They say blondes have more fun, but we’re taking a stand and challenging that notion. Some of our favorite looks and styles of the past year were sported by a brunette (or a temporary brunette—no judgment here). Not to mention, the different shades and tones brown hair can take on are mesmerizing—from amber to raven to sombré to espresso, we can’t look away from a good brunette dye job.
When it comes to getting the brunette hair of your dreams, there isn’t a lot of initial work to be done, like with platinum or pink hair, for example. Almost every shade can be achieved from a natural base, so really, it all depends on what you’re looking for.
Sure, there are a lot of looks to consider when it comes to a great brunette color (highlights, lowlights, caramel ends?) but don’t stress, just look for a celeb you share features with (eye color, skin tone, etc) and use that as reference. The experts at Nine Zero One say their most-requested shades are: smoky brown, natural brown, honey brown, chocolate brown, and cocoa brown, which to us, all sound like the best latte options.
Keep reading for our 50 favorite looks featuring shades you’ll want to bookmark ASAP.
Natural Dark Brown With Subtle Highlights
We can’t get over Joan Smalls’s gorgeous, rich color from summer 2017. Subtle lightness added throughout the deep brunette helps to create dimension and show off her beautiful curls. “Most brunettes want to be warm and rich so golden tones are frequently mixed,” says Blatz.
We can’t say we were surprised when Zendaya was announced as CHI’s first-ever celebrity brand ambassador. She’s a strong advocate for natural hair and embracing your roots (literally), and we’re big fans of her grit (and her beautiful chocolate-brown locks). For shiny strands like Zendaya’s, apply CHI Argan Oil Plus Moringa Oil Conditioner ($17).
Olivia Palermo appears frequently on just about every one of our Pinterest boards. Her clothes, her wedding dress, her hair—we want ’em all. Speaking of the latter, we haven’t been able to forget this brunette-meets-bronde dye job that accents her features.
Dark Natural Brown
We love Laura Herrier’s windswept updo. While she tends to keep her hair a deep natural brunette, it’s never boring or lacking dimension. To help hair stay in place, use a light-hold hairspray like Amika’s Fluxus Touchable Hairspray ($26).
Medium Brown With Balayage Highlights
If we didn’t know better, we’d think Lily Aldridge’s balayage was painted by Michelangelo himself. This is the perfect way to bring lightness to brown hair without going the full-blown highlight route.
Because lightening hair can cause unsightly damage, we recommend nourishing your mane with BioSilk Color Therapy Conditioner ($10).
Coppery Light Brown
We’re cheating a bit here, but we had to include Alexa Chung’s coppery strands on our roundup. Hey, no one ever said brunettes had to be all brown, right? Brunette at the roots adds more dimension to the overall color. “If someone starts with warm tones and wants to be a more neutral brown, then I would mix ash tones in the formula to cancel the warmth and neutralize the shade of brown,” advises Blatz.
Dark Brown With Caramel Undertones
Gemma Chan has glorious dark brown hair that’s both elegant and easy. Plus, do you see how the middle has a subtle lighter tone blended in? It’s not as drastic as balayage but gives this color additional (and incredible) dimension.
Glossy Rich Espresso
Major voluminous waves? Check. An enviably glossy shine? Check. Emmy Rossum is a natural brunette pick we can’t get over. While this is a super glammed-up version, her natural color is everything that we love about going brunette.
Dark Onyx With Burnt Caramel Ends
Yvonne Orji has tried out a variety of brunette looks, and they’re all stunning, but we’re especially loving how this deep espresso style goes warm at the ends. It’s a less intense way to incorporate additional color, too.
Solid Medium Brown
Never let anybody tell you brunette isn’t elegant or exciting. If they think that, they haven’t seen Maia Michelle’s bob. It doesn’t incorporate crazy colors, but it’s still super stylish and more than noteworthy.
Honey and Caramel Highlights
Beyoncé often rocks some seriously amazing highlighted brown curls. And we’re guessing she knows how to care for it. “When it comes to bleaching or lightening your hair, it’s about understanding the underlying pigment and toning the hair after bleaching,” says Kandasamy. To maintain the look and ensure it stays healthy, we’re partial to the Shea Moisturizer Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Style Milk ($12) when it comes to styling curly hair.
