Oh how we love ombre hair, the fabulous year-round gorgeous trend that just keeps on giving. Once you ombre, you never go back, as it’s a look that’s so incredibly versatile. You can change it up with different colours and techniques as much as your heart desires. But can you ombre your hair at home?
The ombre trend is always evolving and looks like sombre – a more subtle blended feathery effect – are high on our hot hair colour radar right now.
We’re here with everything you need to know about the ombre hair obsession and how to ombre your hair at home!
As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases.
What is ombre hair?
Ombre hair is a statement. It’s a gorgeous, two-toned dramatic effect that is similar in look to dipped ends. With ombre, the lower section of hair is lightened which gives a more horizontal, band-like effect.
Ombre typically has darker tones on top and lighter on the ends. It looks fabulous when the darker top is your natural colour and the bottom section is a few shades lighter. This also means you won’t have to worry about roots growing out!
Colours work great too and anything goes with ombre – from silvers and reds to purple and blues.
Check out the latest looks for ideas and inspiration.
What is the difference between balayage and ombre hair?
Balayage hair is a technique.
Did you know, the word “Balayage” comes from a French word meaning “to sweep”? And that’s just how the colour is applied to your hair – in small triangular sweeps cascading downwards. Darker strands left on the bottom to create an added dimension and a more natural look.
It’s a more subtle look than ombre and creates a natural effect since the highlights are painted on in places where the sun will naturally lighten your hair. Balayage can be done on any hair colour and is particular spectacular on blondes, red heads and light brown hair.
You can find out more about bayalage hair in our brilliant guide, Balayage hair | The no-nonsense guide for beginners.
What’s the difference between ombre hair and highlights?
Highlights are a process.
Highlights are created using foils to produce an all-over lightness in your hair from root to tip. Highlights are a great way to transition into ombre when your highlights start to grow out as darker roots are all part of the look.
Ombre is also much lower maintenance than highlights so you’ll need fewer trips to the hairdressers to top it up.
You can find out more about blonde highlights in our fabulous guide Blonde Highlights | How to nail the lighter look at home.
What colours are best for ombre?
Ombre is a combination of two colours that compliment each other so in theory, anything goes!
It’s most gorgeous and lasts longer with natural colours, especially browns, reds and blondes – so think ash browns, light natural brown, auburns and chocolates mixed with caramel and light blondes.
Will ombre hair suit me?
The ombre style is extremely versatile and can be blended with any shade, depth and tone of colour! All you need to do is choose which colours suit you, before you ombre your hair at home.
Luckily, we have a quiz for that! Just click on the image below to take our quiz and find out which hair colours are best for you!
Can I ombre my hair at home?
Absolutely! If you want to ombre your hair at home, there are a few awesome at home kits that come with the special instructions you need to get your locks looking luscious
You can also chat to your hair dresser about what colours and process will work best for you.
You can check out of our reviews of the Best Ombre hair kit to get the look at home to find the right kit for you. Our top pick is below!
L’Oréal Colorista Effect Ombre Hair
Pros of ombre hair.
- Low maintenance as it grows out well.
- Not damaging if you use natural colours as base.
- Great for growing out highlights.
Cons of ombre hair.
- Ends need regular trimming.
- Lightening the ends of your hair a few shades will need bleach.
What do I need to get the ombre look at home?
- A hair dye kit that will give you all the tools you need to apply it like a pro.
- A hairdressers cape to protect your clothes. Towels will get stained and keep falling off.
- A barrier cream to prevent the colour getting on your skin. (We love good old Vaseline!)
- A wide toothed comb to separate your hair and comb through the dye.
- An excellent colour-safe shampoo.
- And excellent colour-safe conditioner.
- A heat protection spray to protect your colour before drying.
- An excellent hair dryer that’s suitable for coloured hair. Check out our Dyson Supersonic hair dryer review here.
TWO BOXES of your ombre kit of choice (see below!)
How do I ombre my own hair?
The ombre technique is a 6-step process.
Step one: Section your hair.
Apply the mixture to dry, unwashed hair. Divide your hair into sections using the ‘hot-cross bun’ technique. This means parting your hair down the middle and then width-ways to section your hair into quarters.
Decide where you want your lighter hair to begin. Don’t have it too high up as it’ll look like bad highlights. Backcomb your hair slightly where you want the colour start so you won’t get a wobbly line of colour.
Step two: Paint.
Open box one of your chosen ombre kit. Let’s ombre! The easy way to do this at home and produce a natural looking effect is paint the mixture from your ombre kit on in vertical strokes on each section.
You don’t want it to be a band across your head so paint some solution on thicker sections and some just on individual strands. Rub the dye at the top so it blends into your hair.
Leave it on for the time required on the box, usually around 45 mins. If you’re using bleach it will look lighter but don’t panic! That’s just the solution getting to work.
Step three: Rinse and repeat.
Wash the colour or bleach out thoroughly, it will keep working while it’s in. Then roughly dry your hair and separate into sections again! Yes really!
Step four: Highlight the ends.
Now, open the other box and apply the mixture again, this time just apply it to the bottom couple of inches of your hair. Use the same technique as before, working the solution into your hair to create a blended look.
We want to make sure the ends of your hair are lightest for a more natural effect that’s feathered and not so solid. Leave it in for 20 minutes this time.
Step five: Rinse.
Wash it out and condition your hair with a really good nourishing conditioner.
Step six: Dry and style!
Dry your hair with a hair dryer and fall in love with your new do!
If you find the colour too bright or brassy, you can use a purple toner to dull it down.
Watch and learn: How the professionals do it.
To get it absolutely right, watch the pros in action to see how to ombre your hair, step-by-step.
Is ombre damaging for my hair?
Ombre hair is as damaging as any other colouring process. And actually less damaging if you use your natural colour as a base to begin with.
What will damage your hair is the use of bleach to lighten your hair. But ombre can be done without any bleach at all, depending on your base colour. As the ends of your hair are colour treated, you’ll regular trims to keep it in tip top condition.
We recommend in the miracle potion that is Olaplex No 3 Hair Perfector to strengthen your bonds and restore any damage to your gorgeous locks.
Olaplex No 3 Hair Perfector
Once a week, use a deep conditioning mask like this one we love from Coco & Eve to moisturise your hair.
Coco & Eve Deep Conditioning Mask
How can I care for my ombre hair?
As well as looking after your hair with the right deep conditioners, you’ll need to use the right coloured hair products to tone and care for your colour.
To keep brassiness at bay if you have blonde, lighter sections, you’ll need our best Purple shampoos for coloured hair,
Kérastase Blond Absolu Bain Ultra-Violet.
And don’t forget to always follow our guidance in How to look after coloured hair and keep it luscious for longer.