Ombré hair coloring has become one of the most popular trends in recent years, allowing people to add subtle, blended color to their locks. While professional salon treatments can be expensive, ombré can also be done at home with careful technique and the right products. Achieving a smooth, natural-looking ombré blend on your own hair is very possible if you follow some key tips.
What Is Ombré Hair?
Ombré refers to hair color that graduates from dark to light. It creates a soft, subtle effect that mimics how hair lightens naturally in the sun. The term “ombré” means shaded or graduated in French.
Unlike traditional highlights with a clear demarcation, ombré blends seamlessly from one shade to the next. This technique can be tailored to suit different hair lengths and natural colors. It works well for both subtle and dramatic color changes.
Ombré typically appears darker near the top and gradually lightens toward the ends. However, some people prefer the reverse effect, with lighter color near the face that gets richer moving down.
There are countless ways to customize ombré coloring for a unique look. The most popular ombré effects include:
- Brown to blonde
- Black to brown
- Dark blonde to platinum
- Auburn to ginger
- Deep violets to pastels
You can also add more than one shade to the blend. For example, going from dark brown to caramel to blonde.
The color transition can be extremely subtle or high-contrast, based on personal preference. The only limit is your imagination!
Benefits of Home Ombré
While DIY projects carry some risk, an at-home ombré job offers several advantages:
Cost savings – Professional ombré coloring can cost $150-300 for the initial session. Touch-up appointments every 6-8 weeks quickly add up. Doing it yourself reduces expenses.
Customization – When you color your own hair, you control how subtle or dramatic the ombré effect looks. You can perfectly personalize the shades and blending.
Convenience – You don’t have to book salon appointments or find time to get your hair colored. You can do it whenever your schedule allows.
Lower maintenance – At-home ombré roots grow out more seamlessly since the new growth blends into the lightened ends. The transition is less noticeable than with professional highlights.
Hair health – Doing it yourself allows you to use gentle, conditioning formulas made for at-home use. The process involves less chemical processing than a full highlight session.
As long as you exercise patience and good technique, DIY ombré offers a gorgeous look without the big price tag!
Best At Home Ombré Tips and Tricks
Achieving natural-looking, blended color without breakage takes proper strategizing and techniques. Here are some top tips for flawless ombré done on your own hair:
Evaluate Your Natural Color
Work with your natural base, not against it. Subtle ombré looks best on people with hair that is all one color to start. Dramatic ombré works well if you already have color variance from your roots to ends.
Assess if your hair is cool or warm-toned before picking any shades. Complementary tones will blend smoothly.
Choose the Right Dye Colors
The ombré effect depends on seamless blending between colors. Pick shade combinations that naturally go together, such as:
- Blonde and brown
- Strawberry and copper
- Light and medium brown
- Dirty blonde and platinum
Avoid clashing tones like ash and gold. Stay within 2-3 shade depths for the most natural look. Always choose semi- or demi-permanent dyes designed for use at home.
Section Your Hair Properly
The key to blending ombré seamlessly is meticulous sectioning. Divide hair cleanly from root to tip into quadrant sections using clips. Quadrant sections allow you to gradually move from one shade to the next.
Many pros recommend starting the light shade in triangular sections at the front hairline and tops of ears. The dark shade should start in a U-shape near the back crown.
Separate out fine strands around the hairline to color last. Always keep sections cleanly divided as you apply color.
Lighten the Ends First
It’s crucial to apply the lightest shade to the mid-length and ends before adding any darker dye. This technique helps the darker shade blend in without creating obvious demarcation lines.
Saturate the ends thoroughly with lightener or blonde shade first. Wrap them in plastic while you color the roots.
Mix Your Dye Dilutions Properly
You’ll need to mix custom dye dilutions to create a seamless ombré blend. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines, but make the darker shade near your roots more concentrated. Dilute it more and more as you move down the hair.
Adding conditioner or gloss to the dye helps soften the transition between shades. Always do a strand test to check the color development before applying.
Apply Dye Meticulously in Layers
Once the ends are lightened, work from the bottom up in small sections to paint on color. Use a tint brush for maximum control and saturation.
Build up layers of gradient color, starting lighter near the bottom with more diluted dye. Overlap the shades while keeping sections separated for gradual blending.
