Ombré Hair: It’s Baaack

Okay, to be fair, it never really went away, but we heard the word ombré so many times last year that we were thisclose to going medieval if a colorist mentioned it one more time. But, no matter how over it you may think you are, the fact remains that — according to almost every colorist on the planet —ombré is one of the most flattering things you can do for your hair color.

“Ombré hair is a natural beachy look,” says Cunningham, meaning that it lightens up your hair and gives it a sunkissed glow without looking brassy or fake. “I don’t think it ever went away,” continues Cunningham. “I had a few clients who tell me that they are so over ombré, but then they tell me they want highlights, they don’t want them coming out of their roots, and they want the ends lighter.” Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but that is the verydefinition of ombré.

Then why are so many of us are we still wearing a look that, for all intents and purposes, we seem to be trying to resist? We think the ombré resurgence has to do with the recent spate of brunette stars taking the dip-dye plunge. Cunningham agrees that brown-haired girls are the drivers of the trend, with stars like Jessica Biel, Beyoncé, and Jada Pinkett Smith leading the charge. Brunettes, she says, do not have a ton of options for natural ways to lighten up their hair. “Do you remember the highlights brunettes used to get? Thank God for ombré,” she exclaims. “Brunettes used tell me how they were naturally brown, but after three or four highlights, they were suddenly blondes. A client of mine and I nicknamed that color ‘bronde’ — it was awful.”

According to Cunningham, what makes this iteration of ombré fresh and new is that it’s no longer about a drastic, two-toned look, but more about a natural, subtle gradation. That means blondes and redheads can also get in on the trend without fear of it looking harsh or unnatural. Just be sure, advises Cunningham, that you don’t do your colors too solid — they should flow gently into each other, not create a stark, harsh contrast. 

If you’re still not convinced on ombré’s staying power, Cunningham has a few words for you. When asked if she thinks ombré will be one of those hair color trends that we look back on in horror, she replies, “Never. It’s always going to be around — I promise you on my life.” Strong words from the woman responsible for keeping the lush locks of Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Lopez, Charlize Theron, and Drew Barrymore looking flawless. 

Are you an ombré convert yet? If Cunningham’s passionate promotion didn’t persuade you, then scroll through to see the gorgeous celebs that are rocking the hell out of ombré this summer.


Okay, not to go all Walt Whitman on you guys, but don’t Amber Heard’s glossy locks remind you of beaming sunshine on a luscious spring day? The combination of her easy waves and flawless color gradation makes this ombré feel very natural. It’s the essence of that natural, beachy look that Cunningham was alluding to. 

Photo: Matt Baron/BEImages


Halle Berry proves that you don’t need long hair to pull off ombré. By subtly lightening just the tips, Halle’s whole look feels brighter and freshened up. Props to this savvy momma for also proving that ombré hair knows no age limit! 

Photo: Alona Forsythe/Patrick McMullan


Lauren Conrad’s tie-dye tresses are the perfect punched-up accessory for her simple LBD. We’re totally feeling this blombré (see what we did there?) for summer. 

Photo: Terrence Jennings/Retna,Ltd


We love how Bey’s ombré livens up her curly, textured hair, showing that it really does work on all colors and textures. Because, as we’ve seen, not everyone’s definition of ombré is the same, be sure to bring a photograph to the salon to show your colorist the exact placement you are interested in, as well as the color difference you would ideally like to achieve. Otherwise you may wind up with bleached hedgehog tips when what you really wanted was Bey’s golden, just-below-the-root fade. 

Photo: David Fisher/Rex USA


We’ll let Cunningham do the talking about Lily Aldridge’s hair, since she’s the one who created it: “For Lily, I highlighted her hair to look like it did when she was little. She had really dark hair and light ends, almost like a sheet of blonde over the dark. People were loving her hair before, but then the Harper’s Bazaar spread came out and it was crazy — everyone became obsessed with it.” 

Yeah, that pretty much sums up how we feel about her hair, too! 

Photo: Jen Lowery


Even with a jet-black base shade, Jada Pinkett Smith makes ombré work for her. “The great thing about ombre is that it works for everybody,” says Cunningham. “The key is to keep it natural looking, so if your hair is super dark or black don’t go with platinum blonde. Choose a color that’s closer to your natural hair color, like a light brown.” 

Photo: Celebrity Monitor


Lea Michele has the best of both worlds with her brunette-to-blonde interpretation. We love the contrast because it adds instant dimension and definition to her mane. 

Photo: Everett Collection/RexUSA


Okay, Miley’s drastic ‘do doesn’t really follow the whole “keep it natural” mantra, but we had to call out her extreme dye job because it is an interesting, bold take on the trend. It may not be a look that suits every girl, but there are definitely those out there that we can see really owning this particular flavor of ombré. 

Photo: Picture Perfect/Rex USA

Click HERE to read more from Refinery29.

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