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Last updated: April 01, 2024

The Cool Kids

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Now that class is back in session, your school-aged clients have had time to catch up with their friends, gossip about Kim K. and Taylor and compare posts on Insta…and they’re ready to get their hair done! Ready to schedule those hair play dates with your baby fashionistas and their big brothers and sisters? Here’s what’s trending among the cool kids at school.

Elementary School: Classic Crops & Braids


Hair by Ali Schmidt, @nobad_hairdays, Wheelhouse Salon, San Clemente, Calif.


Celeb Role Models

  • Elsa from “Frozen”
  • Victoria Justice
  • Skai Jackson
  • Debby Ryan
“Little men are keeping it classic,” says Sport Clips Artistic Team Member Krystle Sierras. “We cut them short on the sides and back and parted on the side—think an updated comb-over!”

Hair by Margarita Ford, @misahara5.


For the youngest boys, simple is best. “Don’t underestimate the ease of a buzz cut,” advises ULTA Beauty Chief Artistic Director for Salon Services Nick Stenson. “Kids and parents don’t want to fuss and a buzz cut on a little boy will never go out of style.”


For elementary-aged girls, it’s all about bobs and braids! Ratner Companies’ (Hair Cuttery) Artistic Leader Ali Hoffberg notes that the side braid sported by the blonde heroine in “Frozen” is still in hot demand, and ULTA Beauty Artistic Team Member Pamela Lynch cites bobs as the easiest option for little girls.


Hair by Theodora Raptis, @theodoraraptis.


Pre-Teens: Cute Buns, Fun Color

Celeb Role Models

  • Zendaya
  • Octavius Johnson
  • Dove Cameron
  • Sabrina Carpenter
  • Boy bands like One Direction


“We’re finding our pre-teen girls are looking for pops of color and even a little balayage,” says Pamela.


They’re also reaching for thermal tools. “Young girls are looking to Disney stars like Dove Cameron for inspiration,” adds Ali, “and trying out flat irons and curling irons to achieve the sleek and wavey styles she wears.”


“Jessie” star Peyton List sports balayage and braids.


“Boys want to look good without trying too hard,” says Ali. “They like trendy, messy crewcuts and fuller, tapered-on-top looks.”


Others are ready to work the longer hair that girls love. “Lots of boys that age think longer, disheveled hair is cool,” observes Nick.


Pre-teen boys think longer hair is cool. (Photo courtesy of The Salon by InStyle.)


High School: Sombré, Messy Textures & Fades


Hair by Anh Co Tran, @anhcotran, Ramirez Tran Salon, Los Angeles.


Celeb Role Models

  • Kylie & Kendall Jenner
  • Tori Kelly
  • Liam Hemsworth
  • Zayn Malik
  • Romeo & Brooklyn Beckham
  • Drake


Hello Kardashians/Jenners/Hadids! Whatever these social media/reality show stars are having, teenaged girls are ready to try. “Right now,” says Supercuts Artistic Director Amy Knight, “that means waves in all shapes and sizes—beachy and otherwise.”


These girls also want to experiment with color, like soft sombrés.


Whatever Kendall (shown here) and Kylie Jenner do,
high school girls take notice.


Boys at this age are interested in looking good, but also practical. They may be busy with sports and require cuts that are fairly effortless. “For athletes, we recommend military-type cuts,” says Ali.


For the more fashion-aware guys, Krystle’s team is doing lots of disconnects and fades with long top sections. “That way they can part it if they want or spike it to the side,” she notes. 


“Boys of all ages can rock a hard part like Drake’s,” says Pamela.


Pre-teens and teens swoon over boy band singers like
Zayn Malik, and the guys want to be him.


College: Messy Topknots, Braids & Disconnected Cuts 

Celeb Role Models

  • Cara Delevingne
  • Gigi Hadid
  • Shay Mitchell
  • Khloe Kardashian
  • Zac Efron


At this stage, girls will spend money to stay in style, but they’re also busy. “That means lots of messy buns and half-up topknots on long or long-layered hair for girls,” says Ali.


Easy-to-care-for short shapes are also popular with this crowd, adds Ali. “Edgy disconnected cuts with shaved or cropped sides, made popular by Rihanna and Ruby Rose are trending,” notes Ali.


High school and college girls study every hair move of model
Gigi Hadid and her sister Bella.


Another universal university hit? “The lob,” declares ULTA Beauty Artistic Team Member Samantha Manuzak, “will continue to be the ‘it’ cut this year for college girls.”


Colorwise, low-maintenance effects like ombré and balayage are go-tos, according to Nick. “They may only be coming to see you four times a year,” he explains.


“College guys want to look good, but they don’t want it to look as if they tried,” laughs Krystle. “They’re working the facial hair at this point, which contributes to that ‘I don’t care’ look. These guys want a nice fade that blends smoothly into the beard or scruff!”


As graduation nears, it’s time to “barber up.” Zac Efron shows how to look cool and professional.


How Young is Too Young?


Shades of blue on 8-year-old Ocean Andong by her dad, Fernie Andong, @fernthebarber.


Streaks of purple and pink, highlights, hair tattoos—precocious kids are demanding sophisticated and mature looks in the salon. When is it OK to oblige, and when is it appropriate to decline?


“Before I was a licensed hairdresser, I colored my friend’s hair with a Manic Panic green shade and she was sent home from school,” remembers Ali. “The school claimed it was a distraction to the other students. After that, they listed approved colors in the Student Handbook! My advice to clients is to test the waters at school by purchasing some clip-in color pieces before making any permanent color change.” Adds Samantha, “Not all schools allow artificial color. But there are tons of great temporary fixes you can offer, from extensions to wash-out products!”


Hair by Emily Anderson, @emilyandersonstyling.


Everyone agrees that the consultation is critical when it comes to performing color services on minors. “As long as you sit down with the child and the parents and explain the consequences and maintenance required, then color away,” says Pamela. “We feel the only child that is too young for haircolor is one that is too young to ask for haircolor. However, we have to be conscientious. We can’t experiment on them or exploit their beautiful faces. But everyone, of every age, deserves to look and feel great.”


Hair by Mikayla Faith Merritt, @_hairbymikayla_.