People are quick to associate ombré hair color with long locks. They tend to think of what we like to call "mermaid hair," the kind that falls as far down as the lower back, with beachy volume and texture. Short hair, however, rarely comes to mind. That, our friends, is a mistake seeing as ombré hair works on almost any length, including lobs, bobs, and any other short haircut. No matter the length of your hair, darker roots and lighter ends result in that sun-kissed, gradient effect we all know and love. Yes, we're officially putting it out there: Short ombré hair indeed exists.
It can be a longer process, as each version of ombré ends up looking distinctly unique. Hair-colorist Jenna Viney mentions there's a whole lot of freedom when it comes to this style, as there are so many different versions out there. One style is never exactly the same as another: "I paint, don't foil, so it's incredibly creative looking at placement, and gets me to think outside [the] box as each head and cut are all so different."
One thing to note is this style won't last as long as a traditionally longer look. "It will grow out faster, you won't get longevity like a long, layered cut (easily only done once a year), but it's also more creative, fun, and playful."
Ombré can be soft, natural, or it can get dramatic with high contrast colors throughout, and placement is key, Viney says. She strictly specializes in balayage, so even that would mean a different placement than foiling. Plus, note that tone is separate from ombré placement, which is why a consultation is important so you can discuss any issues and communicate what you're looking for.
We realize that like most things in life, we can't just make a claim without providing any proof. That's why we curated a list of our favorite short ombré looks from celebrities, Instagram, and expert hair stylists.
Meet the Expert
- Jenna Viney is a certified hairstylist who specializes in balayage.
- George Papanikolas is a hair colorist and Matrix Brand Ambassador.
Keep scrolling to see 25 photos that demonstrate the shorter side of ombré.
Ombré For Short Hair
Choosing a shade: Try keeping the root as natural as possible, which makes for complementary tones, and keeps the upkeep lower maintenance, which is the best side effect to ombré, Viney says. Plus, work with the underlying pigments, not against them.
Maintenance level: Very low maintenance and makes for an easy and natural-looking grow-out
Goes great with: A warmer makeup look, like jewel tones or earthy naturals.
Similar shades: Balayage, Dip Dye
Price: Starting around $275
Celebrity colorist and stylist Stephen Garrison posted this photo, which shows how well a subtle blonde ombré works with a chin-length cut. According to Papanikolas, a bleach lightener is the best way to get the lift necessary to go from a darker color to a lighter color. "A lightener like Matrix Lightmaster Bonder Inside ($29) protects the bonds while lightening," he says. "You will also need extra care preserving the bleached-out ends, since they are more fragile."
What starts out as a deep chestnut color at the roots slowly brightens up to an ashy blonde at the ends. The color progression is soft and subtle, even though her hair is only shoulder-length.
We love the piecey textured ends on this lob that Garrison posted. Try using a texture spray like Ouai's Dry Texturizing Spray ($28).
Sure, this haircut is verging on mid-length rather than short. However, this honey-blonde ombré is too good to miss.
Sleek and Straight
Short ombré hair doesn't have to be beachy and textured. It can also be sleek and straight, like J.Lo's chic bronde lob. In terms of color, Papanikolas says you can focus on the outer layer of the hair since there's more of a blunt cut with this style.
"Ombré looks happen with a transition from dark to light, so on shorter hair, the result on a pixie looks more like a "tipping out," says Papanikolas. The combination of brunette and caramel hair is a no-brainer. Showcase it on a textured, styled pixie, as seen on Halle Berry.
How about a cool silver-blonde ombré hair color for winter? It's fresh and icy, just like the season itself.
Cafè Au Lait
On the other end of the hair color spectrum is this incredibly warm, golden-blonde color. Everything from the seamless ombré color to the glamorous vintage-inspired waves is on point.
Lucy Hale, who is best known for her raven-colored locks, has been blonde for a minute now. We like how her dark roots match her bold brows.
Vanessa Hudgens's bold ombré lob blends three separate hair colors: dark chestnut roots, warm honey-brown mid-lengths, and golden-blonde ends.
Even though Beyoncé is known for her long, flowing hair as of late, she dabbled in short ombré hair, too. We love how her chin-length bob looks with a center part and defined curls.
Ciara's chin-length bob is all about one thing and one thing only: texture. Try replicating the piecey definition of her hair by spritzing Moroccanoil's Dry Texture Spray ($30) from the mid-lengths to the ends.
Bold ombré, like this brown-to-pink transition on influencer Irene Kim, can pack a powerful punch with the limited mileage of shorter hair.
Here is Cara Delevingne with a pixie grown out into a feathered chin-length bob. Everything from her blonde ombré to her soft, windswept texture is simply lovely. She looks like a modern-day Twiggy.
Delevingne's friend and colleague Jourdan Dunn wore her ombré hair in a super-chic curled bob. Thanks to this, we'll be stocking up on Ouidad's Shine Glaze Serum ($20).
One of our favorite hair looks by Sarah Hyland is this one, in which she wore her seamless ombré strands tied up in a soft half-up, half-down hairstyle.
Miley Cyrus wears her dark-to-light 'do in a cool androgynous style. Shoutout to the shaggy mullet style she's so effortlessly bringing back. "On a shag, you will need to add more highlights due to a lot of layering in the cut," Papanikolas notes.
Here's another ombré look that verges on medium-length hair instead of short. However, it's worth including to show how even people who start with a dark base can paint their ends blonde. All it takes is an expert colorist who can blend the two shades seamlessly.
Say goodbye to harsh highlight lines. Lived-in highlights like Jamie Chung's lighter color fade better. By blending a dark root and myriad lighter colors together, you get a super-relaxed look that helps color grow out in a natural way.
Sleek Ash Blonde
Tamera Mowry knows the power of a sleek ombré bob. Hers is a cool-toned combination of dark brown and ash blonde.
Chrissy Teigen's textured beach waves are like something out of our wildest dreams. We love the razor-cut ends and the two face-framing blonde pieces at the front. "Ombré works great on most tones and textures, but wavy hair tends to be the best at showing the depth and swirls of color," Papanikolas says.
Julianne Hough's pixie cut is parted so far to one side, that you can only see her dark roots if you look closely. It's proof that, yes, ombré hair color can work on super-short strands.
Going more delicate at the root, gradually getting thicker and heavier towards the ends, gives the best grow-out, Papanikolas notes.
Rashida Jones paired her famous bangs with sleek, shoulder-length strands at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party. Her bangs are dark, which emboldens the look of her hair's ombré color transition.
Remember when Emma Stone had these blunt bangs? They're great, but we can't stop staring at her red ombré color. It starts off a dark auburn before seamlessly transitioning to a bright strawberry blonde.
Pops of Curl
Make no mistake: Ombré looks amazing on natural hair. The bright ends make the curl pattern pop against a darker base.
This is how a French girl does short ombré hair. Jeanne Damas nails that effortless yet put-together vibe that French women are known for.