What type of look would you like to create?
This will help us personalize your experience.

It’s True! The Skunk Hair Color Trend Has Made a Comeback—And We’re Loving It

Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images

After a year of embracing our roots and turning towards a more minimal approach to our beauty routines, this year hair color trends are all about celebrating bold contrast. From the red carpet to TikTok, we’re seeing thick, chunky highlights that bring us back to the days of the Spice Girls and bold bursts of color representing every shade in the rainbow—and the latest hair trend on our radar, skunk hair, takes eye-catching hair color to the extreme. Named after the stark contrast (similar to that of a skunk’s tail), the trend is all about mixing together two unexpected shades. 

Intrigued? Well, you’ve come to the right place. We’re breaking down exactly how you can create skunk hair at home if you’re down to DIY and serving up bold celebrity inspiration if you’re looking for some new hair color ideas. The reality is, anything goes. Skunk hair color is all about making a bold statement. 

About the Expert:

Aura Friedman is a celebrity colorist and the master colorist at Sally Hershberger in New York City. 

What is skunk hair exactly?

While skunk hair is defined by a bold contrast of colors with an array of different ways to sport the style, it can seem confusing if you’ve never tried the trend, so before you break out a box of hair dye, let’s break down exactly what skunk hair is. “Skunk Hair is a color trend in which two individual tones are incorporated into the hair, but are completely separate from each other,” says Aura Friedman, Sally Hershberger master colorist in New York City. “The clear contrast between the two colors is the main distinguisher of this trend.”  

When the grunge-meets-cool trend first became popular in the ‘90s, we often saw a marriage of dark brown and black hair paired with bleach blonde hair (similar to the look Camila Cabello rocked for her Find U Again music video). Now, though, you can opt for an array of colors. This can be done with a singular peek-a-boo streak at the back of the head, beneath the first layer of hair, or with singular, face-framing highlights (a'la Bella Hadid). You can also sport skunk hair with visible roots or a reverse ombre, just like Billie Eillish. It's all about creating a stark contrast. 

How to do skunk hair at home:

Step 1: Prep.

While you might be very excited to try skunk hair you should plan out your process ahead of time and be sure to have all of your ingredients laid out. “Skunk Hair can be created at home, just be sure to equip yourself with the necessary tools in terms of bleach and boxed dye,” says Friedman. You can also watch tutorials ahead of time for tips on how to master this trendy color technique.

Step 2: Brush and section. 

The look you want to achieve will determine how you section off your strands but before you do so, be sure to thoroughly brush out your tresses. If you’re dyeing your hair at home you should also set aside some time, attempting to rush through it is a major no-no. “Go through the process slowly to ensure that you are placing the color in your desired location,” says Friedman. 

Step 3: Mix and apply color. 

Apply color and the area you sectioned off and be sure to check on the progress in five minute increments to monitor the shade. Keep the area separated from the rest of your hair to ensure the dye doesn’t rub off. 

Step 4: Condition. 

After you wash out the color it’s important to nourish your freshly-dyed tresses with conditioner. Reach for a sulfate-free, color-safe version and leave it in for five minutes to strengthen your strands. 

While you can certainly create the look at home if you plan on using bleach to create streaks, it might be best to consult a hairstylist, who can create your skunk hair while minimizing damage. “If you’re looking for really great, pigmented results, I do recommend working with a professional to ensure you achieve the look, without putting hair through too much damage,” says Friedman. Not only is your colorist trained to monitor the dye to ensure you’re getting the color you want without damaging your hair, they can also apply a professional treatment after your dye job to keep your hair strong and healthy after your color service.  

If you do plan to get your hair professionally colored, it's always best to find images (we like to look on twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest), and bring them along with you to ensure you and your colorist are on the same page before they start to apply the color. Once your color is complete, they can also offer up styling tips and hair care suggestions to preserve the longevity of your two-colour hair. 

Celebrity Skunk Hair Inspo: 

Skunk hair works on both short and long hair and there are a variety of hairstyles you can try to flaunt your new hue, which is one of the main reasons we heart it. Let the celebrities below serve up inspo.

1. Rooted Streaks

A photo of Dua Lipa looking fab with blonde hair and rooted streaks
Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images

If there’s one celeb that could be credited with the stylish revival of skunk hair, it’s certainly the trend-setting Dua Lipa. The songstress sported thick, face-framing hair streaks that were bleached to a white-blonde shade and showed off her dark brown hair at the roots when she rocked the red carpet, making the look her own—and making us think twice about our basic balayage

2. Reverse Ombre

A photo of Billie Eillish with her iconic neon green look
Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images

Billie Eillish looked like she just got slimed on the Double Dare set when she served up the boldest take on skunk hair. Instead of sporting dip-dyed ends or thick, two-tone streaks, the indie songstress  showed off neon green roots which dripped down to her black tresses.

3. Tuxedo Tresses

A photo of Gwen Stefani with blonde hair and black ends
Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Gwen Stefani has inspired bold beauty trends for decades and her fresh take on skunk hair is exactly what we would expect from the multi-hyphenate artist when she stepped out with black ends, which provided a stark contrast to her signature blonde hair. Gwen proves that this trending take on hair color also works on short hairstyles, too.

4. Bleached Ends

A photo of Rihanna with short hair with bleached ends
Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

When it comes to setting trends, no one is as influential or as daring as RiRi. The bold songstress sported an edgy, cool fauxhawk with dark hair and bleached tips, serving up edgy styling inspo. 

For more trends and tips, be sure to sign up for the IPSY Glam Bag. Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started. Already an Ipster? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and Twitter @IPSY.

Like this article? Share it with your friends by clicking the icons below! 

About the author
Katrina Mitzeliotis Lanza
Katrina is a freelance writer and on-air correspondent with over a decade of experience covering beauty, fashion, and entertainment. When she isn't freelancing, you can catch her on QVC or chasing after her two-year-old son.
Share Article
Article Last Updated May 22, 2021 12:00 AM