Bye bye, dip-dye Ombré hair colour, your 15 minutes are up! At least on MY head… here’s why I ditched it

Drew Barrymore Ombre Ombré hair colour, your 15 minutes are up! At least on MY head... heres why I ditched it

Is Ombré over?

I don’t think so, yet—although as I said in my 2011 trend predictions post, I think this will be its final year in the spotlight. (More on that in a future post—I have some thoughts on how the look is going to evolve.)

But still… Ombré is already over for ME. A couple of weeks ago, I officially ended my Ombré hair colour experiment, and I couldn’t be happier to be back to my usual blonde highlights (technically, balayage, since they were painted on freehand—no foils).

But don’t get me wrong: I’m not knocking the look for those who are still rocking it, or want to try it. There are just certain reasons why it didn’t work for me… and therefore may not work for you.

1. My intention was not to be a brunette.

Lauren Conrad Ombre Ombré hair colour, your 15 minutes are up! At least on MY head... heres why I ditched it

And yet, that’s exactly how people identified me. I was in denial until an old friend (hadn’t seen him in years) told me at a party that he didn’t recognize me at first with my “brown hair.”

Nein nein nein.

Same thing happened to Nora (@noraborealis), who I’m afraid I encouraged to go Ombré as well. She had this to say on Twitter: “When the man I’m dating described my hair as brown, it had to go.”

What can I say? Us fake blondes are a strange, blonderexic breed.

Also: Check out the pic of Lauren Conrad, above. She still looks great, of course, because her hair is a mile long and there is still quite a bit of blonde at the ends… but when she puts her hair up, see what happens?

Lauren Conrad updo Ombré hair colour, your 15 minutes are up! At least on MY head... heres why I ditched it


And correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think she’s still wearing her hair this dark.

The fix for this could be to simply start the graduation of colour further up on your head, like Drew Barrymore’s original Ombré colour (before *I think* she softened it up, above)…

Drew Barrymore bad Ombre Ombré hair colour, your 15 minutes are up! At least on MY head... heres why I ditched it

… But to me it’s WAY too high-contrast and just looks like bad roots, instead of deliberate colour. Yes?

2. I have straight, fine hair—whereas Ombré looks best with some wave/texture.

Katherine McPhee Ombre Ombré hair colour, your 15 minutes are up! At least on MY head... heres why I ditched it

Any mistakes in the colour are more visible with straight hair. (Not that the fine man who did mine achieved anything less than a 100 percent technically perfect graduation of colour—he’s a MASTER.) But as you can see in the above pic of Katherine McPhee, not everyone has a good colourist. Even celebs.

Also: see how much better, more natural, it looks on Camila Alves here with wavy hair? I LOVE it with wavy hair.

camila alves ombre hair Ombré hair colour, your 15 minutes are up! At least on MY head... heres why I ditched it

I just wasn’t too keen on having to curl my hair every day to look like that.

3. I have bangs.

ombre hair straight with bangs Ombré hair colour, your 15 minutes are up! At least on MY head... heres why I ditched it

Not only do bangs tend to look a bit weird when worn straight with the rest of your hair wavy—necessitating even more styling headaches—they also, when Ombré’d, are *completely* brunette.

Just way too much darkness around the face for this blonderexic.

Compare the model in the pic above with the bang-less Rachel Bilson below. How much better does RB look?

Rachel Bilson Ombre hair Ombré hair colour, your 15 minutes are up! At least on MY head... heres why I ditched it

Plus: Her makeup is awesome.

4. Blonde camos greys… Ombré does not.

grey hair Ombré hair colour, your 15 minutes are up! At least on MY head... heres why I ditched it

Hair people like to tell you that Ombré is soooo much lower maintenance, and it IS—if you don’t have any grey hairs.

But if you do (and you may not know you do until you go darker), the contrast of the greys against your brunette roots will Drive. You. Crazy. Even if there are only, like, three. (I keep telling myself I only have three… but who knows.) This is why I prefer highlights—they really are lower maintenance because any greys that pop up just look like highlights, and you can deceive yourself for a really long time that you are NOT going grey. Seriously.

