I stole my sister’s idea and did an ombre bleach on my hair for the summer. I’m so into it! Though I prefer the term “honey dip” to ombre.
My hair had been dullsville for so long, I was ready for something fun but I wanted to keep the length. Playing with vintage scarves, fun as it was, just wasn’t cutting it for me. Krissy mentioned the new ombre look that everyone’s talking about and I thought, “Hey, a trend that could actually look OK on me…it’s a miracle!”
I was feeling brave so I did the dye job myself and was pleasantly surprised with how well it turned out, so I wrote up a how-to if anyone else is interested in giving this look a go. First, here’s a few facts about my hair and other stuff:
It’s naturally dark brown and I haven’t colored in over 3 years – so basically, it was virgin. *If your hair has color on it, I wouldn’t recommend the DIY ombre.
In the past it’s tended to go brassy with any color, so I used a bleach with built in blue toner to keep the highlights as ashy as possible.
I have long layers and bangs I’ve been growing out, they are pinned back in these pics.
I bought all my gear at Sally’s Beauty Supply. If you don’t have one nearby, try their website. The links in the supplies list below all go to the exact products I used.
Yes, I realize this look is not for everyone. It’s sort of a California, bad-dye job, grown out roots, summer girl, Drew Barrymore, kinda thing. You either love it or you hate it! For a brunette like me, that would look like a freak with all-blonde hair, it’s super fun to have a little blond but not look totally bizarre.
Ombre hair has plenty of benefits; grows out well, needs very little upkeep, adds gorgeous dimension to braids and up dos, and just happens to be trendy now and great for summer.
How to Ombre Your Hair At Home
You will need:
- 30 volume cream developer (at least 2 ounces)
- Clairol Kaleidoscope Powder Blue 1 oz. Packet
- small pack of highlighting foil ( I used about 20 sheets total)
- mixing bowl and brush (you won’t use the brush that much)
- deep conditioning treatment
- latex gloves
- processing cap (optional)
- section clips (optional)
- old towel and shirt
total: about $20-$25
- DO A TEST STRAND. Cut a small piece of hair from the back of your head and tape it onto the inside of a foil sheet. Mix a teaspoon of powder blue packet with about a teaspoon of the cream developer. Stir until mixed well. Use your brush to fully saturate the test strand then fold the foil in half the long way to seal the hair and keep the color from drying out. Now start your timer. I used the hairdryer to blow warm air on the foil periodically – not constantly. Start checking at 10 minutes, then every 5 minutes thereafter, noting the color change. I determined 25 minutes to be my mid-range color, and 45 minutes to be the lightest blond that I would comfortably go. Since the bleach I ended up using was actually a funky blue color, you will want to rinse it out and dry the test strand with a hair dryer so you can really see the exact color you’ve achieved; dry hair is much lighter than wet! This all takes a bit of prep time, but it’s so important. PLEASE DO NOT SKIP THE TEST STRAND STEP. PLEASE? OK THANKS.
- Once you have your timing planned out, you’re ready to go. Don your latex gloves and wrap an old towel around your shoulders. Be sure your hair is dry and at least a day old, shampoo-wise. Have your timer ready.
- Mix your entire powder packet with the cream developer as per instructions on the packet. Should be 2 ounces of cream to one powder pack. Stir thoroughly with your brush until the paste/goop is uniform.
- Part your hair roughly down the middle and sectioned the two sides into 3 parts with section clips. Clip your bangs out of the way, if you have them. Visually decided where you want the color to blend. I chose to have the medium shade begin at the bottom of my ears and blend into the lightest shade at the bottom 3-4 inches of my hair ends. So, since the bottom will be the lightest and will be bleached the longest, start there.
- START YOUR TIMER NOW. Use gloved fingers to saturate the hair strands by picking up bleach and smoothing it on. Go one section at a time, removing the clips as you go. Try to be a little random about it for a natural look, but use plenty of bleach – you should have more than enough to play with. Keep going around the bottom edges of your hair until you’ve gone all the way around your head. Try to work quickly but don’t stress out about it. If you have layers, go back and hit a few of shorter layers on the last 2-3 inches to add some dimension.
- You should have piecey, spiky sections. Now rinse and dry your gloved hands a little, then take the dyed sections and wrap them in foil, just like you did for the test strand. It’s more important that the bottom of the strands are encased in foil, so if some upper bleach area is left uncovered that’s OK. No need to over do it. I only had about 8-10 foil sections total.
- Keep an eye on your timer and relax a little while, using a warm blow dryer to heat up the foil ends. *I used the dryer sporadically not constantly.
- I knew that at the 20 minute mark I would need to add more bleach higher up to make the middle section. When your time comes, remove the foil and use your fingers to wipe/brush more bleach up each strand until it reached the bottom of your ears. Use your fingers like rakes through your hair to get the bleach even and distribute the highlights naturally. *Concentrate on the outer hair, not so much on the inner hair, for this step. You could also you an old hair brush to distribute the bleach. Try to avoid the urge to go too high, or to add face-framing highlights. You don’t want a highlighted look, it will totally defeat the purpose of the ombre/gradual fade.
- When the mid section is finished, dab a little more bleach on the bottom ends here and there if they’ve dried out a little, then replace the foil on the ends as before. Then you just wait out the rest of your time – mine was 45 minutes total. Use the dryer a little to keep things toasty.
- When your time is up, remove the foil wraps and rinse out the bleach thoroughly with warm water. Squeeze out the excess water and completely cover your hair with a conditioning treatment, massaging it in nice an good, concentrating on the bleached ends. Wrap the hair loosely on your head and cover with a plastic cap. Let it sit for as long as you can, up to an hour, to help undo some of the damage you just did with all that bleach.
- Now for the unveiling! Rinse out the conditioner and, if at all possible, allow your hair to air-dry. Then style it up and admire your handiwork! Try not to shampoo for a day or two, and keep the shampoo on the scalp area if possible.
Here you can see that I didn’t extend the bleach as high up in the inner hair as I did on the outer part. It just made sense that the sun would naturally bleach the outer sections more, and I wanted the ombre look to be somewhat natural – like it could potentially exist in the real world. :)
I was seriously pleased with the results. I had salon quotes for over $200, so It was nice to save some cash and DIY it at home. It was a little scary, but in the end, totally doable. I am not a professional and I’ve done some hideous DIY hair colors on myself in the past (ah, youth…) The key, as for everything if life, is a little planning and patience; do the test strand, buy the proper tools, take your time.
Sorry I didn’t have more process shots – I couldn’t convince anyone to sit around and help me take pictures for two hours – and my hands we’re pretty full. If you’re inspired to try the ombre look this spring, I hope my tutorial was helpful! If you DIY this look yourself, please share a link in the comments. I wanna see!