The Challenges of Ombré Hair: How to Keep Your Ends from Drying Out and Going Brassy
Though some may think ombré hair passé, the trend shows no signs of slowing down. Just see the gorgeous highlights seen on stars like Drew Barrymore (above). Because the look requires a gradual lightening from your mid-lengths to ends, dry tips, split ends, and the brassy tones are all common issues that can happen a few weeks after the dye. That's why we asked Chaz Dean, colorist and founder of Wen Haircare (Barrymore's a fan), for his pro tips on how to prevent your ends from taking on a cotton candy-like texture, and the secrets to keeping the color salon-fresh.
Opt for a Bleach-Free Treatment
The reason your hair always ends up brassy? Bleach used in hair color treatments strips your strands of all pigment, but doesn't put any color back in, so after a few shampoos, the toner eventually disappears and the shade shifts back to the orangey-yellow hue created by the chemical. Brassiness aside, bleach also opens up the hair cuticle, further drying it out and causing your color to prematurely fade, so by opting for a bleach-free treatment, you can spare yourself the problems to come. "In our salon, we do something called a glossing, which lifts your color and plays off the natural hues in your hair," says Dean, who notes that the process works best to create a subtle ombré effect—or sombré, if you will. The glossing treatment involves mixing a color with a low-volume peroxide, then running it through the mid-lengths and ends to impart a natural, gradual fade, which is far more gentle on your hair than the traditional bleach method. Each time you get touched-up, the ends continue to get lighter, sans splits. "It's like going out in the sun to get a tan, with sunscreen of course," Dean adds. "If you lay out 30 minutes three days in a row, you'll get a gradual tan, whereas if you lay out for 6 hours in one day, you'll just burn up."
Turn Down the Hot Water
Warm water may feel great against your skin in the shower, but it's bad news for bottle blondes. "I try to get people to think of their hair in the same way they think of their skin, and this is the same concept. When you use hot water on your skin, it opens your pores, and with your hair, it opens the cuticle and makes the follicle softer," Dean tells us. "This causes the color to fade since the cuticle is blown open, and a softer follicle could contribute to more hair loss." The pro advises using cool water on your hair—at most room temperature—to seal up the cuticle and restore shine. Contrary to popular belief, washing with warm water and finishing with a cold rinse won't cut it. "All you're doing is helping to close up the cuticle after you've already opened it and washed the color out with the hot water," he adds.
Remove Lathering Shampoos from Your Shower Routine
Shampoos that create a lather usually contain detergent, which further damages your hair and alters your color. "I haven't used lather shampoos since May of 1999 for that reason," Dean says. Seek out more gentle formulas, or pick up a cleansing conditioner like Wen's ($32; sephora.com). "You need to get moisture back into your ends. Anything with detergent is harsh on the hair, and will further compromise the health of your hair," he explains. "Absolutely follow with a leave-in conditioner or treatment oil on your ends, and avoid too much heat styling."
Stay Away from Protein-Rich Hair Masks
At first glance, a deep conditioner boasting major amounts of protein may seem like a good idea, but post-color treatment, it isn't what your hair needs. "Your hair is made of protein, and if you're just adding more when your hair is dry and brittle without any moisturizing elements, it will still be dry and brittle, but more prone to snapping and breaking," Dean explains. "What you want to do is look for a deep conditioner with moisture concentrate rather than protein. You can have a small amount, but if you don't have that balance, protein alone will cause your hair to be dry and brittle."
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