The Tips Every Brunette Should Know About Hair Color

How to Turn That Mousey Brown Into Gorgeous Brunette

Odette Yustman
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Few women are born blonde, and even fewer are natural redheads. The majority of women are born with shades of brown hair. And while your brunette locks may sometimes feel "blah," some subtle changes can bring out your hair's luster.

Brown hair is anything but boring and it comes in thousands of natural shades. Whether you're looking to give your color a boost or cover a few grays, let's explore a few things every brunette should know about color.

Your Options Are Limitless

If you find your natural brown hair is more boring than beautiful, you have a ton of options that don't involve becoming a blonde or redhead.

For example, you can deepen brunette hair into a rich chocolate. You also have the options to add in golden highlights for the "bronde" look, which is brown hair that's almost blonde. And, if you want to follow the ombre trend, you have the perfect hair. It's easy to add a gorgeous gradient that starts dark at the roots and gently gets lighter through the shaft to a golden hue at the tips.

Forget All the Hair Color Jargon

Reading a book or magazine about hair color can simply be too confusing. It won't be long before you realize that it's a science to figure out your skin undertones and how that translates to your most flattering hair colors.

So forget the jargon and keep it simple. A better use of your time is to find photos of hair color that you're drawn to and leave it up to a professional to get that look.

Another option is to simply take a risk on your own. Buy a boxed hair color that's no more than one or two shades lighter than your natural hair color and do it yourself.

Sit Down With a Magazine

Whether it's US WeeklyVogue, or any other fashion or celebrity magazine, you'll find tons of inspiration for your brunette tresses.

When it's time for a change, scour the magazines for hair that you love.

Cut out any appealing photos and bring them with you to a consultation with your colorist. This will help her get an idea of what you are attracted to. She can then determine the best look for you based on your skin tone, the natural color of your hair, and even your haircut.

Should You Do Your Own Color?

The nice thing about brown hair is that you can easily do your own color at home. If you are on a budget or don't want to hit the salon every four weeks for touch-ups, a boxed color might be your best bet.

DIY hair color has come a long way and even some of the top beauty editors admit to coloring their own hair. You can do your own single-process, give yourself highlights, and even touch up roots on your own. The main rule of thumb with at-home hair coloring is to never go more than two shades lighter than your natural shade.

The problem with boxed hair color is that you are a bit limited as to what you can do. Typically, that's an all-over color of the same shade. A pro can layer your color and give you lowlights and highlights with added brightness around your face. 

Covering Those Grays

Studies show that more than 70 percent of American women color their hair and the most common reason cited is to cover up grays.

Gray hair is more obvious on brunettes than blondes, so unless you like the natural look (and more and more women do), you'll want to cover up your grays as they come in.

You can color your own hair using boxed brands found in the drugstore or get your hair professionally done. Gray hair can be high maintenance and needs to be touched up every four weeks or so. For that reason, many women choose to do their own color.

If you choose to cover your grays at home, you can catch any new growth that comes in at the crown, the hairline, and your natural part. Quite simply, this is done by dipping a toothbrush in hair color and literally "brushing" the new growth.

Brunettes Can Get Highlights

When you think of highlights, an image of a blonde woman likely comes to mind. However, brunettes can benefit from highlights just as much as blondes.

A sweep of color around your face, known as "face-framing highlights" in the industry, can be flattering. Your colorist may also opt to add dimension to your hair via highlights and lowlights.

Ask Your Colorist About Balayage

Balayage is a great technique for touches of color and many colorists are now quite skilled in it. It's an alternative to the typical foil highlights, which can look a little blocky on brunettes. The beauty in balayage (which is French for "sweeping") is that the color is painted on hair so it looks more natural.

Consider Your Haircut

When you're going for a dramatic change, it's often recommended to get your haircut before you get it colored. This allows your colorist to adapt the color so it's a perfect complement to your cut.

Protect Your Investment

Once you get your hair colored, you should protect your investment. It's a matter of a few simple steps that are worth the effort and will keep your color looking beautiful.

The first step is to avoid washing it for 48 hours after you get it colored. A bit of dry shampoo will see you through oily days, though brunettes do have to be careful because it can leave gray or dull streaks. To avoid this, get a dry shampoo specifically for brown hair or apply it and let it rest for a full minute before combing it in.

You will also want to avoid other chemical treatment like hair straightening, which could cause damage. Also, be sure to use the correct shampoo for your hair.

Brunette hair looks absolutely gorgeous when it's glossy. Keep your hair bright and shiny with these tricks:

  • Condition your hair after every shampoo. If you have an oily scalp, condition the ends only.
  • Deep condition your hair once a week.
  • Finish your shampoo and condition with a quick shot of cold water in the shower. Stylists say that this locks in shine.
  • Let your hair air dry as much as possible to cut down on the harsh heat.
  • Get regular trims to remove those unattractive split ends.
  • Spray shine serum on your hair after it dries.

Prep Your Hair for a Dye Job

The healthier your hair, the longer it will keep its color.

Whether you're going to the salon or planning a DIY color job, you'll want to prep your hair for the new color.

Four or five days before you color, slather on a deep conditioning treatment like Kérastase Paris Réflection Chroma Reflect Radiance-Enhancing Masque. The strands will be less porous and will be able to lock in the dye better. If you don't want to invest in pricey Kerastase, consider conditioning your hair with extra virgin coconut oil.

Also, keep in mind that the process of going from dark to light can cause more damage than if you were to go from light to dark. If your hair is brittle or super dry, reconsider getting your hair colored until your hair is healthier.