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How to Ombre Hair

Ombre hair is a coloring effect in which the bottom portion of your hair looks lighter than the top portion. To achieve this effect, it is necessary to bleach the lower portion of your hair. If you want to prevent a brassy or orangey color, you can also dye the bottom part of your hair after you have bleached it. This extra step is not required, but it helps to even out the tone of your ombre. Keep reading to learn how to get ombre hair.

Part One of Three:
Getting Started
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  1. 1
    Select your color. Therefore, you should choose a color that works well with your natural color. The usual options are a lighter shade of brown, a shade of red/auburn, or a shade of blonde.[1]
    • There are two types of ombre: traditional, and reverse. The traditional ombre has a lighter color at the tips of your hair than at the roots, while a reverse ombre has darker tips and lighter roots.
    • Select a shade that is no more than two shades lighter than your existing hair color.
    • The more subtle the color change, the more natural and sun-kissed your hair will appear.
    • Whenever possible, look for mild or all-natural dyes that will be less damaging to your hair.
  2. 2
    Decide where you want the fade to stop. Equally important as the color selection is choosing where your natural color and dyed color will meet. The lower down your hair the two meet, the safer your look will be. If the two colors meet too high, you run the risk of looking like you have grown-out roots, rather than a beautiful ombre.[2]
    • Ombre hair is more suitable for those with longer hair, as this makes you less likely to look like you have grown-out roots. The longer the hair, the further down the ombre can begin to work its contrast.
    • In general, the jawline is a good place to have the two tones meet.
  3. 3
    Brush your hair well. Make sure that there are no tangles left in your hair. This step will make applying the bleach easier, but it will also help you to make sure that your hair will be evenly colored.[3]
  4. 4
    Put on a smock or an old t-shirt. There is a good chance that you will get bleach or dye onto your clothes during the process. An artist or styling smock should help prevent this, though. If you do not have a smock to throw on, change into an old t-shirt that you can get dirty.
  5. 5
    Put on gloves. Gloves generally come with a dye kit but if they don’t, you can simply use normal rubber, vinyl, or latex gloves. Remember that it is very important to wear gloves when dyeing or bleaching your hair.
    • If you do not use gloves, you can end up dyeing or bleaching your hands in addition to your hair. The bleach can also irritate your skin, causing a burning sensation.
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Part Two of Three:
Bleaching Your Hair
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  1. 1
    Mix your bleach. Unless you are doing a reverse ombre, you will need to use bleach to lift the color from your hair. There is the option of using blonde hair dye - which is safer on your strands - but it doesn’t lift as much color so your end-result will be much more subtle.
    • Developer comes in 10, 20, 30, and 40 volumes. However, you should not need 30 or 40 volumes to achieve an ombre look.
    • The easiest and cheapest at home bleach method is to use equal parts of 20 volume peroxide and powdered bleach. Mix 2oz each of the 20 volume peroxide and powder until they are completely combined into a creamy mixture.
    • Always mix the bleach in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling too much of the fumes.
  2. 2
    Divide your hair into sections. Part your hair down the middle so that it is split half-and-half. Then, divide both halves into as many sections as you want. At the very least, you should divide each half into half again, splitting your hair into quarters.[4]
    • If your hair is long and/or thick, you may want to divide it into more sections.
    • Pin or tie each section off to separate it from the rest. If using clips, always be sure they are non-metallic – metals can react with the chemicals you’re using on your hair.
    • Tease up the hair around the area where you want the ombre to begin. Teasing your hair around this area will help prevent a stark line or line of demarcation where you applied the bleach.
  3. 3
    Choose an application tool. If you’re using a dye or bleach kit, chances are you were provided with a small brush to apply the bleach. If not, the best option is to use an applicator brush. You can find these are your local beauty supply store.
