Sombré (subtle ombré) is now here, and being courted and wooed by everyone from salon hairstylists to celebrities.
A coloring technique that allows for a softer and more natural progression of color than the original trendsetter, sombré hair resembles more the natural color changes in a horse’s mane rather than the the jolt of color in a parakeet feather. The end result is very pleasing on the eyes, and not jarring in a neon billboard kind of way.
George Papanikolas, Matrix Celebrity Stylist and Colorist, who has given the sombré look to Jenna Tatum and Minka Kelley, among others says that although sombré looks more natural it requires some serious maintenance because of the delicate highlights at the roots that gradually fade to lighter brighter ends. It tends to grow out softly though, and needs to be retouched every 12-14 weeks.
But, he adds, sombré is more gentle on the hair because hair does not have to be lightened or processed heavily to achieve the look, which causes less damage and requires fewer treatments and conditioning. Papanikolas adds that the ideal sombré has “soft delicate highlights at the root area that gradually get lighter at the ends. All the ends of the hair should not look dip dyed.”
None of that harsh, spiky streaks of color that we had initially with ombré,despite Lindsay Lohan’s colorful version. Previously, there would be the great divide: your natural color, and suddenly ombre, as though gradual fading did not matter. But with the new trend, a gradual fade is truly key.
Of course, great sombré looks, such as the kinds worn by Kim Kardashian or Jessica Biel, require careful maintenance, and they tend to work best on straight or wavy hair. Papanikolas advises that hair moisturizers (hair masques, like Leonor Greyl’s Masque Quintessence, which we’re crazy about) is the key to maintaining the rich color process.
Get the Look at Home
And yes, there is a way to get the look at home. L’Oréal Paris Superior Preference Ombré Touch ($12.99) just launched and aims to give you that subtle effect, with streaks of light that don’t look forced. The kit contains an Expert Touch Applicator, a plastic brush with fine teeth that easily fits onto a finger tip so you can brush the color into your hair. The Luminous Lightening System contains a Lifting Powder, a lifting Crème, and a Crème Develope, which when used together creates a sophisticated and subtle sombré effect.
Photo Credit: Redken
Sulfate-free shampoos are not new: in 2008 Good Housekeeping reviewed its first brush with products formulated without sodium lauryl sulfates (SLS).
While that review wasn’t exactly glowing in the beginning (the reviewer complained that the shampoo wouldn’t produce suds, for starters) by the end of her trial she reported that her hair, in fact, was satisfactorily clean.
Surfactant-free shampoos have come a long way since then, and one of the newest launches in the category is the Redken Color Extend Magnetics ($29-$33) line. The objective of SLS-free hair-care is to preserve color in color-treated hair. In addition, there is some controversy that sodium lauryl sulfates could be carcinogenic. At the very least, most hair experts agree that SLS damage hair and destroy expensive color jobs (hair colorist Philip B says it is “as harsh as some dishwashing liquids”).
Redken not only focused on gentle cleansing in the Color Extend Magnetics line, but incorporated technology called the Charge-Attract Complex, which delivers charged amino-ions that are attracted to the hair fiber. These ions shield the hair like armor, and your pricey color job is protected (it also gives shine and that je ne sais quois allure). The line up includes with the Sulfate-Free Shampoo, Conditioner, and Deep Attraction Mask.
The products work beautifully and the Deep Attraction Mask is my particular favorite because it leaves the hair luxurious soft and shiny.
Shampoos and conditioners are no longer the predictable wallflowers from your grandmother’s days: they’ve gone niche and aim to surprise by their depth and breadth of options. A new breed of haircare has raised the bar considerably for those willing to explore—there’s something for everyone, from coarse hair, to split ends, and, of course, color-treated locks.
Beauty has long imitated nature, and the new Biolage from Matrix range with four distinct product lines goes beyond just the updated sleek packaging. There is one collection for practically every hair concern, and the brand’s proprietary Biomatch Technology takes cues from mechanisms found in nature that have allowed plants to thrive and develop. For example, the key ingredient in the Smoothproof Collection is moisture-repelling camellia, which reportedly endures monsoon conditions; the idea here is to harness the ingredient to combat frizz and create truly smooth hair. The collection includes a beautifully-fragrant shampoo ($17); conditioner ($18); my favorite serum in the collection because it leaves a glossy shine ($16); and a leave-in cream ($16) that forms a hydrophobic shield. Beach-ready hair was never easier.
The Colorlast Collection in iconic pink packaging, pays homage to the fade-defying orchid, which retains its color thanks to flavinoids that filter out UV rays. The collection’s formulas help color treated hair maintain an even color for up to nine weeks. The lineup includes a shampoo ($17) , a low pH conditioner ($18), a unique Shine Shake ($16), which boasts a creamy top layer that is basically a silicone emulsion with a UV filter and a paraben-free base (basically a hair smoothie), and Colorlast Mask ($19), which envelopes each colored strand and gives it the nourishing pampering it deserves and needs.
True to its name the Biolage Hydrasource Collection is a comprehensive water powerhouse, providing ample moisture to parched tresses. The star ingredient here is moisture-locking aloe, which provides instant moisture absorption and retention. Studies showed that after just one application, hair strands received 15 times more hydration. This collection features a shampoo that increases moisture levels ($17), a detangling conditioner ($18), a hydra-seal spray ($16), a luxurious moisturizing hair mask ($19), a more specific detangling solution ($18), a leave-in tonic ($16), and a daily leave-in cream ($16). With such a mighty hydration arsenal, parched hair will be history.
And finally, what’s hair without some va va voom? The VolumeBloom Collection features cotton flower as its star ingredient. Participants in a study saw 70% hair expansion after one application. The collection also includes shampoo ($17), conditioner ($18), and volumizing spray ($16) that expands each hair’s inter-fiber space.
These gems are available now, online and in fine salons.