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April 4, 2012

Find Your Best Brunette Hair Color

Honey brown, chocolate, or classic brunette — which suits you best? Here, pro tips for choosing your perfect hair color — and a no-fail strategy for making it last longer and stay truer.

Get more hair color ideas, color care tips, and celebrity inspiration!

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girl with brown hair color

Photo Credit: Dan Lecca

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Is Brown Right for You?

If at least two of the following apply to you, you are probably best brunette:

  • You're mousy brown now. Your natural color lacks the vibrancy of richer browns and virtually begs to be deepened.
  • You want a low-maintenance regimen. Unless you are naturally very blonde, the upkeep for brown hair is fairly easy — and at-home coloring is close to goof-proof, says Julia Youssef, executive director of L'Oréal Paris's Hair Color Technical Center and Product Evaluation.
  • Your hair is damaged and dull. Dark hair color reflects light best, hides breakage, and minimizes the flaws of abused tresses.


  • How to be the best brunette:
    1. Match your brown to your haircut. To maximize the impact of your chocolaty color, go deeper and monotone if your hair is nearly all one length. If it's shorter or very layered, make the ends slightly lighter, and weave in high- and lowlights to emphasize the texture of the cut, says Marie Robinson, a colorist at the Sally Hershberger Salon in New York City (clients include Natalie Portman).
    2. Go to the extreme. The most striking brunettes today are very dark or quite light, says Robinson. If your hair color is medium in tone, you blend — in a bad way.
    3. Coloring at home? Go half-and-half. One of the most common at-home haircoloring errors, according to Robinson, is a brown that's gone orangey, often the result of applying a dye that's too "warm." If it's golden brown you're after, says Robinson, buy one box of golden brown and one box of neutral brown. Mix the two, then use the combo on your hair.
    4. Steer clear of hairspray, if possible. Nothing takes the sheen off shiny brunette strands faster than dousing them with hairspray, says Robinson. If you must shellac, follow with a spritz of shine serum.
    5. Beware of black. If you want to deepen your brown to anything beyond dark chocolate, visit a professional, says Youssef. Once you go blue-black, there's almost no going back. The only way to lighten up is with a pricey salon procedure that involves lots of damage — to your hair and wallet.

    Makeup tips for brunettes:
  • Pile on the mascara and make it black. You need dark fringe to balance your dark strands, says Paula Dorf, a celebrity makeup artist.
  • Play with jewel tones on your eyes. Brunettes can get away with dramatic eyes.
  • If your dark hair makes your complexion appear too pasty, shimmery bronzer is your ticket, says Ross Burton, Lancôme's national artistic director.


  • MC musts for brunettes:
  • Matrix Biolage Earth Tones Natural Brown Color Refreshing Conditioner
  • Oscar Blandi Crema Soothing Hair Balm
  • Aveda Black Malva Color Conditioner
  • Pantene Pro-V Brunette Expressions Daily Color Enhancing Shampoo




  • Want to see what you'd look like with a different hair color? Upload your photo to our virtual hairstyle tool and try any cut, color, or style you can imagine!


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