2020 is the year of the brunette and while we adore every shade of brown under the sun, there’s something really special about ash brown hair. From mushroom brown to silvery shades, there’s a reason these cool-toned, chic hair colors have grown in popularity over the past few years.
If you’re looking to refresh your mane or trade in your warm-toned shade for something completely different, ash brown is an on-trend way to do it. Wondering how to make ash brown hair work for you? We tapped two of the best colorists in the game, Redken brand ambassador Cassondra Kaeding and Redken x Mizani brand ambassador Rachel Redd, to break down everything you need to know.
Good hair day by @thesalteblond.
What does ash brown hair look like?
Think of ash brown hair as ash blonde’s darker, moodier sister. Unlike dark chocolate or honey brown, ash brown is a gray-leaning shade that will bring out the cool tones in your hair (which, of course, makes it best for women with cool or neutral skin tones).
Good hair day by @rachel_redd.
How do you achieve ash brown hair?
If you’re hoping to make your ash brown hair dreams a reality, get ready to book an appointment with a Redken colorist ASAP. The brand just released new ash brown shades in their most popular formulas, Color Gels Lacquers and Cover Fusion Ash Browns, which provide 100 percent, ultra-cool gray coverage, and Shades EQ Gloss which neutralizes extreme brass and refreshes previous color.
“My brunette clients are obsessed with keeping their color cool. The Ash Brown shade family makes it easy to find that balance, while creating the highly requested ash brown color trend,” Kaeding says. “Helping your clients cover gray and stay cooler for longer is so important in today’s salon reality, and stylists can trust Redken to deliver with this new family in Shades EQ, Color Gels Lacquers and Cover Fusion.”
The new shade family delivers ultra-cool and rich results for brunettes who want to stay cool until their next color appointment and for stylists who want cool brunette results, without compromising on coverage.
“A lot of my clients ask for darker tones without red undertones or warmth. The new Ash Browns create such a soft, neutral brown with richness and shine. It’s also a great choice for corrective color work when canceling out ‘hot roots’,” Redd says.
Good hair day by @danielmbeauty.
Who looks good with ash brown hair
The short answer is: everyone! The truth is, there’s a way to customize any hair color to suit you—as long as you find the right colorist. While we’re firm believers in any hair color for any person, ash hair colors look particularly stunning on people with cool skin tones.
Good hair day by @maddiemelts.
What does ash color do to your hair?
Ash hair color runs very cool, so it’ll pull out the blue-gray notes in any head of hair. Not sure whether cool colors look good against your skin or will totally wash you out? This is where the expertise of a pro comes in. Even if the color isn’t great against your face, a balayage application on long hair or a small tweak to the color can be the change that creates the best shade of your life.
Does ash brown hair fade?
If you’ve ever tried an ash hair color before, you know that they can turn brassy quickly—and ash brown is no exception. If you’re opting for ash brown hair, be sure to include a blue shampoo and conditioner to your hair care routine to keep brassy, yellow undertones at bay. We recommend Redken Color Extend Brownlights Shampoo and Conditioner. This powerful toning system contains blue pigment to fight brass and help keep your highlighted or natural brunette hair color cool, bright, and healthy.
Good hair day by @jackieedoeshair.
Do I need to bleach my hair to dye it ash brown?
The process of achieving ash brown hair all depends on the hue you’re starting with. If you’re starting with dark brown or black hair, your colorist will likely need to use bleach to achieve your chosen ash brown shade. It’s important to note that bleach will always cause some damage, but your colorist will help to improve the look and feel of your hair before you leave the salon. If your strands are blonde or light brown, you may be able to go ash brown without bleach.
If your ash brown transformation involves bleach, we recommend adding a hair mask like Redken Extreme Strengthening Mega Hair Mask to your routine. This two-in-one strengthening hair mask is both a treatment and care extender designed specifically for your damaged hair.
Good hair day by @lindsey.marie.olson.
Does ash brown cover gray?
If gray coverage is your priority, ash brown hair is a great choice, particularly if you’re more interested in seamlessly blending your grays rather than total annihilation of every single silver hair on your head. Ultimately, coverage depends on the state of your hair as well as the kind of dye used. Redken Color Gels Lacquers and Cover Fusion Ash Browns, which provide 100 percent, ultra-cool gray coverage. If you’re not convinced you can mask all of your grays, schedule a consultation with your colorist. Only your stylist can run their fingers through your hair and tell you exactly what it needs.
Good hair day by @philipforesto.
How long does ash brown hair last?
How long your ash brown hair color lasts depends on which color service you opt for. If you want to go ash brown for good, ask your colorist to use a permanent hair dye to color your strands. This color will penetrate your strands and remain until it grows out or you decide to switch things up with a new hue. If you’re looking for less of a commitment, opt for a semi permanent color or a gloss. These colors just coat the surface of your strands, allowing them to fade over time. The time it takes for your color to fade will vary for each person, but expect the color to last about 20 washes.
How do you care for ash brown hair?
