Thursday, November 8, 2012

diy ombre highlights, attempt #1

So... I wrote this up a couple of weeks ago, but never got up to finishing it :x Oops. Now time has passed, my highlights are still there but still subtle, especially after giving myself that haircut I mentioned at the bottom.

Now that some obligations have passed, I'm gearing up to do the second round! :D

I've done it!

Kind of.

But I like it!

A little bit ago, I wrote up a post on DIY ombre hair. And about a week ago, last Tuesday, I finally attempted to DIY ombre highlights on my semi-untouched strands. I tried henna once in college (didn't do anything), and earlier this year I tried a box dye of burgundy red that was supposed to work on dark hair (but didn't really do anything either). So with all the mixing and the foiling, this was a definite first experience for me. In a way it shows?

Here's what I got:

This is sraight out of the rinse, before fully washing and letting the color settle.

Any thoughts? I feel like it came out a lot more subtle than I envisioned. Maybe that's a good thing, but after all the hours and work I put into it, I was a little dissatisfied with the results. I didn't quite realize how long my hair was for the look I wanted, so I should've made the ombred sections larger. Also, I was on a bit of a time crunch, so I didn't get to do that many sections. Nothing showed up at the front top area, around my bangs :(

I'm happy that there were no big flubs though, so I'll probably be trying a second round soon, after giving myself a trim. I also have more an idea of what I want now too. (More caramel golden threads, like Minka Kelly's look.)

Before actually bleaching my hair, I found a few more tutorials that helped a lot. In order of how much I used them:
And here's my process! I used:

Mad that I saved my receipts but now cannot locate them! Those are the prices I remember, but if I find the receipt, I will update the prices. I pretty much bought everything from Sally Beauty, and the total was around $12. I want to say a few things about the products before I go into the step-by-step.

Product Pointers

Next time, just do this -_- Less than $8 at Target.
  1. The blue tonal bleach powder smells like blueberry candy. Just FYI. But still a good idea to keep some windows open. 
  2. I found the "official" brush kind of clunky and clumsy. I tried the old, clean toothbrush technique from the NBC tutorial above and found that worked a lot better. 
  3. If I was starting over from the very beginning, and this is my recommendation for anyone else wanting to try, I would just buy a blonde box kit. I went to Target today in search of a purple shampoo, like the one the British Girl mentions in the first tutorial above. Sally Beauty sells them, but they're pricey at around $10 minimum. Couldn't find any purple shampoo at Target, but they were selling this Garnier Nutrisse Ultra Bleach Blonde Dye in DO-1 for $7.69. I spent nearly an hour looking at alllll the options in the store, regular dyes as well as the frosting kits, and the Garnier DO-1 was the best deal I found. It comes with 4 oz of developer, a tube of lightening cream (which is like the bleach powder, I'm guessing), two packets of "lightening powder" (other blonde dyes had this too, and I'm pretty sure they're for tonal lightening) and an oil conditioner. That's pretty much the same amount of stuff I bought, but for less money and a lot more convenient to locate. I guess buying everything separately is good if you want to know exactly what you're putting into your hair, the level of developer and all that, but to save you money and the headache, that's what I would recommend.
  4. This isn't about the products, but still a viable note. If I could go back in time, I would also add in two pre-steps: cut/trim hair as desired, and do the tester strand, as explained in Amanda Krueger's tutorial, to know the timing of your hair!
Finally. Sorry. I'm an information bug, so I guess that kind of explains why my posts can get so chunky! Hopefully you can just... appreciation the thoroughness. Granted, of a first-timer XD;;


1. Change into an old shirt. Take pictures of your before hair!

Still trying to psych myself up for bleaching my hair here.
2. Comb out your locks really well. Especially if you plan on using the highlighting cap.

