“Dirty mullets” and “clean girl aesthetics” hottest trends in hair & beauty, Square insights show

Mar 21, 2022

Data and insights from Square suggests 2022 will see a mix of experimental styles (like extravagant nail art and mullets), and more conservative looks (like effortless looks and skin fades) as Australians embrace their personal brands while going back to normal life.

Out of millions of appointments at hair and beauty sellers, brow lamination and ombre hair were some of the fastest growing services among Australians in 2021, making up what is called the “clean girl” aesthetic today.

Here’s what data from Square’s hair and beauty sellers is telling us:

Beauty booms across the nation

In between lockdown periods, Australians rushed to be the first in line at salons, nail bars and beauticians. Data from Square’s Appointments software shows that in 2021, there was a 146 per cent increase in the number of beauty bookings made compared to 2020.

Aussies were also spending more: in 2021, the average spend per visit was $230 – up 14 per cent from the 2020 average of $201, and up 105 per cent compared to 2019’s average of $112.

Melissa Bergen, owner of The Lash Spa in Gold Coast, puts the rapid return and increase in spending down to wanting to feel reconnected.

“I believe clients realised how much they valued their beauty treatments and the social aspect that comes along with it,” she says. “So many clients began working from home, which can be pretty lonely and isolating. Thanks to our focus on client experience, our clients have built genuine friendships with our team. We find them coming to their appointments up to half an hour earlier to sip mimosas and catch up with the salon coordinators.”

And The Lash Spa’s home state of Queensland has proven itself to be Australia’s most beauty-obsessed area, contributing to four of the top five cities with the most completed appointments per capita through Square in 2021.

Top beauty conscious cities - AU

WFH inspires 2021 looks

While Aussies are spending more than ever on their look, in 2021 there was a focus on function rather than design. Last year’s lockdowns ignited the “clean girl aesthetic” trend. Inspired by the pandemic and popularised by TikTok, the trend embodies effortless looks that can withstand snap lockdowns, isolation, and working from home.

With the rise of the “clean girl,” there’s been an increase in hair and skin centred treatments - like brow lamination, ombre, microdermabrasion, and needling - that are built to last long periods between appointments and support the more relaxed lifestyles we’ve embraced as a result of the pandemic.

Top growing services - Australia

However, the “clean girl” aesthetic isn’t just limited to in-store treatments. With the rise of natural beauty and self-care, along with the temporary closures of many salons during lockdown periods, hair and beauty businesses have been building up their retail channel and providing at-home products:

Top selling at-home products

Knowing what the top trends were and helping customers get their hands on these products was key for The Lash Spa.

“In 2021 we put a huge emphasis on client experience and invested everything we had to ensure our clients kept coming back to us, which included expanding into retail. We promoted a lash serum online and offered free tracked postage to sweeten the deal. The fact that the growth serum really works combined with a quick, easy ordering experience led to repeat online phone orders once we reopened,” Bergen said.

Getting the lockdown look

As hair and beauty businesses across the country faced unique lockdown challenges, there were some unique new trends in each state:

  • Queensland is #NailGoals: With 2021 carrying over many of our 2020 woes, nail art became a form of joyful escapism for many. While colourful french manicures and geometric patterns gained popularity on social media, locked down states like VIC and NSW were unable to experiment with this fun trend. In comparison, Queensland saw four times more nail art in 2021, and more nail art than any other state.
  • Victoria goes glam: As one of Australia’s most locked-down states, Victorians were kept away from their beauticians for longer than most other states. As restrictions lifted, the state saw a threefold increase in glam services such as getting their makeup done, facials, and spray tans.
  • New South Wales gets inked: The 2021 lockdown gave NSW residents time to finally gain the confidence needed to get that tattoo they were contemplating, with the state seeing three times more tattoos than any other state.

What’s next for 2022?

If the first few months of the new year have shown us anything, it’s that self care continues to be a top priority amongst Australians, especially as states open and look to pandemic recovery. Between January 1 and February 15, beauty and personal care businesses saw 23 per cent more appointments and 14 per cent more sales than the same time last year.

For Perth-based blonde-specialist hair salon, Los Pastel, technology has played a key role in running their business as things get busier.

“We are currently using the Square Register and Square Appointments to manage the influx of appointments we are seeing. So far it has been so easy to use, and our clients always comment on how fancy the Square Register is!” says Grace Clayon, owner at Los Pastel. “Our customers love the online booking system and being able to manage their appointments through text confirmations. Personally I have also found the Square support team very easy to contact whenever we have needed help, which goes a long way when things get hectic.”

In 2022, Aussies are getting more experimental when it comes to their looks. Lily Peddle, owner of Henry Lee Barbershop in Melbourne has noticed an iconic Aussie look returning to its former glory.

“We’re seeing more mullets than ever before!”, she says. *“With many Australians still working from home, they have the freedom to express themselves in completely different ways. I think Aussies today are going for a more ‘business in the front, party in the back’ kind of style – one that looks professional on Zoom, but still allows them to experiment– whether it’s with their hair, tattoos, nails or anything else.” *

For Sandy Chong, Managing Director of Suki Hair Salon and CEO of the Australian Hairdressing Council, do it yourself was particularly important during lockdowns: “We saw a lot of self-help options for keeping hair looking great although without regular haircuts and professional colour we saw hair losing shine and shape. Once we all returned to hair salons it was all about getting hair back into great condition, personalised colour, rebonding treatments to strengthen hair from within, and thirdly and, most importantly, a great haircut.”

“While lockdowns have subsided, professional home hair care has continued to boom. This includes hair masques, conditioning shampoos and gloss conditioners to maintain colour brilliance and rebonding products that make your salon treatments last longer.”

Despite Aussies increasingly embracing their individuality, the call for employees to return to the office is creating a shift in the current trends, with shorter hair one of the first trends predicted to increase in popularity later this year. For example, sales for “blow dry short” services are up more than 200 per cent – 3 times more – from last year, compared to sales for “blow dry long” which are up 106 per cent – 2 times more than last year.

Lily @ Henry Lee

While trends may come and go, one thing remains the same: delivering a good service will be what brings salons success in 2022.

“The consistency of what people receive is a massive factor in a business’s success, and the right technology plays a big factor in this,” Peddle explains. “Since we adopted Square Appointments, we get to schedule everything from client appointments to our lunch breaks, which lets us concentrate on what’s most important: the client in the chair. While it’s still going to be a challenging road ahead, the right tools coupled with a positive attitude, consistency and a dedication to our customers will get us through.”


The data used in this report is aggregated from millions of transactions across Square sellers in Australia between January 2020 and February 2022. This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. For specific advice applicable to your business, please contact a professional.