There are certain trends that come into being that we women with African hair remain oblivious to.
One such trend is the ombré look, which has been trending for a couple of years now.
At first glance, ombré is rather like fading hair dye that shows off your roots to maximum effect.
It is a colour that starts almost midway through your hair and makes it way down to the tips.
It is a look that is amplified on longer hair, preferable wavy, which explains why it is mostly sported on Caucasian hair.
What most black women don’t know is that it can work on any texture hair and any hair colour and length.
Blocks of colour
More often than not, Kenyan colourists and women will do solid blocks of colour or do highlights, which women have been doing for yonks. But in the spirit of 2012, embrace the ombré’ hair trend.
This is a name obtained from the dyeing of fabric in fashion where the colour is graduated from pale to dark with the more intense colour cascading to the bottom.
It looks slightly different on cropped hair, I’ll admit, but it does work. As do dreadlocks.
The colour is subtle with the shade looking almost erratic, unpredictable and as a result, natural, even though it is anything but.
Another way to wear this would be through hair extensions or weaves. You could buy hair with different colour wefts and work them into your hair, or if you have human hair, you could dye it ombré’
The best thing about this look is how low-maintenance it is. For it to work best and minimise touch ups, the roots could simply be new growth with the colourist working in the new colour a few inches away from your roots.
You could have the “fading” done in feathery strokes, or it could be only on the tips of your hair.
Another way to wear it would be to have the colour most complimentary to your skin tone be closest to your face with minimal touches of colour on your ends. If it is a bob, for instance, you could have the colour on the tips that flare outwards.
You would need to treat your hair with products for coloured hair and use a shine serum to enhance gloss and emphasise depth, volume and colour as well as the gradations of hues.
This process of fading your colour is referred to as balayage, traceable back to Europe, more specifically, France. Do not, I insist, try this at home.
If your hairdresser uses foil to do this colour, that would be highlights as opposed to ombré colouring.
To get this look, it will almost require your hairdresser to paint your hair. This is what gives your colour that very natural-looking finish.
How this works is, first they do the base colour. If you want a shade lighter than your hair colour, that is what they do first, then they do the highlights.
Alternatively, they could work with your natural base colour and start painting it midway. The challenge with this is time.
Initially, when this trend emerged, it was only the rich who could afford it owing to the amount of time it takes to do it and the imprecise precision as well.
It is now moving mainstream, which means the prices have come down some and even though it is fast becoming the in-thing, it would still be challenging to find a hairdresser willing to invest that much time in freely hand-painting your hair to natural effect.
The best kind of ombré comes from naturally dark roots turning light, rather like you are growing out a bleaching job. The challenge is making that transition appear natural.
There are looks that are playful though with tips turning pink, red, purple, green or blue. For a more conservative take on it, however, a softer look is generally preferred.
The colour intensity is a personal preference. You might want wisps of a lighter shade or entire chunks of it, or you might simply want the bottom half of your hair to be one colour, and the top half another colour, natural transition be damned. It is all up to you.
Keep in mind any colour job requires you to take a second look at your make-up, especially eye shadow and lip colour.
Ask your colourist how best to take care of your hair and the right kind of products to use.
Have them recommend something so that you can take care of your hair well enough in between visits.
With this kind of colour, you don’t particularly have to worry about it fading because that gives it exactly the kind of feel you are going after.
At the same time, your hair must be in good condition, especially if it done on your actual hair rather than on a weave or hair extension.
This is primarily because you can go longer in between dye jobs and will visit the salon less frequently.
Have a good home-care plan. If you have previous colour on your real hair, you might have to undergo a colour correction for this to work.
If you are dark-complexioned (think Ajuma, Alek Wek), aim for deep reds, copper and a cool blonde.
If you have chocolate brown skin tone (like Naomi Campbell), go for browns, coppers and violet. If light skinned (think Beyonce), go for a toned down blonde or a golden brown shade.
But, I reiterate, do not try this at home.