    • Alternatively, a similar soft, small brush will work well for application. Just make sure that you use a brush that you would be okay with tossing out after you are done.
  4. 4
    Begin bleaching your hair. Add bleach starting at the ends and working your way up to the desired fade line. Don’t feel like you need to work fast or to work in large sections; work in such a way that you get all the strands evenly coated with the lightening product.
    • Make sure that you apply the bleach evenly to both sides of your hair. Check in the mirror to make sure that the bleach starts at about the same spot on both sides.[5]
    • Make sure that you coat all of the hair that you want to bleach. Inspect your strands to check for any spots you may have missed – even saturation is key.
    • To avoid a stark line or line of demarcation, apply the bleach using an applicator brush and take vertical strokes down the hair strand, rather than painting the hair in a horizontal motion.
  5. 5
    Let the bleach set. Depending on how light you want your hair to be, you will need to let the bleach set for anywhere from 10-45 minutes. To check, remove the bleach from a small strand of your hair after about 10-20 minutes. If you like the shade, remove the rest of the bleach. If you want to go lighter, leave it in and check again in 5-10 minutes.
    • For a slight change in color, leave the bleach in for only 10-20 minutes.
    • For a more bold change in color, leave the bleach for 40-45 minutes. Leaving the bleach in for longer will also help prevent orange or brassy tones.[6]
  6. 6
    Wash out the bleach. Keeping your gloves on, rinse out the bleach with warm water. Then, wash your hair with a sulfate-free shampoo. Be sure to get out all the bleach, or your hair will continue to lighten. Don’t condition your hair just yet.
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Part Three of Three:
Coloring Your Hair
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  1. 1
    Make sure your hair is dry. Use a towel to dry it off before beginning the coloring process. You may even want to wait for an hour or two to allow your hair to get mostly dry.
  2. 2
    Section off your hair once more. Divide your hair into its original sections. Tie off the ends with elastic bands or hair clips to make your dying job a bit easier. Use at least 2-3 sections, or as many more as you need to feel comfortable.
    • Again, use non-metallic clips to avoid reactions with the dying chemicals.
  3. 3
    Put on gloves. Gloves generally come with a dye kit but if they don’t, you can simply use normal rubber, vinyl, or latex gloves. Remember that it is very important to wear gloves when dyeing or bleaching your hair. If you do not, you will end up dyeing or bleaching your hands as well.
  4. 4
    Prepare your color. Most box hair dyes require a bit of measuring and mixing, so follow the instructions and prepare your dye. Make sure that you mix your dye in a well ventilated area.
  5. 5
    Brush in your color. Follow the application instructions that came with your hair dye to properly add it to your hair.
    • If you’re dying your hair with a traditional ombre (lighter ends), then apply the hair dye to all the bleached sections of hair and just a bit further up your strands as well.
    • If you’re doing a reverse ombre, add the color just up to the color fade line, and then a second heavier coat near the tips (similar to the bleach application).
    • Make sure that you coat all of the hair that you want to dye. Inspect your strands to check for any spots you may have missed. As with bleach, even saturation with dye is very important.
  6. 6
    Let the color set. Follow the box instructions to be determine how long you should leave the dye in your hair. Wait the recommended amount of time for your hair dye to set. Since your hair has been bleached, you probably won’t need to leave the dye in for more than ten minutes.
  7. 7
    Wash out the hair color. Keeping your gloves on, rinse out the dye with warm water. Then, wash your hair with a sulfate-free shampoo. Bleaching/coloring your hair can be very damaging, so take the time to use a deep conditioner to help add some moisture back into your locks.
  8. 8
    Dry and style your hair as usual. With your hair being a tad fried from the chemical dye, it may be best to allow it to air-dry and avoid any hot tools. However, if you’re like most of us you’ll want to blow dry your hair right away and get it looking back to normal. Doing this also allows you to determine if you’ve gotten the color you want, or if you need to do some touching up post-dye.[7]
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Community Q&A

