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Dark Brown Hair Color | Brunette Shades for All Skin Tones

Looking for some cute dark brown hair color ideas or want to find out if these deep shades can work for you? You’re in luck! We’re sharing everything you need to know about rocking dark brown hair color in this informative guide. 

From deep, earthy browns with warm tones to cool-toned shades of espresso, mocha, and the darkest black-brown, this color guide has tons of ideas and tips for you to keep in mind when choosing your perfect dark brown hue.

The hardest part is deciding which of these dark brown hair color ideas you’ll want to try first!

Shades of Dark Brown Hair Color

Various shades of dark brown hair color on samples on a shelf

Oksana Volina/Shutterstock

  • Warm dark brown shades include red, golden, or earthy undertones
  • Cool dark brown shades include ash, gray, black, or cool pink undertones
  • Color depth ranges from level 2 (darkest black-brown) to level 4 (dark brown)

Dark brown hair color has a lot of range! It’s important to know just how dark you want to go when you’re dealing with shades of dark brown hair color.

It’s a good idea to choose shades of dark brown that match your skin’s undertones (warm, cool, or neutral) first. Then, you can decide how dark you want your color by choosing the right color level.

Pretty, warm shades of dark brown hair color with earthy, honey, golden, or reddish undertones are perfect for people with warm undertones.

Deep chestnut brown, dark golden brown, deep auburn brown, and dark chocolate brown are great examples of warm, dark brown colors. Try these warm shades of dark brown if you have warm undertones:

  • Look best in gold jewelry
  • Have greenish veins
  • Have brown, hazel, green, or gold-speckled eyes
  • Look best in warm clothing colors

Cool-toned dark brown hair colors like mocha, dark mushroom brown, deep ash brown, cafe noir brown, and ultra-dark black-brown are beautiful options without the red, gold, or earthy undertones of warm brown shades.

These hues work well for people with cool undertones. Try these cool shades of brown if you have cool undertones:

  • Look best in silver jewelry
  • Have bluish or purplish veins
  • Have blue or cool brown eyes
  • Look best in cool or pastel clothing colors

Neutral undertones look great with either warm or cool dark brown hair colors. You can also opt for neutral dark brown shades that have both warm and cool undertones for a balanced look.

This includes colors like black-brown, espresso brown, deep plum burgundy, dark nude brown, and balanced cocoa brown. Try these neutral shades of dark brown if you have neutral undertones:

  • Look equally good with gold and silver jewelry
  • Have greenish blue or indiscernible vein color
  • Warm and cool clothing colors are equally flattering

Read Next: Stuck on a hair color? We’ll help you decide with our hair color quiz!

What Level Is Dark Brown Hair Color?

Woman with dark brown hair color in a tank top tilts her head right and looks sensually at the camera

Irina Bg/Shutterstock

Dark brown hair colors range from level 2 (darkest black-brown) to level 4 (dark brown). When we’re talking about hair color levels, smaller numbers indicate darker color levels closer to black. Higher numbers indicate lighter colors closer to blonde. 

Different shades of dark brown hair color can share the same color level – levels are not the same thing as color shades.

Color level indicates how dark a color is, so once you know what brown tones you want (warm, cool, or neutral), you can decide how dark you want your color by paying attention to color levels. 

  • Level 1 is black, which is the darkest hair color you can have. 
  • Level 2  is the darkest brown hair color, which is “black-brown” and is hard to visually differentiate from black. 
  • Level 3 hair color is “darkest brown,” which some consider the first true brown level on the hair color chart and is a little lighter than level 2 black-brown. 
  • Level 4 hair color is “dark brown” or medium-dark brown. This level color is slightly lighter than level 3, but still a notably dark brown color. 

After level 4, there’s medium brown (level 5), light brown (level 6), dark blonde (level 7), medium blonde (level 8), light blonde (level 9), and lightest blonde (level 10). 

Say you’re settled on a neutral, dark brown shade like espresso. You can take a look at the color depth levels to see if you want your espresso color very dark with lots of black in it (level 2), the darkest espresso brown (level 3), or medium-dark with a little less black in it (level 4). 

Color depth is most important to consider if you’re worried about going too dark with your dark brown hair color. Fair and light skin tones typically avoid the darkest levels (1-3) as they can appear harsh on very light skin.

Level 4 dark brown color is a better option for fair and light skin tones.  Medium and deep skin tones can opt for any level of dark brown color without issue.

If you’re looking for more noticeable undertones in your color, level 3 and 4 dark browns will be your best options. Since level 2 color includes a lot of black, it won’t show warm or cool undertones very well and remains pretty neutral. 

Gorgeous Dark Brown Hair Color Shades to Try

Now that you know what shades and levels of dark brown hair color will work for your skin tone and undertones, let’s take a look at some of the best dark brown hair colors to try.

You’ll see a range of options from the darkest black-browns to medium-dark browns in warm, cool, and neutral shades. 

Cool Cafe Noir Blackened Brown (Level 2)

Cool Cafe Noir Blackened Brown (Level 2) dark brown hair color


This cool-toned, deep black-brown is the color of cafe noir – black coffee – and it has the faintest brown tones enveloped in deep, sensuous black. If you want the darkest brown hair color possible, this is the shade for you.

Since it’s a blackened brown, it could be considered a neutral color and work with medium or deep warm undertones as well as cool and neutral undertones.

Neutral Violet Black-Brown (Level 2)

Neutral Violet Black-Brown (Level 2) dark brown hair color on a pretty woman with fair skin

Irina Bg/Shutterstock

When you combine warm and cool undertones in a color, you end up with a neutral shade that can suit warm, cool, and neutral undertones well. This violet-toned black-brown takes on an overall cool appearance with a faint purple hue blended into the deep, black-brown base.

