2021 has truly been the year of experimenting with our hair. Whether we’re looking for a new haircut, color or style to try, the Internet has been feeding us endless inspiration to spice things up. The latest trend we’ve come across is pretty familiar—especially to anyone who grew up watching Disney movies. Dubbed the “skunk hair” trend, this black-and-white style is letting us live out our Cruella De Vil dreams. We spoke to Bianca Hillier, a celebrity colorist in Los Angeles, to give us the low down on why this trend is so popular now. Plus, get some tips on how to recreate the look for ourselves.

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Let’s rewind. Did you say it’s called “skunk hair”?

OK, while the name doesn’t sound all that appealing, the style is quite fun. “The skunk hair trend is when the hair is parted evenly down the middle and each half-section is colored in two, extremely contrasted shades,” Hillier explains. More specifically, one side is completely black and the other side is a stark white or an almost platinum blonde (like the animal’s signature tail).

Asking for the “black-and-white style” at the salon won’t get you far in a world of hashtags and viral trends on the Internet. For a better way to describe the dual color, there are a few names that are circulating around in addition to “skunk hair.” According to Hillier, many have referred to the trend as “Cruella hair,” “split hair” and even “Harley Quinn hair.” In short, pick your favorite name and run with it.

skunk hair trend
Walt Disney Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures

Got it. Why is this trend suddenly so popular?

As mentioned above, experimenting with hair color is the new wave. “It’s definitely a trend for those who aren’t afraid of bold color and extreme maintenance,” Hillier says. “I believe it’s becoming popular because it’s a unique and creative style that allows a change of pace with two colors at once. It’s the best of both worlds!” she adds.

Another reason? Cruella De Vil. We’d like to believe the new live-action film about the iconic villain has a hand in the style popping up recently. Honestly, we wouldn’t be surprised if your Halloween party is flooded with Cruellas (wearing the trend as a wig or au natural) this year. Honorable mention goes to the iconic Narcissa Malfoy aka Draco’s mom from the Harry Potter franchise for being another reference. Whoever sparked the inspo, celebs like Kehlani, Gwen Stefani, Billie Eilish and Dua Lipa have been seen rocking some rendition of the style.

So, how is the hair color done?

“There are a few ways to create this look, one of them is to do a complete bleach and tone to half of the hair. You could use foils, saran wrap, cotton or whatever you prefer. As long as you have proper saturation, sectioning, and the right formulation,” explains Hillier.

That said, though there are home tutorials circulating online (especially on TikTok, which is DIY central), Hillier highly recommends getting this done by a professional rather than attempt the look at home. “This trend is one of the harder looks to create—even for a trained professional,” she explains. So, put away the bleach and head over to your nearest salon instead. Just remember to have a reference picture ready so your colorist knows exactly what you’re going for.

Are there other ways to rock this look?

Not ready to commit to bleaching half of your hair? It’s OK! There are no rulebooks stating that you have to recreate the same exact color structure. Other ways to join the “skunk hair” train (and find a less committed, low maintence style) include regular highlights, money pieces (aka chunky highlights) or bold peek-a-boo moment. The possibilities are endless.

FYI, it doesn’t only have to be in black-and-white. Try mixing it up with other unexpected duos (like pink and brown). The only goal is to have two completely contrasting colors on your locks.

Can all hair types and textures rock this trend?

The short answer is yes. However, Hillier points out that you should be prepared for the long-term commitment required to maintain such a drastic hair color. “All textures can have this Cruella look, as long as they understand the commitment of this trend. It does not work for those who prefer minimal salon visits,” she explains. “Due to the extreme difference in colors, this look calls for at-home maintenance as well.”

OK, what can I do to maintain this color at home?

Since you’re dealing with two colors on the opposite end of the shade spectrum, you want to be careful with how you’re washing (and styling) each section. “When washing [your hair] you want to be careful not to mush it all together. Instead, keep the sections separated to prevent the darker color [from] bleeding into the lighter [side],” she says.

The products you use are also important. Use color-safe shampoos and conditioners to boost moisture and protect your new hues. Hillier suggests Olaplex No. 7 Bonding Oil and the Olaplex No. 8 Bond Intense Moisture Mask to nourish bleached hair and prevent the color from fading over time. She believes these products can help “repair damaged hair and keep it in the healthiest condition.”

If you’re ready for a new statement style, this trend is right up your alley. We’ll just be over here singing “Cruella De Vil, Cruella De Vil…” when you walk by.

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