Calico hair explainer

@mijasplanet/TikTok @2faced.faerie/TikTok @bel_rmz_artistry/TikTok (Licensed)

Embrace kitty vibes with the one-of-a-kind calico hair trend

Be the coolest cat in town with this fun style.


Stacey Nguyen

Pop Culture

From silky smooth liquid hair to striking skunk stripes, there’s no shortage of trendy hair inspiration. But what if you’re looking for something a little more out there, say, an autumnal Practical Magic vibe meets early aughts chunky highlights? Try calico hair. 

If you’ve ever wanted to match with a calico cat, this is the perfect hair trend to try.

How does calico hair take inspiration from calico cats?

Okay, let’s first give those less versed in feline matters a quick primer. What exactly is a calico cat? Calico cats don’t belong to a specific breed per se — they’re basically cats with a tri-color coat of white, black, and orange. When it comes to color distribution, calicos are usually a bit more white than black or orange.

calico cat
Karen Kaspar/Shutterstock

Calico cats are pretty rare, and calico hair can also give humans a pretty one-of-a-kind look. The hair trend takes inspiration from the calico cat’s fur colors, featuring thick ginger, brunette, and blonde stripes. See a direct example here:

@2faced.faerie my child @oVertone Color #cat #calico #hair #fypシ ♬ Hello this is kitty – sanrio🩷

You can have many different variations of calico hair, including styles where the blonde stripes specifically frame the face or ones where the colors are more blended out. 

Some people even spring for bold horizontal stripes.

@mijasplanet still processing rn #fyp #fypツ #hairstylistsoftiktok ♬ meow – ★

Although calico hair can be a bit divisive (just peek at this Reddit thread here), it’s undeniably unique.

When did the trend start?

The idea of giving your hair highlights and coloring it isn’t exactly new. But this hair trend had some of its earliest buzz in the fall of 2023, when hair enthusiasts shared videos of themselves with ginger, brown, and blonde hair for a warm and fun spooky season style. 

@bel_rmz_artistry All the witchy fall vibes with this Calico hair🐈‍⬛🐈✨ #calicohair #hairtrends #falltrends #fallhair #fyp #californiahairstylist #pulpriothair #hairinspo #fall ♬ original sound – iHearCanvas

Calico hair really took off in spring 2024 — when its momentum started picking up, even Miley Cyrus flaunted a more blended take on the bold style for a W Magazine shoot

One of the most viral videos on calico hair was officially posted on New Year’s Day of 2024. TikTok user Madeline (@madelineemay) showed herself DIY-ing calico hair and garnered a whopping 6.9 million views for her chaotic hair-bleaching process and silly commentary. 


calico cat hair

♬ 10 minutes! Fashionable and bright jazz piano(1127989) – nyansuke

“I only wanted to bleach some parts ombré because I am extra, and I don’t know if it’s going to look good, but I wanna look like a calico cat,” the creator said. Her hair credentials? According to her, she took AP Art in high school.

“Oh my God, is that a woman or a cat?” she joked at the end of her video.

As you can see, it’s possible to go down the DIY route to try out calico hair. If you’re looking for more calico hair guidance, TikTok user Sydney Lou (@sydneylouwho99) has some tips. 

@sydneylouwho99 The box said it would be a honey mist auburn!! #calico #calicohair #smilingthroughthepain #diyhair #hairfail #ihaveahairappointmenttomorrow ♬ original sound – Sydney Lou

“This is for all the calico hair girlies out there. I have a simple life hack for you because I think I’ve perfected the technique. All you have to do is start with natural, basically jet black Asian hair, and then just bleach it yourself,” Sydney explained. “Do it poorly with bleach and developer that you probably should have thrown out six months ago. Be sure to try foils and then make sure that they slip out halfway through. Have your boyfriend help you, and then just trust him.”

She’s being sarcastic, by the way. 

It’s probably the soundest idea to have a hairdressing professional give you calico hair, especially because color correcting and bleeding can become major issues with this style. 

Calico hair inspiration

Interested in trying out calico hair? Here are some hairspo videos to get you started!

What do y’all think of the birthday hair? :)

♬ show me how – <3

Hair reveal pt2! Not me awkwardly trying to show the back :/ #fyp #calicohair #gc #colourfulhair #wlw

♬ Did you see the way he looked at me – Hannah

Now, go forth and feel like the cat’s meowth with this fun style…if you’re bold enough to try it out!

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