Honeyed Amber Curls
Model Khadijha Red Thunder knows a thing or two about beautiful curls. The proof is right here—these multi-dimensions ringlets are beyond, and include various light amber to chocolate brown shades.
OK, not only is Jessica Biel married to Justin Timberlake, but she also won the genetic lottery. Sigh. While we’ve seen her rock a ton of bronde and balayage looks throughout her career, we find ourselves swooning over this simple, natural-looking hue. For healthy locks like Biel’s, try quenching dry strands with PHYTO Botanical Smoothing Balm ($23).
Medium Brown With Subtle Balayage
We can’t get enough of Selena Gomez’s medium-brown mane with subtle balayage. While simple in nature, this color elicits an air of mystique.
To mimic this striking look without the pricey salon visit, we suggest applying Oribe Glaze for Beautiful Color ($58) over pin-straight strands.
Medium Chestnut Brown
There’s a beautiful slight auburn tone to Kate Middleton’s signature bouncy blowout style, and it really complements her complexion. Her hair looks effortless and undone with a mix of warm and bright brunette shades. To emulate her shiny mane, try out a shine-boosting serum, like ColorWow Pop & Lock High Gloss ($20).
Dark Brown Sugar
Show off stunning cheekbones and flawless makeup with a sleek middle part and shiny caramel mocha-colored hair like Eiza González. Look at how pretty subtle face-framing highlights look towards the ends of her hair. Instant brightness!
Hold on, let us grab our sunglasses to shield our eyes from the amazingly vibrant mocha color happening here. Meghan Markle’s modest mane is proof that you don’t need to hit the dye or bleach heavily to achieve stunning color.
Natural Brown Almost Black
While she’s not nearly as much of a hair chameleon as her sisters, Kendall Jenner’s dark natural strands are no less memorable when untouched by dye. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
Dark Espresso Brown
Rosalia is all about embracing her natural color, which is again proof you don’t need to add much of anything to make a brunette style pop. There’s already a beautiful caramel highlight interwoven that’s sleek and glossy. P.S.: To keep your scalp and hair nourished, try a hair oil.
Dark Brown With Copper Ombré
There’s always that one celebrity who is so aesthetically perfect it’s almost upsetting, and that person for us is undoubtedly Jenna Dewan. No matter what chop, color, or style she opts for, it’s always undeniably flawless. This sombré bob is another example of how lustrous her hair is, transitioning from a deep brown to a sassy (yet subtle) copper.
Dark Brown With Red Tones
Olivia Wilde told us she attributes her youthfulness to wine, but we’re thinking her colorist has a hand in that as well. We’re digging this dark brown bob with subtle red tones.
Light Brown With Face-Framing Highlights
Halle Berry has that total lit-from-within thing going on, but those face-framing highlights help, too. It’s such a subtle touch to brunette hair, but it makes a world of a difference. If you’re going to go lighter, Kandasamy says to visit a salon first (in other words, don’t try this at home). “If you are applying a vivid or rainbow shade, it’s easier because your color will hide your uneven bleach application,” he says. “But if you are looking for a delicate and sophisticated blonde tone, you would need a professional.”
Call it bronde, dirty blonde, or whatever you like, but we think Sofía Vergara’s honey-hued (pseudo-brunette) locks are a must-try, no matter the season.
Light-Bronde With Visible Roots
We’re all about finding sneaky tricks for covering our roots, but we think Jourdan Dunn’s visible roots here are an exception to the rule. Couple those with a light-bronde bob and you’ve got a seriously red carpet-worthy head of hair. We suggest using Briogeo Farewell Frizz Blow Dry Perfection Heat Protectant Cream ($26) to get a similarly sleek result.
Light Chestnut Brown
Also rocking roots, Jessica Alba looks gorgeous in this chestnut color. Pairing the color with messy-on-purpose strands, she’s making the case for imperfect hair.
Shay Mitchell’s lengthy tresses serve to create a super-subtle ombré that begins at the very bottom of the hair. There are even a few highlights worked in, but the contrast is so subtle that it makes the entire look very natural.
