How To Go Back From Ombré Hair

Over Ombré? Follow these steps to go back to the dark side... at home.
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Thomas Marrington
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Over Ombré? Follow these steps to go back to the dark side... at home.

Remember those brave pioneers of the Ombré hair colour trend, Those That Came Before? Rachel Bilson, Drew Barrymore, Alexa Chung, Jessica Biel... not to mention our very own Michelle. Well, they've all moved on.

I'm sure we all remember Rachel Bilson's Ombré—possibly the longest-living Ombré in the history of humankind.

Rachel Bilson Ombre hair

But who saw her at Comic-Con this summer?

Rachel Bilson hair

Without the Ombré, she looks more sophisticated, right?

Drew Barrymore had this slightly scary Ombré.

Drew Barrymore Ombre hair

Then, she switched it up for an all-over fiery auburn shade, maybe my favourite hair colour she hasEVER done(which is saying a lot).

Drew Barrymore hair

Alexa Chung, with her collarbone-skimming bob, was undoubtedly the poster child of shorter-haired Ombré (Shombré?).

Alexa Chung Ombre hair

But even she parted ways with it for a fresher, younger-looking all-over colour. (This month, you can also see her new hair on the cover of the October issue of British Vogue.)

Alexa Chung hair

Last but definitely not least, Jessica Biel had what I believe to be the softest, prettiest Ombré of them all. Paired with the undone, falling curled ends (which I've never seen done as well, just sayin'), it was totally angelic.

Jessica Biel Ombre hair

So it was a complete shock when she turned up to a Glamour party with near-raven hair!

Jessica Biel hair

(Note: She's faffed about with all manner of lighter ends and highlights and whatnot since, but you get the point.)

Maybe you feel like making a change, too. Now that we're heading into fall, many of us are looking to deeper, darker and richer tones, not to mention just having one solid colour instead of that dark-to-light Ombré gradation. But what if you don't have an A-list colourist on hand whenever you fancy a new look? No problem. It couldn’t be simpler to progress your Ombré style straight into on-trend fall colour!

Back in the summer, I Ombré'd my friend Eve’s hair from her natural, medium brown, and it looked like this:

Eve Ombre before

It was actually more drastic than it looks in the picture; the blonde started higher up and was more vibrant. But after having a big haircut, she felt that the light ends made her hair look too short. With that in mind we felt a return to her roots was necessary, so aimed for a shade that would be as close to her natural hair colour as possible.

How to choose your colours (the sciencey bit)

The key to getting a natural all-over dark colour is to use two different shades, one darker on top and one lighter on the bottom. The reason for this is that over time the ends of your hair will naturally lighten (think of a mega-subtle Ombré, or a child’s hair). When people recreate this effect with hair colour, it's what prevents the all-over shade from looking slightly "off" or too flat. However dramatic or subtle your Ombré was before, this colour rule is the same.

Since we were trying to restore Eve's natural colour, we chose L’Oréal Paris Casting Crème Gloss Hair Colour in 432 Rich Espresso for the top half:

L'Oreal Paris Casting Creme Gloss Rich Espresso

In North America, this is called L’Oréal Paris Healthy Look Crème Gloss Color and the closest match probably would be 4 Dark Brown:

L'Oreal Paris Healthy Look Dark Brown

L’Oréal Paris Healthy Look Crème Gloss Color, at Amazon.com, Drugstore.comULTA Beauty and Well.ca

Then we used 535 Chocolate for the lower half.

L'Oreal Paris Casting Creme Gloss Chocolate

In North America, this would probably be 5G Golden Brown:

L'Oreal Paris Healthy Look Golden Brown

L’Oréal Paris Healthy Look Crème Gloss Color, at Amazon.comDrugstore.comULTA Beauty and Well.ca

Even though the colour names aren't the same from country to country, the first letter is the one to take note of: 4 means dark brown and 5 means medium brown. Using a neutral brown for the top and a warm brown for the ends is a fail-safe way to guard against any green tinges developing in the blonde areas, something that can happen with ash colours as a result of the underlying green/blue pigments. Remember to only choose colours that are one shade apart—otherwise, the difference will be too noticeable and won't blend as well.

I personally encourage people to never go darker than a level 3 at most. Any darker than this and you risk your hair looking dull and artificially black rather than a natural, deep brown. Oh, and when going darker in general, don't panic if you have mega-dark hair when you first wash it off. This is a common problem with hair dye, but within a week of regular washing and styling, your colour will fade to the correct shade (and stay like it!).

I highly recommend using this L’Oréal Paris colour range for this process. It's a great choice for covering Ombré as I find it takes really well to bleached hair, better than many permanent colours I have used before.

What you'll need

  • Two boxes of hair dye (L’Oréal Paris Healthy Look if possible), both one shade apart
  • Tint brush and bowl (optional)
  • Timer
  • Towels and clothes you don't mind ruining

How to dye your hair back from Ombré

Follow these four super-easy steps to transform your summer Ombré into dark, fall deliciousness!

1. Mix your colours

Mix four parts of the darker colour with one part of the lighter colour, and then use that for the top half of your hair. For the lower half, do the exact opposite in a separate bowl. I like to mix the colours this way, as I feel it introduces a bit more depth and makes them a little less flat.

2. Apply the darker shade

You can apply the dye with your (gloved!) hands, or use a tint brush and bowl like they do in salons. Starting with the darker shade, apply it from the roots to the mid-lengths of the hair. I did this with a tint brush, since Eve has thick hair and I needed to make sure I covered all the highlights I had put in previously, but if you want to just rub it in with your hands, that's fine too.

3. Apply the lighter shade

Once you have covered the top half of the hair, apply the lighter shade from the mid-lengths to the ends. Overlap the lighter colour with the darker slightly, as this will blend the two colours and ensure an evenly transitioned result. Don't worry about applying the lighter colour at the exact point where the blonde starts either; the dye will even it all out.

4. Let it develop

Follow the package directions for the maximum development time. Check the ends of your hair—do they still look like Ombré? If this is the case, wait another five to 10 minutes and check again. When the time is up, rinse and condition as per the instructions. Once it's dried and styled, you’re done and it's time to enjoy your new fall look!

Here’s Eve’s after:

Eve hair colour after - front
Eve hair colour after - back

L’Oréal Paris Healthy Look Crème Gloss Color is available at Amazon.comDrugstore.comULTA Beauty and Well.ca.

Let me know if you try this! In the meantime, tell me:

Are you still an Ombré fan or totally over it?
Will you be going darker for fall/winter?
Do you prefer the celebs' hair before or after?