5. Ombré can make you look like you didn’t wash your hair.

greasy bangs Ombré hair colour, your 15 minutes are up! At least on MY head... heres why I ditched it

Ask any fake blonde and they will tell you that blonde absorbs grease. I don’t know if this has to do with the bleach or just the lighter colour itself, but when I’m blonde I NEVER have a problem with my bangs looking greasy or clumped together. And I can usually go a couple of days without washing my hair (if I want to).

But with my Ombré’d bangs and roots? I had to become a daily washer. And it was annoying. The darker colour just made my hair look limp and flat and since it was all becoming so very high maintenance, can you blame me for saying sayonara?

So just to re-cap… I think Ombré can work IF:

1. Your hair isn’t super-fine.

2. It has some wave or curl.

3. You don’t have bangs.

4. You don’t have greys. (Or are willing to put up with the upkeep.)

DIY instructions here if you wanna try.

Tell me…

Are you a fan of the Ombré look?
Or do you think its 15 minutes are up?
Can you believe THIS came up as an example of Ombré when I did a Google Image search? HAHAHA.

scary ombre Ombré hair colour, your 15 minutes are up! At least on MY head... heres why I ditched it


Wednesday, January 5/2011 at 2:34 pm



Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, January 5/2011 at 3:21 pm

So it’s cool with you? (I never know if people want me to mention them here.) I’ll assume yes – updating to link to your Twitter now. People should follow your Tweets. They’re hilarious.


Sarah B.
Wednesday, January 5/2011 at 5:22 pm

I have a very soft ombré copper color.My Natural hair is dark chestnut brown. And this really makes my fake redheadness be much lower maintanance than if I have a solid color on. Also I think it flatters people with delicate features.
Soft transitioning ombrés are waay better than the contrast ones.

And I totally agree with you in the “dirty hair” part, lol!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, January 6/2011 at 12:59 pm

Sounds pretty! I really like those colours for Ombre! (And you’re right – probably a much easier way to wear red than having it start at the roots.)

I have a theory that I forgot to write in the post – I think Ombre is easier psychologically when you already have the base colour and are adding the lighter part at the ends. I did the reverse – went from blonde to brown – so that’s probably the reason it didn’t feel like “me”.


Wednesday, January 5/2011 at 6:35 pm

I currently have ombre colour (started as a brunette, went totally blonde, then used the DIY on this site to dye my roots brown – you can see the results a few posts back on my blog). I agree about washing my hair way more often as a brunette which totally sucks. That being said, I hated the ombre on my hair when it was long but then I cut it off using Alexa Chung as inspiration and LOVE it now. I think it adds interest to a cut that can otherwise look really boring. So for bob-wearers, I totally recommend it! But I totally agree with you that the ombre days are numbered…


Thursday, January 6/2011 at 12:27 pm

I agree. It looks way better on short bobs.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, January 6/2011 at 1:06 pm

Just saw your pics – AMAZING. I really love this look on you and agree with the shorter hair theory.

(Unfortch I look like a 12 year old when my hair is shoulder length so I’ll be keeping mine long… )


Wednesday, January 5/2011 at 7:02 pm

I had the ombre trend too, but went back to bayalage highlights also. I have too much grey and couldn’t stand the upkeep! You are so right-wish I had thought harder about it before I did it. I’ve kissed any hint of ever being a brunette again goodbye. Kind of makes me sad a bit.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, January 6/2011 at 1:08 pm

Don’t be sad! You’re lucky if you can pull off blonde. People who can’t, and then get tons of greys, are really stuck… they basically have to colour every 2 weeks otherwise they get a grey stripe at the roots. Now *that’s* upkeep. (Plus: darker hair dyes are carcinogenic.)


