Whenever someone comes into my salon showing interest in a unique hair trend or vivid colors but seems a bit timid, I always start them off with an underdye. It is the perfect way to get them that crazy color that they have always wanted without it being overwhelming or too unprofessional for their job. There are so many ways to customize this look, so I’ve made this underdye hair ideas and style guide to help you figure out what you can do and what you like about underdye hair.
Bottom line Up Front
My favorite underdye hair color is a halo underdye because you get the most pop of color that also frames your face, but it can be easily customized to make it more subtle. This look will most likely always be visible but is still less overwhelming than doing a hair color all over. If you are someone looking for a bright color that you can hide, a hidden underdye placed just at the nape of your neck is best.
What is Underdye Hair?
Underdye hair is the under sections of your hair are colored, and the top layer of hair that is natural or colored natural lays over the top. Most people utilize underdye hair to create a color that can be hidden or isn’t quite as noticeable. It usually only appears if your hair is curled, put up into a pony or half updo, or if the underdye is brought far up on the hair. There are a few benefits to having underdye hair that you can’t get from any other color placement, and they are as follows:
- Can hide the color for professional settings
- It makes vivid color more subtle
- Grown-out roots aren’t as noticeable
- It can make your hair look thicker
The nice thing about underdye hair is you can do almost any hair trend that’s current with it. You simply do any hair trend only on the underlayers of the hair. For example, you can create the half and half look, ombre, any vivid color, or an oil slick color hidden under your natural hair. I love to introduce people to new hair trends that aren’t entirely sure they want it with an underdye.
Underdyes get most of their flair from having the color a high contrast with your natural or the color on top. They are usually done with vivid colors, such as blue, pink, or purple, but can be done with two natural colors that are drastically different in tone also. This will make your underdye hair more interesting when it is visible.
Something for Everyone
Whether you want to be able to tuck your bright underdye hair away to hide it from your boss or be visible most of the time, there is something on this list for you. The thing about underdye hair is that it is highly customizable because the only stipulation is the color has to be on the underlayers of the hair. The higher you go up the head with the underdye section, the more visible it will be, and the smaller you make the section, the less visible it will be.
Underdye Hair Ideas
Peek-a-boo highlights were the original underdye color when people wanted little pops of color but not to be overly abundant. These highlights are not done as typical highlights because they need to be reasonably chunky to be visible at all from underneath. You can add just one large peek-a-boo highlight underneath, but I like to add at least four large chunks or more throughout the underlayers of the hair.
This is the standard of what I think of when someone says they want an underdye hair color. If done correctly, nobody can tell that you have a pop of color hidden underneath your hair unless you wear it up, it’s styled with tight curls, or your hair moves enough to separate. I like to do this style on anyone afraid of what their boss or grandma will say. You still get that pop of color you’ve been craving but can hide it away when needed.
Making half of your hair one color and the other half a different color is an enjoyable, striking style, but if you want to tie it together a bit more, doing it only on the underneath of your hair is a great option. You still have your natural laying over it to make it look more cohesive, but get the uniqueness underneath. I like to use two high contrasting colors, like pink and orange or blue and red, but you can also use two similar colors, as pictured below.
This technique started a few years ago and creates an iridescent look that almost makes a pearl effect. You must use at least three or four similar colors to get this luminous effect that appears to change colors in the light. I prefer pastel colors because they reflect light better and can be blended more easily. The top layer of hair makes the iridescent look even more mystical.
Oil slick hair is a trend that started a few years ago, around the same time as iridescent hair. It is made to look like the rainbow that mechanical oil creates when mixed with water. This doesn’t have to be done with an underdye, but I do think it looks better because it makes the colors blend much better. To create the full oil effect, it must also be done with naturally dark, ashy hair.
Halo underdye hair creates a look that seems to glisten around your face creating a “halo” effect. This is done by taking a section around the entirety of your hairline and coloring that a different color from the hair on top. I like to take an inch to two inches around the entire perimeter and color it some blonde to get the best halo effect. However, you can use any color and even change the thickness of the underdye throughout the halo section, like more underdye hair in the back and less around the front.