Wrap in Plastic While Processing
Once all the dye is applied, wrap hair in a plastic processing cap or plastic wrap. The heat from your scalp helps the chemicals develop fully for even toning and conditioning.
Leave the plastic on for the entire processing time to prevent overlapping sections from smearing together. Rinse and wash normally once done.
Maintain with Toner and Gloss
Use toner on lightened areas as needed to reduce brassiness between full ombré sessions. Purple or blue-toned gloss can boost shine and refresh the overall blend.
Avoid over-shampooing and use a good conditioning mask 1-2 times per week. Limit heat styling to maintain vibrancy and conditioning.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Many first-time home ombré attempts result in splotchy color or obvious growth lines. Avoid these pitfalls for a flawless blend:
- Skipping strand tests – Always test how your hair takes to the exact dye formulas first!
- Applying dark dye all over first – The light shade must go on ends first to blend smoothly.
- Rushing the application – Meticulous sectioning and application takes time. Don’t rush it.
- Using low-quality dye – Splurge on salon-quality formulas designed for DIY use.
- Not using enough product – Thoroughly saturate and layer the dye following instructions.
- Smearing sections together – Keep sections cleanly divided as you apply dye from roots to ends.
- Insufficient conditioning – Hydrate hair extremely well before and after ombré processing.
- Overlapping touch-ups – Wait the full development time before touching up roots.
- Insufficient blending – Make sure to brush and blend sections while rinsing out the dye.
How Long Does Home Ombré Last?
Results vary based on your natural hair and the dye used. However, you can expect at-home ombré to last between 4-6 weeks.
The darker roots start growing out first. With proper maintenance, the demarcation line stays fairly subtle. Many people choose to do root touch-ups every 4-6 weeks.
The mid-lengths and ends hold color longer, especially if conditioned and styled gently. Some formulas may fade faster on porous or damaged hair. Use color-protecting products to boost longevity.
Some types of home dyes result in permanent color that lasts until grown out and cut off. But most at-home dyes are semi- or demi-permanent, fading over time.
Proper prep work, application, and aftercare makes a major difference in how long your custom color lasts!
Best Hair Types for Ombré
Ombré works beautifully on many different hair textures and lengths. But certain hair types show off this blended coloring technique particularly well.
Fine or straight hair – Slick and straight locks let the ombré shading show clearly from roots to ends without disruption.
Long hair – More length allows for a super gradual blend from your natural shade down to the light ends.
Medium or dark hair – Ombré makes a striking statement on darker hair since the light ends stand out sharply.
Uncolored hair – Starting with fresh, virgin hair allows the truest expression of your intended ombré shades.
Cool-toned hair – Cooler hair readily takes on the ash and beige tones common in ombré blonde shades.
No matter your hair type, customized ombré can help add depth, dimension, and style. Work closely with your natural texture to determine the best application and placement.
Ombré Styles for Short Hair
While long manes may show off ombré blending best, the technique still enlivens short locks beautifully. Here are some chic ombré ideas for short hair:
Pixie Ombré – Concentrate bright pops of color around the crown and sides of an edgy pixie cut.
Asymmetrical Bob – Amp up angled asymmetry with contrasting ombré shades on the heavy and short sides.
Shoulder-length Shag – Add peeks of light color throughout choppy, shaggy layers.
Wispy Bangs – A few subtly lightened strands of fringe contrast against darker hair.
Under layers – Concentrate lighter dye on the hidden layers under top layers for a secret pop of color.
Partial Ombré – Just color the bottom 2-3 inches of tips for a hint of contrast.
Face-framing strands – Brighten up the front pieces around your face for a pretty framing effect.
While tough to blend, ombré absolutely gives edgy short cuts extra flair. Consult your stylist on the best placement and concentration of colors.
Trendy Ombré Color Combinations to Try
From subtle and natural to bold and funky, ombré offers endless possibilities for custom color. Here are some of the trendiest modern ombré combinations:
Brown to Blonde
This classic brunette-to-bombshell look flatters all skin tones. For a beachy effect, try chocolate brown ombré-ing into buttery chunky blonde highlights.
For cooler tones, blend ash or mocha brown into platinum ends. Warm it up with cinnamon fading into rich honey blonde.
Black to Caramel
Black hair ombré makes the light end shades pop. Blend jet black roots into light golden brown for lots of dimension.
Also try black to true red or vibrant copper orange for an edgy effect. Keep it natural with black to chestnut brown.
