With the arrival of autumn, certain things are inevitable: The leaves will change color, the temperature will drop, and people everywhere will dye their hair some shade of rich, silky auburn. There’s something about this red-brown color that just suits the season. Maybe it’s a tried-and-true trend because it suits all different skin tones, mimics the landscape's color, or brings luster back to gloomy fall days. Whatever the reason is, it’s back in vogue this year, too. But before you think Been there done that, know that this year auburn is getting updated into several new shades. We spoke with expert colorists to find out exactly how you can find the perfect shade.
Meet the Expert
"Auburn is always a tried-and-true trend tone for fall," says Mileti. "I find my blondes and brunettes who are color shy even request warmer highs and lows to be infused in their chosen blonde or brunette."
Choosing a Shade: As Mileti tells us, "Auburn can be very subjective to the person describing it. I like to share photos, swatches, even textiles with clients when describing what auburn means to me," he says. It might be a good idea to take his lead and bring in photos and examples of the shade you're going for so you can avoid disappointment at the end.
Maintenance Level: "I always remind my clients that auburn is a commitment and proper products are paramount," says Mileti. He recommends Joico K-Pak Color Therapy Shampoo ($17) and conditioner and Luster Locks Deep Conditioner ($22) to preserve auburn tones. You'll need to touch-up your color every 4-6 weeks.
Goes Great With: Eyes with warm undertones. "I always look for warm flecks in the eye—copper or golden tones. Even blue eyes can have warm undertones," says Mileti
Similar Shades: Copper, burgundy, cinnamon, plum
Price: For full color, prices can range from $60-$150. Highlights, ombre, and balayage can cost anywhere from $100-$200
From copper, sun-kissed, plum, and true red auburn, check out 20 beautiful shades of auburn to show your colorist.
Mileti describes true auburn as "a copper color with a slightly brown base and a hint of gold." It's a "more mellow sister to copper, the slightly saner cousin to burgundy."
Sanger calls this true auburn color "Copper Auburn." He says it's a color that's overall incredibly warm and rich—just like the metal.
Sun-kissed auburn is a "deeper more red base with lighter and less vibrant ends," Sanger says. "The main difference between them is the gloss/base color that adds the specific tone you want to see." With this specific shade, the highlights will need to be placed close to ends to brighten the overall look and add more dimension.
"As for aftercare, I recommend the Davines Alchemic Shampoo ($30) and Conditioner ($33) to preserve and enhance the tones in your hair," he says. For this shade specifically, use the "Golden" version, because it will keep your strands bright.
Plum auburn "has a violet tone to it and is overall a deeper auburn," Sanger says. This shade can look almost chocolate brown in some lighting because its red tones are less fiery and more subtle. It's a shade of auburn for bright color-averse people when it comes to their dye preferences and looks like it was practically made for wearing throughout the autumn and winter. Sanger recommends using the same Davines Alchemic Shampoo ($30) and Conditioner ($33) he recommended for sun-kissed auburn, but this time in the "Silver" version, as to keep the cool plum undertones intact.
Some shades of auburn are so subtle they don't even look red. This is a great color to opt for if you prefer a very natural hair color. If you're on the lighter side of brunette, you can be a bit laxer with maintenance, and no one will be the wiser.
True Red Auburn
"True primary red tone can be as bright and vibrant as you want or more subtle and natural," Sanger says. If you decide to jump and go for something brighter, Mileti recommends staying away from too much color at the roots. He says it's the make-or-break habit of dyeing your hair with a red undertone.
To avoid a harsh, unnatural color, Mileti says to concentrate the most vivid hues mid-strand. "I like to concentrate bright slashes of color through the body and ends of the hair to create the warmth, fire, and passion that we associate with reds or auburn."
On the opposite end of the spectrum, take things bold with a deep, almost burgundy shade and brighter red highlights for dimension. To keep your color salon-fresh, refresh it between appointments with something like the dpHUE Color Boosting Gloss + Deep Conditioning Treatment ($35). Choose the shade closest to your dye job and enjoy semi-permanent color.
Natural isn't always the way to go. Teyana Taylor wears this orange-auburn combo fearlessly. Prepare to be spotted from about a mile away.
This blonde-ish red hue has a bit of a beachy, sun-kissed vibe without focusing too much on very obvious highlights.
Natural roots and dark auburn braids is a thoroughly modern, playful take on the trend.
This rich chocolate hair color has subtle flashes of auburn that are only really visible when your mane catches the light. To keep your hair smooth and shiny, apply a nourishing shine serum like No. 9 Bond Protector Nourishing Hair Serum ($28) , which treats hair using antioxidants.
This natural-looking shade is a little bit red, a little bit dark blonde, and a touch brunette.
There's truly nothing like red hair with an Old Hollywood curl. This is total Jessica Rabbit hair, in a wearable shade that draws attention without seeming like it came straight from a bottle.
This golden-hued tone of red reads almost metallic when coupled with high-shine and a chic bob. Darker roots and face-framing blondish-red ends add dimension to the color without giving off a highlighted look.
Sometimes a single tone all over the head can pack a powerful punch. The lack of highlights gives this hairstyle an intensity that will surely draw attention from across a room.
Dark, almost black roots give way to brighter magenta ends.
Isla Fisher's rusty auburn hue is her signature shade. How can you copy this look? "Multiple tones are applied via highlighting and low-lighting to create personalized auburn hair color," Mileti says.
Drew Barrymore loves switching up her hair color, and this rich auburn hue compliments her skin tone perfectly. Her soft plum eyeshadow and lipstick is the perfect accent color with her hair.
Amy Adams gives her auburn hair a sun-kissed look with face framing honey highlights. Her slightly lighter locks add dimension and warmth to her hair.
If you have thin hair, highlights add dimension and help your hair appear fuller versus all-over color.
Julianne Moore's hair color is a more on the ginger or red side of the auburn spectrum, versus the brown or brunette spectrum.
Ciara looks gorgeous with this fiery auburn hue. Sanger says that this color, however, can be more difficult to pull off. "When I formulate for clients and a fiery auburn is desired, it is very important not to go too far from the natural color so as not to throw off the eye color or skin color.," says Sanger. "Too many times, reds are unsuccessful because they go too fiery at the base (or root), drawing away from the woman’s natural God-given coloring."
What skin tone does auburn copper hair work best with?
Copper auburn has more yellow, orange and gold tones (versus red or pink) and it looks great on those with neutral undertones. Skin tones with a pink undertone can find that auburn copper hair is flattering as well. If you have warmer skin tones, opt for a more golden copper to best flatter your natural shade. Check out our guide if you aren't sure of your skin tone or undertone.
What shade of auburn works best with darker skin tones?
Auburn looks gorgeous on darker skin tones, especially with plum or burgundy shades of auburn. If you have warm-toned skin, a chocolate or chestnut shade of auburn will be flattering.
What is the difference between auburn and brunette hair?
Auburn is brown hair that has an undertone of red, ginger or orange, while brunette is only brown. For brunettes looking for a hair color change, going auburn or adding in auburn highlights is a great option.