It's no secret that brunette hair is one of the most classic hair colors around, but the hue has never been as trendy as it is now. And with some of our favorite celebrities trading in their blonde locks for chocolate tresses, it’s clear that people far and wide are eager to take a walk on the dark side.
There’s a reason dark brown hair is so popular with celebs and influencers: It’s a classic color no matter how you style it, and there are countless variations to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a fresh take on your natural color or want to go bold with an eye-catching balayage, every shade is beautiful in its own way.
You can even try dark brown hair with highlights in an unexpected color (like gray, rose gold, or blue for a nod at a more ephemeral hair color trend. Ready to explore the dark side? We’re helping you learn how to choose the best dark brown hair color for you with 70+ options to inspire your next dye job (plus maintenance tips), ahead.
How To Choose The Right Dark Brown Hair Color For You
As you’re mulling over the perfect dark brown hair dye shade for you, the first thing to keep in mind is the color spectrum:
- Warm hair colors: Browns that reflect gold, orange, or red, such as mahogany.
- Cool hair colors: Browns that reflect blue, green, or purple, including black-browns.
- Neutral hair colors: Browns that are neither overly warm nor cool but are instead a perfect balance of both.
Next, check if your skin undertones are warm, cool, or somewhere in between:
- Warm skin tones: Look at the underside of your wrist. If your veins appear greenish you likely have a warm skin tone. Those with warmer skin typically to look best in warm dark brown hair colors.
- Cool skin tones: If you have bluish veins and a more pinkish complexion, you probably have cool skin. Cool-toned dark brown hair colors, like mushroom brown, tend to look better on you, as they won’t pull out the red in your complexion.
- Neutral skin tones: You likely have bluish-green veins, and your skin is neither rosy nor olive. Lucky you! Almost every shade of dark brown hair dye should flatter you.
Skin, of course, comes in a lovely spectrum of colors—which means you may find you fit more than one of the above categories. Also, keep in mind that everyone sees colors slightly differently, which is why it’s important to schedule a consultation with your stylist and bring photos before committing to a color.
That said, don’t feel pressured to stick to any of these “rules” at all. “The cool thing about hair is anyone can pull anything off, as long as it works with your personal style,” says Brittany Van Dyke, a Redken artist, member of the Redken Styling Society, and owner of Reformation Studios in Joplin, MO.
When in doubt, talk with your stylist about ways your cut and color choice can best highlight your favorite features.
How To Care For Dark Brown Hair
No matter what shade you choose, dark brown hair can look drab and dull if you forego proper maintenance. Van Dyke recommends scheduling mini-appointments for a hair glaze every six to eight weeks, which will help keep your color vibrant.
You’ll also want to equip yourself with products designed to help keep your dark brown hair color fresh and healthy-looking between appointments. For all-over brunette, try Matrix Total Results Dark Envy Green Toning Shampoo and Dark Envy Hydrating Conditioner. This color-depositing green shampoo neutralizes brassy undertones to keep your brunette looking its best.
If you have dark brown hair with highlights, try a color-protecting system like Biolage Colorlast Shampoo and Moisturizing Conditioner. This duo cleans and conditions while helping preserve your hair color. Also a must for glossy-looking strands: heat protectant. Try Kérastase Nutritive Nectar Thermique Blow Dry Primer, a leave-in treatment for dry hair that supports up to 85% less breakage from styling tools.
The Best Dark Brown Hair Ideas To Try
On the lighter side of dark brown, cappuccino hair color features beige tones of brown. Instead of the harsher yellow-gold shades you’ll note in other lighter browns, cappuccino has a golden-violet reflection that looks lovely on cooler to slightly warm skin tones.
With warm beige-brown tones, this rich golden brown hair color is an ideal fall or spring transitional shade.
Caramel Brown Ombre
Blend chocolate and caramel hair colors using an ombre technique, to ensure hair grows out naturally between touch-ups, without a sharp line of demarcation.
Chocolate Brown with Cappuccino Highlights
This nearly espresso brown has a touch of blue-green inspired by cool, earthy tones, with a touch of sand and brandy ombre through the lengths.
A chic medium shade, mushroom brown hair has been on top of colorists’ most-beloved lists for several years because it’s so versatile. With a range between dark blonde to deep brown, this very cool shade has subtle sandy undertones.
“It’s like cappuccino, but more violet,” says Van Dyke. This uber-trendy shade is an ideal pick for blondes transitioning to brown because of its lack of warm tones, she adds, although it also flatters olive skin. Make the most of the trendy hue by pairing it with long, wavy hairstyles.
Ash Brown with Mushroom Highlights
This dark ash cool shade gets a touch of a trendy hue with pearly amethyst highlights.
Iced Latte Brown
If cool shades flatter you coloring, blend a cool blonde into a deep mushroom color for an original take on iced caramel hair color.
Mix dark mushroom-brown with gray to flip the gray hair color on its head, creating a youthful and multidimensional shade.