Makeup Morsels
Wednesday, January 5/2011 at 8:47 pm

I think that ombre can look soo gorgeous on the right hair type, and I thought yours turned out very prettily too. I can’t see myself ever doing it though…don’t think it would work so well on me.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, January 6/2011 at 1:09 pm

Aw thanks – I did like it when I left the salon and it was all wavy… but for day to day life I usually wear my hair straight, and it just looked very mousy brown and blah.


Thursday, January 6/2011 at 2:22 am

I think in all actuality you couldn’t handle being a brunette ;) but everyone has there preferences and it can be painful to stray from those! I am a DARK brunette (Lauren seems blonde to me there!) and during the summer I got highlights and I could not handle them! I felt like I wasn’t me and I got some negative responses to them as well. It’s good to experiment but there’s nothing wrong with running back screaming to your hairdresser :) good post.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, January 6/2011 at 1:13 pm

Haha – actually I have been brunette, a few years ago – went much darker than this and loved it at the time. I think the problem with this colour was that it was a very mousy blah brown… I was a darker, slightly auburn-ish colour before and felt that contrast really brought out my eyes and skin.

Like I said above to Sarah B. – I think you’ve gotta be psychologically ready for Ombre and it’s easier when you’re *already* the base colour as opposed to toning down your blonde. I just felt like all the brightness around my face was gone, if that makes sense!

PS – highlights in dark brunette hair are very hard to get right so I’m with you there!


Thursday, January 6/2011 at 8:53 am

I think that ombre really only works with a very slight colour change (like what you get if you use an ammonia-free semi hair dye that’s lighter than your natural colour). More often than not people over do the contrast and it just looks like REALLY bad re-growth.

I completely agree that ombre just doesn’t work with fringes. I couldn’t go without a fringe but they certainly do limit what you can do with your hair.

I’m hoping that ombre will fall into the background soon so that it is only seen on those who suit it, rather than those who are determined to stick with an unflattering colour just because it’s fashionable. I really hope Rachel Bilson ditches ombre soon. I know she’s the poster-child for ombre but to me it makes her look washed out. Her hair was a beautiful, deep, rich (natural?) brown when she was on the The OC, I’d love to see her hair like that again.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, January 6/2011 at 1:19 pm

Cosign! Yep – and I think as hair starts to become more “solid-looking” (in style and also colour) we’ll hopefully be seeing less high-contrast Ombre and more tone-on-tone looks.

Agree re: Bilson, I wouldn’t mind seeing her with a glossy Leighton Meester-esque brown again.


Thursday, January 6/2011 at 12:40 pm

Yep–ombre’s better on brunettes, making their ends lighter rather than making the roots of a natural blonde darker. Totally agree!
LC looks better blonde.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, January 6/2011 at 1:19 pm

Glad you’re with me on this! Oh well, being a guinea pig’s part of the job here. :-)


Thursday, January 6/2011 at 1:19 pm

I tried the do-it-yourself Ombré with the temp colour on my very blonded hair and got a wierd grey shades on the ends with a nice demarcation line on the side. although, that opened the door for me to go into a light golden brown that’s kinda’ reddish – which I dig.
Ditto your comments on showing oil in the hair. I also found I couldn’t let my longish bangs hang in my face any more with darker hair. As a blonde, my bangs were soft enough to blend with my skin. Over the holidays, with so many peeps taking pictures, I learned (to my surprise) that my darker bangs look hermit-y hanging in my visage. I was told several times to brush them to the side (thanks, sisters!).


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, January 6/2011 at 1:24 pm

Oh no! I feel bad that the DIY instructions didn’t work for you! (But glad you found a colour now that works… sounds nice!)

TOTALLY with you re: dark bangs. And on my face shape I choose bangs over colour, so I’m not left with a lot of choices here… :-)


Thursday, January 6/2011 at 1:54 pm

I never really liked the Ombré hair trend. I always found it looked weird- like they were just letting their color grow out decided to call their regrowth Ombré!


Thursday, January 6/2011 at 6:22 pm

Do you think it’s too late for me to go for this trend? Has it passed now?!

