Sunday, August 26

DIY Ombre for Light Hair

Hello, lovely readers! Here is the much requested step-by-step tutorial on how I achieve my ombre hair at home, for a fraction of the cost of getting it done at a salon. Just a heads up, this will be a long and picture heavy post....brace yourselves!

I know there are TONS of DIY ombre hair tutorials out there, but I have noticed a lack of tutorials for people that already have light hair (when I say light, I mean light-brown to light-blonde locks). So please keep in mind that this is meant for light hair!

In just a few easy steps, you too can have the ever trendy and stylish ombre hair look for much less than a salon, and in a jiffy, too. Let's get to it!
Before photo is 2-3 month old ombre with lots of brassiness and regrowth. Results will vary!
A little back story on my hair: My natural hair is of medium thickness, straight and is a medium, golden chestnut color; almost auburn but more on the golden side. In other words, I have a LOT of red undertones in my hair which makes it a pain in the ass to go lighter. I tend to go brassy quick, unless I use a purple shampoo to help tone it. I will go more into details about hair under-tones below.

  • 1-2 boxes of hair dye (depending on your hair length) that is 1-3 shades darker than the ends of your hair, depending on how subtle or bold you want the gradient to be
  • 1 box of extra-light blonde hair dye (this is optional, I just wanted my ends to be lighter than before)
  • Plastic mixing bowl
  • Tint brush
  • Clean toothbrush (optional)
  • Plastic hair clips
  • Plastic or latex gloves
  • Old T-shirt
  • Timer
TIP: Before applying hair dye, make sure to always do an allergy test 24-48 hours on your skin to make sure your body is cool with it. If so, then carry on!

Before I head in with the step-by step photos, let me explain how to choose the best color for your hair. 

Have you ever wandered down the hair-dye aisle at the drugstore and have been overwhelmed with the options? Ever have the words GOLDEN and ASH leaving question marks over your head? Well, let me help you figure it out, and help you choose the best tone for your hair!

This is where the handy-dandy color wheel comes into the picture. It's simple; if you want to counter-act a certain shade or under-tone in your hair, you need to get the opposite of what you currently have. For example, in my situation, I tend to go very brassy (orangey/red) due to the golden-red undertones of my hair. So I would need a dye that has blue or blue-violet base (drug store dyes that are labeled "Beige" or "Champagne" work best for me). If you have strong red undertones, opt for a green based dye, also known as "Ash" and is sometimes labeled as "Cool". If you have very ashy or "dirty" hair and want to liven it up, go for a "Golden" or "Warm" shade. Some dyes are marked as "Natural", or "Neutral". These are always good for when you aren't quite too sure on what to get, or if you are satisfied with the current under-tone of your hair and don't want to change it.

The shade on the left is the one I used on the top of my head (roots to bottom of ears). The shade on the right was used on my ends.

A mixing bowl and tint brush are crucial supplies for DIY ombre hair. It makes it SO easy!

Please make sure that you do this in a WELL VENTILATED AREA. Hair dye fumes are very strong, and can cause you to pass out. Safety first, guys!

Now that you've got everything you need, let's get this party started!

Start off with brushed, dirty hair. The natural oils in your scalp protect your head from the harsh chemicals in the dye. Four for you, Mother Nature! Also, make sure you put on a shirt that you don't mind ruining.

Section your hair right above your ears. Securely clip the rest to the top of your head using plastic hair clips. As you can see in this photo, I have a considerable amount of re-growth going on.

If you are doing the optional step of lightening the ends of you hair, then go ahead and put on the provided gloves and mix bottles A and B thoroughly. If you just want to do the top of your head, then skip to Step 5.

Begin applying the blonde dye to the ends of your hair. Work the product up with your fingers and blend to create a seamless look. No one wants a blunt looking ombre! You can also use the tint brush or a clean toothbrush to help with the blending. You should have the most product on the ends, and the least towards the top of where you want the color to stop. The key to really great looking ombre hair is to keep it looking organic. There is no need to be perfect. (P.S., GO-GO POWER RANGERS!)

Continue to work your way around your head, focusing on the pieces around your face. You can do as few or as many blonde pieces as you'd like. Not only will it frame your face, but it'll help brighten up your complexion as well!

Repeat Step 3 with the darker color that will be applied to the top of your head and make sure that your utensils are clean of any previous dye. Also remember to put on a fresh pair of gloves! Go ahead and section your hair where you would like to start the color gradient. Start at the roots, and work your way down. I like to go a bit passed my ears, but you can stop before or after that. Use either your fingers or your brush to blend the product down to avoid harsh lines.

Work your way from the bottom of your head to the top and front. Remember, apply to the roots first and blend down!

After you've applied the dye all over your head, blend everything one more time with your brush and/or fingers to make sure everything is well distributed. If you see any spots that you've missed, now is the time to fix it.