While this brunette color technically still lives in the dark brown family, it has a strong red tone. Since red can have warm or cool undertones, stylists have a tougher time defining this shade; while it generally tends to skew warm, towards copper, it can sometimes be a cooler violet-red.
“It’s great if you want to have fun with red but not commit full-on,” says Van Dyke. Red-brown hair is ideal if you have dark or olive-toned skin, and it’s especially flattering on brown eyes.
Bronde hair (brown blonde) may have started as a dark shade of blonde — but it adapts gorgeously as a red-brown on a deep brunette base.
Dark Honey Brown
There’s a reason you see supermodels wear this color: It acts as a vacation in a bottle for brunettes with warm-toned skin.
Light brown hair can be beautifully multidimensional, not mousy, in the hands of the right colorist. When in doubt, ask about placing babylights throughout your mane.
Warm Auburn Highlights
Auburn hair color adds a touch of elegance to dark brown hues, creating a reflective glint every time you move.
Minimize the time and effort of maintaining pastel hair colors by blending violet into a red-brown base.
Chestnut brown hair color is a luminous shade that gives flat or lifeless dark hair a vibrant glow.
Natural Brown Hair
Natural brown is like your favorite cashmere sweater: It goes with everything. Straddling warm and cool, this middle-brown shade sometimes has a touch of gold but generally doesn’t pull too much of any undertone.
“It’s universally flattering on anyone, whether your skin tone is light or dark,” says Van Dyke. “Everyone looks good in a neutral tone.”
Multi-Dimensional Neutral Brown
A neutral shade of dark brown hair is the ultimate color chameleon; caramel highlights create a beachhead look.
Chocolate Brown with Caramel Highlights
If you want an effortlessly chic shade, consider upgrading your dark brown hair with caramel highlights that are beautifully, subtly blended.
Natural Brown with Red Highlights
Golds, coppers, and red tones add warmth to natural brown shades. We love this one as a go-to winter hair color.
Rose Gold Balayage on Dark Brown Hair
Dying to try out the rose gold hair trend? Ask your stylist to apply a pinkish-gold balayage over your neutral dark brown hair for a multi-faceted and shimmery look.
Espresso with Neutral Highlights
If you’re not quite ready to fully plunge into espresso, this natural and neutral shade has similar violet undertones — with a brush of soft gold through the ends.
Dark Chocolate Hair
Picture a dark chocolate bar, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of this popular shade of dark brown hair with rich gold to burnt-gold tones. “More people can pull it off than you think,” says Van Dyke. Dark chocolate hair works well on fair and dark skin; the gold makes blue eyes pop. It’s best on warm or neutral skin tones but is generally a no-go for rosy undertones.
Chocolate Brown Highlights
The reddish hue of these chocolate brown highlights adds a reflective pop to even the darkest shade of brunette.
The dirty brunette hair trend combines dirty blonde with chocolate brown hair. Ask your stylist for dark brown hair with blonde highlights that lean a bit dirty in hue.
Milk Chocolate Brown
Try this fall hair color with warm gold notes. Just like its namesake, milk chocolate brown hair is warm and inviting. It's a gorgeous hue that pairs perfectly with olive-toned skin.
Dark with Milk Chocolate
This dark chocolate brown hair borders on espresso, with subtle highlights for a natural sun-kissed look.
Red-Brown Babylights on Chocolate Brown Hair
During the summer, babylights lighten up dark chocolate strands by replicating the naturally-occuring highlights you often see in kids’ hair. Opt for reddish babylights to bring out the warmth of your base shade.
Brown Sugar Brunette
Add a touch of cinnamon highlights to chocolate brown hair, and you’ve got brown sugar brunette—a very on-trend look.
Red-Brown Balayage on Dark Brown Hair
This brunette balayage is the love child of chocolate brown and red-brown hair.
Dark Chocolate with Hazelnut
What pairs perfectly with dark chocolate? Hazelnut. Add dimension to your dark brown with a rich, nutty-brown balayage.
This natural hue gets its subtle depth with subtle caramel babylights.
Dark Ash Brown Hair
Compared to dark chocolate, dark ash brown is void of gold or red tones. Because it tends to skew to violet or blue, it’s a better bet if your skin is neutral to ashy with pink undertones. “It’s a good shade for blondes wanting to transition darker. It won’t freak you out with all the warm-toned gold, and it looks beautiful with ashy blue eyes,” says Van Dyke.
Dark Ash Gray
Dark ash gray hair is the perfect way to conceal grays while still embracing the richness of a brunette hue. The result is an ashy matte color that’s eye-catching and elegant.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Brown
Cool-toned brown tiptoes the line of espresso, with ash highlights to add dimension.
Dark Ash Brown with Platinum
Add depth and dimension to dark brown hair with blonde highlights in a cool silvery hue.
Bordering on gray, this hand-painted shade blends seamlessly into roots while brightening up your ends
Dark Brown Hair with Highlights in a Brandy Hue
This dark brown shade straddles the line between cool and warm. It features an ashy blue-violet base paired with warm brandy highlights, making it an ideal fit for more neutral-toned skin.
