Sick of flat, one-dimensional brunette color? Check out these rich, prismatic brown hair ideas to shake things up! From toasty cocoa tones and nutty golden browns to deep espresso and mahogany shades, you’ll see just how versatile and trendy brown hair can be in this guide.
Need Some Brown Hair Ideas? Start Here.
- Brown shades range from light and toasty to rich and bold
- Choose undertones (warm, cool, or neutral) that suit your complexion
- Use multiple shades for the most dimensional brown color
Brown hair colors are some of the most diverse natural hues you can try. What other color has so much variety, richness, and depth?
With popular shades like warm toasty chestnut, cool silvery ash, and shadowy neutral espresso brown popping up everywhere, there’s no limit to the color combos and unique shades you can create with brunette tones.
Whether going brown is part of your seasonal hair transition or something totally new for you, it’s always a little tough to land on the *perfect* brunette shade.
There are so many brown hair color options out there that narrowing your choices down is the hardest part! Luckily, there are some tried and true ways to pinpoint the brunette shades that will suit you and your complexion best.
And with tons of trendy color techniques at your disposal, you can easily create a one-of-a-kind brown color that blends and combines your favorite tones for a brunette look that’s 100% you.
Are you imagining yourself with a rich golden and chestnut brown ombre color? A deep mocha and medium chocolate brown balayage? Or maybe a glittering, dimensional mahogany shade with hints of auburn red and a touch of violet?
We’ll show you some of our favorite brown hair ideas to jumpstart your imagination and get you thinking about the shades and color techniques that you want to try next. We’ve also got some helpful hints and tips to nail the perfect color and keep it looking fresh and vibrant!
Scroll down to see the best brown hair ideas and shades to try, color tips and tricks you need to know, and pointers to choose brunette shades that suit your skin tone and undertones.
20 Gorgeous Brown Hair Ideas to Try
It’s impossible to think that brown is boring when you see just how many options there are! We’ve hand-picked 20 of our favorite brown hair ideas for you to browse and gather some inspiration for your next hue.
Check out trendy balayage, ombre, and highlighted brunette looks as well as dimensional, rich all-over shades that appear to glow from within. The hardest part will be picking your favorites!
1. Lightest Chestnut Brown
For those who want a little red in their brown shade without teetering into full-on copper or auburn territory, a light chestnut brown is ideal. This color is decidedly brown with a vibrant auburn undertone that lends a little more dimension and sparkle to the shade.
2. Dark Espresso With Golden Bronze Balayage
A dark espresso root melt is a great way to add dimension and depth to a bright golden bronze color swept up into the midshaft. With faint reddish and golden undertones, the bronze brown color is ideal for skin with warm undertones. With the neutral espresso root melt, it’s even suitable for skin with neutral or cool undertones.
3. Light and Silvery Ash Brown
Ash brown is on the cooler end of the color spectrum. If your skin has cool undertones, choosing a light shade of ash brown will compliment your complexion nicely. With a robust and rich brown tone that shines silvery in the light, you’ll love the way this color appears to change color in different lighting.
4. Mocha Brown With Pale Golden Blonde Balayage
Cool/neutral mocha brown is a great color for anyone with cool or neutral undertones. It’s a muted brown shade with a little depth for richness. While mocha can be beautiful on its own, we’re loving how this pearly golden blonde contrasts with it and brightens the look.
5. Dark Chocolate and Bronze Balayage
Dark chocolate roots lighten up to a rich and dimensional bronze color through the ends. Bronze hair color is a blend of reddish chestnut brown and light golden brown. It perfectly suits anyone with warm undertones and as a medium tone (not light or dark), it’s a great, natural-looking balayage color.
6. Multi-Toned Golden Brown and Blonde Balayage
If you have dark hair and want to go a little lighter with brown and blonde in the mix, a seamless balayage color is the perfect way to do it. Leave your dark root intact with light golden brown transitioning into a pale golden blonde near the ends for a beautiful balayage look!
7. Medium Golden Brown Subtle Balayage
To keep your balayage color natural-looking and subtle, opt for colors 1-2 shades apart for minimal contrast. Here, a medium golden brown shade is swept in lightly, leaving ribbons of darker chocolate brown in between for more depth and dimension.
8. Cafe Noir Base With Beige Brown Balayage
One of our favorite ways to rock a very deep brown color, like the cafe noir shade shown here, on fair and medium skin tones is sweeping a lighter shade up through the midshaft with the balayage technique. It brightens up a deep shade to make it a little less stark in contrast with skin color and gives the color a multi-toned, luxe effect.
