A little bit light, a little bit dark…the best of both worlds.
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Ombré hair color certainly had a major moment in the mid-2000s, when it was the hair color of choice for pretty much any and every celeb. But here's the thing: The color trend really hasn't gone anywhere since then, it's just gotten a more modern update. Whereas previously it was a stark contrast between dark roots and blonde tips, the 2022 take on ombré is much more varied.

woman with ombre hair
Credit: Coffee and Milk/Getty Images

But let's back up for a second. What exactly is ombré hair color? "Ombré is a French word that means 'to shade.' When referencing hair color, it means to create a gradient from dark to light," explains Shanna Hushaw, elite colorist and field education leader for the Hair Cuttery Family of Brands. "Ombré colors can work for any hair length and texture because they can be totally customized and either bold or natural."

The other nice thing? While some maintenance may be required depending on the colors you pick, the grow out is typically much less noticeable. Typically, the darker the color is at the root and the lighter it is on the ends will make for a softer line of demarcation as it grows out, adays Lorena M. Valdes, a colorist at Chicago's Maxine Salon

Here are five examples of gorgeous ombré hair colors, from subdued and natural to bold and dramatic.

1 Caramel Macchiato Ombré

"This features a coffee-toned root with swirling caramel highlights, a soft blend that's reminiscent of the coffee drink," says Hushaw. It's a choice option for either natural blondes or brunettes. And because the color tones are neutral, it's flattering on pretty much all skin tones, she notes. This is also a fairly low-maintenance option; Hushaw says most people can go for several months without needing a refresh. 

2 Black Velvet Ombré

Valdes says she loves using an ombré technique to play with fashion colors because it creates a manageable and more natural-looking blend. This option is one of her favorites, a good pick for anyone who has dark hair. It's fantastic for those who want to maintain their naturally dark base but still have brighter ends, because the black transitions into a brighter red, she explains. To ensure the overall effect is super vibrant, try an in-salon gloss every four to six weeks, a great way to keep the color shiny and fresh with minimal effort, she says.

3 Early Grey Ombré

If you have cooler undertones to your skin, this take on the trend is especially flattering. The smoky tones, which transition from a cool, dark brown to an ashy, medium brown, complement a cooler complexion, says Hushaw. FYI, achieving that ash color may take a few sessions, based on how dark your hair is to begin with. Keep unwanted warmth at bay by using a purple-hued shampoo (it counteracts yellow and gold tones) once or twice per week.

4 Phoenix Ombré

A fun way to experiment with red, this features various shades of copper, says Valdes. Just keep in mind that red hair dye molecules are larger than any other color and, as such, the most prone to fading. Using color-safe shampoo and conditioner any time you wash, as well as always rinsing with cool water, can help increase the longevity, she adds.

5 Sombré

Combine 'subtle' and 'ombré' and you get this very subdued version. The lighter tone is generally only one to two shades brighter than the natural color at the top, making for a soft, sun-kissed feel, notes Hushaw. If you want a little more pop, ask your colorist to add a few brighter, balayage highlights around your face. Either way, the grow-out on this is extremely natural, so you can go for months (and months) without having to go back to the salon.