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  • Can a specific shampoo I that use wash the ombre out?
    AA
    Answered by Ashley Adams
    • This can be prevented by using a bleach-safe or color-care shampoo.
    Thanks! 32 8
  • What should I do if I have black hair?
    AA
    Answered by Ashley Adams
    • If you have black hair, you can bleach it to achieve ombre hair by following the steps above. It may be a longer process, however, depending on how light you want the ombre to be.
    Thanks! 38 16
  • How bad will the bleach damage my hair?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Bleach dries out your hair. If you leave it for more than 45 minutes, it's possible it can burn your hair off. Always take care of your hair using hair masks, conditioners, oils, etc. to give your hair a healthy look after dyeing it.
    Thanks! 117 22
  • Is it possible to dye it without bleach?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Yes. There are a number of natural alternatives, such as lemon juice, but the results will not be as immediate as with bleach, and will require repeat applications.
    Thanks! 88 18
  • Does it matter how long or short my hair is?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • No. You can create an ombre hairstyle with long or short hair.
    Thanks! 83 26
  • How would I do it with blonde hair?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • If your hair is an ash blonde/dirty blonde, you can just bleach it to a very light blonde, like platinum blonde. If it's all ready very light, you can do a reverse ombre, where the top is lighter and the bottom is darker. You could also do a color ombre, like blue or purple.
    Thanks! 90 29
  • Do I put the ponytail higher and bleach, then afterwards put the ponytail lower and put in the color?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • You don't need to use bands when you do your hair. The directions advised to gently rub in the new color with an old toothbrush where the new color meets with the old color. This helps the new color merge in more softly. If you are using bands, put the ponytail in lower, otherwise the demarcation line between colors will be too hard edged.
    Thanks! 119 41
  • Is there a way to do an ombré without buying the bleach or dye at the store? Can I make it?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • You can make it, but it probably won't work as well as the box dyes. It is probably safer to just buy the box dyes, just to save your hair from severe damage.
    Thanks! 136 51
  • What should I do after dyeing my hair?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • After you dye your hair, you have to wash it and let it dry before you can style it.
    Thanks! 15 3
  • What age would be appropriate for this method?
    Answered by BichonBelle
    • Any age is appropriate for the ombre method as long as the parent/guardian is okay with it. Obviously, you wouldn't want to dye the hair of a child under 6, but there really is no limit, you can be 7 or 70 to dye your hair.
    Thanks! 20 6
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Quick Summary

To ombre your hair, start by dividing it into smaller sections with hair ties, which will make it easier to dye. Move the hair tie in each section up so it pinches your hair right where you want the fade to start. Then, apply bleach to your hair, starting at the ends and working your way up to the hair tie in each section. Leave the bleach in your hair for 10-45 minutes, depending on how light you want to go. Finally, rinse the bleach out of your hair once you're satisfied with how light it is.

TipsEdit

  • Print out a few reference pictures once you determine the style of ombre hair you want to go for. Reference pictures will help you gauge how far up the color should go and how deep or light the shade should be.
    0 Helpful?  0
  • Have your ombré sit and "marinate" for 25-45 minutes. The longer you let it soak, the more intense the color will be.
    0 Helpful?  0
  • If your hair is really dark, use an oil 'bleach'.
    0 Helpful?  0
Add

WarningsEdit

  • Do not use household bleach. Use a bleach that is designed for hair and says "Hair Bleach" on the package.
    261 Helpful?  76
  • If you hair is badly damaged, reconsider coloring your hair. The lightener or color will increase the damage.
    153 Helpful?  92

Things You’ll NeedEdit

  • Hair elastics
  • Hair color or lightening kit
  • Smock or old t-shirt
  • Disposable plastic gloves
  • Comb
  • Brush
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner

Expert Review By:

AA
Licensed Cosmetologist

This version of How to Ombre Hair was reviewed by Ashley Adams on July 24, 2017.

