10 Things Every Brunette Should Know About Brown 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. Most 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.

But brown hair is anything but boring. Here are 10 things every brunette should know about brown hair.

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.
  • Or, you can add in golden highlights for "bronde" look.
  • You can go for the Look of the Moment, which is the ombre trend -- that gorgeous gradient shade that starts dark at the roots and gently gets lighter through the shaft to a golden hue at the tips.

See the most gorgeous shades of brown hair color today and find out how to get these colors in my new slideshow, Brown Hair Color: 20 Gorgeous Hairstyles.

Forget All the Hair Color Jargon, It's Simply Too Confusing

Read a book or magazine about hair color and you'll quickly realize what a science it is to figure out your skin undertones and how that translates to your most flattering hair colors.

So forget the jargon and keep it simple. Instead:

  •  Find photos of hair color you're drawn to and bring them to get your hair done professionally or,
  • Take a risk and buy a boxed hair color that's no more than 1 or 2 shades lighter than your natural hair color and do it yourself..

    See How to Color Your Own Hair.

    Sit Down With US Weekly or Vogue or (Insert Your Favorite Magazine Here)

    The best way to find the right hair color for you is to cut out photos of hair color you love from fashion or celebrity magazines. Bring those photos with you to a consultation with a colorist. Your colorist will get an idea of what you are attracted to and help you determine the best look for you based on your skin tone, the natural color of your hair and even your haircut.

    Learn more in Secrets to Getting a Hairstyle You Won't Hate.

    Should You Do Your Own Color?

    The nice thing about brown hair is 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 they color 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 2 shades lighter than your natural shade.

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

    Learn more about DIY-coloring in How to Color Your Hair at Home.

    How to Cover Those Grays

    Studies show more than 70 percent of American women color their hair and the most common reason cited for coloring hair 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 own grays as they come in.

    You can color your own hair using boxed brands found in the drugstore or get your hair professionally done. Because gray hair can be high maintenance (gray hair needs to be touched up every four weeks or so) you might consider doing your own color. This way you can color the new growth that comes in at the crown, the hairline and your natural part by simply dipping a toothbrush in hair color and literally "brushing" the new growth.

    Get more information in How Can I Cover My Gray Hair?

    Yes, Brunettes Can Get Highlights

    When you think of highlights, an image of a blonde woman likely pops up in your head. But 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, or your colorist may opt to add dimension to your hair via highlights and lowlights.

    Ask Your Colorist About Balayage

    If you live in a big city or a progressive college town, chances are there's a colorist in town who practices the balayage technique.

    The beauty in balayage (which is French for "sweeping") is the colorist can paint color on hair so it looks more natural than foil highlights.

    Consider Your Haircut When Getting Color

    When going for dramatic change, I always suggest getting your haircut before you get color because the color should compliment your cut.

    Protect Your Investment

    Once you get your hair colored, you should protect your investment. This means not washing hair for 48 hours after you get it colored (a bit of dry shampoo will see you through oily days), not getting another chemical treatment like hair straightening and using the correct shampoo for your hair.

    Brunette hair is most gorgeous when it's glossy. Keep your hair glossy with these tricks:

    • Condition hair after every shampoo. If you have an oily scalp, condition the ends only.
    • Deep condition hair once a week.
    • Finish your shampoo and condition with a quick shot of cold water in the shower. Stylists say this locks in shine.
    • Let hair air dry as much as possible to cut down on harsh heat to hair.
    • Get regular trims. Split ends are never attractive.
    • Spray shine serum on hair after it dries.

    See my list of the Best Products for Hair Color.

    How to Prep Hair for the Salon Visit or At-Home Dye Job

    The healthier your hair, the longer it will keep its color. To prepare hair for coloring, slather on a deep conditioning treatment like Kérastase Paris Réflection Chroma Reflect Radiance-Enhancing Masque 4-5 days before. The strands will be less porous and will lock in dye better. If you don't want to invest in pricey Kerastase, consider conditioning hair with extra virgin coconut oil.

    It is less damaging to go from light to dark then from dark to light, so if your hair is brittle or super dry, reconsider getting your hair colored until your hair becomes healthier.

    Hot Trends in Hair Color: Ombre and Bronde

    Brunette hair is very hot right now, thanks to the Duchess of Cambridge, whose gorgeous brown hair is coveted by so many women.

    The hottest trends for brunettes include "bronde" hair which is brown hair that's almost blonde. Another big trend is ombre- that gorgeous gradient shade that starts dark at the roots and gently gets lighter through the shaft to a golden hue at the tips.

    Liked this? There's more!

    • Brown Hair Color: Year's 20 Best Brunette Hairstyles
    • Photos: Short, Dark Hairstyles
    • Famous Brunettes
    • At-Home Hair Color: Biggest Mistakes Women Make