There’s a little warmth with slightly red undertones (you can see them best where the light hits on the left side) to make it a great option for warm or neutral undertones, too. 

Espresso to Dark Auburn Brown Sombre (Levels 3-4)

For a guide to dark brown hair color, a woman with Espresso to Dark Auburn Brown Sombre (Levels 3-4) as seen from the back


Sombre – subtle ombre – color gorgeously and seamlessly transitions into a deeper or lighter shade from top to bottom. This look features dark level 3 espresso brown at the roots down to the midshaft and transitions nicely into a level 4 dark brown with pretty auburn undertones.

It’s perfect for warm skin tones, but with neutral espresso as the base, it can work for cool or neutral undertones as well. Try this color on medium to deep skin tones for the most flattering effect. 

Neutral Espresso Brown (Level 3)

Neutral Espresso Brown (Level 3) for a piece on dark brown hair color


This neutral espresso color is considered “darkest brown” and features enough black in it for the rich depth, but not enough to obscure the earthy brown tones. It works well for warm, cool, and neutral undertones, but looks best on medium to deep skin tones due to its intense depth. 

Warm Milk Chocolate (Level 4)

Warm Milk Chocolate (Level 4) dark brown hair color

Irina Bg/Shutterstock

Warm dark brown shades feature notable golden, red, or earthy undertones. This deep-yet-vibrant milk chocolate brown color shows hints of golden and earthy undertones that work amazingly well on skin with warm undertones. It’s a perfect color for someone with a fair or light skin tone. 

Dark Chestnut Brown (Level 4)

Dark Chestnut Brown (Level 4)


Dark chestnut hair color features beautiful auburn red tones with a warm, dark brown base. This dimensional color gives you the subtle fiery warmth of red and the depth of brown in one shade. Dark chestnut brown works best on warm undertones and suits all skin tones from fair to deep!

Warm Dark Chocolate Brown (Level 4)

Warm Dark Chocolate Brown (Level 4) for a piece on dark brown hair color


This is a gorgeous example of level 4 dark brown hair color! You can really see the complex, golden-red warm undertones of this shade where the light hits it.

A level 4 dark chocolate color will look best on warm or neutral undertones. Since level 4 is the “lightest” of the dark brown levels, it’s suitable for all skin tones from fair to deep. 

Warm Dark to Medium Brown Balayage (Levels 2-5)

Warm Dark to Medium Brown Balayage (Levels 2-5) as an example of dark brown hair color

Sofia Zhuravetc/Shutterstock

Different levels of dark brown color can be used together to achieve beautiful balayage looks. Here, a level 2 cafe noir brown at the roots anchors the look with inky depth.

The color lightens to a level 3 and 4 closer to the midshaft. The ends punctuate the look with lighter level 5 medium golden brown for an overall warm color palette that looks amazing on medium and deep skin tones. 

Will Dark Brown Hair Color Work for You?

We’ve looked at the many shades of dark brown hair color, analyzing dark brown color by level, and how different shades and levels suit a range of undertones and skin tones.

You’ve seen examples of different shades of dark brown with their warmth/coolness and color levels noted. With these points in mind, is dark brown going to be a good color choice for you?

The short answer: Yes. As long as you choose a shade of dark brown that plays well with your undertones (warm, cool, or neutral) and skin tone (fair/light, medium, or deep), this color can absolutely work for you! 

Start by choosing shades that match your undertones, whether they’re warm, cool, or neutral. We showed you tips to determine your undertones earlier by looking at your eye color, vein color, and how different metals (gold and silver) look against your skin. 

  • If you have warm undertones, choose warm dark brown shades that feature golden, red, or earthy undertones. This includes chocolate browns, chestnut shades, and deep golden browns. 
  • If you have cool undertones, choose cool dark brown shades that feature black, ash, violet, or gray undertones. This includes dark violet browns, deep ash browns, and black-brown cafe noir shades. 
  • If you have neutral undertones, choose dark brown shades that feature a mix of both warm and cool undertones or a heavy black undertone. This includes shades like espresso, cocoa brown, and dark nude browns. 

Once you’ve picked a good shade for your undertones, decide how dark you want to go based on your skin tone for the best color fit. 

  • If you have fair/light skin, choose level 4 dark brown shades with less black in the color. These are the lightest of the dark brown colors and won’t look harsh against your fair skin or appear to wash you out. 
  • If you have medium skin, level 3 or 4 dark browns will be your best match, but level 2 brown shades can also work. 
  • If you have deep skin, you can rock level 2 to level 4 dark browns easily. The deeper level 2 colors with more black than brown are beautiful on deep skin, but lighter level 3 and 4 browns will offer a rich contrast to your skin tone.

That’s the basic “recipe” for finding the perfect dark brown hair color for your complexion! It’s pretty simple, right? Keep in mind that you can break the rules a bit and still pull off a flattering color by opting for color techniques like balayage, ombre, and sombre color. 

For example, you can go a little darker than is recommended for your skin tone if you’re keeping the ends a bit lighter with ombre, sombre, or balayage color.

Likewise, if you have cool undertones but really want to rock a warm, dark brown shade, you can work it in with lowlights or apply it near the ends with balayage or ombre color. Dark brown shades offer intense depth and richness like no other color can.

Whether you’re opting for an almost-black cool cafe noir shade or a medium-dark brown with glittering auburn-chestnut undertones, you’re going to love how a deep brown flatters your complexion and transforms your look. Happy coloring!