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Meet “Raccoon Hair,” The Beauty Trend With Roots In Emo Culture

Mayday Parade. The Maine. Cobra Starship. Panic! At The Disco. My Chemical Romance. If these words mean anything to you, you probably grew up in the MySpace era — a time that was closely tied with the “scene” subculture that emerged in the U.S. during the early 2000s. This iconic era was defined by the music you listened to; most likely a combination of pop-punk, emo, and metal bands. You might remember side bangs, skinny jeans, rubber wristbands, perhaps poorly angled, low-res selfies, and a variety of other trends that made their way into the world while we lined up at Warped Tour…and now, one of these trends is making a comeback. 

Meet raccoon hair, a funky trend where you add stripes to your hair to make it look exactly like the stripes on your favorite nocturnal, trash-eating animal. The trend has been spotted on celebs like Avril Lavigne and Rihanna. The hair trend, which is sometimes referred to as “raccoon tails,” “coon hair,” or “raccoon stripes,” typically involves dying horizontal stripes onto your hair or adding colored strips to create the illusion of “stripes.” The unique, emo-inspired style can include anything from striped neon hair extensions to natural-hued stripes in your actual hair. 

Whether you’ve seen the trend before or not, we have the lowdown on its history and its current popularity. Here’s what you need to know about the raccoon tail hair trend, its origins, and how to try it yourself.

What is the “Raccoon Hair” trend? 

The “raccoon hair” trend has its origins in emo culture, and now in 2022, the look is having a revival. The trend first originated in the early 2000’s and was mostly seen on people who listened to “scene bands” — AKA those of us who appeared on Warped Tour stages, in small underground venues, at punk bars, and perhaps had the phrase “Rawr XD” engrained in our vocabulary. 

The same way that streetwear gained popularity on Instagram and how twee fashion was the hot style on Tumblr, scene fashion and style was the “it” look in the 2000s when Myspace was at its peak. Just as modern social media platforms have viral celebs, Myspace’s scene queens such as Lexi Lush, Audrey Kitching, and Kiki Kannibal made brightly colored, teased-to-the-heavens, extension-strewn hair the ultimate style for Bring Me The Horizon and 3OH!3 fans alike. This style was — and is — popular for those simply seeking to express themselves in new ways, perhaps show off their wild or rebellious side through simple, fun streaks. When I was growing up in the mid-’00s, I saw these kids as those who I could trust– who were “different” from the mainstream, like I was. 

Now, in 2022, Gen Z TikTokers are at the forefront of the raccoon hair resurgence, reclaiming the emo look in a unique yet modern way. From the return of Y2K-inspired looks to 2010s business casual and experimenting with bold looks like “dopamine dressing,” Gen Z is unafraid to take inspiration from other generations, and with raccoon hair, they’re doing exactly that. 

The “Raccoon Tail” trend is going viral on social media.

#RaccoonTail currently has 7.1 million views on TikTok, and under the popular hashtag, you can find tons of videos of hair tutorials for how to achieve a unique look. For example, Jac Vanek, author, and one-third of the gang from the LadyGang podcast shared her #elderemo journey proudly through this TikTok. In the video, she showcases a time capsule photo with ultra-bleached hair, dramatic side-bangs, one fingerless glove, and — of course — raccoon stripe extensions. “All in all, so much emotion, so much angst…15/10,” she says in the video.

Another celebrity who is helping pop punk culture make a comeback with this hairstyle is Rihanna, who first donned her full-headed black and red-striped hair on Instagram in January. The comments section was positive all-around: Betsey Johnson dropped several red hearts and fire emojis, Busta Rhymes dropped a few crown emojis and Shahs of Sunset star Golnesa “GG” Gharachedaghi said, “You just serrrvved us valentine’s day!” In this Valentine’s Savage X Fenty ad, the “Umbrella” singer showed off her raccoon hair alongside a bright red, metal accented lingerie piece that would be perfect for the rock ‘n roll stage. The video also included a heavy, sexy bassline for full dramatic effect, offering a nod to pop-punk subculture in both sound and style.

Additionally, Avril Lavigne recently shared her raccoon hair on Instagram alongside Travis Barker and Blackbear who appeared in her new music video for “Love It When You Hate Me” from her brand-new album Love Sux. Of course, Lavigne would be the one to keep sharing pop-punk bangers and keeping the scene traditions well and alive for veteran and new listeners. 

Madie Thomas, a Cleveland-based hairstylist and Redken Specialist with extensive color hair dye training, is accustomed to giving clients deep blue, hot pink, royal purple, and hairdos — and recently, she’s started to see bold trends like “raccoon hair” make a comeback. “I would love to create [raccoon hair] on someone to bring back my middle school days,” she tells Her Campus. Most of her familiarity with the style has been through social media and by word of mouth, and she also mentions that it isn’t the only throwback hairstyle returning to the mainstream. “We’re [also] seeing more of the 2000’s Cristina Aguilera chunky highlights!” she says.