This post was really helpful by the way, thanks :) xx


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, January 10/2011 at 5:28 pm

If you’re thinking about it, I’d do it NOW. Definitely still “in” but I feel like it maybe has another 6 months or so before everyone will move on. I think we’re going more into a tone on tone balayaged look as opposed to the Drew Barrymore-style dramatic colour change. Check out some recent pics of Emily Blunt’s hair – that’s what I think it’s evolving into. I should probably post them this week!


Friday, January 7/2011 at 3:10 pm

I am in the same boat as you, as far as losing the short-lived ombre hair color. I have been everything from super blonde to dark almost black brown, and I think I just lost interest in looking like I hadn’t colored my hair in a couple months. I have no bangs, wavy hair, etc, but I still like it better when the color looks more “fresh”


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, January 10/2011 at 5:30 pm

Completely agree! Why spend $350 at a salon to look like you didn’t bother?


Tuesday, January 11/2011 at 12:28 pm

LOL at the photo that came up! Oy!

The grey issue is what has kept me going “back” to my natural blonde colour. I figure I need less blonde highlights as time goes on! I started following @noraborealis after your convo about being brunettes (gasp!) and will stick to my stylists instructions after my ill-fated dying my hair to match my roots. Firstly, everyone has darker roots, even blondes because sun, water etc lighten hair once its grown out, so no one needs to be the colour of their roots. Second, we allegedly look best with the hair colour we had as a toddler. Blonde in my case.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it ;)


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, January 12/2011 at 7:27 pm

Same here! Although I was *really* blonde as a kid… I think I’d look a bit too close to that photo if I tried that now :-)


Thursday, January 13/2011 at 5:58 pm

Oh I was blonde too! I’ve stopped fighting it and am happily embracing the blonde younger me :)


Saturday, February 26/2011 at 1:12 am

I have a dyed brown hair with highlights. My hairline is low. I’m naturally grey. Not a great combination. Highlights looked great on me….. for 3 weeks. Then it was touch up time which left a line of demarkation between my highlights. For the next 2 or 3 touch ups I hated where my eye caught the demarkation. So I decided not to re-highlight and and kill my hair for those short cycles. So, my grey growth show a line, but I just had to have my touch up done and my hair looked pretty nice. My touch up color is dark blonde so I think it works because it’s a ‘subtle ombre’. It’s less expensive, less damaging to my hair, and holds the color style.


Monday, February 28/2011 at 4:41 pm

I had it done last week and even when it’s squeaky clean I still look greasy and frizzy….I hate it so much I dream about it. Wish I read this thread before I went


Tuesday, March 8/2011 at 9:14 pm

Hi Michelle–thanks for describing your various [mis]adventures in ombre hair color. I am on the verge of trying to go there, by darkening my dark blond roots (the rest is dyed light blond), but I’m concerned about getting the roots lighter again if the ombre experiment bombs. Were you able to use blond hair dye to return your dyed brown roots back to blond??



Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, May 11/2011 at 11:44 pm

Oops! Just saw this comment, sorry! To get back to blonde I just had highlights added back in. Obviously there was more of a concentration of the blonde near the ends but I didn’t think it was very noticeable. Anyway – then I ditched that and went all-over solid strawberry blonde with highlights:


Wednesday, March 23/2011 at 3:02 am

When I first saw the ombre hair trend announcements circa 2009 I thought it was GENIUS as a reflection of our economic downturn, being a starving student myself. Unfortunately, I was modeling for a catalog and had already chopped off my totally natural ombre highlighted hair to dye it dark brown and bobbed (ie-”the dutch boy look re.ANTM”
Now I’m being asked by a Loreal Paris Hair Stylist to model ombre hair and I’m worried it’s out of fashion, cest la vie!
(I loved Leighton’s natural looking highlights with waves the best, so I’ll go for her look…It’s kinda hippy chic for the spring/summer anyways!)

Am I just cursed, or are you guys also always too early or too late with the trends?
haha :p


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, March 23/2011 at 2:20 pm

I think Ombre is still ok, as long as it’s a subtle Ombre… not that high-contrast look that Drew Barrymore had, but something that just looks like it was naturally lightened at the ends by the sun. I think that will always be in style!