When you only do one tiny section for your underdye hair, I call it a micro underdye. This is probably the most subtle option you can do on this list and is easily hideable by the rest of your hair. Putting your underdye section on the sides of your hair, as pictured below, will make it easy to see, whereas placing it in the back will make it less noticeable. I recommend only putting a micro underdye in the back of the hair on someone with long hair because you need quite a bit of movement in the hair to make it visible.
Coloring an underdye on hair with a super layered haircut creates a tipped or ombre look in the hair because the top layer is cut shorter, exposing the underlayer where your color lies. In this look, there is no way to hide your underdye, so it is only for those that want something that will stand out no matter what. Your layers also need to be cut very well because the color will show any mistakes in your layering because of the division of color.
Underdye bangs are one of the least committal hair colors you can do because bangs grow out so fast that you only have to commit to the color until your hair grows out to its natural. You also don’t need to worry about the roots showing because they are hidden underneath the top layer of your bangs. You can do this underdye style with any bangs, such as baby bangs, wispy bangs, curtain bangs, or side-swept bangs.
When I thought a natural redhead couldn’t get any prettier or stand out anymore, I see them add bright red or orange pops to it, further enhancing the color. You can add almost any shade of red, orange, or even golden colors to naturally red hair to enhance it while also keeping it somewhat tame. A darker red or golden blonde will look more natural, whereas a bright orange, like pictured below, will stand out more.
For those who want to keep it even more subtle, try a platinum blonde underdye. This color keeps it to natural shades, so it’s not quite as striking as vivid color, but it still gives you that color-blocked look with a bit of edge. I love this color for those that have naturally brown hair and especially for those natural redheads with a pale skin tone.
Usually, the natural hair color is on the top layers, and the bright or unnatural color is on the underneath of underdye hair. With a reverse underdye, the bright or vivid color is on the hair’s top layers, and the natural is on the under layers. This look will stand out far more than any of the other options but does still tame down the vivid color a bit. I highly recommend only doing this with a darker color underneath because the vivid color on top could stain the blonde color put underneath.
I think everyone considers going red at some point in their life, which makes sense because it is a fun color that stands out but isn’t that far off from a natural color. A great way to venture into the red-headed world is to start with a dark red underdye. Dark red looks a bit more realistic and great with both blonde and darker hair, so it is a universal color.
Every time I see this color, I immediately think of the character Gemme from Sons of Anarchy, and I love it! This is a very striking color because of the extreme contrast between the two colors and can be pretty challenging to achieve, especially if your hair is naturally black. It may take a few sessions of bleach to get the underneath of your hair as light as you need it to look white.
I love when people do underdye hair with multiple colors hidden underneath, and it creates more of a unique blended look that doesn’t look so two-toned. I like to use three colors that easily bleed together, such as purple, pink, and blue, or red, orange, and yellow. This gives it more of a dynamic color that melts into each other rather than looking overwhelming with all the colors.
Using two colors instead of one underneath your hair is another look that makes your color a bit more dynamic. You can make the two colors chunky or blend a bit more by doing finer highlights between them. The finer the highlights are, the more iridescent it will look, without people being able to tell when one color bleeds into the next.
Face-framing underdye hair is going to be more visible than a standard underdye because the pieces of hair around your face will almost always show. There aren’t many ways to hide the strands around your face. Doing this kind of style is like doing only the front half of the halo underdye look, with an inch or smaller section around the front hair line being colored. I like to do this hair style with blonde, but you can also do it with any other color.
Ombreing colors in an underdye hairstyle will only enhance the shadow effect already created from it being covered by the top layer of hair and adds a new layer of depth. I think it looks the best when you ombre a darker vivid color at the root into a lighter vivid color on the ends. You can also ombre a vivid color into your natural underneath if you want it to be even more subtle.
