Sombré Hair Color Is Ombré's Cooler Baby Sister

Hair color used to be simple: You asked for highlights in the summer, lowlights come fall, and maybe ombré when you saw your favorite celeb trying it. Now, there's balayage, gloss smudging, midlighting, and tomorrow there will be a new trendy way to seamlessly blend blonde. It can get confusing, but the au courant hair color for fall actually takes us back to elementary coloring — it's old-school ombré, gone subtle.

The pros call the adaptation "sombré," and it's a toned-down version of ombré (the "s" stands for subtle). It's the perfect transitional technique to take your hair from summer to fall. "Sombré gives your color a natural, lived-in look," explains Ryan Pearl, a colorist out of NYC's Cutler Salon and Redken Brand Ambassador. "It's blended with extra brightness around the face and ends." Similar to an ombré, you start with a dark base and gradually get lighter towards the ends. However, sombré incorporates highlights painted around the face, so there's no visible line of demarcation. The finished effect is so natural that no one will ask: "Is that ombré?"


Click ahead for photo evidence of sombré's universal wearability. Plus, pick up a few pro tips on how to ask for it at your next appointment.

Colorist Chad Kenyon calls his take on sombré coloring "a colormelt." Like a softening, he tells us that it's important that the blend from dark to light is seamless, not streaky.
Similar to the rooted blonde look, sombré is inherently low-maintenance if your root tone is naturally dark, because the grow-out looks purposeful.
Here, you can see what Kenyon calls "hero threads," bright strands focused around the hairline and bangs, tying the lightest blonde of the ends to the halo of the face.
If your hair is curly, Pearl recommends asking your colorist to start with ultra-fine babylights at the shaft, blended into a heavier blonde highlight at the very ends.
If your hair is naturally dark, you could try a brunette balayage that blends from black to chestnut to caramel.
Up-close, sombré gives the hair so much dimension, which reads especially seamless on ringlets.
Over a brunette base, a sombré blonde reads as naturally sun-kissed.
On natural hair, a sombré blonde will add pops of brightness to the ends of curls, while leaving the roots bleach-free.
See what we mean about the lived-in vibe? Sombré is California surfer cool, like blonde that's not trying too hard.
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