Ombre Hair Color Technique

Gabriella Ellis - Long hair with multiple colors
Gabriella Ellis - Photo: Featureflash Photo Agency/Shutterstock
Q: I love Gabriella Ellis' multi-colored, long hair. How can I dye my own hair in multiple colors? Also, won't it ruin my hair? What if it goes wrong, and I want to go back to my natural hair color? I'm a brunette.
A: The color technique here is called ombre and means gradually transitioning color. The effect is fairly easy, and the most potentially damaging part is the lightening process to lift the base color so that you can apply the bolder colors at the bottom edge of the style.
For adding specifically notable color to the hair, your best bet is the use of fruits and berries. Things like cranberries and blueberries can add a pop of color to dark hair.
Blueberries and blackberries are especially great with black hair to add shine and a hint of color refraction. Cranberries, cherries and raspberries are great for brown hair to give a richness to the color and create "pseudo-auburn" hues.
When using fruit as a coloring agent, mash the berries with a small amount of water and some apple cider vinegar, and apply to damp hair, leaving on for 15-20 minutes.
To create the look, you want to take things slowly and start by creating the lighter section, using a lifting agent to lighten the base color of the hair. Apply lightener at the bottom third of the hair and add more every 5-10 minutes further up along the hair shaft, until you reach approximately 60 percent of the way up the length of the hair from the ends.
Gabriella Ellis with long colored hair
Gabriella Ellis - Photos by PR Photos
Monitor the processing carefully and be prepared with a spray bottle with cold water to rinse and blot away the lightening agent if the hair starts to over process. You want to leave the lightener on the hair the least amount of time toward the top of the head so that the hair is lighter as you move to the ends because it has processed longer.
Once the lightening has been accomplished, you can apply the bold accent colors using a brush and painting the hair color directly on the hair. By using complimentary colors like the reddish pink and purple, you can create some overlap which allows the colors to blend into one another where they meet. The bold accent colors are generally demi-permanent formulas and will wash out in multiple shampoos.
If you find you dislike the results. You can use a color remover on the ends of the hair to remove the demi-permanent colors and then color your hair using a close match to your natural shade to restore it. Remember to go a shade or two lighter to avoid overdarkening the hair.
See also:
Targeted hair coloring for special color effects
Two-tone hair color
Top deck hair coloring
Foil highlighting