3. Doff your bizarre headgear with a smile! 
(I felt like I was a haenyeo or something.)

Is this what it feels like to bald prematurely?
4. Start picking out your pieces of hair using the plastic needle. (This was a LOT harder than I thought. Or I'm just really bad at it. I got pretty frustrated and felt like I was wasting a lot of time... I felt like it depending on the angle of the needle, and lots of times I'd fish and poke repeatedly and get nothing. Maybe need to pull more unapologetically?)

5. Put on gloves. Mix developer + lightening powder according to directions. Mine said 2 oz of developer, half the small bottle, with the 1 oz packet of bleach. 
Try to get rid of lumps and keep from inhaling.

** Tip! Before applying, comb out the hair poking out from the cap holes. The hair you pull with the needle will easily get tangled or stuck around the plastic, so combing gently will get all the hair out and keep things neater.

6. Get your pieces of foil ready, and know what sections you want to do. I did two sides, one front middle and one back middle.

7. Apply your dye! Hold several inches of hair against the foil in one hand and apply your dye mixture with the other. Make sure to thoroughly coat the strands, including the back part that's resting against the foil. May require a little finagling. Enrobe tips in their foil robes to keep them from touching other parts of hair.

Waiting. Watching. More waiting. Suspicious...
8. Work around head. Let bottom ombre sections, where it will be lightest, sit for 10-20 minutes. Then re-open foil and apply more dye going higher up; let sit for 10 minutes. Repeat again for third section, closest to roots of hair. (I was aiming for a 10-10-10 time period, so that the tips would have 30 minutes of bleaching and the least bleached section would only have 10 minutes of lightening, but I was working pretty slow...)

**Might be a good idea to open foils and take a peek, so you're not suddenly surprised at how light your hair has become. (There was a point where I was surprised :X)

9. Once your time is up and you're ready, remove a foil and rinse the chunk, doing each section one by one in the order that you started. The stuff rinses out with water really fast.

I had to go somewhere so I couldn't properly wash my hair right after, but that's what you should do :X (I actually kind of stopped in the middle, came home several hours later and tried to add more, but I think the power of the bleach ebbed out. Nothing new showed up, but it was worth a try.)

10. Apply shampoo near the scalp, let the suds rinse against your hair and thoroughly wash out the dye. If you have purple shampoo, use it all over. Then apply a deep conditioning mask, concentrating on the ends of your hair. Rinse out, let dry and see what you get!

The next day. Hard to get an accurate picture, because
the highlights hide under the layers.

BY THE WAY, the night before I did this, I had a dream about ombreing my hair and having it come out pure white. It wasn't really a nightmare, because visually the results were just interesting, not necessarily horrifying, but I guess my subconscious was wondering how the bleach would work. In reality, the lightest I got was a kind of goldenrod blonde, just at some of the tips. Damage-wise, I haven't noticed anything too significant, but in general neither my skin nor my hair are that sensitive.

The Verdict

I had a lot of fun doing this! I've never had my hair change color, and I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. Just wish there were more highlighted pieces and that the ombre extended higher. Am also thinking about doing a toning gloss, either in ashy blonde or a plummy reddish tone (like Garnier Herbashine, L'oreal Healthy Look or Clairol Perfect 10).

The process is time consuming, but I didn't find it too difficult at all, so I would encourage anyone thinking about it to give it a try. If you have already, please share your experience! And I know, I'm not a professional, so feel free to take all this with a big or little grain of salt :)


  1. How fun! I love the way it came out, so subtle and chic. Also, that photo in step #3 made me smile SO BIG. I love it!!!

    1. awww thank you!!! so good to see you on here <3 and i see you are revamping your site! er. i will leave the rest of my comment over there! hahaha

  2. love all the photos, but esp the last one!! btw your hair was sooo black before...

    1. lol, asian genes, silly!!! let's do your hair when you come >:D

  3. Crazy to do some changes on your hair..! The Ombre coloring is becoming trendy all over the world now. Ombre coloring can be seen just about anywhere these days Best Ombre Highlights ASTORIA

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