How to Sombre Hair

So, you want to sombre your hair? I get it. You’re craving a change, a little something-something to spice up your look. But maybe you’re not quite ready to go full-on ombre. That’s where sombre comes in, my friend. It’s like ombre’s subtler, more natural-looking cousin.

Sombre hair is all about that soft, gradual blend from dark to light. Adding layers or highlights can subtly enhance your hair’s appearance, providing that extra oomph without tipping into excess. And the best part? You can totally do it at home. Yep, you heard me right.

I’ve been there, done that, and I’m here to share all my sombre secrets with you. From choosing the right colors to nailing the application technique, I’ve got you covered. So grab your favorite beverage, settle in, and let’s dive into the world of sombre hair.

Table Of Contents:

What is Sombre Hair?

Sombre hair is the latest hair color trend that’s been taking over my Instagram feed lately. It’s a softer, more subtle take on the popular ombré hair look that we’ve all come to know and love.

How Sombre Hair Differs from Ombre

So what exactly is the difference between sombre and ombré hair? Sombre (a combination of “subtle” and “ombré”) is a much more gradual, blended color transition from darker roots to lighter ends. The change in color is barely noticeable, creating a natural, sun-kissed effect. Ombré, on the other hand, features a more distinct contrast between the darker roots and lighter ends. The line of demarcation is usually more visible, making it a bolder statement look.

Key Differences Between Sombre and Ombre

Here are the key differences between sombre and ombré hair:

  • Sombre has a softer, more blended color transition
  • Ombré has a more noticeable contrast between dark and light
  • Sombre looks more natural and sun-kissed
  • Ombré makes a bolder statement
  • Sombre is low-maintenance and easier to grow out
  • Ombré requires more frequent touch-ups to maintain the look

I’ve tried both sombre and ombré hair over the years, and I have to say, I’m really loving the sombre trend right now. It’s the perfect way to add some dimension and interest to your hair without going too crazy with the color. Plus, because the grow-out is so gradual, you can go longer between salon visits. And who doesn’t love saving time and money on hair appointments?

Choosing the Right Sombre Hair Color for Your Skin Tone

Now that you know the difference between sombre and ombré, let’s talk about choosing the right sombre hair color for your skin tone.

Best Sombre Hair Colors for Fair Skin

If you have fair skin, you’ll want to stick with cool, ashy tones like:

  • Cool blondes
  • Light, ash browns
  • Dirty blonde
  • Platinum

These colors will complement your skin’s cool undertones and give you a natural-looking sombre effect.

Flattering Sombre Shades for Medium Skin

For those with medium skin tones, you have a bit more flexibility when it comes to sombre hair colors. Some flattering options include:

  • Golden blondes
  • Warm browns
  • Caramel highlights
  • Light auburn

These warm, golden tones will enhance your skin’s natural glow and give you a beautiful, sun-kissed look.

Sombre Color Ideas for Dark Skin

If you have dark skin, you can go bold with your sombre hair color. Some stunning options include:

  • Rich, dark browns
  • Warm caramel highlights
  • Chestnut hues
  • Dark auburn

These deep, warm colors will complement your skin’s rich undertones and give you a gorgeous, dimensional sombre look. No matter what your skin tone, there’s a sombre hair color out there that will work for you. It’s all about finding the right shade to enhance your natural beauty.

How to Achieve Sombre Hair at Home

If you’re feeling brave and want to try achieving sombre hair at home, it’s definitely possible with the right tools and techniques.

Choosing the Right Hair Dye

First things first, you’ll need to choose a high-quality hair dye that’s specifically designed for at-home use. Look for a dye that’s ammonia-free and gentle on your hair to minimize damage. When selecting your color, remember to choose a shade that’s just one or two levels lighter than your natural base color for a subtle sombre effect.

Preparing Your Hair for Coloring

Before you start applying the dye, make sure your hair is clean, dry, and free of any styling products. If your hair is prone to dryness or damage, consider using a deep conditioning treatment a few days prior to help even out the porosity. Section your hair into four quadrants and secure with clips to make the application process easier.

Applying the Dye for a Sombre Effect

To achieve a sombre look, start by applying the dye to the mid-lengths of your hair, working your way down to the ends. Use a tint brush for precise application and be sure to saturate each section thoroughly. Once you’ve applied the dye to the ends, go back and gently feather the color up towards the roots, blending as you go to create a seamless transition. Let the dye process according to the instructions on the box, then rinse, shampoo, and condition as usual.

Maintaining Your Sombre Hair Color

To keep your sombre hair looking fresh between dye jobs, be sure to use a color-safe shampoo and conditioner to prevent fading. Once a week, treat your hair to a deep conditioning mask to keep it healthy and hydrated. And if you notice any brassiness starting to creep in, use a purple shampoo once or twice a week to neutralize those unwanted warm tones. With the right care and maintenance, your DIY sombre hair can look salon-worthy for weeks to come.

Tips for Maintaining Sombre Hair

Whether you achieved your sombre hair at home or at the salon, proper maintenance is key to keeping your color looking fresh and vibrant. Here are some of my top tips for maintaining sombre hair:

  1. Use a sulfate-free, color-safe shampoo and conditioner to avoid stripping the dye.
  2. Limit heat styling and always use a heat protectant spray when you do style with hot tools.
  3. Deep condition your hair once a week to keep it healthy and hydrated.
  4. Use a purple shampoo once or twice a week to neutralize any brassiness or yellow tones.
  5. Get regular trims every 6-8 weeks to keep your ends looking healthy.
  6. Touch up your sombre color every 8-12 weeks, depending on how fast your hair grows.
  7. Consider using a color-depositing conditioner or gloss between salon visits to refresh your tone.
  8. Protect your hair from the sun, saltwater, and chlorine by wearing a hat or using a UV protectant spray.

By following these simple tips, you can keep your sombre hair looking salon-fresh for longer. Trust me, a little extra TLC goes a long way when it comes to maintaining your color.


Well, there you have it, my friend. You’re now a bonafide sombre hair expert. You’ve got the know-how to choose the perfect colors for your skin tone, prep your hair like a pro, and apply that dye with finesse. Sombre hair is all about embracing that soft, natural-looking gradient that’s oh-so-flattering.

Remember, the key is to start with a good base, take your time with the application, and never forget the importance of maintaining your new look with the right products. With a little patience and practice, you’ll be rocking that sombre style like it’s nobody’s business.

So go forth, my newly-minted sombre specialist, and show the world what you’re made of. Your hair will thank you, and your friends will be begging for your secrets. And hey, if you ever need a refresher, you know where to find me. Happy sombre-ing!

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