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How To Care For Brunette Hair So It Stays Gorgeous and Glossy

photo of woman with long brunette hair how to care for brunette hair

It sometimes seems as if the modern world of hair color belongs to the blondes, the rainbow-haired, and the pastel colorful hair crew. That’s not the case! With all the aspirational imagery on social media, it can be easy to forget one truth that’s visible to you every day: Fancy colors or not, half the world is walking around with brunette hair.

We think brunette hair (and all dark hair colors) deserves love, care, and a solid hair routine. Whether you were born with a dark mane or have it painted on in the salon, let us teach you how to care for brunette hair the right way. Are you writing this down?

Start in the shower.

When it comes to great hair, it’s all about envisioning the end goal and working backward from there. If shine and reflective color is your ultimate objective, you’d better start on it before you even shower. We recommend using a hair mask or pre-shampoo formula a few times per week to start your ‘do off on the right foot. From the L’Oréal portfolio of products, we love Matrix Total Results Miracle Creator Multi-Tasking Treatment—it boasts 20 benefits in a 20-second application. If you’re rushing to get ready for work, it’s a perfect choice.

Once you’re actually washing your hair, we’d recommend turning your water temperature from scalding to neutral or even cold. Most salon professionals recommend shampooing in cool water to help maximize shine and minimize frizzy bits. If your brunette is salon-crafted, use a color-safe hair care system like Redken’s Color Extend Magnetics Shampoo and Conditioner. (Pro tip: Using a shampoo and conditioner from the same line can help ensure you see the benefits listed on the packaging.)

Feel like your color isn’t looking as vibrant as it once did? There’s a quick fix for that between salon appointment. Try Kérastase’s Touche Chromatique Cool Brown Hair Kit, a combination of pigmented Touche Chromatique pen and Masque Chromatique that can help your hair stay gorgeous.

Style gently.

The number one mistake we see hair lovers making is treating their fragile strands as if they’re not highly breakable. If you heat style or color your hair, it may be even more sensitized. It’s crucial to care for your mane like it’s an expensive silk top you splurged on at a department store. 

Fresh out of the shower, don’t rub your hair with a towel! Doing so can result in more frizz or broken ends. Instead, squeeze the remaining water from your hair and gently wrap it in a towel for about ten minutes to absorb any excess water. If you’re planning on heat styling your ‘do, now is the time to prepare for war. We like to start with a tried-and-true base like Shu Uemura's Color Lustre Thermo-Milk Blow Dry Primer.

The golden rule of drying your hair is to always start on the lowest heat setting that you can take. Working with the fire of a volcano won’t necessarily help you achieve the hair look you’re going for! Aim for thoroughness over speed, making sure the roots are completely dry before moving onto the mid-lengths and ends. We’d even recommend popping on a concentrator nozzle and pointing the airstream down along your strand, thereby helping to close the cuticle and create a smoother surface.

Whether your next step is a round brush, flat iron, or curling wand, brunette hair is only as good as the shine it has. Try Pureology's Style & Protect Beach Waves Sugar Spray to accompany your heat style. Formulated with xylose sugar, the spray creates a crystalline barrier around the hair to protect it from heat up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Before heading out your door, help guard your brunette ‘do against the elements by applying a light layer of Mizani’s HRM Humidity Resistant Mist. It helps shield hair against high humidity situations.

Updo—or up-don’t.

It isn’t just heat styling that can result in dull or flat-seeming brunette hair. Regular hair styling—everything from top knots to low ponytails—can be hard on your strands. To combat breakage as a result of hair styling, we recommend trading your thick elastics in for a gentler no-tangle band or a scrunchie. Be wary of putting your hair in the same style or placement every day since that can wear down the hair in one area. 

Even at night, strategize about the best way to protect your precious mane from external factors. We recommend swapping out your cotton pillowcase for a satin one, which can reduce the amount of friction against your main while you catch some shut-eye.

See your stylist.

There’s only one person who can give you customized advice that suits your shade of brunette hair, lifestyle, and skill level: your stylist. A professional should be your first stop before majorly altering your care routine or introducing a new product into your rotation. 

If your brunette shade is the result of a salon color service, work with your stylist to find the right cadence to touch-up your hair. Roots showing between appointments are no big deal, thanks to temporary coverup products like L’Oréal Professionnel’s Hair Touch-Up in brown. It washes out after one shampoo and is the perfect solution to between-appointment woes.

Interested in customized advice about caring for brunette hair? Use our salon locator to book an appointment with a stylist near you.

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