If you want to try the “raccoon hair” trend, you can try extensions or hair dye.

There are a few ways to go about doing the “raccoon hair” trend on your own. The first — and perhaps easiest — route is to go with temporary hair extensions, which you find on Etsy. You can experiment with different colors and styles by clipping in a raccoon tail temporarily, and taking it out if it’s not the right fit. If you’re going for a bold statement piece, try a hot pink and black version like this, or if you want to have a more subtle approach, try this one, which is great for adding a pop-punk vibe to naturally blonde hair. There is no right or wrong way to achieve “raccoon hair,” and the color palette is entirely up to you — after all, the trend is all about showing your personality! 

In typical alternative fashion, you can also actually dye your hair to achieve the “raccoon” look. Fortunately, though, you won’t have to dye your whole head with Manic Panic and stain your bathtub in the process! If you need some inspo, check out this TikTok creator who straightened a strip of hair over a piece of cardboard and separated it into horizontal segments with tape. After the tape was secured, they bleached their strip and added hot pink color over the top. Voilà: Perfect pink and black striped raccoon tails framing their face! Another TikToker created thin, horizontal black stripes directly on the side of their head, then, they revealed faint black lines that made for a cute, subtle raccoon tail. 

Consider semi-permanent dye and conditioning products.

When attempting the “raccoon hair” trend, you can experiment with specific colors, horizontal line thickness, and stripe proximity all you want (that’s why semi-permanent dye rules!). Make sure you have a proper hair dye brush and a dye/bleach kit that fits the look you’re going for and aligns with your existing color. 

Many scene kids and adults — myself included — turn to Hayley Williams’ Good Dye Young for its extensive color palette and affordability. In fact, Good Dye Young’s website specifies: “GDY hair dye does not damage hair and contains conditioning properties that rehydrate and correct porosity (roughness) in hair that is compromised when bleaching, heat styling, or using damaging hair products.” Plus, semi-permanent dye means a bad hair color doesn’t last for far too long. For context, my dye lasts around a month. But, beware of staining your perfectly white pillowcases when it comes to any dye – permanent or temporary! 

Or, just make an appointment with your hairdresser! 

While dying your hair at home is always an option, if you want to be on the safer side, you can schedule an appointment with your hairdresser — especially if you want stripes as large and bold as Rihanna’s. I am sure your salon will thank you for not frying off your locks with an at-home bleach kit! All you have to do is select the strip of hair you wish to dye (or your whole head like Rihanna) and decide whether to layer stripes on your natural hair color or bleach, dye, then stripe. Be sure to bring pictures or make a Pinterest mood board for your stylist so you can get the results you want! 

Once you have your raccoon tail in place, feel free to give yourself the full scene hair treatment by teasing your hair, straightening the swooping side bang, and adding a teeny tiara, such as in Jac Vanek’s case. Don’t forget the dark eyeliner, too!

So, is “raccoon hair” here to stay?

While raccoon hair has been spotted on celebs over the past few months, it’s unclear whether or not it’s actually here to stay. Alternative music fan and Cleveland State University student Cam, 23, tells Her Campus, “On one hand, I’m very much all for the renaissance of every era at the same time that is happening in Gen Z fashion. Very exciting to see the 70s, 80s, 90s, and Y2K aesthetics happening at the same time with a 2020s flair. But also, come on, raccoon hair? It’s almost a bridge too far.”

Thomas mentions that while she is all about self-expression, raccoon hair might not be the easiest hairstyle to maintain. “My only concern would be that the upkeep of the raccoon tails is quite difficult, hence why we used to use extensions for them,” she tells Her Campus. “I don’t see [the trend] sticking around very long.”

Others, however, feel that the trend is rooted in a lot of precision and skill, and should be admired. Stylist and YouTuber Brad Mondo — AKA my go-to for hair reaction videos — recently dropped “HAIRDRESSER REACTS TO EMO/SCENE HAIR TUTORIALS!” on his channel. He typically reacts to viral videos of experimental at-home dye jobs, and when the time came to react to a “raccoon hair” tutorial, he said in response to the model, “This is talent. She looks amazing.” 

As a certified scene queen throughout middle school to now — with The Cab, Hey Monday, and Fall Out Boy in my daily playlists, I am thrilled to see the raccoon hair look making a comeback. Honestly, I might make a small, tasteful strip and take my emo look to my next corporate meeting. Though I love the trend, I do believe the raccoon hair rebirth will be similar to hair feathers and tinsel: hot for a bit, but maintained long-term by few. 

In love with jokes, comprehensive sex ed and Stephen Colbert-- (Stephen, call me!) Kent State University Class of 2020, Current Freelance Journo Follow @MaSerra8 on Twitter and email mariaserra@hercampus.com for PR pitches!