Subtle ombre hair is a great way to make regrowth look trendy. Here's how to do it at home.

Raise your hand if your roots are looking a little darker after several weeks in isolation. Same.

While some are turning to box dyes or root touch up sprays to cover regrowth and greys at home, or dyeing their hair various shades of pink, others are thinking about trying something different and giving an ombre style a go.

Ombre hair is a style that features darker roots that gradually fade into lighter ends. You might remember some ‘ombre hair’ from the mid 2000s that looked more like it’d been dipped in bleach, but what we’re talking about today is a more subtle approach to the ombre finish.

In any other time, you’d leave this kind of hair colouring to a professional, but if you’re game to give it a try at home, here’s exactly how.

WATCH: Take a moment to think of the blondes in isolation. Here’s some things only blondes know to be true. Post continues after video.

Video by Mamamia

What is ombre hair and how is it different to balayage?

The difference between these two commonly used hair terms is: ombre is a hair style and balayage is a hair colouring technique.

The balayage technique involves free-painting the hair rather than using foils. The result is more natural, which is why using a balayage technique to lighten your ends for a subtle ombre look is a good at-home approach.

How to choose your at-home hair dye.

hair dye
Here's what the L'Oreal Wild Ombre box dye looks like. Image: Supplied.

To achieve a natural ombre hair look at home, you'll need a box dye or a colour kit from your hair stylist.

A popular one is the L'Oreal Paris Preference Permanent Wild Ombre Hair Colour ($19.45) but if you're after a more subtle result, you can use whichever product you like in a shade closer to your natural/current hair colour.

Here are some of the most recommended box dyes from the You Beauty Facebook group:

As for choosing the colour, it's important to remember box dyes always turn out darker than you think they will. Stick to colours between one to three shades lighter than your current colour for the best results.

How to do ombre hair at home using a balayage technique.


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Although each box dye will come with a brush (the L'Oreal Wild Ombre product even comes with an 'ombre brush'), using your fingers is the easiest way to paint colour on yourself.

It's worth acknowledging, the way your stylist uses the balayage technique in-salon is far more complex and intricate than what you can do at home. Here's how to give it a go yourself using your fingers:

  1. Comb through clean, dry hair and section into thirds so you have a bottom layer, middle layer and top layer.
  2. Chuck on some gloves and mix your colour as per the instructions on the packaging.
  3. Grab a small section of hair from your first segment and rub a small amount of colour through the strand between your fingertips, starting from between ear and chin height.
  4. Once you're finished with the section, blend the colour slightly upwards from where you started using your fingers, almost like you're teasing that section of hair. This will help blend the dye so the colour fades from darker to lighter.
  5. Grab another small section of hair and repeat until you've covered most of the hair from each of your segments.
  6. To avoid a dip-dyed look, work on small, random sections of hair rather than soaking all your ends. You can slightly vary how high each strand is dyed and add face framing pieces, too.

At-home hair dye tips.

To avoid major disasters, here are some other best practices for dyeing your hair at home are:

  • Wear gloves to protect your hands from staining.
  • Apply barrier cream or Vaseline around your hairline to avoid staining your skin.
  • Read the instructions on the packaging, always.
  • The longer you leave the colour on, the lighter and more intense the colour will be. If you’re after a subtle effect, wash the colour out sooner than you think.
  • Use a sulphate-free shampoo and a conditioner for coloured hair to maintain your colour.
  • A protein bonding product like Olaplex or Redken pH Bonder Post-Service Perfector will keep your hair in good condition, especially if you usually colour it.

You can learn more about at-home hair colouring in this episode of the You Beauty podcast below. Post continues after audio.

How to tone your hair after dyeing.

So you've washed out your colour and are staring at your ends in the mirror wondering, is this it?

Nope, the last step to achieving a natural-looking ombre is toning the colour.

Blondes will be familiar with toning, but for those who aren't, this step removes any orange or brassy tones from the hair colour for a subtle, natural finish. To do this, use a toning shampoo (also known as a purple shampoo) in the shower.

And that is how to give yourself a natural ombre look at home. And if all else fails, you can visit your lovely hairdresser when it's safe to do so.

Feature image: Instagram/@studiofios.ipatinga.

Would you try ombre hair at home? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

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