How I Reverse Ombre-ed My Hair

Rose Hair

I know that there are a million bajillion tutorials on how to do ombre at home, and yet in my own search for them I could find very little on how to do it reversed, where you don’t bleach the bottom and instead you dye it darker. It definitely stands to reason that if you have light or bright hair in general you wouldn’t necessarily want to go lighter or brighter on the bottom, so learning how to apply bleach in this way isn’t particularly helpful. It might not make any sense for you. So I’m going to add to the multitude a tutorial that may vary a slight bit, how I achieved this (last night, at the time of writing) using just veggie dye.

Hellooo profile picture.

Hellooo profile picture.

You may recall that in a post a while back, Holly Hui Hair, I had decided I wanted a change and was going to get purple ombre applied to the bottom of my hair. Well after two relatively costly salon visits, I accepted that my hair wasn’t taking to it as I had hoped. The bottom of my hair was just a shade darker and plum-ier, but still very much red all over. A visible contrast could only really be seen in pictures. So I thought, whatever, my hair takes to Punky better than Matrix, it’s cheaper to do this at home, and why not go for black for more punch because I KNOW that will show up? I’ve been dying my own hair for ages now and with all the tutorials already out there it could definitely be worth a try to experiment with a new technique. So here’s how I did it in one step (if you don’t count my touch-ups) with no bleach.

Because my hair is extremely layered, I didn’t want to dye everything in one chunk. I wanted the color to go up roughly the same distance on every length, which helps with the gradation effect and just…makes sense. So what I did first was separate my hair into little bundles according to the different layers and tied them off so that each section was pretty much all blunt. This was a bit tough but most definitely doesn’t have to be perfect. When I was done this part I counted each ponytail – I had 11 – and tore squares of foil for each section plus one for my bangs.

IMG_2170Now here’s where I’m going to mention something you may find helpful. Instead of wearing an old tshirt, wear nothing. Just maybe some pajama shorts or something and a towel safety pinned around your neck, but be topless. I know you wear the old shirt because you wouldn’t mind messing it up but isn’t it still hard to get that thing over your head when your hair is smothered in dye, and wouldn’t you rather drip on nothing? I definitely find this easier. Also you will really be needing a tint brush for this, or if you can’t find the 2$ under the couch to buy one at the drug store, use a paint brush or toothbrush if you must. I don’t have a mixing bowl, so when I’m mixing color or it comes in a tube or bottle I can’t dip into, I line a regular bowl with saran wrap.

I know this isn’t *reverse* ombre but you must understand there is a lack of pictures, and this is just too pretty not to show you.

So anyway, now you’re all set up and ready to go. The hardest part I’m sure you’re thinking is how to get the color to evenly fade out instead of just stopping. With a piece of foil behind your hair so you have something to press on, brush the dye thoroughly into the bottom few inches. Turn your hair over a few times to make sure you’re getting it all the way around. I didn’t at first and this is why I had to touch up. I also forgot a piece. But if you do this right unlike me, you’ll only have to do it once. Once the bottom is covered, turn your tint brush to the side, and brush the dye gently upwards, easing it up gradually into the lighter color. Don’t worry about doing a perfect job, because it will be easily camouflaged by all the other pieces you’re doing, especially if you have layers. Where I didn’t go as high with the black, the red is thus taken down a little more in that section and creates a highlight in the black before it too fades out, making the effect look even more gradual. So don’t sweat it, this will look totally pro. As you finish each piece, wrap it in the foil and fold it up so it stays in place and protects the dye from getting onto the rest of your hair and boobs. Repeat until finished.


This abstract body art is brought to you by Punky Color.

When you’re using a veggie dye, there’s no developer, so you can leave it in as long as you want. Many people will recommend about 4 hours. I didn’t have that kind of time, and I was a bit nervous about what I was doing looking stupid, so I left it in for half an hour, which for black was enough. If you’re doing black you might want to check that the color base goes with the rest of your hair so it will look ok as it fades. The Punky Color black that I used is blue-based, as I learned from watching all the inky water go down the drain, so as the black fades the bottom of my hair will turn…purple! How convenient! If however it was green based as I believe Manic Panic is, I would end up with a gross mess and would have to do a lot more maintenance. So just keep that in mind.

