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Fade to Gorgeous: How to Ombre At Home

by April 12, 2024

Madison Reed Light Works Kit for 2-Color Ombre Hair at Home

Image by Madison Reed

Ombré ... It's everywhere.  Makeup, t-shirts, sweatpants, hair—the ombré obsession shows no signs of slowing down. And why should it? It's stunning. If you love the ombré style for your hair, the great news is you can easily do ombre hair at home using the balayage technique. 

If you’re wondering what the difference is between ombré and balayage, you’re not alone. We’ll break it down for you. 

• Ombré is more of a look, where the ends of the hair are noticeably lighter than the rest of the hair. It goes from dark at the roots to light on the ends and is typically more dramatic in contrast between the roots and ends. Historically, ombré (which is a French word that means shaded or shadow) refers to a method of dyeing fabric.

• Balayage is more of a technique, where color is literally painted on the surface of the hair with a sweeping motion for a more natural and blended look.While you may have only heard of this coloring process recently, it actually dates back to the 1970s when the technique was first offered in Paris salons. 

Fortunately, there is no need to fly to Paris or back in time. With our Light Works® Balayage Highlighting Kit, you can actually achieve the stunning two-toned effects of ombré for your hair with the balayage technique. 

Light Words for ombre hair at home

How to “Ombré” Hair at Home: Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Discover Your Roots

For the best ombré at-home results, you'll want to keep the color of your roots as close as possible to either your natural or current shade. That way you won't have to touch up your color as often, making life a little easier—that's a win in our book. Do you also need to cover up grays? If so, begin by choosing your perfect shade of permanent color from our assortment of 55+ shades of Radiant Hair Color. Schedule a Video Consulation with a licensed colorist to find the perfect shade or take a look at the chart below to determine which shade is right for you:

RCC shade chart 4x menu


Step 2: Divide & Conquer

The first step to achieving that fun ombré look at home is to color your roots with permanent color.

Start the touch-up process by dividing your hair into four sections.

Apply the dye to the roots only, making sure to fully saturate the roots with color. Be sure to stop coloring about an inch away from where your hair starts to lighten. Then, use a wide-tooth comb to draw the color down to create a well-blended look. If you have gray hair, you'll want to go back and add additional color to those areas. A PRO-TIP is to make sure your roots are fully saturated. No dry parts! And add an extra 10 minutes to the processing time if you’re dealing with those pesky resistant gray strands.

Once your color has processed, shampoo and dry your hair before proceeding to Light Works. 

Pro tip: It's usually not necessary to pull Radiant Hair Color through all of your hair before using Light Works.


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Step 3: Apply the Light Works® Balayage Highlighting Kit
The ombré look typically means darker roots with lighter ends—brown to blonde, dark brown to light brown, deep auburn to reddish gold, etc. When doing ombre at home, you won't be adding permanent Radiant Hair Color to the lower, lighter portion of your hair. Instead, you’ll be lightening and freshening up your ends with the Light Works® Balayage Highlighting Kit.

Inside the kit you’ll find everything you need to lighten and highlight the lower sections of your hair. Just like in the salon, the balayage technique is a two step process.

  1. Step 1 is an ammonia-free clay-based Lightening Cream that lightens your hair.
  2. Step 2 is a Toning Glaze that will help to improve the condition of your hair and give it a great overall shine.

When choosing the Light Works® Kit that’s right for you, you’ll want to pick a shade that complements and enhances your current color but also has a noticeable contrast to achieve that unmistakable ombré look. You can have fun with the shades, too. Why not try a warm honey or cool toffee touch? And remember—if your hair is prone to that dreaded brassiness (most hair is), go with a cooler ash shade. To add warmth to blonde hair, try a golden honey shade or caramel tone.

Step 4: Apply Highlights

Once your roots are done, you're ready to apply highlights to the mid-lengths and ends of your hair. Follow the directions included in your Light Works kit, and apply as many highlights as you want to the mid-lengths and ends of your hair to create an ombré effect.

Set a timer for the number of minutes indicated in your instructions. When the timer goes off, it’s time to hit that shower and cleanse with the Light Works Bond Building Cleansing Treatment. Be sure to leave the cleansing treatment in your hair for about three minutes before rinsing it out.

Step 5: Tone Your New Highlights

Now you’re ready to tone your new highlights with the Light Works Toning Glaze.Completely saturate your hair with the Toning Glaze and let it work its magic for about 20 minutes.

How to ombre hair with 2 colors at home

Step 6. Finishing Touches

When the 20 minutes is up, all you have left to do is shampoo and condition with the Madison Reed Shampoo and Conditioner. (The shampoo is different from the Bond Building Cleansing Treatment you used after the lightener.) You’ll find both the shampoo and conditioner in the Light Works Kit. While the balayage effect is permanent, the color might fade slightly after a few months if not looked after properly. Using these after-care products will really help lock all that color and protect your highlights, so make sure you stick with the kit products. 

After you shampoo and condition, you’re all done. Time to style and admire your gorgeous ombré hair that you did all by yourself at home.


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Originally published: 12/7/2016

Updated: 4/12/2024


More Ombré Hair Posts:

•  Before and After Ombré Hair with Nicole Chiu Wang

•  The Great Ombré Cover Up


•  Introducing Light Works - The First Balayage At Home Hair Highlighting Kit