12 Light Brown Hair Shades for Every Skin Tone

Hair Color Ideas and Inspiration

12 Shades Of Light Brown Hair That Are Anything But Boring

11 December 2017
woman with long curled light brown hair

Emily Arata

Senior Editor, Hair.com

As an employee of L’Oréal, Emily works with celebrity stylists to make finding the right cut, color, or style easier than ever before. She's previously written for Allure, Elite Daily, and First We Feast.

Light brown hair is the middle child of the salon world. Raven-haired ladies get all the dates, and blondes have all the fun. What does that leave for the girl who’s right in the middle?

This may be a controversial opinion, but we’re here to tell you that light brown hair is better than either extreme. Ashy shades invite experimentation, blending well with pastels and silver accents. On the other hand, warm neutrals flatter all skin tones and play well with red tones.

If you’ve never done light brown hair before, we challenge you to give it a try. You might be surprised at how striking a medium shade can be.

photo of true light brown hair color

True Light Brown

Pure light brown is a criminally overlooked shade on the hair color spectrum. It’s nutty and neutral, so understated as to be a perfect fit in today’s minimalist fashion world. Unlike the flashy beach blondes of years past, light brown never goes out of style. 

To achieve this shade, ask your stylist for a light brown that’s tailored to fit the warm or cool undertones in your complexion. If possible, we like to suggest a few lighter sections around the face. 

photo of buttered toast hair color

Buttered Toast

If we’re being totally honest, buttered toast is a shade that mostly makes us very hungry. Growling stomachs aside, this delightful color barely edges its way into the light brown category. It’s primarily a cool blonde that gets its depth from ashy light brown notes and lighter blonde streaks.

Whether or not you choose this shade for the name alone, we guarantee you’ll be satisfied. You’ll really want a snack, too.

photo of walnut hair color


Imagine a rich, warm brown hair color that’s not quite as dark as chestnut, but not as bright as a light amber. That glorious shade is walnut, which makes up for its decidedly unsexy name in shine and depth.

We love this shade for rosy complexions, especially because the color features plenty of red notes. It’s the perfect transition shade for fall or winter.

photo of hazelnut hair color


Not every shade of brown is named after some kind of food, we promise. If you’re looking for a warm brown that’s not quite as red as walnut, we totally stand by hazelnut as your best option. The shade incorporates notes of light brown and strawberry blonde, resulting in a perfect brunette shade for spring.

If you’re looking for cheery light brown, hazelnut is your new go-to.

photo of copper brown hair color

Copper Brown

Light brown and coppery red are a match made in salon heaven. The two shades share toasty warm notes, making them an ideal duo for any head of hair. We like to see the secondary shade applied as ombre, fading gently from cocoa to orange-red. 

If that’s too close to becoming a redhead for your liking, dial your copper down a notch. Have your stylist apply the shade as a very subtle highlight throughout the hair. 

photo of light brown balayage hair

Light Brown with Balayage Blonde

So, maybe you miss that beachy blonde a little bit. That’s just fine! In this one thing, you really can have it all. We love the way honey and caramel blonde look when mixed into light brown hair. 

To get this style right, ask for your stylist to hand paint the blonde into your hair, starting around the mid-lengths. That way, you’ll still get to keep the face-framing light brown that flatters your complexion while simultaneously seeing the benefits of going blonde

photo of light brown hair with peekaboo highlights

Light Brown with Peekaboo Color

There are two ways to tackle peekaboo color: subtle, or totally the opposite. If you’re aiming for under-the-radar peekaboos, red, blonde, and dark chocolate shades work beautifully as hidden hair color underneath your light brown.

On the other hand, you can use this opportunity to try out a bright pastel or neon shade. If that’s the case, lavender and pastel pink are the way to go.

photo of light brown hair with visible roots

Visible Roots

Decades ago, hair that looked anything less than salon perfect was an absolute no-go. These days, undone is the new impeccable. Celebrity hair stylists have built entire careers on the visible roots look, one that implies you’re way too busy to spend hours in the salon chair.

If that’s a look you find appealing—I’m-too-busy chic, if you will—ask your stylist to leave your hair darkest around the roots. She can then work in your light brown and follow it with a shade of blonde, if that appeals to you.

photo of light brown hair with purple tips

Light Brown with Soft Purple Ends

Here’s another take on the pastel trend, one that doesn’t involve dunking your entire head in bleach and hoping for the best. Instead, we like the look of ashy lavender ends on light brown hair with beige tones. 

The cool shades make a flattering duo, and the blended purple is surprisingly neutral. We’d call this a no-fail way to try out a new hair color.

photo of ashy brown hair

Ash Brown

Like pastels, ash brown has seen its own windfall of popularity. The shade’s casually cool undertones appeal to off-duty models and Instagram influencers, meaning the rest of the world can’t wait to follow suit.

If you’re interested in the shade, talk to your hair stylist about the coolest possible iteration of the shade. This color looks spectacular on light and medium skin tones, in particular.

photo of golden brown hair color

Golden Brown

Here’s another shade that deserves to breeze down a runway. If you’re a lady with medium or dark skin, then golden brown is a perfect choice for any season. The light shade incorporates notes of red and honey, resulting in a look that’s all bronzed bombshell.

While the color looks flawless on just about everyone, we particularly like it on long hair. The multifaceted hue looks extra good when it can move and catch the light.

photo of brown sugar hair color

Brown Sugar

Our favorite hair colors are nearly always those that seem to have the most depth. Nobody wants to spend hundreds of dollars on a fresh color, only to find that it’s seriously underwhelming.

That in mind, let us introduce you to brown sugar, an absolutely no-fail shade. It’s multi-tonal and lovely, creating the illusion of extra thick, voluminous hair.

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