Walnut Ash with Butterscotch Highlights
Because it blends a cool ash base with warm caramel hair color highlights, this sun-kissed look works best on neutral skin tones. When at the salon, request a walnut ash base or dark brown hair with caramel highlights.
Dark Ash Brown
Not sold on gray? Choose a dark ash brown with subtle violet undertones for a cooler take on the classic ash brown.
Chocolate Cherry Brown Hair
Compared to red-brown, cherry chocolate hair is a cooler red tone, with a stronger red color overall that tends to look red-violet. “Anyone with rich or olive skin tones can really benefit from this color,” says Van Dyke.
Bordering on red, cinnamon brown is uniquely versatile since it can skew warm or cool. The right stylist can make it a viable option no matter your skin tone.
One opulent shade away from chocolate brown, cherry brown hair introduces notes of cool red to a deep brown base and looks stunning on dark skin tones.
Boost a black-brown base color by infusing one-dimensional hair with a fire auburn shade.
Add glowy auburn highlights to dark brown locks to transition from winter to a brighter spring hair color.
Level up dark brown hair with copper and strawberry-colored accents that create a reflective, multi-dimensional quality.
Ombre Brown Highlights
The ombre technique mimics the way the sun naturally bleaches hair, leaving you with an authentic looking brown-to-blonde hair color that’s a celebrity fave.
A sister to chocolate cherry brown, mahogany hair is a cool shade of red-brown. It leans toward the violet side of red and looks gorgeous on yellow or olive skin. Just beware, says Van Dyke: If you’ve got pink or red in your complexion, this hair color can really wash you out and make your skin look redder.
This deep color hovers somewhere between brown and red hair color— a vampy, dramatic take on brunette.
Dark Brown Hair With Highlights in a Copper Hue
Copper-colored highlights add warm notes to cool-toned mahogany hair. This is a fantastic look for natural redheads looking to mix it up.
Dark auburn just barely counts as brown hair; the purple-red shade wouldn’t be nearly as lovely without undertones of espresso.
Chili chocolate hair blends the best of chocolate hair color with cool-toned mahogany red accents.
Fantasy colors aren’t seen as often as classic browns, but we’re pro-experimentation when it comes to sunset brown hair. Ensure you’re ready for the upkeep by consulting with a trusted hairstylist.
Purple-Brown And Burgundy Hair
Love the idea of cherry chocolate hair — but looking for a brunette without a whiff of red, gold, or orange? Purple brown might be your shade. This dark brown hair color has violet as its main tone and looks stunning on olive or yellow-toned skin, says Van Dyke.
Adding deep violet-hued burgundy ombre to black-brown hair is pure punk rock brunette.
If you’re craving a softer look, ask your colorist to add red-hued burgundy color pieces around your face.
Nearly ultra violet hair gets red notes for extra dimension — a cool-toned shade that looks lovely on medium skin tones.
This is the perfect option for brunettes trying to straddle the line between dark brown and cherry—sans any copper or orange tones.
Violet hair color dials up the vibrancy on deep brown hair. Yes, please!
Ensure your dark brown hair packs a bunch thanks to this purple-influenced play on moody color. Min Kim, L’Oréal Professionnel stylist, loves the color for those wanting to make a memorable entrance.
Espresso Brown And Brown-Black Hair
Always wanted to dye your hair black, but can’t quite quit your brunette roots? “Like natural brown, these colors are universally flattering no matter your skin tone,” says Van Dyke. Espresso brown and brown-black are neutral dark brown hair colors that are neither overly warm nor cool, with a slight warmth that tends toward blue.
For a wear-anywhere brunette hue, try coffee brown. This neutral shade is suitable for all skin tones and seasons.
Espresso is a reflective and mesmerizing borderline black-brown that looks particularly gorgeous against very pale skin.
Charcoal brown hair is a nuanced look that incorporates all the inky, ashy goodness you’ve ever wanted without having to dye your dark brown shade pure black.
Brighten up a natural espresso with butter babylights — super subtle versions of standard highlights to give you a tanned and summery complexion.
Rose Gold On Brown-Black
Rose gold on brunette hair has taken over social media, and we’re obsessed. Try it as a balayage or dip dye for a fun twist on the trend.
This true black-brown shade gets a lift with notes of red—beautiful, simple, and flattering, especially on olive skin tones.
Mocha brown hair, is the perfect blend of espresso and warm hazel tones. Incredibly versatile, this shade suits all skin tones equally.
Feeling playful? Add a splash of gemstone-like shine to your classic espresso tresses.
Instead of heavy-handed highlights, stylists are strategically placing accents with negative space hair color. The result is hair that makes a statement and appears thicker.
Black…or brown? You’ll constantly have people guessing with this deep, deep shade of brown.
Click here to shop all of the best products for dark brown hair, from shampoo to conditioner, Hair.com has got you covered.