Ombre hair. The trend that just won’t back down no matter how much we wear it. But that’s a good thing! It’s a sign that this trend is both beautiful and easy to wear, which makes so many women around the world love it so much.
But when did ombre hair originate? And what does it really mean? Is it that much different from balayage? And how can you maintain it? This are the most frequent questions women ask before getting ombre hair at their favorite salon or at home. Because yes, now you can get ombre hair at home. And these are also the questions we will be answering right now!
What Is Ombre Hair?
The first thing we need to do is make sure we’re all on the same page by answering the age old question – what is ombre hair? To put it as simply as possible, ombre is a hair coloring technique. The word itself is French and it means ‘shaded.’
Therefore, the process means that the hair needs to go from a dark base to a lighter color in a very smooth and gradual way along the length of the strand. Much in the same way as shadow goes toward the light. The transition needs to happen around the middle of the strand and it has to be very smooth and not harsh. Think of it as your hair being sun kissed rather than colored at all.
In the beginning, the ombre hair technique was only applied to natural hair colors such as brown and black that wanted to veer toward blonde. However, in time, the same technique moved on to non-natural colors as well, such as pink, blue, green or purple.
Tip – the word ‘ombre’ is pronounced ‘om-bray.’ You’re welcome!
When Did Ombre Hair Appear?
Even though it now seems as if ombre hair has been with us forever, it’s only been around since… Britney Spears. That’s right. Most sources seem to agree that Britney was the first one to wear ombre hair back in the glorious year of 2000. She appeared for the first time with what seemed to be a transition from dark roots to light tips and everyone just went mad for it.
Britney was quickly followed by Aaliyah who also went for ombre hair in 2001. And the trend has been going strong for some twenty years. Most specialists think that the reason why the trend hasn’t faded yet is because it’s incredibly easy to maintain. Therefore, most women absolutely love it! Which brings us to this.
How to Maintain Ombre Hair
As gorgeous and effortless as it may look, ombre hair does have a few issues of its own. They come in the shape of brassy tones, split ends, and dry hair. So here are some key tricks on how to maintain your newly acquired ombre hair.
Ask for an ombre technique that doesn’t involve bleach
Here’s the tea. To get your hair to go from a darker color to a lighter one, most salons and hair stylists will, of course, use bleach. But, as you might have already known, this is an insanely dangerous and unhealthy thing to do to your hair and scalp. Bleach is a super powerful chemical that yes, lifts your natural pigment as well as any previous color you might have had. But it doesn’t put anything back in.
Apart from that, bleach dries out your hair, making it frizzy and look bad. The chemicals in it act by opening up your hair follicles which is why the hair becomes so dry. Not only that, but after bleaching, your hair will also become brassy or even yellow in tone. Sure, you can use toner that is meant to balance the yellow shades. However, after just a few shampoos, it will wash off.
What you can do instead is opt for a process called glossing. This will lift the color but play more on your own shades. Therefore, the ombre hair resulting will be more subtle. Hence the name – sombre. You will have to go for glossing several times if you want your hair to get lighter and lighter. Think of it as lying in the sun. The more you do it, the lighter your hair will be.
Don’t use hot water
The most important tip you will ever get as a blonde is this – never use hot water! The logic behind this is quite simple. Hot water will open up the cuticles of your hair, making it super easy for the color to fade away. To avoid that, rinse with lukewarm water or even cold water if you can stand it. The idea is to close up the cuticles and don’t wash out the color in them.
No more lathering shampoos
Yes, we know, they smell great! And the feeling you get when you have a head full of soft lather is one of the best in the world. But that doesn’t mean they are great for your ombre hair. If they are able to lather up that much, it means they have a great quantity of detergent in them. Therefore, you should stay away from those shampoos because they are bad news for colored hair.
Instead, opt for healthy, natural, organic if possible solutions that won’t lather but will clean your hair and protect your color at the same time.
And here’s another reason to keep away from lathering shampoos. The detergent in them will also dry your bleached ends. If you do use them, you will need to moisturize your ombre hair with a leave in conditioner and some hair oil. That’s a must!
Hair masks rich in protein are a no-no!
Here’s another product that has been marketed as fantastically healthy but might be a little wolf in disguise. The reason is that most people don’t understand how the chemistry works. Let us break it down for you. Simply put, your hair is made of proteins. Therefore, what you need after an intense styling technique such as ombre hair is moisture.
Just adding more protein won’t do absolutely anything for your hair. It will only make it even dryer and more brittle. Swap protein hair masks and shampoos for hydrating ones that will breathe some life back into your bleached hair!
