DIY Ombre Highlights

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It’s been all food and travel up to now, but lemme tell ya, if there’s one thing I love, it’s some good old fashioned girly hair and makeup.

I like to change up my hair — a lot. Since junior year of college I’ve gone from bleach blonde, to almost black, to auburn, to chocolate brown, to dark brown faded to blonde ombre, to dirty blonde. It’s fun… but also expensive. And since I’ve been (trying) to cut back to save up for my travels as well as (hopefully) a big move next year, I’ve rolled up my sleeves for some DIY highlights.

NOTE: THIS IS NOT FOR EVERYONE. Seriously. I’ve had a mild (okay, major) obsession with beauty magazines and articles since I was a kid. I watch YouTube tutorials for fun, and have about 50 different magazine subscriptions. This isn’t something you should do if you’re looking for a big change, have hair that’s fried, or are just scared shitless about using chemicals near your face (probably most people, I guess. Not me.).

So, where am I at today? Well, ombre has been my favorite of all my styles. Originally I started off having my roots dyed chocolate brown using demi-permanent color and adding baby-fine blonde highlights to the bottom (a professional job, btw).

Over time, as anyone who has any trace of blonde in their hair will tell you, I’ve gotten lighter and lighter, eventually going to the salon to have it allover lightened to a medium blonde with dark roots.

But I still didn’t feel blonde enough (it’s a serious problem.) So, I did a little digging and came across a great tutorial by country-singer Jesse James Decker. It basically involves taking a blonde highlighting kit and using your fingers to add teeny tiny blonde highlights all over while keeping your roots dark and natural.

I suggest watching it to get an idea of what I did: Jessie James Decker – Highlight Hair Tutorial – YouTube

I pretty much followed the video, though I did make a few changes. If you’re into the idea of DIYing, here’s a basic rundown.

  • First, head to Wal-Mart, CVS or any big-name store and track down Revlon Frost and Glow. Seriously, you want this stuff. It gives you a natural color  and, personally, I think it’s the best DIY highlight kit available. Plus, it’s what’s used in the tutorial, so I’m not just making this up.
  • When you’re ready, get out your supplies. The kit comes with a cap that some use for highlighting — ditch it. It’s old fashioned, makes your hair look stripe-y and hurts like hell.
  • Mix up the dye following the instructions included. When you’re ready, put on the gloves, dab at the mixture and apply to small pieces of hair around you head. When I did mine, I varied the sizes and how far down I started the bleach, focusing it on the ends. I used the same technique in the video, globbing it on the ends and scrunching/smooshing (technical term) it at the top to make it a softer transition.
  • Wait 30 minutes. Or more or less, depending on how your hair typically takes dye. Keep checking it to make sure you don’t go too far into the grandma-white look, or that you remove it too quickly to reveal a lovely shade of orange.
  • When time’s up, rinse out the highlights and shampoo (gently!). Apply a toner if you’re like me and want an ashy look. Personally, I love this one from Target, which is cheap, moisturizing and you don’t have to mix up. I’ve also used Wella, but that requires mixing with a developer and should only be used if you know what you’re doing. The toner is going to be a bright blue/purple. This is what you want. Blue counteracts orange pigments in the hair, while purple takes away yellow.
  • Rinse out the toner after 20 minutes or so, and apply a deep conditioner. Wrap some saran wrap around your head and veg out until your locks look like they’ve been kissed by the sun (or at least a $200 hairstylist).

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The best part about this look is it’s super, super low maintenance, and only really needs to be touched up when you feel like it. You also should consider using a purple shampoo a few times a week to keep brassiness away, and with any bleaching, try to treat your hair with love in between sessions.

Personally, I plan to continue to do this every 6 to 8 weeks to keep up the blonde and brighten it… at least until I decide my next hair adventure.

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