Our Q&A with Samantha Hillerby on this stylish colouring technique

Close-up of young woman sits on the beach

While ombré hair has been a popular trend for several years, it still remains one of the most current and in demand styles for shading your hair. Plus, due to its low-maintenance colour, it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon!

But what is ombré, exactly? With a soft graduation creating a two-tone natural looking effect, ombré hair allows you to have your roots on show and not feel the need to dye them every other week. While it might seem like you need to take a trip to the salon to achieve this trendy look, it’s actually super simple to create ombré hair at home.

We speak with our colour ambassador Samantha Hillerby to find out how to achieve and maintain salon-worthy ombré hair.

Beautiful female with balayage hairstyle back view

Firstly, what is the difference between ombre and balayage?

Ombré is a hair painting technique where the colourist keeps the hair darker from the roots to midshaft and then lighter from the midshaft to the ends. It’s the perfect way for brunettes to transition into blonde or for women to rock a vibrant hair colour without it saturating their roots and possibly overpowering their skin complexion – it’s a great low-maintenance look.

Meanwhile, balayage is a soft, sun-kissed sweeping colour from root to end. It can be free hand painted and blended from higher up to the root and around the face. It is technically a highlighting technique but is not to be confused with the foiled highlights of the past. Nowadays, balayage has taken over the traditional foiled highlights as the new way to brighten and lighten your hair.

Do you have any tips on how to achieve ombre hair at home?

Always section your hair! Separate your hair into four quarters and then section each quarter into another four quarters – tackling each section one at a time. Paint on the colour through the mid lengths and ends, and then backcomb the line where the colour meets the natural hair – this is the key to there not being a harsh divide, and achieving a more natural graduated look.

How long does it take to ombre hair?

It really depends on your hair thickness and length – for mid length hair it will take at least an hour and sometimes up to three if you have really long, thick hair. 

How often should you ombre your hair?

The great thing about ombré is that it’s low maintenance, so I would recommend three times a year – especially if you refresh the colour with a toning shampoo in between.

What would be your recommended ombre hair products to maintain your shade?

To keep your ombré and balayage fresh I would recommend John Frieda Violet Crush Purple Shampoo & conditioner for blondes, topped up with the John Frieda Violet Crush Intensive Purple Shampoo for Blondes, for whenever you need to neutralise any brassiness that develops – these products work to neutralise any orange tones to keep your colour look cool and ashy.

If you have a very dark base, you could also try the John Frieda Blue Crush for Brunettes, which utilises blue pigments to neutralise the brassier, copper-y tones that can appear when darker hair is chemically lightened.

For more information around neutralising brassy tones in brown hair, visit our guide – packed full of tips on how to keep your brunette looking and feeling brilliant. And for even more advice around hair dyeing, why not take a look at our collection of hair colour articles? From DIY hair dyeing to growing out your grey in style, you’ll find plenty of inspo when it comes to upgrading your look.

About Samantha Hillerby

Samantha Hillerby is a session hairstylist and colourist based in London and became John Frieda’s Colour Ambassador at the start of 2021. Having started her career working alongside the likes of Mark Hill, Nicky Clarke and Guido, Hillerby grew into her hair career crafting her skills with some of the greatest UK talent.

After becoming Guido’s first assistant she started to build her own team and now works on editorials, shows and campaigns worldwide. Since then, she also worked with Louis Vuitton, Emporio Armani, Escada, Malo, Vivienne Westwood and Calvin Klein. You can find her editorial works in publications like Vogue, ELLE UK, Garage Magazine, H&M, i-D Magazine, and The Gentlewoman.

Samantha's award winning salon 'Samatha Hillerby By Appointment' was also listed in Vogue's top beauty destinations list in 2017.

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