Frederick Taylor/Broadimage
Marianne Mychaskiw
Oct 05, 2014 @ 6:06 pm

While many stars are still sporting pastel and bold ombré 'dos, many celebrities have been opting for more-natural effects---like Jessica Alba's sombré (or subtle ombré) look. "It's beautiful. It's a gradual progression of darkness to lightness, as opposed to heavy contrasting bands, which is what traditional ombré is," says Oscar Blandi lead colorist Kyle White, who has worked with the star. "You don't really see that line of demarcation you get with regular ombré, and it's almost like a haze effect blending the colors together."

Eager to make some seasonal hair changes, we looked to White to find out exactly what to ask for when going for Jessica's look, and key tips on how to maintain it. The first step? Find a reference photo before booking your salon appointment. "Whenever you have an idea for hair color, the best way to convey that is to bring a picture," he adds. "If you don't have that, stick to terms everyone understands when describing it---don't get too technical. For Jessica's look, you would ask for a chocolate brown base that progresses into honey tips."

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Make sure your stylist takes your skin tone, eye color and lifestyle into consideration, as one of the biggest hair color mistakes is going too light or too dark. "Either extreme can wash you out. If it's too light, it will match your skin tone, but if it's too dark, there is to much of a contrast," White adds.

Once your highlights are in place, it's time to think about after-care. Swap your regular shampoo and conditioner for color-safe options, and pick up a hair gloss like John Frieda's ($12; target.com) to use every two weeks to keep your hue fresh. "Sun exposure can cause your color to fade, so be sure to use a sun protectant, and wash your hair no more than three times a week if you can, as frequent shampooing can also exacerbate that," he says.

White also recommends keeping your hair extra-hydrated, as healthy hair holds the shade better than damaged hair, which can allow color molecules to escape through gaps in the hair shaft. "My favorite moisturizing treatment to use is actually coconut oil. Take a tablespoon, heat it up for 10 seconds, and work it into your mid-lengths and ends," says White. "You can sleep on it, but if you don't have time, even just 15 minutes is long enough to be effective. Try to do that at least once a week."

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Heat styling can also prompt your hue to fade, so White recommends prepping your strands with It's a 10 Leave-In Conditioner ($18; ulta.com) to act as a thermal shield. But blowing out your hair isn't always better than a flat iron if you're not using the correct tools---a brush with a metal core can actually damage your Alba-esque hue, despite the bounce it may give to your layers. "Metal brushes heat up to a high temperature from the blow dryer, and basically become a wet-to-dry iron," he says. "It may cut the time in half, but you're sacrificing the health of your hair, and your color." Instead, White advises picking up a natural bristle brush with either a ceramic or plastic barrel. We're obsessed with Moroccanoil's version ($72; moroccanoil.com), which may cost a pretty penny, but considering the money you'll save on having to repair damage done by the wrong brush, we think the investment is worth it.

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