I’ve been surfing year-round on the East Coast for the past four years, and each year between the months of August and September, I began to notice a fascinating transformation happening to my brunette hair color.
I have dark brown hair, but by the end of summer, the tone of the brown would gradually lighten down the length of my hair. By November, as the sun’s rays would weaken and my hair would lose this distinct coloring, I found myself becoming bored with my dull-by-comparison hair color.
The term for what was naturally occurring to my hair color is ombre, which is a French word that literally means having colors or tones that shade into each other.
When translated to the hair world, ombre color is generally darker at the roots through the mid-shaft and then gradually lightens from the mid-shaft to the ends.
With September being too far away and because ombre is a low-maintenance coloring technique that can actually look better as hair grows in, I decided not to wait to achieve my much-desired shade.
I sought the help of the colorists at the Rita Hazan salon, which is well-known for innovation in hair coloring as well as for its celebrity clientele.
Located in a high-rise building on Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan, the salon’s decor reminded me of a scene out of “Mad Men,” the popular television show.
Its 1960s mod design is refreshing, and the gorgeous natural lighting in the salon is perfect for evaluating the quintessential hair hue.
I was introduced to my colorist, Nicole Tresch. After a brief consultation, she and her assistant got to work.
While coloring, Nicole explained that ombre is a hot hair trend because it’s a technique that can add lightness to the hair without taking away from one’s natural color. It adds dimension and accents the layers in a haircut.
Further, ombre hair creates a sexy, edgy look that’s great for summer and works on any skin tone from very fair to dark, as long as the proper hues are chosen accordingly.
Nicole’s unique technique included teasing each section before applying the color and foil. Doing this diffuses the line between one’s hair color and the colored section, allowing for a more natural result.
I have relatively long hair, but that process took only about 25 minutes. Afterward, I sat under the dryer for five minutes to set the color. Lastly, the foils were removed and my hair was rinsed.
Being a hair-color virgin, I was nervous to see the results, even though Nicole reassured me that this would be a subtle and sophisticated ombre.
The wild ombre of the younger, club-hopping generation was not in the cards for me.
As my hair was being blow-dried, sections of caramel and toffee highlights were becoming visible, dispersed gorgeously throughout my natural dark brown color.
All of a sudden, my hair had depth. The layers framing my face were popping and actually enhancing my facial structure instead of simply hanging lifelessly.
I love my new color. And since Nicole explained that maintaining my ombre would only take two salon visits per year, I will most definitely be a year-round ombre devotee.
Elena Marks is a freelance writer specializing in fashion, music, and adventure travel, and lives in Port Washington, N.Y.