Does Ombre Damage the Hair?
Here’s a question that a lot of women ask, mostly before they actually go in for the procedure. It all depends on how you do it. As detailed above, there are two ways to get ombre hair. You can get your hair bleached or you can go for the glossing technique.
Out of the two, most specialists recommend the latter. Simply because bleaching is a very dangerous process to go through, both for your scalp and your hair. Not only that, but bleached hair is also super difficult to maintain and care for. So if you can, go for glossing!
How to Get Ombre at Home
For the longest of time, ombre hair was only available to women via a salon. This is quite a difficult styling process and it requires an experienced hand. However, as ombre hair grew in popularity, homemade methods and kits started to appear. Let’s take a look at the steps involved.
- Comb your hair very well.
- If you’re going for a symmetrical ombre, you will have to divide your hair into four strands. They all have to be the same size. Create two on the sides of your head and two at the lower back.
- Tie all the four strands into separate ponytails. Place the hair bands low, where you would like the ombre to start.
- If you want to create a layered ombre you will have to part your hair on the horizontal axis of the head. Put the top half up and pin it with a hair clip.
- Choose the area where you would like your ombre hair to start and backcomb it as best as possible. This will create the gradient look.
- Mix all your hair products in a bowl. (Do not use a metallic bowl!).
- Apply the color starting with the tips and ending with the point in the middle of the strand where the ombre hair begins. Do not do it the other way around!
How to Get Ombre at Home
For a symmetrical ombre, apply your bleaching mix as evenly as possible to all four sections you created earlier. Each one at a time! Only apply the mixture under the hair band!
For a layered ombre, start working from your left, making your way to the right. Apply the bleaching product in alternative layers. The sections should be 25mm thick. The gap between them should also be 25mm thick, for consistency. Do the same thing with the entirety of your hair.
- Use kitchen foil to wrap each section until there is a pocket or envelope around them.
- Very important! – do not exceed the recommended time you can see in the instructions that came in the package of bleach. Unlike color or normal dye, which usually stops working after 45 minutes, bleach will never stop processing until it completely dries out. Therefore, you will need to wash it off immediately when the time is up.
- Always use gloves when doing ombre hair, even when washing your hair. Do not use hot water in the shower. Clean your hair with lukewarm water until you can see the water comes out clean.
- Now it’s time to wash using your normal shampoo. When you’re done, use plenty of conditioner and a hydrating hair mask.
- If you want, you can also use some hair oil, as your bleached hair will now need all the moisture it can get.
Enjoy your new ombre hair!
Tips for Caring for Ombre Hair
Now that we’ve seen how you can get ombre hair right in the comfort of your living room, let’s see how you can care for it as well.
- Don’t wash ombre hair more than twice per week. The main reason is that bleached hair has already been deprived of its natural moisture. Therefore, washing it all the time will also remove all the oils your scalp produces to keep it healthy and beautiful. Unless you have a condition that requires you to wash very often, twice per week will be more than enough.
- Moisture is the key to everything. Now that your hair is bleached, all if its natural moisture is gone. Therefore, you will have to replace it mechanically. If you have ombre hair, you will have to use conditioner in the shower. Always leave it on for five minutes instead of rinsing it off right away. You can also apply hair masks every week and go for a treatment with hot oil once per month.
- Try some purple shampoo. The logic here is simple. When you bleach for ombre hair, the lightest parts of your locks will most likely turn yellowish instead of actual blonde or white. You can correct the yellow with some purple because they are opposing colors on the spectrum.
However, make sure you don’t overdo it! A little bit of purple shampoo goes a long way. Only leave it in for two minutes and wash it off with lots of water. Also, be careful because purple shampoo will literally stain everything it touches – the walls of you shower, your bathtub, your shower curtain, and your towels.
Use lemon juice and honey to keep those blonde locks blonde! It will also prevent damage.
Ombre vs Balayage – What’s the Difference?
You’ve heard of both of them and most people even use them interchangeably. But is that correct? Or is there a difference between ombre hair and balayage?
The best thing to do would be to look at the way both these hair styling techniques are defined. We’ve already covered ombre hair quite extensively in the paragraphs above. So let’s see how we can define balayage.
It comes from a French word as well that means ‘to sweep.’ The word is used largely because the technique stylists use when dying your hair resembles that of sweeping. But that’s really where all the similarities with ombre hair stop.
