Shades of brunette range from a light ash tone to a deep chestnut… and everything in between.
Browns are classically beautiful and rich. They’re also the easiest of all hair colors to maintain.
This page contains a gallery featuring forty brunette hair color shades along with brief descriptions of each.
You’ll also find advice for choosing a shade of brown that will suit your complexion and tips for maintaining the depth and shine that make for a beautiful brunette, regardless of the shade.
Click any image in the gallery below to enlarge and start slideshow. Then use (i) icon for descriptions.
Using a pigmented shampoo and/or conditioner will help maintain the original tone of your color, whether the purpose is to enrich a deep warm brown or neutralize unwanted warm tones to keep your brown more neutral.
When not using a color depositing product, make sure your shampoo and conditioner are safe for colored hair. Some cleansers are too harsh, scrubbing your precious pigments right out of the hair shaft! A non-lathering cleanser like DevaCurl No Poo is a great option. It maintains the shine and luster of your color by adding moisture and gently cleansing.
Aveda Madder Root conditioner deposits warm red pigment onto the hair which will brighten and enrich shades of red from medium copper to dark auburn.
For red/brown tones, mix this conditioner with the Clove conditioner for more depth. Alternatively, for coppery blondes, mix this with the Chamomile conditioner if a lighter red pigment deposit is wanted.
Aveda Black Malva Conditioner deposits cool dark pigments onto hair, maintaining the richness and depth of dark brunette colors. Minerals in water, chlorine, sun exposure, harsh cleansers and alcohol based styling products all affect the condition of hair and its ability to hold onto pigments.
Use this conditioner to re-deposit those cool pigments when your hair needs a little adjustment in shade.
Aveda Clove Conditioner enhances the depth and richness of warm brown tones. Can be mixed with the Chamomile conditioner, shown in the other tabs, to customize for your specific color.
If you have a medium to dark blonde shade that you’d like to prevent from fading or dulling, this is the ticket!
FOR BEST RESULTS
Do you color your own hair? If so, you know that achieving the shade you want can be difficult. The color you see on the box is NOT necessarily the color you’ll end up with.
Browns sometimes need to be deepened to add impact, which can easily be done with a semi or demi permanent color. Many times, all that’s needed to boost a brunette shade is a bit of shine. Apply a color gloss, in either a tinted shade or clear. Sebastian Cellophanes is a great choice.
If you feel the need to lighten things up a bit, opt for a few foiled and/or balayage highlights, rather than an all-over blonde hair color. That way, you’ll get a more natural look, without the heavy maintenance that’s inevitable when lightening brown hair to blonde.
CHOOSING A SHADE
Shades of ash brown or dark ash blonde are super hot right now. Ash shades can be difficult to achieve with artificial hair color because of the tendency for orange/yellow underlying pigments to show through with even the slightest amount of lifting action.
Permanent hair color formulas (usually containing 20 volume developer) always operate in a lift-then-deposit process. The pigments deposited most times aren’t strong enough to counteract the strong underlying orange pigments. To avoid the gold, go with a deposit only, no ammonia, semi or demi-permanent hair color.
This shade is just on the verge of belonging in the Red Hair Color section. It’s a very warm shade of brunette, which brightens a medium to fair, warm skin tone. Avoid this shade if you have a cool (pinkish) skin tone.
Thoughts of “brunette hair color” often bring to mind a picture of precisely this shade. It is a beautiful, rich shade — not too light, not too dark. This is another one that’s difficult to capture with artificial permanent haircolor. If this is the shade you’re trying to achieve, opt for a semi-permanent, which doesn’t lift the underlying pigment.
This deep rich, shade of brunette has a warm hue, great for a brightening effect on warm skin tones. A sprinkle of very thin highlights just a shade or two lighter can be a nice addition to add some dimension to the color.
This shade is slightly darker than the one above, and has cool undertones, rather than warm. Can you see the difference? If you can, great! You’re developing the eye of a colorist! The cool hue makes this color suitable for (you guessed it), cool skin tones. A clear color gloss, applied every few months, will maintain the shine that is so important with such a deeply saturated color.
BROWN HAIR WITH FLAIR!
Jazz up a solid brown hair color with panels of amber or another bright shade. Slice out a few strips of hair near the front. Get creative with the positioning. Consider how the hair will lay. Not just the highlighted piece, but the hair around it too. Use foil highlights to isolate just the section(s) you want lightened. The effect is made more dramatic the lighter (or brighter) you go. This technique can be done using any combination of colors.