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!!!