Flat to Fun: My Ombre Hair Makeover

After 10 years of the same boring, super-fine, pin-straight hairstyle, I finally decided to change up my look with ombre highlights and loose, textured waves.
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Big beauty confession: Until last week, it had been a year since my last hair cut. Maybe more than a year. It's a pretty bad sign that I can't remember. For someone who spends her working hours talking about hair, hair, and more hair (you guys who read LHJ.com just love it!), I had seriously let my own hair game go.

I also hadn't colored my hair in at least 10 years -- probably more like 15. In my fearless youth, I tried it all. There was the box-o-drugstore red phase which turned my dark brown hair a lovely shade of Barney purple but did not stop me from trying several versions of dino chic. There was the obligatory Sun-In phase (we all did that, right?). That was the gateway drug to my oh-so-90s streaky blonde highlights phase which, after one traumatic experience with an old-school cap kit, finally got my DIY-loving heart to the salon to let the pros have at it.

And then I gave up. Even in the face of quite a bit of grey hair (which somehow you magically can't see in this before photo but which is super-obvious IRL) I was resolutely "rocking it." From Barney to Granny in just 15 years. Yikes.

You can see why, when our lovely beauty team shared this makeover opportunity, I totally jumped. I happily put myself in the talented hands of Jorge Luis, senior stylist/colorist at Privé Salon in New York City. I asked for super-subtle ombré highlights because I had secretly wanted to try it for years (thank goodness subtle ombré is still a thing). And -- to be stone-cold honest because that's what we're doing here -- I wanted ombré because I'm lazy. Ahem, low maintenance. I knew there would be no way I'd be back for touch-ups every four weeks, which makes ombré perfect for those of us who want to do a little something to spice up dull locks but don't want to fully commit.

Jorge took one look at my flat, boring hair and knew exactly what I needed. First came the color. I was fascinated to watch him tease my hair in sections before applying the color to the ends. Turns out teasing at the roots helps to ensure that you don't end up with a big obvious demarcation line between the party hair at the bottom and the business stuff up top. (Not cute, and something I was terrified of.) It's also a great technique for girls with straight hair like me, because if the ombré isn't varied, the line is so much more obvious when you wear it straight.

Despite Jorge's serious chops -- Fashion Week runway shows, celeb clients, magazine spreads -- I was still a little nervous to see the color actually go on. OMG we are doing this thing. And between the teasing and the cotton pads and the saran wrap (no joke) I looked downright scary. (Yep I'm withholding a picture here to make you watch the video below to see me in all my crazy-hair glory.) But loco hair is temporary and gorgeous ombré color is (almost) forever, ladies.

After a quick rinse and gloss, Jorge did a blow-out so that he could cut my hair dry. The drier my hair got, the wider my smile got. This man is a genius! I love it already and there's still more than a year's worth of scraggly ends at the bottom! He cut off about two inches and gave it some movement at the ends but stayed away from layers. For girls with super-fine hair like me, layers tend to look choppy and unflattering. Or worse, go limp and frumpy unless you use a gallon of product. Which we've already established I am just not up to on the regular.

To style, Jorge used Privé's finishing texture spray, which helped give my hair some body and hold while keeping it soft and workable. He twisted medium-sized sections around a curling wand. Pro tip: Jorge does a little jiggle while the hair is wrapped around the barrel instead of leaving it straight on the heat to protect from damage. (Totally trying that! Hoping I don't burn my jiggling hands instead!) A few more spritzes of texture spray and I was done. And delighted.

Because my hair is so fine, I can barely hold a curl. But even after a day back at my desk and dinner out, my loose waves stayed put. Turns out that the combo of ombré dye and texture spray were all I needed to get the mussed-up waves I've been trying (and utterly failing) to rock forever. And the color looks just as great straight too -- dreaded line crisis averted. To keep ends healthy and moisturized, Jorge recommends heating up a little pure coconut oil in the microwave and putting it on the ends to work its magic.

It's subtle, but I think the color really brightens up my whole look -- and I will certainly take all the texture I can get. Even if I wait a while to touch up my lazy-girl color, you better believe it's not going to be 15 years this time. Lesson learned: Life's too short for such boring hair.



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