Chunky highlights may be a thing of the past, but their high-contrast allure is back and stronger than ever. "Skunk hair" is the latest color trend, and it's nothing short of a bold expression. This dual-tone declaration ditches all the hair color rules we've followed in the last decade that prioritize a soft and natural blend.
Skunk hair is a vibrant color-blocking of light and dark butting right up against each other. We've rounded up everything you need to know about the trend, including playful and celeb-approved inspiration, as well as expert input from NYC colorist Jackson Heller.
Below, find our favorite ways to wear skunk hair color.
Meet the Expert
- Jackson Heller is an NYC colorist at Suite Caroline salon.
Below, find our favorite ways to wear skunk hair color.
Choosing a Shade: For the least amount of damage and maintenance, work with your natural color and pair it alongside its opposite end of the color spectrum. If you have a darker natural base, try a bright pop of white. For lighter natural bases, add a deeper tone to contrast.
Maintenance Level: Low. "This is cool and edgy, to begin with, so you make the rules. You can decide how you want to maintain it."
Goes Great With: Long and heavy front bits framing your updo; natural-toned, lip-glossed pouts.
Similar Shades: Contrast Color
Price: Creative color with Heller starts at $300
In our books, pop star Dua Lipa gets major credit for bringing this trend back. Depending on how it's worn, this stark contrast between a bright blonde and a dark brown or black can come off as a subtle surprise or a theatrical, eccentric statement. With some '00s-inspired heavy streaks hanging down around the face, we're feeling the color drama on this updo. This is among the most popular color combinations for skunk hair: vibrant blonde juxtaposed with dark black.
Solid Face Frame
"This hair trend is definitely inspired by Cindy Crawford's high contrast, face-framing balayage she had in the 90s," says Heller of this color trend, "as well as the legitimate stripes and chunks of color that a lot of the pop stars had in the early 2000s. Think Bai Ling, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, etc." Add in a matching bleached brow, and you'll be rocking a next-level, modern take on some face-framing skunk hair color.
If you want to say goodbye to skunk hair, you have two options: either grow it out, maintain color on the ends until you can cut it off, or dye your hair a different color all over, to cover the skunk hair.
This is one of the easiest-to-maintain looks on the list, simply because there are no root touch-ups required. Here, a mullet is paired with an ombré skunk style. The top of the head is angular while the ends are loose and textured.
Rhianna's side-swept bob is the perfect cut for high-contrast colors to live front and center. There's nothing subtle or hidden about this 'do. We even love the peek-a-boo highlight incorporated into the front for a softened break around the face.
The bold color statement of this Cruella-esque inspiration is subtle in its approach, with only the shortest of face-framing layers in the front as a juxtaposed tone to its base color. "It's low maintenance," says Heller. "This is cool and edgy, to begin with, so you make the rules." With the skunk hair color trend, less color may mean less maintenance, but it certainly doesn't skimp on impact.
To bump this color scheme up a notch, trade in the bleached-out white or yellow for a pop of color to keep things spicy. If celebs like Bella Hadid have been seen wearing such a statement in their strands, this is a trend that's sure to catch like wildfire.
For more subtle versions of this color duo, opt for a half-and-half pairing, with your unnatural opposite on the lower half and the more natural of the two colors up top. You'll be playing tricks on eyes everywhere when you flip around what appears to be your solid-hued mane, only to reveal a peek-a-boo contrasting color below.
Whether you take the subtle approach to this trend or a more daring statement like this dip-dyed duo as seen on Gwen Stefani, proper care for your strands will help preserve the life of your color treatment and keep your hair in a strong, healthy state. "The care for this color is the same as any hair color," says Heller, who assures us that no matter what type of treatment you have, bold or minimal, you should always use a color-safe shampoo and conditioner to provide an added boost of moisture to the hair.
If you're one for wearing your hair up most days, consider the half-and-half application of this color trend. Even a thin layer on the underside of your mane can have a major boost of boldness that's playfully chic and effortlessly understated.
Billie Eilish, another superstar wearing the skunk color trend, has opted for a more vibrant contrast to her locks. These neon green roots drip down into bold black ends, mimicking the balayage style brushstrokes that have influenced the hair color scene for so long.
There's no right or wrong way to wear skunk hair color. The main takeaway is its bold contrast, worn playfully. "Anyone can do their own version of this look," says Heller. Just be sure when consulting with your colorist that they "take your natural hair into account and work with that."
Mohawk With a Stripe
This mohawk gets added definition from the colors. The bright blonde/white hue goes down the center of the head, highlighting the longer hair, while the undercut and sides are dark. It's a fun take on the skunk look that updates a now well-known style.
Angular With Skunk Stripe
This angled pixie is a great way to show off a wide skunk stripe. Here, the lighter color is on the longer hair while the shorter undercut is darker. The result is a fun contrast that serves to highlight the cut.
This look is proof that you don't need a true mohawk to replicate the look. Here, a stripe of blonde and a slight undercut (in a much darker color) helps to mimic a mohawk.
Skunk hair doesn't have to be alternative. Here, the look is pure bombshell, thanks to lighter hues framing the face and bouncy curls that help to show off the dimension of the look.
Split Down the Middle
Utilizing a center part can help further display your two-tone color. Here, a shock of blonde falls on one side of the part, while the remaining hair (including the bangs) is all dark and rich.
Can you do a skunk stripe on natural hair?
Natural hair can achieve the skunk look. Think of the trend as a more modern take on traditional highlights (so be sure to take care of your natural hair before and after getting the dye applied).
How do you get skunk stripe hair?
The best way to get the skunk hair look is to apply two contrasting colors to the hair. The classic way is to mix platinum and black, though other contrasting colors (blonde with green, for instance) also work.
How much does skunk stripe hair cost?
This depends largely on how involved you want your dye job. If you're looking for just a couple of stripes through your hair, you can likely achieve the look for less than $100, though the price will go up depending on the colors you use and how many stripes you ask for.