Friday, May 6/2011 at 4:17 pm

Finally!! I can’t thank you enough for this post!

I’m naturally a very dark brunette, and last year I had a botched highlight job that, although it was corrected, ended up fading into this monstrosity they call ombre.

Even worse, it became a trend!!!

Everyone loves it but I’m finally getting rid of it tomorrow.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, May 11/2011 at 11:42 pm

Yeah… I was noticing it on a girl the other day and I just felt like it washed her out. When your natural colour is that ashy mousy in-between brown shade, it looks very dull. Only models need apply :-)


Saturday, September 17/2011 at 6:25 am

How can anything be “too late” in fashion?
I think it’s lovely, but I always jump on the band wagon after it’s long gone…
I like to think it’s better to catch a trend before or after it becomes trendy.. so, being late is good in my books!
I adore the photo of the gal with bangs. I happen to like that photo much more than Rachel Bilson’s ( though still nice!). I have dark brown hair and bangs, and plan on doing a D.I.Y. ombre session this week, in fact:)
I’m glad to hear you’re feeling yourself again, after going back to blonde!


Thursday, October 20/2011 at 2:40 pm

Thanks! I was trying to decide if I should jump in and go ombre, but I was hesitant because I love being a blonde! this post def made me say DON’T DO IT! I will have to try and find something better for a fall hair update. You saved my life for the next 6 weeks :p


Friday, October 28/2011 at 1:13 am

i have thick, wavy hair so the ombre thing looks pretty good on me


Monday, November 21/2011 at 11:27 pm

soo i basically have the whole beachy waves going on in my hair everday and im a natural brunette with no bangs so adding a light brown at the tips sounds like a good thing for me :D


Thursday, January 26/2012 at 8:18 pm

I loved my ombre hair when i first got it done. I have brown hair and had never done anything to my hair before i did this…
But i totally agree with you..kinda fed up of my ombre hair now..think its time is up!!
Now just to work out the best way to get rid of it!!


Friday, March 2/2012 at 10:30 am

Will Ombre look funny on thin hair?


Tuesday, March 6/2012 at 10:46 pm

I would like to start off saying that I think some people have really lovely ombre hair. However I am not a fan for the most part. Maybe I have just seen too many that look like the individual just got tired of dying their hair and are letting it go back to natural….


Monday, March 12/2012 at 2:47 pm

I love the more subtle ombre look on brunettes. I’m not a big fan of it on blondes. I prefer full on lightening and/ or foils w/ blondes. To me, adding brown with beautiful shades of blonde looks tacky. I think that the ombre style of Jessica Biel and Camilla Alves will be sticking around for a while, it complements some brunette shades and works very well w/ textured hair.


Wednesday, March 14/2012 at 6:19 pm

I just got the ombre look. I really like being fashionably late, if you know what I mean.
Mine is very subtle, with a lighter gradual brown on the bottom, and my natural medium brown on top. It looks so pretty!


Thursday, March 15/2012 at 5:23 pm

You do realize you can do ombre from blonde to lightish/dark brown. that way you won’t be considered a brunette, still camo the greys, have bangs and hair that are blonde (and don’t seem greasy (which is stupid, btw, since darker hair doesn’t become more greasy just because it’s dark)), and still have a cool ombre hairstyle.


Tuesday, August 28/2012 at 12:27 pm

I must say you are right on about the 15 minutes being up! Sadly I did not see this until the damage was done. I went in with a pic of Whitney Port and said numerous times that I still mainly wanted to be blonde and guess what? I am now a brunette! Ugh! Just what I did not want! Now Im trying to lighten it myself. You mentioned having the ombre look fixed with balayage technique is thus hard to do at home? It seems easy…help please I need my blonde back!


Tuesday, October 23/2012 at 1:34 am

I’m really sad that a lot of these pictures aren’t showing up for me when I found this article today, especially the “scary ombre” one, hehe.


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