5 votes - 80%
Co-authors: 30
Updated:
Views: 1,777,323
Categories: Coloring Hair

Reader Success Stories

  • LL

    Lynx Light

    Mar 23

    "I wanted to dye my hair purple but was afraid it would stain my scalp, so I decided to try to do ombre, except I didn't know how. This article helped me to know a great way to add some color to my hair!"..." more
    Rated this article:
  • BT

    Bobbi Tipaword

    Mar 9

    "Plan on dyeing my hair, and wikiHow helps me find new ways."
  • MO

    Meagan Ober

    Nov 20, 2016

    "The parts that helped were teasing the sections of hair before putting the elastic on so the bleach isn't as harsh at the beginning of the ombre, and starting the new color a little lower to ensure a smoother transition in ombre color."..." more
  • JN

    John Nogle

    Nov 4, 2016

    "I'm a single dad, and I have a daughter that wants an ombre. I am doing my best to make my daughter as happy as can be, so I like to try to do things on my own. With your tips and hints, I think that I can do it myself."..." more
  • RA

    Rose A.

    Jun 2, 2017

    "I want to dye my hair but I have brown hair so I have to bleach it. I decided I want an ombre look so this helped me lot! Thanks so much!"..." more
    Rated this article:
  • ZE

    Zoie Evans

    Jun 26, 2016

    "I have thick hair, so if I didn't split my hair in sections, it would probably not have been good. Thank you for that tip."..." more
  • AS

    Ariana Stone

    Jun 18, 2017

    "This was so easy to follow and made sense. It was step-by-step and so simple to comprehend that I could do it right now."..." more
    Rated this article:
  • EC

    E. C.

    Jul 18, 2016

    "This was more helpful than the DIY videos and packaging instructions. I'm going to fix my fumbled hair, thanks!"
  • PD

    Patricia D.

    Jul 14, 2017

    "I feel confident trying this out for the first time. The explanation is clear and the images help."
    Rated this article:
  • VP

    Vandana Pradhan

    May 22, 2017

    "Tips how to color hair in this is very useful. For a new learner, technique is very helpful. "
    Rated this article:
  • JL

    Jude Larrimore

    May 8, 2017

    "Awesome, dividing the hair into sections and teasing it to blur the dye line. Great tips!"
  • WL

    Windi Lurye

    Aug 29, 2016

    "Awesome article, I have read several but this one was by far the most helpful. Thanks!!"
  • JZ

    Jackie Z.

    Jul 29, 2016

    "The most helpful was tying the pieces of the hair. Very specific. Great info."
  • GG

    Glory Grandy

    May 18, 2016

    "I loved this article. I'm going to dye the tips in a little while. :)"
  • KW

    Keiara Washington

    Jun 29, 2017

    "I wanted to know how to dye my hair, now I know, thank you so much. "
    Rated this article:
  • JP

    Jasmine Phillips

    Jun 16, 2017

    "It helped me do an ombre effect to my hair, and it worked. "
    Rated this article:
  • GB

    Goldie Blake -Nuri

    Jul 20, 2017

    "Good article and plan on going rose gold this weekend."
    Rated this article:
  • RR

    R. Robinson

    May 24, 2017

    "I like the pictures and easy-to-follow instructions."
    Rated this article:
  • YA

    Ysabel Alioto

    May 31, 2016

    "This effectively answered my questions, thank you!"
  • SD

    Samantha DaCosta

    Jun 16, 2017

    " I Ike the technique they used. It looked easy."
  • ML

    Maria Litardo

    Mar 21, 2016

    "Very helpful and well-explained steps."
  • KL

    Kyla Le Roux

    Jun 13, 2017

    "Told me how to do an ombre at home."
    Rated this article:
  • NS

    Naomi Shores

    Jun 22, 2017

    "This was very helpful! Thank you."
    Rated this article:
  • RT

    Ru Thesh

    May 29, 2016

    "I got to know what I wanted. :)"
  • JS

    Joy Sass

    Jul 10, 2016

    "It really helped. Thanks."
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