9. Chocolate With Partial Light Golden Brown Balayage
Partial balayage is a simple (and cheaper!) way to work in brighter brown tones in a medium or deep brown base color. Rich chocolate brown tones bring shadow and depth while the light golden brown tones around the face brighten up the look the way the sun would naturally lighten your color.
10. Shades of Chestnut Sombre
Love light, medium, and dark chesnut brown but can’t decide which tones to use? This sombre (subtle ombre) color works all the shades of chestnut in for a subtle but vibrant hue.
Beginning with dark chestnut at the roots and gradually lightening to the lightest coppery chestnut at the ends, it has a natural look that shines with dimension.
11. Dimensional Mahogany Brown
With tons of shine and a violet-red undertone, this mahogany brown makes a gorgeous all-over color with depth. If you’re looking for brown hair ideas that are a little different from your run-of-the-mill golden and chocolate tones, consider mahogany. It has warm and cool undertones that can suit skin with neutral, warm, or cool undertones.
12. Rich and Silky Chestnut Brown
Chestnut brown features split, warm undertones that are both reddish and deep golden in color. This shade of brown looks best on skin with warm undertones and can suit any skin tone (fair, medium, or deep).
It’s a vibrant shade that looks great all-over or as a base color with caramel, butterscotch, strawberry blonde, or golden blonde balayage.
13. Dark Ash Brown and Silvery Platinum Balayage
If you have cool undertones, you need to stick with cooler shades of brown that won’t clash with your complexion. This dark ash brown color with silvery platinum balayage is a great example! The silver, cool undertones in both colors will compliment a cooler complexion and add tons of icy dimension.
14. Chocolate Base With Light Beige Brown Highlights
Pin-straight locks really show off an expert-level highlight! Beige brown is a warm/neutral color that pairs well with the toasty undertones in chocolate brown. Choose a light shade of beige brown – or opt for a dark beige blonde – to contrast nicely with a deeper brown base color.
15. Reddish Chestnut Brown
With equal auburn and golden brown undertones, a true chestnut brown in a medium shade is hard to beat. It has so much dimension that you won’t need highlights, lowlights, or balayage color to liven it up. This color appears to change under different lighting and you’ll love how it glows on skin with warm undertones.
16. Espresso With Auburn Bronze Balayage
A natural balayage look weaves similar shades side-by-side with the lighter color sweeping up through the midshaft for low-maintenance color.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful color combo than silky espresso brown and auburn bronze! The bronze adds a subtle brightness and reddish undertone that compliments the deep espresso color well.
17. Espresso and Medium Chestnut Ombre
Ombre color is a great way to combine colors that are more than 2 shades apart. This rich, dark espresso brown base gradually lightens off the root into a medium chestnut brown shade with vibrant coppery undertones. Add money piece highlights around the face to pick up a slightly lighter bronde tone that ties the look together.
18. Creamy Milk Chocolate Brown
This is the quintessential brown color – it’s warm, medium in depth, and full of glimmering dimension that gives it a glow from within. It best suits someone with a warm undertone.
But it can skew neutral or even cool with the right toner. This is a shade that will work for all skin tones as well – fair, medium, and deep.
19. Deep Espresso With Light Golden Brown Balayage
A deep base color can be brightened up a bit to accentuate natural hair texture in a beautiful way with subtle balayage. Espresso tones give the color an overall rich boldness and depth that is highlighted with soft golden brown tips that mimic sun-lightened color.
20. Dimensional Dark Chocolate
Chocolate brown is a warm color with a very subtle reddish undertone. It’s perfect for warm skin tones! This dark chocolate color is deep and rich with enough dimension to stand alone as an all-over color.
Color Tips and Things to Consider
Now that you’ve got some gorgeous brown hair ideas to think about, you’ll want to check out these color tips and considerations to pinpoint the perfect shades for you.
Choose Brown Hair Ideas That Suit Your Undertones
Your skin’s unique undertone and skin tone combo will help you pick out flattering shades of brown hair color. All you have to do is identify the color temperature of your undertones and the depth level of your skin tone to find your best color matches!
Your skin’s undertone can be warm, cool, or neutral. Warm undertones have a golden or peachy tint, cool undertones have a reddish/pink or bluish tint, and neutral undertones may have a yellowish or olive green tint.
Once you’ve identified your undertone, you’ll choose the level (how light or dark the color is) of your brown color based on your skin tone. We’ll explore that next.
- Warm undertones should consider warm brown hair ideas, like golden brown, chocolate brown, bronze, and chestnut brown. Warm brown shades play off the warm tones in your skin for the most flattering effect.