During the balayage process, you will essentially get a set of highlights meant to brighten up your hair in a very natural way. It doesn’t really matter what you base color is. The highlights will always be a few shades lighter, but always very natural, as if you’ve spent a lot of time in the sun.
The bottom part of your hair is intentionally left darker than the rest so it looks as if your hair has natural volume and moves better. It’s essentially an optical illusion. However, it’s also very different from ombre hair, where the process is reversed. Dark hair goes on top and light hair on the bottom.
Coolest Ombre Hair Ideas
Even if ombre hair originated some twenty years ago with Britney Spears, that doesn’t mean the style has remained the same over the decades. In fact, it has grown and modernized quite a bit. So let’s see what the coolest ombre hair ideas are this year!
Curly Ombre Hair
This is, without a doubt, a stunning look. However, you need to be aware that ombre usually adds a lot of depth and volume. And that might not be what you need when you have curly hair. Because of the gradient of color, ombre creates a sort of illusion that your hair is a lot thicker than it actually is. Think this one through and discuss your options with your stylist before you get curly ombre hair!
Ariana Grande Ombre Hair
Singer Ariana Grande is famous. Alright, that’s probably an understatement seeing as she’s one of the most famous people in the world. But her hair is even more famous than she is. Ariana started wearing her now iconic ponytail a little after her career as a pop singer started. And the rest was history. So much so that thousands of girls across the planet have copied her style and the ponytail is now actually called ‘the Ariana Grande.’ Apart from that, if there ever is a time when she doesn’t wear it, that becomes instant news. Talk about famous hair!
But there are a few things that you might not know about it. For example, it’s not her real hair. The famous ponytail is actually made of a series of extensions. Ariana herself has never been shy about admitting this fact. She even made it quite clear when she inserted the idea in one of her songs called Seven Rings. She can be heard singing You like my hair? Gee, thanks, just bought it! Clearly implying that it’s not her natural hair.
Apart from that, Ariana has curly short hair! Therefore, her real look could not be further away from the famous ponytail. But we still love and stan it!
Margot Robbie Ombre Hair
Actress Margot Robbie cleverly uses ombre hair to highlight her natural beauty. Why highlight? Because that’s exactly what she’s doing. The actress has ombre hair with caramel brown on top and golden blonde on the bottom. But she also has two blonde highlights curtaining her face.
The reason is that a little blonde around your face will always bring out the color in your eyes and compliment your skin tone. It’s a neat little trick that you should always remember. Next time you go to get a ombre job, if your stylist doesn’t do this on their own, ask them to do it. You won’t regret it!
Gigi Hadid Ombre
Supermodel Gigi Hadid once said that she would never cut her long hair no matter what. We believe her. When your hair is that gorgeous, why would you cut it? While she usually sports a vanilla blonde, Manhattan or champagne blonde, you can also catch her wearing ombre hair. This always emphasizes her baby blue eyes as well as her creamy skin tone, which makes ombre hair perfect for her. Not to mention those supermodel beach waves she always wears. Talk about perfection!
Braided Ombre Hair
This technique is so versatile that you can even apply it to braids. Here is a gorgeous example of coffee brown and vanilla blonde ombre on a set of perfect goddess braids. Here’s an objective tip, though. The model is wearing hair extensions. This means you can choose some natural or synthetic extensions as well. In this way you will be more in control of the length, size, and color of your ombre braids!
Blake Lively Ombre
Even though she doesn’t have naturally curly hair, actress Blake Lively can pull off curls like it’s nobody’s business! It surely helps when your hair is this beautiful and you’re one of the most gorgeous women in the world! But what we’re really interested in here is the color.
Blake is obviously wearing ombre hair. Hers is a combination of mushroom brown on top that looks very natural on her and matches her skin tone. The color has a cold undertone just like her skin, which is slightly tanned, but has a cold beige undertone. The ombre continues with lighter, chai and vanilla blonde toward the tips of the strands as well as some downright platinum ones right next to her face.
If you look closely, you will notice that, while the bulk of the blonde is warm toned, the strands closest to Blake’s face, the platinum ones, have a cold undertone. That is meant to match her skin. This can also act as a very good tip for you. Always pay attention to the tone of your skin, but also to your undertones and try to match them as well as you can.
What about you?
If you haven’t tried ombre hair by now, what are you waiting for? This is one of the biggest trends in the world and for good reason! It’s beautiful, versatile, and looks good one absolutely everyone! Rhianna and Beyonce wear it. So if it’s good enough for them, it’s definitely good enough for us!