The highlights I got from Razzle Dazzle weren’t quite what I had in mind when I decided I want ombre hair, and it occurred to me that Manila salons have probably never heard of this hairstyle and wouldn’t know how to do it. So I had two choices – cough up $150 or more to get it done at a salon in San Francisco, or buy a highlight kit and do it myself. Guess which option I chose? :P I have never dyed my own hair before but there are tons of DIY ombre tutorials online, and they all made it sound really easy to do. Besides, even if I screw up somehow, it probably won’t cost me $150 to dye my hair back to black at a salon. So after work last Thursday, I busted out my highlight kit and got ready for my DIY ombre hair.
Here’s what I used:
* Revlon Frost & Glow Blonde Highlight Kit (bought in Walgreens for $12)
* the rattiest shirt I own
* the rattiest towel I own
* extra plastic bowl (which I ended up not using)
The ombre hair tutorials explained that you must use a highlight kit, not a blonde hair dying kit, because the latter doesn’t contain bleach and won’t lighten your hair much. I searched high and low for a highlight kit in Manila and found none in Watsons, SM, or PCX. When I finally found a box at Walgreens I was shocked by how cheap they were. I didn’t get to take a photo of its contents, but for $12 the Revlon Frost & Glow Blonde Highlight Kit had everything I needed: the dye (a powder), a bottle of developer, gloves, mixing bowl, spatula, cap for higlights (which I discarded), moisturizing shampoo & conditioner, and idiot-proof instructions. If all goes well, this will be the cheapest I have ever spent on a dye job.
What the tutorials never told me was how messy the whole process could get. It is absolutely important that you wear the rattiest piece of clothing you own, and then put the rattiest towel you own on top of it. No matter how careful you are, you WILL get hair dye all over your clothes.
Some other notes before I begin:
1) Get a haircut before doing your ombre so you can get rid of your split ends and restore the shape of your layers.
2) Wait 24 hours from your last shampoo before dying your hair (for digital perms and other hair treatments, wait a week or two). Hair that is “too clean” or covered in chemicals will not accept the dye as easily as hair coated in your natural oils. Trust me, this is true. I tried adding some last-minute highlights after I shampooed the dye off and the remaining dye did not hold.
3) Be prepared for the possibility that it will end up looking horrible. But even if it does, that’s okay – you can always dye your hair back to black.
Before I began the dying process, I decided to do a strand test to see what the resulting color would look like and how long it would take for my hair to turn the desired shade of brown/blonde. I did this by snipping off a lock of my hair and taping the ends together (in retrospect, I should have just taken a lock of my hair after the haircut). I highly recommend doing the strand test because every person’s hair will react differently with the dye. There’s a good chance that your resulting hair color won’t look anything like the over-Photoshopped photo on the box.
Mix a small amount of dye (the instructions will tell you how much) then apply it on the strand of hair. Make a note of how long it takes to achieve your desired color – this is how long the dye will sit on your hair. I obsessively timed it using my iPhone’s timer to do this and kept meticulous notes on how my hair looked like every 10 minutes, then every 5 minutes. Hair dying, it’s a science.
After 45 minutes, the strand turned blonde and I was ready to dye. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of the actual dying process; my hands were covered in hair dye the whole time and I was too busy watching the timer on my phone to worry about taking photos. But I’ll try to describe the process (and my mistakes) as best as I can.
My plan was to apply the dye to the ends of my hair and leave it on for 15 minutes. I then apply dye to the middle section of my hair to give it a gradient effect, and break up the color of my hair with well-placed highlights on my bangs. In 30 minutes, I wash the whole thing off. Sounds pretty simple, right?
I followed the idiot-proof instructions that came with the box, but I soon realized that the idiot-proof instructions didn’t really tell me how to apply the dye to my hair. So like a moron, I used my gloved hands to scoop up the dye and apply it to the ends of my hair. I quickly realized that this was a very stupid thing to do, as my towel soon got covered in the stuff and became difficult to apply the dye evenly. I ended up getting rid of the gloves, and using the spatula to paint the rest of the dye on to my hair. It was also rather difficult to apply the highlights as precisely as I wanted to be, but I somehow managed. I now have a newfound respect for hair colorists.
Time went by very slowly and I was very worried about how my hair would turn out. My biggest fear was that the gradient wouldn’t work, and that I’d have choppy sections of blonde hair like Drew Barrymore. I gave it an extra 5 minutes just to make sure the middle part had enough time to turn brown. Then I washed it off with the shampoo and conditioner provided by Revlon. This is how it turned out:
The ombre effect came out beautifully, and so did the highlights on my bangs! I couldn’t stop staring at my reflection when my hair was finally dry. It was everything I hoped it would be, and my only regret is that I didn’t decide to do a DIY ombre sooner. It’s fairly easy to do, and it will most likely go well provided that you do a lot of research and do a strand test before taking the plunge. I’m actually kind of excited for when I have to redo the highlights in about three months. Dying your own hair can be pretty addictive when it turns out well, and I have a feeling I’ll be taking care of all my hair color whims from now on. Now, if only I can find a highlight kit in Manila.