Have you guys seen the new Cruella movie yet? If not, I highly recommend watching it. It’s fun, funny, fashionable, and heartwarming, just like any good Disney movie should be. This isn’t a movie review post, though; it’s about a new-to-me hair trend that gives me big Cruella vibes: underlayer hair color.
I know that peekaboo hair color has been around for a minute, but this new trend of underlayer color feels like a more interesting and dramatic version of the peekaboo. Like Cruella, it involves half of your hair being one color and half a different color. Unlike Cruella, though, it’s a top and bottom color split rather than a left and right split in most cases.
When I was younger, I hesitated to do anything even remotely crazy to my hair because I was terrified of “ruining” it. Now? I’m much more blasé about it. It’s hair! It will grow back. It can be dyed back. No worries! Have fun with it.
But, if you’re nervous about taking the plunge into full-on fun color, I understand! It’s a huge change that does require a lot of upkeep, so it’s not for the faint of heart. Underlayers are a fun and safe(r) baby step in that direction, though, so keep reading for more inspiration!
Peekaboo vs. Underlayer: Is There a Difference?
I actually had to ask this question myself when I was first learning about the trend because I thought they sounded exactly alike. As I fell further and further down the Google rabbit hole, I discovered subtle differences. I’m pretty sure that if you ask your hairstylist for either one, they would understand what you meant, but it can be helpful to know what you’re looking for when you’re searching Pinterest for ideas!
From what I can tell, if you go for peekaboo hair, that tends to be smaller pieces of color (more like highlights) strategically placed throughout your hair. The underlayer is way more dramatic. It splits your hair into a top layer and bottom layer, and they’re each dyed a dramatically different color (e.g., black on top, silver on bottom, like a reverse Cruella). The effect is much more striking, and it makes for some seriously cool-looking hairstyles!
Overall though, I did see a lot of overlap in the different styles, no matter which one I googled, so you should be able to find plenty of inspo regardless of which term you search for.
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Can I DIY Underlayer Hair Color?
If you’re experienced with hair color and bleach, I think you could do this at home! It’s really just a matter of splitting your hair into two sections and dyeing each the color that you’ve chosen.
However! If you’ve never bleached your hair before, I strongly recommend going to a professional (at least for the first time). Bleach is no joke, and there are a lot of ways to mess it up.
Again, it IS just hair, and of course, any mistakes won’t be permanent, but it’s better to save yourself the anxiety and just let a pro do it the first time! It’s much easier to DIY the upkeep than to start from scratch at home.
If you’re still interested in DIY’ing this one à la TikTok, this WikiHow tutorial is pretty detailed!
Let’s Look at Some Styles!
One more thing to consider before we dive into cute looks. If you have very curly hair, remember that this might not end up being a hidden underlayer like you’ve seen in pictures. Curls are their own master, and they’re likely to end up showing a lot of color whether you want them to or not.
1. Dark and Light
One of the most common underlayer combos I’ve seen is a dark brunette on top and a bright blonde or silver underneath. This is a good option if you have a job that frowns on “unnatural” hair colors, but you still want something fresh and trendy!
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2. Surprise Rainbow
Am I making up these names as I go? Yes. But they fit, so I’m just sticking with it since there are no official names for these color combos.
This one can be done with any natural color on top and any number of colors on the bottom, so there are tons of ways to make this one your own! I especially love seeing this type of underlayer in a braid because there’s so much color depth!
3. Subtle Split
I’ve seen several of these styles that I think are cute. I like that it truly is a surprise pop of color! For some, the underlayer is much smaller or sparsely colored (almost like heavily concentrated highlights), and others are strategically dyed so that the color can be shown or covered depending on how it’s styled.
So what do you think? Are you going to take the plunge and try some underlayer hair color this summer?