I also had a bit of help in that since my hair had already been ombre-ed (somebody tell me if that’s a word) “purple”, my hair already got a bit darker towards the middle which makes this look better. If you want a similar effect, you can mix a small amount of your bottom color into your top color or dilute it in conditioner and follow the same general instructions to a little higher up, say, your ears. You can also use a different color for this altogether. But no matter how many colors you choose, remember that if you’re using veggie dyes, the top colors will run into the bottom colors as you wash your hair, and each color may fade enough to reveal the color underneath, so have a look at your color theory and make sure they’ll look good together and you’re going gradually darker towards the bottom, or your beautiful dye job could get all mucky.

So was that pretty simple? Show me pictures if you do this!

UPDATE: For a new take on the look with even more edge, check out Triple Reverse Ombre, or Ombre Extreme!!!

10 comments on “How I Reverse Ombre-ed My Hair

  1. dapperdolly says:

    Awesome tutorial – with great tips. I’ve never considered being topless whilst colouring my hair, the fact I don’t live alone is probably one reason – but there’s something enticing about the idea. I knew a guy who used to cut his hair naked simply because he couldn’t stand the idea of getting any of it on his clothes lol. I just wear an old school uniform shirt to do mine in (yep, that’s how much I loved my school… as if). I also LOVE the photos you’ve used for illustration, they are all gorgeous.

    Before I get sidetracked though I couldn’t find your About/Contact page but I stopped by to say that as a subscriber to my blog I’d like to thank you so much for your support and would like to invite you to participate in my current giveaway (my latest post) – it’s open internationally and you could win £40 fashion store credit plus a cute pair of cubic zirconia earrings! Thanks again and best regards, Dapperdolly

  2. judeboden says:

    It would be nice if you linked to since you’re using some of our images

    • Ava Strange says:

      You’re right. I thought I just had them embedded from pinterest but I checked again and at least one is yours. I will change it so it links to your site, let me know if you prefer it taken down.

  3. kim says:

    THANK YOU! Your blog helped sooo much! i saw the comment that was left,i cant stand haters! we are supposed to empower each other not hate! so keep these beautiful ideas an colors comin!

  4. Natalie says:

    Okay, so I have natural red hair. It is a red that most people do not have and it is also impossible to find in a box, just saying, anyways I call it “fire red” because it has some reds oranges as well as some blondes in it. I really want to ombre my hair but I don’t know if I should go with the lighter blonde ombre or go to a darker color such as brown or something. I think both would look good I’m just not sure. Any advice? 🙂
    P.s I love your blogs XD

    • Ava Strange says:

      Hi Natalie! I’m so happy you like my blog! I think the first choice is whether to go light or dark. Darker is less damaging and a bit easier, but go with what draws you in. What just feels “right” to you? From there I suggest going with a color that is a takeoff from what you already have, particularly since your natural color is so complex. If you’re going lighter then a golden blond would be beautiful, and if you’re going darker then I would suggest a deep rich red. Brown would be way too boring on hair like yours, you should play up the color you have to whichever extreme you choose. If you’re feeling especially daring you could even play it up by going in completely the opposite direction with a jewel shade of blue or green!

  5. Alice says:

    Hey! So I loved this tutorial, because frankly I’m terrified of doing this. I grew up a total tomboy, and know NOTHING about hair that I should. I’ve been reading up, and this is great. I really think I can do this now, as opposed to half hour ago. I’ve been hedging about actually doing something to my hair for ages now, and this was just the push I needed. Me and my hair thank you. I’ll post a picture if I can figure out how. 🙂

    • Ava Strange says:

      Yay!! I’m so happy I could help. I really do my best to make all my tutorials as easy to follow as possible. You can upload a picture to and then link it to share, you don’t even need an account. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

  6. Deligh says:

    I absolutely love your hair, its just so gorgeous and it suits you well! One thing I can’t get off my mind though is you really look like Missy from Doctor Who! xx

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