Blonde to Pastel
Pastels work best on pre-lightened hair. For a dreamy mermaid look, blend pale blonde into lilac, rose gold, or sky blue ends.
You can also “ombre” pastels by making the concentration most intense at the ends and diluted at the roots.
Auburn to Red
Redheads can go for a natural auburn to ginger effect. Or amp it up from medium auburn to a true hot red.
For an autumnal vibe, blend auburn into a rich maple or deep copper. Keep the tones warm and complementary.
Silver to Gray
This trendy metallic ombré looks edgy yet elegant. Turn white blonde into bright silver, or blend medium ash brown into steel gray.
You can also ombré gray tones, going from dark charcoal to pale silverfox. It’s a unique option!
No matter your base color, ombré offers infinite possibilities for customization. Consult a color wheel for ideas and blending guidance.
DIY Ombré Tutorial Step-By-Step
Achieving natural-looking at-home ombré requires patience and care. Follow these step-by-step instructions for salon-worthy results:
Gather Your Materials
- Semi-permanent hair dye in 2 complementary shades
- Mixing bowl and whisk
- Tint brush and comb
- Sectioning clips
- Petroleum jelly
- Old shirt & towel
Prep Your Hair
- Shampoo hair and then apply conditioner generously. Let sit 5 minutes before rinsing out. Towel dry hair.
- Divide hair cleanly from roots to ends in quadrant sections using clips.
- Apply petroleum jelly around hairline to protect skin from dye.
- Pull an old shirt on and drape towel around shoulders.
Mix and Apply Dye
- Prepare dye mixtures, diluting more from roots to ends. Always follow formula guidelines.
- Use a tint brush to apply light shade from mid-lengths to ends first. Saturate thoroughly.
- Once ends are wrapped in plastic, use a tint brush to meticulously apply darker dye in layers from bottom up.
- Concentrate the darker shade near roots and dilute as you move down.
- Ensure no bleeding between sections. Apply dye quickly and smoothly.
- Once all sections are saturated, wrap hair fully in a plastic cap.
Process and Rinse
- Process for the full development time, no less.
- Rinse dye extremely thoroughly, using a wide-tooth comb to blend sections together.
- Shampoo and condition hair. Scrunch as you rinse for blending.
- Style as usual and show off your new ombré!
Maintain Between Applications
- Use a violet toner as needed if blonde areas get brassy.
- Apply a hydrating hair mask 1-2 times per week.
- Limit heat styling and over-washing to keep color vibrant.
- Schedule root touch-ups every 4-6 weeks to prevent obvious regrowth.
Common Ombré Questions
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about achieving gorgeous ombré hair:
Does it damage hair?
Like all chemical processing, ombré can be drying if not done with care. Always opt for conditioning semi- or demi-permanent dyes made for at-home use. Avoid bleaches or high-volume lighteners. Nourish hair extremely well before and after coloring.
How do you avoid an obvious line?
Meticulous sectioning, applying light shades first, blending with diluted dye, and proper rinsing all prevent harsh lines. Root smudging product helps further soften any regrowth demarcation.
How do you sleep after ombré?
Avoid matting and smearing for at least 24-48 hours by twisting hair into a loose updo or sleeping on a satin pillowcase. Keep hair conditioned and detangled.
Can you do ombré on short hair?
Yes, ombré works on short hair but concentration placement matters more. Focus bright pops selectively around the face or ends. It likely requires balayage foils rather than all-over dye. Consult a pro.
Does gray hair work for ombré?
Absolutely! Gray hair takes vivid dyes extremely well. Just fill first with a demi-permanent base to prevent spotty results before ombré lightening.
When done carefully using proper techniques, products, and aftercare, DIY ombré allows you to achieve gorgeous, customized hair color effects at home. While challenging, with patience and diligence, you can successfully blend everything from subtle natural-looking combos to vivid dramatic ombré.
- Assess your natural base shade and texture first
- Choose complementary dye colors that blend smoothly
- Thoroughly lighten ends first before applying darker roots
- Section meticulously and apply dye gradually in layers
- Process fully; blend sections while rinsing
- Maintain hair health with conditioning treatments
While not always simple, you can absolutely get salon-worthy ombré results without the big expense or inconvenience of professional coloring services. Feel empowered to try this popular technique safely at home. Show off your own customized, head-turning ombré blend!