May 18, 2014

Ombre Hair: Before, After and Aftercare

I've been wanting to get ombre done for such a long time, I even created a dedicated Pinterest board to styles of Ombre that looked good on darker hair. A lot of my Ombre hair inspiration comes from Lauren Conrad and Michelle Phan. I got referred to Hannah Hwang who works out of Goa beauty salon in Koreatown, Toronto, ON right by Christie station.


Finding a stylist for ombre was challenging: For some reason I'm quite particular about who does my hair.  I've been doing research about hairstylists in Toronto, and unfortunately many are not quite socially media savvy so its been difficult to find someone who is can (1) do ombre well (2) knows how to deal with Asian hair and is (3) reasonably priced. Luckily, my cousin Tracy who has had ombre for the past year or so was able to refer me to her stylist. I realize this is how most stylists get business, as traditional marketing (e.g. news ads, flyers) generates fewer leads in comparison.

Hair History: This was my before, which I styled taking photis of cherry blossoms in Hanami. The hair dresser is Hannah Hwang, and Hannah was so professional and passionate about her clients. The first question she asked me was, "What is your hair history?". I told her the following: chemically straightened last year, and that I dyed my hair back to black 5 years ago. I had brown highlights done last year.

She ran her fingers through my hair, feeling the texture and commented, "you have a LOT of hair". She proceeded to explain how she was going to achieve the effect that I wanted, the steps involved, as well as the type of products she was going to use. She certainly made me feel VIP and although I spent several hours at the salon it was a pleasant experience!

Please scroll down for "After" pictures:

Why Ombre?

Ombre: is the gradual lightening of a dark colour to a light colour. Essentially a smooth transitional gradient. This applies to hair, textiles, clothing, you name it.

Balayage Highlights: to create a "sunkissed" look, its a different technique of highlighting the hair than foil highlights. The highlighted colour is painted freehand, without the use of foil away from the roots

I've had many frustrations with dying my hair, sometimes hair colours can completely wash  you out and look like a wig on top of you head. Also when you grow out the hair, you have a halo of your roots showing and people can tell how long its been. I like highlights and ombre because you can get away without dying your roots for a while and its "part of the effect".

A good example that Hannah gave me was when Kim Kardashian actually went full blonde, it really didn't look as good as the Ombre she had done. She looked more natural and she could keep her original eyebrow colour:

Full hair dye with highlights vs more natural looking ombre on Kim Kardashian.

Ombre also allows me to get away with lighter colours. Trust me, an asian with ash blonde hair doesn't always come across as professional in certain settings. Given where I work, I feel much more limited in terms of what colours we can pull off. Ombre allows me to have those colours without crossing the line into "extreme hair colouring".

The Ombre that Inspired Me

Whats great about Pinterest is that it has allowed me to see up and coming trends in Ombre. There are a few hair colours that I've been following for celebrity figures who do Ombre really well. Of course, all the work by Guy Tang is just incredible, and it was great to see the variety of hair that he does.

Michelle Phan, Shay Mitchell and Lauren Conrad 

You can see other ombre I've pinned on My Pinterest Board

After: My Ombre with Balayage highlights

Hannah said my hair was actually particularly difficult to dye just because it didn't take the colour as well as other hair textures. So this is actually darker than the effect she was trying to achieve. However, given this was the first time I saw her, she now knows my hair history and type of hair she is working with - I LOVED the effect, especially after seeing it curled.

Photos taken in the hair studio, I really like the gradient effect. 

Ombre Aftercare

Preventing brasiness: Hannah told me that asian hair has a tendency to turn brassy whenever you lighten it (read: orange). So in order to prevent that, she recommend "purple shampoo for blonde hair". It essentially contains a toner that minimizes the brasiness that might occur. The product my cousin Tracy uses for her ombre is Clairol Professional - Shimmer lights, aka the "Purple Shampoo" once per week.

Maintaining Shine: Use of virgin coconut oil on a regular basis 1 hour before heading into the shower.
Hair Hygiene - Heat Protection: I use Chi 44 Iron Guard Thermal Protection spray before straightening or curling my hair. Sprayed on while hair is wet or dry before applying any kind of heat.

I'm so excited about this colour, and plan on rocking it out this summer! I would not even mind going even lighter next time.  It took a long time to find someone who was able to do a really nice ombre for me.

Thanks for reading :)
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  1. LOVE the ombre hair on you! It turned out very well!

  2. Oops, I think I should have written "very nice"! Sorry ;-)

  3. This looks incredible! I can never commit to a hair color so I don't think I'll ever end up doing ombre on my hair but it does look so good and natural
    Allison from

  4. Thanks so much Jess! <3

  5. Its certainly a leap of faith to try out this colour since I have been somewhat conservative with hair colours in the past (aka sticking with my natural hair colour). Thanks for visiting ^_^