Dark Brown With Chestnut Gloss
Constance Wu’s rich, deep color is nearly black—but when the light hits just right, it picks up the chestnut overtones. This look can be achieved by asking for a chestnut or amber gloss over dark brunette hair. The look adds sheen and hydration as well as color.
These balayage streaks perfectly highlight Olivia Wilde’s features. Notice that they don’t begin at the top of the head, which can create a striped, unnatural look. Instead, they resemble natural highlights from the sun.
Olivia Munn’s rich brunette color is accented by her cut. The blunt ends and layers toward the bottom of the hair allow movement, so the color appears less one-dimensional.
Logan Browning’s hair is all about contrast. Here, dark brown mixes with light, almost bronde highlights. The effect is fun and artful and looks especially great with braids or locs.
Kerry Washington’s natural dark hue looks spectacular when worn naturally so that the texture serves to highlight the reddish undertones.
This shade falls somewhere between dark and light. Waves, rather than straight hair, help further show off the hue and picks up the natural highlights throughout.
When your hair is dark as Priyanka’s, chestnut highlights can help add depth without sacrificing the sophistication of the base color. A shine spray can help ensure the look stays well-moisturized and gleaming.
Brown With Babylights
Ashley Graham’s brown babylights are concentrated at the mid-shaft and ends of her hair. The result is a great way to highlight the fact and lighten up your look for summer.
Dark and Glossy
Lucy Liu’s high-glossed shade takes her dark brown hair into seriously chic territory. The look is sexy and sophisticated. Just ask your stylist to add a gloss during your next trip to the salon (it helps color last longer and gives a nice sheen to the overall look).
Padma Lakshmi’s brown hair is slightly kissed by lighter shades of brown. It’s not a full-on highlight, but the look has more dimension than one shade.
Mindy Kaling’s look is a classic. Here, brown hair gets highlights from the root to the tip. The result is very multi-dimensional (made even more so by beachy waves through the ends of the hair).
Zoe Saldana’s deep, rich mocha hue is offset by seriously glossy waves. Try a shine spray over beach waves to replicate the style. And remember to keep hair well-moisturized, which is key for combating any unwanted frizz.
Solange’s cinnamon-hued hair is proof that brown can work in a number of ways. The center part (and complementary red under-eye liner) help add further impact to this look.
Kate Beckinsale’s bronde moment combines classic brunette hair with face-framing highlights. The highlights here are a lighter brown but not fully blonde, mimicking lowlights and looking more natural than a stark contrast would.
Jennifer Hudson’s golden ombré look is modern, thanks to blunt but asymmetrical ends. Keeping one side tucked behind the ear adds to the modern look.
Jamie Chung’s cool brown hair is veering so close to blonde, but the darker roots and thick strips of her natural brunette hair keep it in the brown territory.
Naomi Campbell’s light chestnut base plays perfectly with her honey-hued highlights. For a similar look, ask your stylist to keep the highlights concentrated largely around the face.
Lily Rose-Depp’s ashy hair falls somewhere between light brown and bronde. Here, the hair eschews highlights in favor of an all-over, tonal look.
Taraji P. Henson’s caramel curls offer a stark contrast to her darker roots. This style (which is a modern take on a pineapple) showcases the look.
Janet Mock’s deep brown hue is richer thanks to a touch of auburn. The red-brown shade works on several hair types—just ask your stylist for a brown shade with red-gold undertones.
This deep espresso shade is super dark. For hair that starts looking dull, try a product such as IGK’s Mixed Feelings Toning Drops ($29) to add life back to tired tresses.
Jenny Slate’s curls offer plenty of natural movement and texture. For those with similar textures, a rich hue works really well to complement. Try a rich mahogany shade like this one, which looks equally great down and loose or up and casual.
Natalie Portman’s sandy shade offers large swaths of highlights atop naturally brown hair. Concentrate the lighter color near the face for a more youthful, summery look.
Halsey’s copper-toned hair puts a spin on traditional brown. Berry-stained lips and red eye makeup (plus a great set of false lashes) add further impact and complement the color well.