January 04, 2012

DIY: Ombre Hair and Balayage

I know there are tons of tutorials out there of girls doing their own color and getting fabulous results.  Color is a tricky process though and it's even harder if you don't understand color theory and don't have access to the right tools.  But, if you've been reading my color posts, you should be getting a little bit of information about how best to color your hair.  I'm going to actually show you how I color my hair through pictures.

Remember though, I am a licensed cosmetologist.  I know what works on my hair.  I'm using professional color, so I can't be held liable if you DIY your own hair and something happens!  But I'm always happy to help guide you if it is something you'd like to try.  Just email me!

So let's get started. :)

  • Pre cut your foil if you need to.  Cut about 20 pieces or so.
  • Pre measure color, but do not mix yet.
  • Wrap towel or cape around you to protect your clothing.
  • For my personal preference, I like most of the color to be in the front, so I'm going to section my hair right above my ears going horizontally.  Like I'm doing a half ponytail.
  • Then I'll clip back the bottom to get it out of the way.
  • Now, I'll split the top section of my hair into two.  Clip one side.
  • Starting from above my ear and making my way up, I'm going to section out large chunks of hair using my rat tail comb (like doing highlights) and I will color those sections.  
  • Continue in this manner on both sides.

  • Mix together your color or bleach.  You want the consistency to be sort of thick.  We don't want it dripping all over the place.  It will be easier to apply this way.
  • After sectioning out the chunks you want to color, place a piece of foil behind those pieces, and paint the color on.
  • I place the color on the middle section of my hair, holding the tint brush vertically.  
  • Paint the color down to the ends and if necessary, fold the ends up into the foil.  
  • Now this is important: as you paint closer to the root, you want to go light on the color and really blend it in!  You'll have less of a noticeable line.
  • After you've gotten those strands all colored, fold the foil up on itself to seal in the hair.  No smashing or closing in that foil like a fortress.  Color needs oxygen to process, so just gently fold it enough to get it to stay.
  • Move onto the next sections and then move onto the other side.
  • Try to work as quickly as you can, because if you're using color, you only have about 30 minutes before it's oxidized and won't process anymore.  You'll have to use more color.  Or if you're using bleach, move quick, because you don't want uneven lightness.
Final Steps:
  • Check your color as it processes.  When it gets to the lightness you want, wipe off a bit, and really look at it.  If it looks okay, shampoo and condition.

  • If it needs more time (though no more than 45 minutes!), then allow it to process.
  • Rinse out color, shampoo gently, and thoroughly condition.
  • If you're using bleach, it will swell from the heat on your head.  So when you are painting at the top of the foil, leave about an 1/8 of an inch of room.  This will allow the bleach to swell inside the foil and not "boil over" bleeding onto the hair underneath.
  • Try not to have the starting point of the color all at the same spot on your hair.  Unless you want that.  It looks more natural to have different starting points.  For example, I want the color a little closer to my roots near my face as it brightens my complexion.  But in the back, I might start the color 5 inches below the root.
  • If your color turns too orange, brassy, or gold, click here to read my post on toning.

This is my ombre hair in natural sunlight two days after this DIY was done.  If you're interested in seeing how I keep up this ombre hair, you can see this post where I've lightened my base color and lightened the ends more, and this post where I have darkened the base with a cooler brown and really lightened the ends.

Hope this helps!  And please email me with any questions you have.  Happy hair days!


thewardrobewanderer.com said...

Wow, you really know what you're doing! I could use your services for my daughter, Idelle. My sis and I tried to give her a blonde underlay awhile back, and it took okay, but could have been better. She's like some blue streaks or something like that that really pops, but I'm afraid to take that on, lol. You have lovely hair, by the way!

Irene (Couture-Petite.com) said...

Wow! That turned out very nicely. I've had a very traumatizing experience with at home hair dying recently. >.<

Audrey said...

I WISH I could color my own hair! I'd save a ton of $. You did an amazing job on yourself! www.casualglamorous.com

and so it goes.... said...

Turned out great! I'm a total ombre @ home do-er myself! It's fun and easy!


Gray Lavender said...

Great result!! I love ombré hair :D
Sooo pretty!


CourtneyElizabeth said...

I just "ombred" my hair last night and your toning tips saved me! I would not have known that an ash/cool blond color would have covered up the brassiness left my the bleaching process, so thanks!


Skinny Moonstick said...

Oh, wow, you did a really amazing job coloring your hair ombre way! It looks great on you!
Good luck!


bad Barbara said...

this is what my hair looks like right now too! we are cool :)

Sabrina said...

Wow, you did it so good.Unfortunately I can´t do this, because my hair is really damaged...
xoxo Sabrina


AestheticJungle said...

Happy new year,
Love your blog, great styles and cool photos.
Following, hopefully you can come and pay us a visit sometime
much love.

Carmen said...

Looks very nice, you did a good job :)

Cara said...

Wow, well done, it looks fantastic! You are so brave to do your own dying, but you made it look simple and the effect is gorgeous!
xo Cara

Lidiya said...

Your ombre hair has turned out phenomenal, I love it! And I love how the contrast between the two shades isn't too extreme, gorgeous <3

Joanna said...

omg! you did an amazing job! it looks sooooo good! love it! check out my blog dear and maybe follow me if you like. :)


Belle de Couture said...

wow you did an awesome job on your own! Looks great! :)



Jenna said...

Looking at pictures from your recent posts, your hair looks soooo good with the ombre!!

Lillian said...

hey, your hair turned out so well doing this, i just have a question, since I am not a hair colour professional myself how much do you think it would cost to have balayage/ombre hair done at a salon?

Jooley said...

Love your hair! Thank you so much for this tutorial. I thought I've read tons about diy hair dyeing but you mentioned a few helpful secrets I haven't heard of. I'm going to try this on my sister!

thelovehanger said...

You're welcome! I'm glad I could help! :) Hope your sister's hair turns out well!

Sarah said...

Looks AMAZING can't wait to do it to my own hair! GREAT POST!!!

rosanna said...

could I use the hair color brand naturtin and get same result?

yessi said...

Hello I have been wanting ombre for a while but i've dyed my hair blackabout 4months ago would this processes work for me? With the loreal color?

thelovehanger said...

Hi Yessi!

Unfortunately I don't think this will work. The only way to get rid of color already on your hair is with a powerful lifting agent and the store brand kits are not strong enough. This would definitely need to be done in a salon.

If that will be too expensive, I would maybe check out a cosmetology school where they offer the same services as salons, but the work is done by students supervised by licensed professionals.

Good luck with what you decide!

millie said...

how does this work with someone who colors her hair brown, however I am almost 80 percent gray?

thelovehanger said...

Hi Millie,

I'm not sure which look you are going for, but all colors can be mixed with what is called N or natural in the color line and those are more pigmented to cover gray. So essentially, you would establish your base color with your target color + N, and then you can go through and add in the highlights or lighter color to add dimension. I hope that makes sense and thanks for the question!