Hiding a rainbow in the under layers of your hair is the ultimate surprise when it does show in a half updo or pops out under curls. I love rainbow hair, but it can most definitely be too overwhelming for most people and requires a lot of upkeep. Hiding it under your hair is the best way to counteract these disadvantages of rainbow hair. You can use any color as long as four or more to create rainbow hair, whether it’s four pastel colors or true rainbow colors.
Adding a shadow underneath with dark brown hair is one of the most natural looks you can do and can actually make your hair look thicker if you are a blonde on top. Hair is naturally darker underneath because the sun does not hit those layers to lighten them. It also creates a lot of depth and gives your blonde hair something to lay on top of, making it look like you have more hair than you do.
This underdye hairstyle is not meant to hide the color that is put in the underneath layers of the hair but more to add a unique dimension. It gives you a look of high contrast and chunky highlights without creating the zebra stripes you usually get with chunky highlights. This look is created by bringing the underdye up to the temples or higher, and I like to zigzag the section line to make a bit more cohesiveness in the colors.
How to Style Underdye Hair
You don’t need to style underdye hair color if you do not wish to, but there are a few tricks you can use to make it more visible or less visible. You can make it stand out for a night and then have it hidden in a bun for work the next day. It’s one of the most significant advantages of underdye hair, so I think you should know how to utilize it.
Curling your hair will make your underdye hair color slightly more visible. This is because curls create definition and movement in your hair that will bring the under layers of your hair forward. The underdye won’t be fully visible, but it will pop out like highlights. You can curl your hair however you usually would, whether with a wand, straightener, a standard curling iron, wavy, or tight.
Wearing your hair half up and half down is the best way to make your underdye hair pop. You can put up the hair right at the line where your underdye hair color starts to make it fully visible, but I like to leave a tiny amount of natural hair down with the underdye section. This makes the two colors look a bit more united rather than like you have two completely different hair colors going on. Some fun half updos to try are:
- A half braid
- A knotted bun
- A high half-pony
- Using a hair claw to pull hair back
Putting all of your hair into a high pony is another great way to show off your pop of color underneath. I especially like this look on underdyes that have multiple colors highlighted throughout. To get the most amount of your underdye to show, it is best to wear it at the crown of your head or higher. I like to finish off my high ponies by taking a small piece of hair from the pony and wrapping it around the elastic to hide it.
This is a great style to hide your underdye because you are putting your hair into a bun where the underdye color is. You may still see a smidge of color just under or in the bun, but it will be extremely minimal. I’ve found the best way to hide color in a bun is to tye your hair into a pony holder at the nape of your neck and then use a bun donut to place the hair you want visible into a bun.
Answer: Underdye hair is effortless to maintain because you won’t be able to notice the roots grow out as quickly as you would with other colors. The only times you’ll be able to see the grow-out is when you wear your hair up or if you have some underdye around the front of your face. You probably won’t need to touch it up any more than every other month.
Answer: Since getting an under dye is technically the same as doing an all-over color on half of your head, and it can be cheaper than other color services, starting at $60. However, most underdye hair is done with vivid colors, meaning it will need to be lightened first, making it a double process and cost $100 or more.
Answer: Whenever I think of peek-a-boo hair, I think of the chunky highlights that are put underneath the hair. However, any color placed on the underlayer of the hair is an underdye, so peek-a-boo hair is technically an underdye. Some people consider peek-a-boo hair as the entire underlayer being colored, making it an underdye.
Answer: Curling your hair makes your underdye pop out slightly, but to make your underdye hair fully visible, try a half updo or a high ponytail. You could also add heavy layers to your hair to make the underdye show throughout the ends of your hair. It does this because you are cutting the top layer that usually covers an underdye shorter, and the longer hair left is the hair that is colored.
Should You Try Underdye Hair?
I love underdye hair for anyone that wants to experiment with new hair trends or vivid colors because it is not as overwhelming as doing something all over, and you can hide it if you need to. It is also significant that you don’t have to hardly ever have it touched up if you don’t want to because the roots are not noticeable under all of your hair. Some of my favorite underdye styles for clients are ombre, a halo, and a color trio underdye.
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