiration for the very long and luxe spring hair trend we love

Mermaid lengths is the new hair trend we’re all craving for a dreamy spring reset. From Joan Smalls and Anya Taylor-Joy to the Valentino Haute Couture runway models, here’s every way to wear it. 

Maybe it’s because we’ve never felt more attuned to Ariel when she sings “I wanna be where the people are” in The Little Mermaid, but after months of being cooped up, we’re feeling some serious mermaid vibes for spring

Cool-girl bobs and pixie crops are all very well but as we emerge from lockdown, we’re craving some serious glamour. Enter the most swishable locks and mermaid-worthy lengths from the catwalks and beyond, for those who have spent lockdown growing out their tresses (or, ahem, anyone with access to extensions).

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Mermaid lengths are trending from Instagram to the couture runways, and we want in on the action. But how should we wear it? Whether you’re going for sleek red carpet-worthy waves, more-is-more extensions or bottom-skimming braids, we’ve got all the inspiration you need to be ‘part of that world’ (sorry, couldn’t help it).      

Soft waves

Joan Smalls is our ultimate mermaid icon with her soft waist-length waves. If you have naturally wavy or curly hair, keep some volume in it and don’t use too much product. A little frizz or a few flyaways will give this look a gorgeous soft finish this season, and add plenty of volume (great for maintaining social distancing, no?). 

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Mermaid, but couture

The most fashion-forward way to wear your mermaid mane is centre-parted and poker-straight, like the models at the Valentino Haute Couture Spring 2021 show. We love the thigh-length braids and the floaty blonde lengths, although neither are particularly wind-proof, so pack a headscarf or two for those spring picnics in the English countryside. (And if you’re wondering whether hair this long would work in real life, this snap of the gorgeous Arden Cho might just convince you.)

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Just like Lizzo

If you’re working with wigs, weaves and hairpieces, we wholly endorse going full Lizzo with the mermaid hair trend and switching up your look every few weeks for a spring/summer of show-stopping moments. What better way to re-enter society than with waist-length mermaid green braids? And if you’re really committed, how about recreating that hair bikini while you’re at it? Genius. 

Hollywood hair

If you’re planning a summer season of black-tie events and Hollywood hair moments, channel Anya Taylor-Joy’s Golden Globes look with side-swept polished platinum-blonde tresses worn super long with the subtlest of waves. 

Mermaid, two ways

We’ll give the final word on mermaid form to arguably the sexiest drag queen in the UK, Tayce. Serving up a mermaid-worthy bleached pink crop off-duty, nobody works a waist-length wig quite the lip-sync assassin. Proof, in case you needed it, that the hair doesn’t have to actually be yours for you to own it. 

Get the look

We asked celebrity hair stylist and Rhyme & Reason ambassador Luke Pluckrose whether extensions were the way to go for this look. “If you’re thinking of having extensions, seek professional advice first to see if they’re right for you and your hair before investing. But I always say that you can’t beat working with what you’ve got,” he told Stylist. 

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If you do decide to grow-you-own to pull off the mermaid mane, keeping your hair healthy is key. We spoke to award-winning hairdresser Michael Van Clarke, who has more than 40 years in the business, about keeping long hair healthy. 

“Keep yourself healthy and your body takes care of that, happily pumping out half inch a month,” he says. “About 99% of achieving longer thicker healthy hair is about looking after what you have. Firstly, avoid anything that dehydrates it. Hair finally breaks because it loses its flexibility and tensile strength. 

“Healthy hair can stretch as much as 50% when wet and return to normal,” Michael adds. “But repeated dehydration leaves the protein structure brittle and prone to breakdown. Try using a hair mask regularly such as LifeSaver Prewash Treatment at least twice a week, or every other shampoo day.

“You should also avoid excessive colouring and learn how to style safely,” he continues. “Throw away the nozzle and keep a one-inch distance between your hair and the dryer. Heat-style less often. Try airdrying once a week with a gentler finish.” 

Michael also advises exfoliating your scalp once a week to prevent the build-up of excess sebum, oils and dead skin, which can lead to scalp issues and hair loss. “Shampoo ideally at least every other day. Use an exfoliating scalp shampoo once a week. Pair it with an exfoliating scalp treatment if your scalp has persistent issues.”

With a couple more months until lockdown is fully lifted, by Michael’s calculations we can all add about an inch or two to our mermaid manes before we re-enter civilisation. Whatever lengths you plan on going to to pull off the mermaid lengths trend, we’ll race you to the beach as soon as lockdown lifts; we’ll be the ones sitting on a rock, wearing a hair bikini.

Main Images: Anya Taylor-Joy by Arnold Jerocki/GC Images/Getty, Joan Smalls by Karwai Tang/Getty

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