Hair

Double Trouble: Tips on How to Do Ombre Hair by Yourself

Ombre hair is everywhere. It seems to be the trend that refuses to go out of fashion. While it is sometimes safer to head to the salon for tricky color jobs, there’s no reason why you can’t try it yourself at home.

For those of you who have been in hiding and missed this hair trend, ombre hair is darker at the top and lighter at the ends. Celebrities have gone head over heels for the ombre hair color, including Beyoncé, Khloe Kardashian, Sarah Jessica Parker and Drew Barrymore.

Chances are they headed to their celebrity stylist to perfect the look, but ombre hair can be achieved from the comfort of your own bathroom. It can be a bit tricky and might be a good idea to invite a friend over for some help, but once complete, you can be proud of your celebrity-like locks and your hairdressing skills.

To explain how to do ombre hair on your own, first of all, we're going to have to give you a shopping list of the items you will need:

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  • Hair bleach/highlighting kit (a couple of boxes if you have long hair)
  • A 10 to 40 volume developer (depending on the bleach you purchase)
  • Large clips
  • Plastic gloves
  • A large mixing bowl
  • Old clothes and towels
  • An Applicator brush
  • Foils
  • Hair brush
  • Ash blond hair dye
  • A reliable timer
  • A mirror and chair
  • Sink/shower/basin to wash hair
  • Deep conditioning treatment

Ok, so now that you have everything you need to turn your hair ombre, there is some preparation to be done. Preparation is really important as you don’t want to start the process and realize you have misplaced something, making you panic later on with bleach over-developing on your hair!

Before you even think of ombre hair, dye your hair back to its original color. If you have dyed your hair any shade of red or purple, for example, make sure that all of this is out of your hair before you proceed. The best point to start from is a mid-brown.

Fragment of womans head coloring with brush and hair-dye

Make sure that your hair is in the best condition possible before starting this dye job. Bleach can be a very harsh chemical and is not advisable for hair that is prone to breakage or has had extensive heat applied to it. A few months prior to trying an ombre dye job, make sure you use conditioning treatments on your hair and get a trim to take off any split ends.

Do not start the ombre coloring process with freshly washed hair. The best type of hair is the one that has been washed one to two days ago, as it allows natural oils to build up and protect the hair from the harsh effects of the bleach.

By now, you should also have completed a ‘strand’ test on your hair with bleach, to make sure that your hair can handle it and to see how long your hair takes for the bleach to develop (all hair types are different.)

Bleach ruins and stains clothes and surfaces. Change into an old t-shirt that you don’t mind ruining and the same goes for old towels. Cover your chair and your work area with old towels as well, to protect furniture and flooring.

Grab some scissors and cut some foils into different lengths. There’s no need to be 100% accurate for this stage, as ombre hair can look great when it is less perfect and more random. Make sure that you cut more than enough foils to cover your head. It is better to have too many, than too few, as you don’t want to have to cut some more at the last minute (unless you have a helpful friend on hand!)

Grab your brush and run it through your hair thoroughly and carefully, to tease out every knot. Your hair needs to be tangle free and smooth. Once it has been brushed, divide the hair into four sections. The first section you need to concentrate on is the bottom part of your hair.

Take the section from under your earlobe and across the head. Secure with a large clip. Leave a section of about an inch, before you separate another section of hair. The next bit is the middle section. This starts from the middle of the ear.

Next is the upper section of the head, which is the rest of the hair and upwards but leaving out a fringe, if you have one. Finally, the last section includes your fringe. If you do not have a long fringe, you can leave this section off. Clip each section securely.

Now your hair is sectioned off and ready for the next step. We are getting closer …

Bowl with peroxide and brush

Get the mixing bowl and mix up your bleach. Bleach can be harsh on your hair, but if you have dyed your hair in the past, bleach is the only option. If you have fresh, undyed hair – you can opt for a less harsh hair dye than bleach. If you come into contact with any bleach on your skin, wash it off immediately.

Wrap yourself up in your towel and get started. Apply the bleach to the tips of your hair, a section of about 3 inches high, with a brush or your hands (wearing gloves). Be sure not to leave a sharp line. It needs to look natural and blended. Now secure the foils by folding them around the hair, but do not fasten them too tightly. The hair strands need space for the color to develop.

Once you have covered the ends of each section, the fringe is optional. It is only advised to bleach the ends of your fringe if it’s long.

Leave the bleach to develop on the ends of your hair. You will know how long this takes on your personal hair type, thanks to the strand test you completed before starting the process. It is usually around the 15 minute mark, but keep checking the timer, and also, open up the foils occasionally to take a look at how it is getting on.

Once you have opened up the foil and can see that the tips look light, add some bleach higher up the hair – about another 2.5 inches up (again not leaving any blunt lines). Messy is fine as it makes it look more natural. Put the foils back and leave this to develop. About 10 minutes should be enough, but remember to check. If the hair gets over-developed, the ombre look will not be as effective.

Once you are satisfied with how much the hair has lightened, you need to rinse it off. The water temperature should be warm (not too hot or cold). You can skip shampoo, but you need to use a good conditioner and massage it into the hair follicles.

And there we have it. Darker roots and lighter ends, and a trendy new hair color to show off to all your mates!

Good after-care of ombre hair and any dyed hair is crucial. Try to use a minimal amount of heat appliances on the hair for the next few days and weeks, and continue to condition the hair with a deep conditioning hair mask/treatment.

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Some hair tones can appear brassy when blonde, but to get rid of this, use the ash blonde dye or a toner to reduce it.

Whenever you dye your hair, you need to be careful and make sure that it can handle the harshness. So keep your hair in the best condition possible. The ombre dye is simple enough to apply at home, as described above, but if in doubt, ask a stylist to do it the first time and you can get a better idea of how it should be applied.

Now it’s back to you! Have you dyed your hair into the ombre effect yourself? Any tips or advice you would like to pass on to others? We would love to hear your feedback!

About the author

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Rachel A.

Welsh Journalism graduate and full-time writer Rachel has a love of words! A workaholic with champagne desire on a lemonade budget, Rachel is most at home with her laptop on her knee and a cup of tea close by.

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