While hair trends come and go like there’s no tomorrow, there’s one particular style that’s still a clear winner in 2019 – ombré hair. Even though it might be overshadowed by some of the new trending hairstyles like copper hair, dip dye hair and cold brew hair, blonde ombré hair is still killing it. And honestly, there’s never been a better time to get on board.
Celebs like Serena Williams, Margot Robbie and Hilary Duff have all embraced the hair colour trend for summer, showing there’s more than one way to wear it.
Not only is an ombré hair colour super versatile, but it’s hands-down the best look for low-maintenance gals, or those who wants to switch up their look without going too dramatic (or blowing heaps of money).
“Ombré has been on trend for many years as it’s less maintenance than the traditional way of foiling the whole head, which can take hours and will require regular touch-ups as the regrowth is generally very noticeable,” says VS Sassoon hair expert Rob Reeves.
“Clients love this option as it requires less touch-ups, and allows the flexibly of using different toners on the ends and having more variety of colours. It’s also less damaging over time than constantly lightening the roots with every visit. It’s great for people who are happy with their natural colour and want to add contrast by lightening the ends,” he says.
Feeling inspired? Whether you want to make a statement with dark brown roots and light blonde ends, or keep it subtle with a few warm highlights, we’re here to give you a rundown on everything you have to know about ombré hair.
How is ombré hair different to balayage?
PSA: Ombré and balayage are not the same thing, guys. Geez. But don’t beat yourself up about it - the two techniques often get confused – even by the professionals! “Ombré and balayage can be confused by both hair colourists and clients,” says Reeves.
So, what is ombré? “Ombré means from light to dark; the gradual blend of one hue or colour gently blending to another. Any colour palette can be used to create an ombré effect in the hair,” explains Reeves.
“Balayage is a French hair colouring technique which is a freehand technique with no foils required. This differs from ombré as it can be used on any hair length and will give a more natural sun-kissed highlighted effect. Balayage leaves some dark or natural pieces running from roots to ends, whereas ombré would fully lighten the ends with a more contrasting colour from dark to light.”
Are there different types of ombré?
“Ombré [can] differ only in colour choice and the amount of contrast between colours, but the technique is primarily the same,” says Reeves. “There are a few ways to create the ombré result and this comes down to hair type, the desired result, and the colourist’s preference to create the desired result.”
That means if you’re really looking to switch things up, the ombré hair technique can work with pretty much any hair colour. From black, brown, auburn and red, to purple, blue and caramel hues – you name it!
What kind of hair does ombré suit?
So, can anyone get on board the ombré hair trend? (*Crosses fingers*). According to Reeves, it’s actually suitable for most hair textures and lengths – while ombré on short hair isn’t possible, those who have a bob, lob, medium hair or long hair can try it, as well as those with straight hair and curly hair. “The hair just needs to be long enough to show the gradual fade from dark to light,” says Reeves.
How long does it take?
“Seek a colourist who specialises in ombré and uses a high-quality, gentle hair colour. Select a colour that suits your skin tone. Before lightening your hair make sure it’s healthy so the condition won’t be compromised. Be realistic about the results versus your natural hair. If you have a lot of existing colour be prepared that it may take a couple of salon visits to get your desired result,” advises Reeves.
What’s the best way to maintain ombré hair?
If you’re going lighter, remember that light tones are prone to brassiness, so you need to take the necessary steps to avoid that unwanted warm tint. Your colourist will usually follow up any bleaching or highlighting with a corrective toner, but you’ll need to go back for touch-up treatments to keep it looking fresh. “Visit your colourist as per usual [every] six to eight weeks and have the ends re-toned to brighten and freshen the hue. Depending on the ombré colour you have in contrast to your natural hair, you may need to have a regrowth touch-up,” says Reeves.
At home, Reeves suggests maintaining the condition of your locks by using a colour-friendly shampoo and conditioner that are SLS and paraben-free (try Davroe Moisture Senses Hydrating Shampoo and Conditioner). He adds, “To ensure the healthiest hair and minimal colour fade, use a weekly nourishing and strengthening treatment”. We like L’Oréal Professionnel Smartbond Step 3 Conditioner and Kératase Resistance Masque Force.
You’ll also want to pull back on the heat tools to minimise the risk of damaging your hair further. If you need to use heat styling tools, turn down the temperature. “When heat styling, keep temperatures under 200 degrees for lightened hair, as this will prevent further damage to hair,” says Reeves.
“For straightening, I recommend the VS Sassoon Digital Sensor Straightener, which has a heat protect mode that reads the moisture level in the hair and automatically sets the temperature according to the characteristics of the hair. For blow-drying, I recommend the VS Sassoon Digital Sensor Dryer as it only heats to 70 degrees and will assist in locking in moisture without damaging the hair cuticle.”
How to style ombré hair
Ombré hair looks *amazing* with just about any hairstyle, but we’ll admit there are certain styles that truly do this highlighting technique justice.
Here are three of our favourite ways to style ombré hair:
Embrace the classic sun-kissed, beach-ready vibe by styling your hair in soft, loose curls. We think this is the perfect natural, low-key hairstyle for showing off a two-toned ombré hair colour. Copy Lauren Conrad and add some cute accessories if you want to jazz it up a little.
The chic sky-high ponytail is a great way to break up your usual hair routine, and it works wonders for showing off your stunning ombré colouring. Bella’s subtle dark roots to auburn is all the proof we need that ombré doesn’t have to fade to full blonde!
Erin Docherty is a Beauty Writer for BEAUTYcrew, Beauty Editor for Women's Health magazine and a Grooming Writer for Men's Health magazine. She has a keen interest in cosmeceutical skin care and is currently working on minimising her 9-step skin care routine – because ain’t nobody got time for that. When she’s not writing about the latest beauty news, or applying copious amounts of serum, you can find her spending all her money in Sephora.