After all the dye is applied, you should let it develop anywhere from 10-30 minutes. Everyone's hair is different, so times will vary. I usually leave mine in for 10-15 minutes to keep it from getting too dark. I wrap my hair in a plastic bag to speed up the process. If you lightened your ends like I did, keep a close eye on those, since they were applied several minutes before the top and are most likely done, or close to being done at this point. If they seem done, go ahead and rinse and condition those while the top of your head is still developing.

When it comes time to rinse the dark shade on top of your head, shampoo as you normally do until the water runs clear. You want to definitely apply a generous amount of a deep conditioner of your choice for several minutes, or use the one that was provided with the box dye - they work great, too!

After all is said and done, you should have gorgeous ombre hair that took hardly any time and effort and left your wallet happy! I have been doing this method for a long time now, and it never fails. I get tons of compliments on my hair, too!

See the difference? Subtle gradient effect, and no more brassiness! YAY!

Total Cost (including supplies): $20.85!

I hope this step-by-step tutorial was helpful and useful to you! If you decide to try this out, please let me know! I'd love to see your results. I absolutely LOVE ombre hair and it's just so perfect for me. Not only is it very low maintenance, but you get the best of both worlds - blonde and brunette! 

Good luck, and thanks for reading this insanely long post. Love you guys, and see you all soon!

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  1. this is so gorgeous! you did an amazing job :) i really love the colors, thanks so much for posting this :)

  2. It turned out beautiful, love it! xx

  3. It looks really beautiful on you. Thanks for this post, I have always wanted to get ombre hair!

  4. wow, that looks cool! I'm going to try this as well! Thx for the idea & greets from Germany :-)

  5. Wow! I can't believe how professional that looks. Like you've just walked out the salon. Absolutely gorgeous! x

  6. I just bought Loreal frost and design in pecan highlighting kit. But getting scared of the outcome. Your color looks really professional and i am loving it!
    Lets cross fingers so that mine also turns out good :)


  7. Hey!

    Awesome your hair..i got my hair colored a while ago..but mine is super black,so i am scared to try anything less than 2-3 shade lighter! If i go for any other radical change i might end up looking like a wannabe!!(or that's what my mom says...:p)

    P.S. I am your 2900th follower!! Congrats!

    Keep the posts coming! :)

  8. it looks awesome!I love the ombre hair but I'm too scared to dye it myself
    ha! I got these instead - I&K
    dip dye hair extensions
    They’re available at
    and there's some gorgeous colours. I got the dark to blonde one and they look
    fab! Kate x

  9. This is gorgeous! I love it.

  10. Maaaaaaaaaaan! I just cut all the ombre OUT of my hair. Way to make me feel extra sad about it! Though .... I do have some blonde and brunette dye in my bathroom .................. brb .....

  11. The steps seem really easy, and the end result is beautiful :)

  12. Hi Ronnie! I'm a hairstylist and greatly appreciate this post for my clients that have much shorter pockets but still want the Hollywood look! I have to say, though... you should always, always, always shampoo hair after it's been colored. No matter how much rinsing you think you've done, there are still color molecules in the hair that have not processed. It's extremely damaging and could wind up with detrimental results to the color. Even if it's never personally happened to you, it could still happen. Shampooing won't strip the color out - once it's under the hair cuticle, it's in there until it fades from the sun and/or harsh shampoos. Could you please update your blurb to include that it's safe to shampoo? I've had many a client come in with chemical burns on their scalp from using boxed hair dye and not shampooing it out!

  13. Hi Joanna! Thank you so much for the heads up! I personally have better results without shampooing, but I sure will add that warning. Thanks again :)

  14. Hey Joanna! Thanks for the tips! I always shampoo my hair after coloring.... I feel like it lessens the "chemical" feeling. I followed these steps at the end of my hair for a slight ombre look but ended up with brassy hair! I am Indian and my hair is black-dark brown.What should I do now?
    Please help!

  15. Aw, that's no fun! Maybe Joanna would have a more knowledgeable answer, but I would suggest going to your local beauty supply store (like Sally's) and purchasing a toner that will remove the brassiness. Good luck!

  16. Such a great step by step! I really love seeing other people's way of dying/coloring their hair....I don't know why! Haha!

  17. Hi there! Hair will always lift on the warm side - here is a handy image to show the shades hair has to go through to get to blonde DIY ombre hair is great for girls that are a medium brown and lighter because their hair will lift more easily and they'll have a lesser chance of it going brassy. For the darker haired girls, if you want more of a blonde tip, you would definitely need to get it professionally done. I personally am a HUGE fan of a burnt copper tip with a darker black-brown root. Sometimes, us darker haired girls need to make a little bit of compromise and go for something a little darker so that we don't wind up with brassy... I hope that helps!

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  20. Your hair is beautiful & the way u done it actually surprised me. I would also like to say that the reason the one girls hair went brassy is she was drk brown/blk. You never try to lift hair that dark, at home, to an extra light blonde. It needs double processing & will almost certainly go brassy. GO to a salon. You can see from the pics that yours wasnt that dark to begin with, which is why it lifted to look as a beige or ash blonde, even tho the package you used doesnt state that in the "color".


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