Ombre means “gradation” or “shade” in French; it is the development of hair color from dark roots to light ends. This low-maintenance hair color saves trips to the salon for root touch-ups, and can be done easily at home. The look is carefree and inexact, so it is difficult to botch. Be sure to choose the right dye, depending on whether the hair is already highlighted or natural. Attempting to lighten colored hair at home can result in shocking color changes and chemical damage. If the hair is highlighted or naturally light in color, simply dye the roots darker.

Things You'll Need

Part the hair down the middle and behind both ears to make three sections. Clip back all of the hair behind the ears, and clip the front two sections separately.

Apply Vaseline to the hairline to protect the skin from staining by the dye. Spread a thin layer across the whole hairline close to the root.

Mix the hair color according to the package directions. Do this just before use, as it begins to process as soon as it is mixed. Mixing too early can change the color outcome.

Apply the color generously to the roots, starting in front. Use your fingers to spread the color down, about one-third of the length of the hair. The color should be most concentrated at the root, so do not reapply color more than an inch from the root.

Use a tint brush or clean toothbrush to help spread the color down, stopping at uneven lengths to prevent a demarcation line where the hair color stops. For a more natural look, spread the color as you would lowlights, leaving some strands their natural shade.

Apply a permanent hair color to the tips to lighten the ends for a more dramatic look. Do not attempt to lighten already-colored hair. The color should be lightest at the ends, so apply to the tips and use your fingers or a tint brush to spread the color up the hair. For a more natural look, lighten the ends with highlights, leaving some strands their natural shade.

Allow the hair color to process according to package instructions.

When the processing time is over, rinse and condition according to package instructions. Blow-dry and style.


  • Always use the gloves included in the hair color kit to prevent skin discoloration.