You heard it here first: 2020 is the year of the brunette. And, with some of the recent hair color changes we’ve seen make noise on social media, it’s clear Hollywood is on board to take a walk on the dark side. There’s a reason dark brown hair is so popular with celebrities: It’s striking, no matter how you style it. Whether you’re looking for a fresh take on your natural shade or are bored with your blonde, there’s a gorgeous option for every skin tone.
“Brunettes don’t get enough love. There are a lot of nuances to brown hair,” says Brittany Van Dyke, a Redken artist, member of the Redken Styling Society, and owner of Reformation Studios in Joplin, MO.
As you’re mulling over the perfect dark brown hair hue for you, the first thing to keep in mind is where it falls on the color spectrum:
Warm hair colors: Browns that reflect gold, orange, or red.
Cool hair colors: Browns that reflect blue, green, or purple.
Neutral hair colors: Browns that are neither overly warm nor cool but a perfect balance of both.
Next, check if your skin undertones are warm, cool, or somewhere in between:
Warm skin tones: Take a peep at the underside of your wrist: If you see mostly greenish veins, you have a warm skin tone. You likely also have yellow or olive skin and rich, gold-flecked eyes—and you’ll tend to look best in warm brown hair colors.
Cool skin tones: If you have bluish veins, icy blue or green eyes, and lots of pink in your skin, you have cool skin undertones. Cool brown hair colors tend to look better on you, as they won’t pull out the red in your complexion.
Neutral skin tones: You have bluish-green veins, and your skin isn’t particularly rosy. Lucky you! Almost every shade of dark brown hair should look good on 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.
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 Van Dyke. Talk with your stylist about ways your cut and color choice can best highlight your best features.
No matter what shade you choose, dark brown hair can look drab and dull if you forego the maintenance. Van Dyke recommends scheduling mini-appointments for a glaze every six to eight weeks to keep your color vibrant and fresh. Between appointments, be sure to use a sulfate-free, color-safe shampoo and conditioner (she recommends Redken Extreme Shampoo or Redken Color Extend Magnetics Shampoo) as well as a heat protectant.
Ready to come to the dark side? Check out these 71 dark hair color ideas to bring to your next salon consultation.
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.
Good hair day by @ashlemaster.
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. Make the most by pairing with long, wavy hairstyles.
Good hair day by @jessie_hair_vbbeauty.
Ash Brown with Mushroom Highlights
This dark ash cool shade gets a touch of a trendy hue with pearly amethyst highlights.
Good hair day by @ckaedingcolor.
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.
Good hair day by @kellymccormickhair.
Mix dark mushroom-brown with gray to flip the gray hair color on its head, creating a youthful and multidimensional shade.
Good hair day by @thegoodhairwitch.
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.
Good hair day by @kim.m.r_blo.
Warm Auburn Highlights
Auburn hair color adds a touch of elegance to dark brown hues, creating a reflective glint every time you move.
Good hair day by @amberdoeshairtx.
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.”
Good hair day by @brunodvianar.
A neutral shade of dark brown hair is the ultimate color chameleon; caramel highlights create a beachhead look.
Nude brown hair color takes a hint from natural French hair, complementing your complexion without stealing the show.
Good hair day by @avhair_.
Natural Brown with Caramel Highlights
Dark caramel highlights blend seamlessly with neutral brown color for an effortless, glossy hue.
Good hair day by @hairbybritny.
Natural Brown with Red Highlights
Naturals alongside goldens and copper/reds to create a more “natural” warmth about winter hair color.
Natural Brown with Rose Gold Balayage
Dying to try out the rose gold hair trend but haven’t quite committed? Ask your stylist to apply rose gold balayage over your neutral dark brown hair for a multi-faceted and shimmery look.
Good hair day by @toyomii.
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.
Translate the dirty blonde trend to chocolate brown hair with the dirty brunette hair trend giving hair just a hint of blonde highlights.
Milk Chocolate Brown
Lift this fall hair color with warm gold notes to serve up a sweet treat that pairs perfectly with olive skin.
Good hair day by @isalonbetsarakely.
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 natural highlights you’ll see in kids’ hair.
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.
Dark Chocolate With Red-Brown Balayage
This brunette balayage is the love child of chocolate brown and red-brown hair.
Good hair day by @blakereedevans.
Dark Chocolate with Hazelnut
What pairs perfectly with dark chocolate? A lift using golden shades of hazelnut.
Good hair day by @hairbymeganperez.
Walnut-Chocolate With Toffee
This natural hue gets its subtle depth with shimmering 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.
Good hair day by @shelbycolebeauty.
Dark Ash Gray
This ash hair has a matte-gray finish—a vampy, dark shade that’s right on-trend.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Brown
Cool-toned brown tiptoes the line of espresso, with ash highlights to add dimension.
Good hair day by @sam__dupuis.
Dark Ash Brown with Platinum
Give thin dark ash hair depth and volume with chrome and platinum babylights.
Good hair day by @misscoralineblue.
Bordering on gray, this hand-painted shade blends seamlessly into roots and brightens up your ends.
Good hair day by @hairbyatellez.
Dark Brown with Brandy Highlights
This dark brown shade straddles the line between cool and warm, with an ashy blue-violet base paired with warm brandy highlights — making an ideal fit for more neutral-toned skin.
Good hair day by @studiolioness.
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.
Good hair day by @cocoutureartistry.
Dark Ash Brown
Not sold on gray? Choose a dark ash brown with more violet undertones.
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 skews either 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.
Good hair day by @rachel_redd.
Boost a black-brown base color by infusing hair with auburn shades of fire and cayenne pepper.
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, 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.
Good hair day by @hairbykatierose.
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 With Copper Highlights
Copper color adds warm notes to cool-toned mahogany hair — 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.
Good hair day by @SandraCarrHairDesigner.
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.
For a subtler 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.
Good hair day by @glenis_elle.
This is the perfect look for brunettes looking to straddle the line between dark brown and cherry, without a trace of copper or orange tones.
Violet hair color dials up the vibrancy on deep brown hair.
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 shade of brown, try coffee brown, a neutral espresso that’s suitable for all skin tones and seasons.
Good hair day by @emerson_hair.
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 dying your dark brown shade 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
Rose gold on brunette hair has taken over social media. Try it as a balayage or dip dye.
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.
Good hair day by @twyllajane.
Feeling playful? Metallic brown is a great way to channel that emotion into your hair color. A splash of gemstone-like shine can liven up even the darkest brown hair color.
Good hair day by @shmoakin_hair.
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.
Good hair day by @i.mattxander.
Black…or brown? You’ll constantly have people guessing with this deep, deep shade of brown.
For customized advice about dark brown hair, use our salon locator to book an appointment with a stylist near you.