why are we all googling braids and man buns?
As Google publishes a new report on 2015's top hair trends, we explore what our most-searched hair obsessions say about us as a culture today.
thom browne spring/summer 16
From Thom Browne's gravity-defying pigtail plaits to Proenza Schouler's simple, pulled back ponytails, braids proved to be one of spring/summer 16's most favored hair looks. But according to a new Google report on 2015's most popular hair care moments, braids have been making big waves off the runway, too.
Compiling grooming-related data from January 2013 to August 2015, Google published a new analysis of which hair looks we're searching for most frequently. The platform isolated three "I-want-that-look" micro moments, with braids emerging among the top trends for women. "Natural hair has been trending in recent years, and braids are back in a big way," the report states. Where fishtails proved to be a more popular in past years, "'box braids' and 'goddess braids' [represent] the biggest trends [of 2015] based on search volume," the report states. "These braid trends are seasonal, and are most popular in the South."
Predictably, the man bun has emerged as 2015's most popular hair trend for men -- thanks to its early celebrity champions, Jared Leto and Leonardo DiCaprio. Yet even as the style increases in popularity on social media (see #manbunmonday), Google still argues that men's hair care is "an untapped market." According to the report, 2015 is the first year men's hair saw more searches than women's.
But Leto and Leo aren't the only celebrities encouraging new 'dos. Google's third callout -- popular among men and women -- is gray and purple-dyed hair. The report attributes this spike to, who else, Rihanna. "Rihanna rocked grey locks in 2013, and while many have followed suit, she's still the top celebrity associated with the trend," Google says of the Bad Gal's mega influence. Although grandma's greys are among the most sought after colors now, many are still riding the rainbow wave: "In fact, searches for 'rainbow hair' have grown by 148%" reports Google.
It's fascinating to see how hair trends emerge and take shape in a digital landscape, but we're also wondering how these trends can impact cultural dialogue. Perhaps braids' recent popularity is in part due to the style's increasing role in larger conversations about cultural appropriation. When Kylie Jenner sported cornrows on Instagram, outspoken actress and activist Amandla Stenberg ignited a larger dialogue about the harmful double standards of beauty ideals -- braids included. Stenberg's appropriation primer Don't Cash Crop On My Cornrows -- which explores how "black hair has always been an essential component of black culture" -- went viral on YouTube and has since racked up close to 2 million views.
Read the full report here.
Text Emily Manning
Photography Jason Lloyd Evans