I Just Got Ombré Hair and I'm Not Sure How I Feel About It

Plus brushed-out curls for the win!

Call me vain, call me shallow, call me overly preoccupied with mascara, lipstick and vanilla-scented body lotion (have you tried Lavanila? It's amazing). But one thing you can't call me is timid. Because probably more than any beauty editor I know, I've been willing to put myself out there and experiment with all sorts of things in the name of "RESEARCH."

The latest investigation was into Ombré hair, which we've been talking about quite a bit here on BeautyEditor.ca. In case you're just joining us, Ombré is the term used to describe hair that has a seamless graduation of colour, with the darkest part at the roots and the lightest at the ends.

Although sometimes this can be really extreme, if you'll recall, I showed you the Ombré I think is most wearable—Ombré 2.0, if you will—back in the summer. I also posted pics of reader Kate, one of the lucky winners in our Clairol Makeover Challenge whose Ombré was perfection and my hands-down favourite look of the day. And then there were the DIY Ombré instructions I posted for peeps who want to get the look at home using Clairol box colour.

WELL—I need to tell you that the man behind both Kate's hair AND the DIY instructions is none other than Luis Pacheco of Toronto's Hair on the Avenue salon. Let's just call him the Ombré King. Because he was doing it long before it even became a trend, and he is really, really good at it.

Also? He is very easy to look at:

Because I am into "self-improvement," back at the Clairol event in August I asked Luis what he thought of my colour. If you'll recall, it looked like this:

And I could tell immediately he Did. Not. Love.

Which I totally get—even though my natural colour is not really THAT dark, there is something not ideal about highlights that start at the root. Especially as they grow out—that's the number one reason for my ongoing Hair Angst. Whenever I get an inch or two of re-growth, I'm tortured by thoughts of "Am I doing the right thing?" and "Could my hair be BETTER?"

(I told you I was vain. You think you can work in this business and NOT be?)

Anyway, this is why when Luis invited me to his salon, I jumped at the chance—and basically let him have his way with me. (I will remind you now that my "rule"—which I sometimes break—about not accepting free hair treatments really just applies to cuts. I'm more open-minded with colour.)

So... I won't bore you with tons of details about the process, but in short:

  • Step One involves covering your entire base with colour—in my case, a medium golden brown. Luis leaves the ends out because...
  • Step Two involves highlighting the ends, using a VERY COOL TECHNIQUE that he learned from Gisele's colourist (yes, really) involving back-combing each section before painting it with colour. (Do not try at home.)
  • Step Three involves painting some very fine highlights around the hairline just to break up the colour. See: SJP, above.

Because you have to get your hair washed and dried in between each step, the entire process took almost FIVE HOURS (!) But that included a blow-dry, bang trim, and the aforementioned brushed-out curls... which we should talk about now.

You know how "Hollywood hair" has been in style for a long time now? You know—those flat iron curls that are sort of dropped-out but kind of too perfect?

They are pretty, but they need to go away now.

What *I* think is way cooler and soon to be a mainstream trend are brushed-out curls. Sarah Jessica Parker sort of has them going on, above (you see, I was challenged to find a photo that demonstrated both Ombré hair AND the curls)... but I think the runway has much better examples.

From the Marc Jacobs S/S '11 show:

Another example (not sure which show this is from):

How you get them (according to Hair on the Avenue "hair artist" Anthony Ingraldi, who agrees with me that they are the coolest thing right now):

Do the flat iron curl as you normally would—but the trick is to start it about a third of the way down the hair shaft. This look is about the hair being a bit flat up top. After you clamp the hair in the iron, turn it just once and then pull all the way through to the end.

Then, IMMEDIATELY after you finish curling your whole head, give the curls a good brush with a paddle brush (I like Mason Pearson).

And now for the big reveal! Here's the whole look on yours truly. From the side you can really see the colour:

And because I look real dorky in the pics Luis took of me at the salon, here's my iMac version from the front:

I know the lighting's not so good, but do you like? What I can't get over is how the colour goes from dark to light completely seamlessly. It's amazing! I am, however, still getting used to having bangs that are this dark—I'm so used to having the blonde near my face to brighten me up. I have a theory that Ombré works better when you don't have bangs... at least I certainly like how it looks better when I push my bangs to the sides.

Still—I can appreciate now what Luis meant when he told me my bangs needed to be darker. When you highlight them, they DO look a bit thin and wimpy. But as I am a blonderexic, I cannot guarantee I won't be tempted by the siren song of highlights. You know how it is...

But I'm gonna try this look for a while.

Do you like the Ombré?

Do you like the brushed-out curls?

Might you copy this look too? It's okay—you have my full permission.

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