Once you have an ash brown hue that you love, you’re going to want to make sure you do everything in your power to ensure it stays looking its best. That’s why you’ll need a color toning shampoo and conditioner system like Redken Color Extend Brownlights Shampoo and Conditioner. This color-depositing, blue toning system for brunettes is ideal for preventing and neutralizing brass on both highlighted and natural brown hair. The shampoo formula gently cleanses hair without stripping color while helping to maintain and tone your cool-toned brunette color.
While the shampoo and conditioner you use is important, another way to prolong the life of your ash brown hair color is to skip a wash day or to. Regularly washing your hair is essential to the health of your mane, but cleansing too often can cause your color to fade prematurely. If you’re a daily washer, skip a day or two and keep your strands grease free with a dry shampoo like Redken Invisible Dry Shampoo. This lightweight dry shampoo will refresh your strands without any residue—your wash day secret is safe with us.
Wondering what ash brown hair look is best for you? Keep scrolling for 15 of our favorite shades.
The Best Ash Brown Hair Color Ideas To Try Now
Good hair day by @hairby_gloria.
Mushroom brown first caught our attention in 2018, and we haven’t stopped talking about the grayish-brown hue since. If you have a fair skin tone, this trendy portobello-inspired shade is perfect for you.
Good hair day by @seolahair.
Embrace your inner winter queen with a snowy blend of silver, light brown ash, and blonde. While you may find this color takes your stylist several appointments to achieve, the resulting look is multidimensional and beautifully reflective.
Good hair day by @gretawagner_.
Dark Brown Ash
Sometimes it feels as if every shade on the dark end of the hair spectrum involves a deep purple-red. For those seeking a very dark brown that doesn’t remind them of grape soda, opt for dark brown ash. We find this shade incredibly flattering for medium and dark skin tones.
Good hair day by @hellocindeee.
Ash Brown With Blonde Highlights
Fact: A few blonde highlights accentuate any hair color, and ash brown is no exception! Ask your colorist for a few cool-toned blonde highlights to add dimension and movement to your base color.
Good hair day by @benmartinhair.
Dark Chocolate Ash
Dark chocolate ash adds an additional level of intensity to the color. When it’s applied and maintained correctly, this shade should be reflective and silky—basically, the equivalent of melted dark chocolate.
Although the shade suits a range of skin tones, we love the way it looks on pale skin. Why not go for the extra drama?
Good hair day by @ismaelvvargas.
Light Ash Brown
If you’re looking for an ash brown shade that’s not quite as dramatic as its darker counterparts but still equally as gorgeous, opt for light brown ash.
Good hair day by @timursta.
Glossy Ash Brown
We’ve described ash brown as moody and cool-toned, but that doesn’t mean it needs to lack shine! Head to the salon for a hair gloss or use a shine serum like Pureology Hydrate Shine Max Hair Serum to give your ash brown hue a reflective, glossy finish.
Good hair day by @hairbyjessganley.
For ladies with medium or medium-dark skin, caramel
We love this shade on mid-length and long hair, especially with caramel sections around the face to mimic the way long days in the sun might lighten the hair.
Good hair day by @thegoldenponytail.
Toffee Ash Blend
If caramel ash is approachable, then toffee is the shade’s moody cousin. The shade is a true ash brown that flatters light and medium skin tones—not to mention the matte finish we’ve seen in fashion editorials.
On fine or long hair, toffee ash can feel a little one-note. In that case, ask your stylist for strategic lowlights throughout the hair. These well-placed streaks will add depth to your new shade.
Good hair day by @lewiscolour.
Silver Ash Brown
Silver ash brown has all the depth and intensity of standard chocolate brown, but with a cool finish that makes it look fresh. If you’ve been looking to experiment with pastel colors, gray, or silver, silver ash brown is an excellent choice.
Good hair day by @guillaumenyc.
Hunting for a hair color that’s infinitely wearable? One that looks put together, but never overdone? Honey ash is the perfect pick for you. The color is a medium brown with hints of sweet, silky honey blonde and beige.
Like honey ash blonde, this shade is the perfect pick for ladies seeking the elusive beach babe look. On loose waves, honey ash brown really makes a carefree statement.
Good hair day by @hairbyelm.
One of the newest hair colors to hit our trend radar is lilac ash, a combination of two styles we love. For those who have been debating giving cool-toned brown a try and wonder about possibilities of pastel hair, lilac ash checks both boxes. The pink-purple shade adds a whimsical, lighthearted touch to your mane.
Good hair day by @markgardnermenai.
Mocha ash is a classic shade, one that flatters a variety of complexions with its red and gold notes. It’s a sophisticated, creamy take on chestnut strands that will never go out of style.
Good hair day by @jesusvera_lorealpro.
Where silver ash is deep and metallic, pewter ash brown is a matte shade that’s all inky gray and brown. The shade almost looks the way your brown hair might after being coated with a layer of dry shampoo, but in a very fashionable way.
Good hair day by @caidy_caidymariebeauty.
White Ash Blend
Find a sweet spot between brunette and silver hair color with a look that seamlessly blends bright and dark ashy shades. While we wouldn’t recommend this look for newbies who aren’t used to caring for very light hair, hair color veterans should be able to take it in stride.
Interested in trying ash brown hair? Use our salon locator to book an appointment with a stylist near you.