- Cool undertones should consider cool brown hair ideas, like ash brown and mushroom brown. Cooler neutrals like mocha and espresso brown can also be great options, especially when paired with a cool-toned highlight (like champagne, platinum, or ash blonde).
- Neutral undertones can work with all shades of brown color since they possess both warm and cool tints. Neutral shades with warm and cool undertones are absolutely perfect, like espresso, mocha, and a warm brown base with cool highlights (or vice versa).
Choose the Shade Levels That Suit Your Skin Tone
Now that you know the different shades that will work best with your undertone, you can choose the color level and depth by taking a look at your skin tone. Your undertone never changes – it’ll always be warm, cool, or neutral. But your skin tone can change as you tan or get paler.
Your skin tone can be fair/light, medium, or deep. You’ll know your skin tone based on how easy or difficult it is for you to tan.
If you always burn first and have trouble tanning, you’re probably fair/light-toned. If you tan well but sometimes burn and have a subtle year-round glow, you’re probably medium-toned. And if your skin color is deeply tanned and rarely burns, you’re probably deep-toned.
- Fair/light skin tones look best in light to medium shades of brown. Darker shades can work well but create a much starker contrast with the skin, so tread lightly. Try blending lighter shades of brown in with balayage or ribbon balayage if you really want to go dark.
- Medium skin tones can rock the whole spectrum, from light to dark brown colors. You might like the way a darker shadow root, smudged root, or root melt helps a lighter shade of brown look more natural.
- Deep skin tones look best in medium to dark shades of brown, but lighter brown shades work excellently as highlights or ombre color. The key to working in light brown shades is balancing those brighter tones with a little depth and shadow from a darker root melt or strategic lowlight woven throughout.
Consider the Color Maintenance Requirements
Brown hair color is among the longest-lasting and is pretty easy to maintain overall. But trendy color techniques can adjust the maintenance requirements a bit, making it higher or lower maintenance.
Before you settle on a specific color or look, make sure you think about and research the maintenance level it’ll require. Off-root color (like balayage and ombre) is generally lower-maintenance since you won’t need the regular root touch-ups that all-over color requires.
Determine Which Type of Dye Will Work for You
Permanent color lasts the longest, but root touch-ups are unavoidable as your hair grows out. It’s also more damaging to hair as it physically lifts the outer cuticle layer to let the dye penetrate deeply for longer-lasting color.
But permanent color offers the best coverage and is the ideal option to keep maintenance minimal. Demi-permanent color lasts through about 24 shampoos, so it’s a great way to try brown hair ideas without fully committing.
Semi-permanent color will provide a more temporary color change that lasts for about 10 shampoos. Semi-permanent colors are often used as a toner or gloss to tweak the final color result.
These two shorter-term options are less damaging to strands, but aren’t able to lift hair color. This means you’ll only be able to choose demi- or semi-permanent color if you have light hair and are going darker with your brown color.
Picking the Best Brown Hair Ideas for You
We’ve covered a lot of ground here! You’ve seen some gorgeous brown hair ideas to inspire you, learned about picking the perfect shades and color levels for your undertones and skin tone, and addressed the maintenance requirements and dye types to figure out your best options.
You’ve learned how to use your undertone (warm, cool, or neutral) to find your most flattering shades of brown. Then, you found out that your skin tone (fair/light, medium, or deep) can help you choose the right level or depth for your brown shades.
Let’s say you have a warm undertone with a deep skin tone. You’d be looking at medium or dark warm brown shades like chestnut, chocolate, and golden brown.
Maybe you’re fair-skinned with a cool undertone? That means light to medium shades of cool brown or neutral brown will be your best bet, like light ash brown, medium mocha brown, or light mushroom brown.
Once you’re satisfied with your shade and level choice, you can start thinking about the color techniques you’ll try and how they’ll affect your maintenance requirements.
Remember, balayage or ombre are great for lower maintenance with off-root color! You’ll also want to consider the type of dye you want to get, which will determine how long the color lasts, how many touch-ups you’ll need to keep it looking fresh, and which shades will work.
Permanent lasts the longest and offers the best coverage. But demi-permanent is a great way to play around with new brown shades without committing 100%!
Taking steps to research and learn more about the process shows that you’re taking your strands seriously. That’s great, because this definitely isn’t something you should do on a whim!
Now that you’re armed with tons of pretty brown hair ideas and the knowledge to help you choose the perfect shades, we think you’re going to love the way you look as a feisty brunette!
Still not quite sure brown hair ideas are exactly what you’re looking for? Take our quick, 5-question quiz to find the perfect color for you next: What Color Should I Dye My Hair? | Quiz Time!