Showing no signs of losing popularity, ombre hair has been one of the biggest hair colour trends of the last two decades. But what is the difference between ombre and balayage or other hair colouring techniques? Read our ombre guide, including expert advice on how to get the most out of your hair colour.
What does ombre hair mean?
Ever the benchmark for fashion and beauty, France is where the word "ombré" (pronounced "om-bray") comes from. Meaning "shaded", it describes a hair colouring technique where a darker base colour is gradually lightened along the lengths, usually starting around mid-way, giving a sunkissed effect.
Ombre vs balayage - what's the difference?
One of the most common misunderstandings when it comes to colouring techniques is the difference between ombre hair and balayage (another French word, from "balayer" meaning "to sweep").
Ombré is a colour technique of seamless graduation from darker to lighter, whereas balayage is a highlighting technique.
Another hair colouring technique is "sombre" ("somb-ray"), which is a softer and more subtle version of ombre hair, with a less visible transition between the roots and end colours. Lastly, often confused with ombre hair, dip-dye colouring has little-to-no subtle gradation between the darker and lighter colours. Its name will help you remember the difference: dip-dye looks as if you've just dipped your hair into another colour.
Can Ombre damage hair?
As with any hair colouring service, it is important to protect the hair fibre during and after the process. L'Oréal Professionnel has created Smartbond for this exact reason: to prevent damage during lightening processes. Smartbond is a revolutionary multi-step treatment applied during a colouring process such as ombre or balayage. The formula protects the bonds of the hair and promotes even, long-lasting colour. The result: ombre hair feels healthy, strong and vibrant.
Is Ombre easy to maintain?
One of the reasons that ombre hair is such a popular look is thanks to how easy it is to maintain. Thanks to the gradual colour gradation, as your hair grows out, the lighter sections subtly move further down the tips.
To bring back these grown-out lighter sections on the lengths and ends, L'Oréal Professionnel offers a tailor-made Instant Highlights colouring treatment. Quick and highly effective, this lightening system uses pro-heat technology to lift sections of hair colour by up to 6 levels, instantly refreshing your ombre hair without the need to go for a full-head colour service. Your hair stylist will know exactly where to place the highlights for a natural and radiant finish that flatters your face and skin tone.
How to care for Ombre at home
Ensure your ombre hair looks its best 24/7! When it comes to everyday haircare, opt for products that will protect the colour (not strip it away) and enhance its shine. The Vitamino Color A-OX haircare collection from Serie Expert was formulated specifically for colourful looks such as ombre hair. Available in a variety of formats, from shampoo and conditioner to a hair mask, leave-in spray and even a CC Cream for blondes, each product helps boost the shine of your coloured hair and protect it from environmental aggressions such as the weather and pollution.
Colour inspiration for Ombre looks
The most recognisable colour-combination for ombre hair is a medium brown than develops into golden tips. But this isn't your only option. Those with naturally darker hair could opt for a sombre, with their brunette locks subtly blossoming into an on-trend ash or even warm auburn shade. And for those with already-blond hair, there's nothing to stop you from an ombre where golden roots gradually grow into stunning platinum tips!
How to style Ombre hair
To truly showcase your ombre hair, one of the best ways to style it is in loose waves, as the natural-looking curves draw attention to the evolution of colours along the lengths. For this, whether your hair is naturally wavy or not, we recommend using the Siren Waves styling cream from Tecni.ART's Hollywood Waves collection. Simply apply through damp hair and blow-dry before curling the lengths in 2-inch sections then running your fingers through to break up the curls for a natural finish.
Alternatively, if you prefer your hair kept out of your face, a beautiful braid can also be an excellent way to show off the different tones to your hair as each section overlaps, emphasising the colour contrasts.
Ombre hair: a timeless hair colour trend we'll always treasure!