Ready to Embrace Your Natural Color? Try One of These 40 Brown Hair Color Ideas

brown curly hair


While blondes are known to "have more fun," and redheads make up only about 2 percent of the population, brown hair colors usually don't get any sort of exciting metaphorical spotlight. (In fact, "mousey brown" hair typically gets a bad rap for being boring or drab. See: Vivian Kensington from Legally Blonde.)

Well, unlike redheads, brown hair might be ubiquitous and therefore less exciting—but that doesn't make brown hairstyles any less sexy, gorgeous, and out-of-the-box. Below, find 40 shades of brown that'll convince you (once and for all) that blondes aren't the only ones having fun.

Choosing a Shade: The further the shade of brown is from your natural hair color, the more noticeable your roots will be when they grow in.

Maintenance Level: For all-over color, you should expect to get your roots touched up every six to eight weeks. Those with lowlights or balayage will see softer root growth, and can space their appointments farther apart.

Goes Great With: Monochromatic nude eyeshadow, rich berry lip shades.

Similar Shades: Balayage brown hair, dark brown hair with highlights

Price: For all-over color, expect to pay between $80-$200, depending on where you live. For more precisely placed lowlights or balayage, expect to pay $100-$300.

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Honey Highlights

These aren't your average blonde streaks you gave yourself from a box in the 2000s. (Remember Sun-In?) Try a grown-up (and professionally colored) version of subtle, golden highlights.

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Caramel Drizzle

As a natural brunette, one of the easiest ways to experiment is to simply drizzle in some subtle, caramel-hued highlights via a balayage style. You can lighten things up without committing to an entire dye job, and simply grow out your roots if you realize the look isn't your thing.

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Brown Box Braids

We've seen box braids in every color of the rainbow, but we're particularly loving this chocolatey brown shade at the moment.

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Allover Warmth

If you want something super natural-looking and warm, hair painting might be for you. Although there are more efficient methods for more extreme color jobs, hair painting is perfect if you're looking for subtle, soft dimension and a rich glow like this.

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Shades of Gray

Whether you call it "gray" or "mushroom brown," this Pinterest-worthy bob incorporates smoky, ashy hues in a blended balayage for a perfectly on-trend lewk.

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Neutral Brown

Not sure what "neutral brown" is? Meet the Switzerland of brown hair colors: It's perfectly designed to balance out both the warm and cool tones in your hair for completely neutral, flattering results.

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Sun-Kissed Highlights

Freshen up your entire face (and look like you belong on a surfboard) with golden, sunny highlights allover. To avoid constant maintenance and root touch-ups, keep them intentionally dark and smudged so they can grow in with grace.

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Cinnamon Spice

Lightening up brown hair with a reddish-tint is the perfect way to give your 'do next-level dimension. (And of course, you'll look that much glowier when you find your light for selfies.)

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Brown Babylights

Babylights (aka super-delicate, light highlights) may be most commonly associated with blondes, but they work for brunettes seeking a sun-kissed look too. (Rather than white-blonde, your colorist will probably customize a hue that's simply a few shades lighter than your natural color.)

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Dark Roast Balayage

Take your natural hair color and majorly brighten it up with an auburn balayage situation (that complements any complexion).

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Not-So-Basic Brown

The best colorist out there will take into account your skin and eye color to pick the perfect shade of brown—and that's exactly what the stylist here did. So even though this dark-brown shade might look simple, it was carefully selected, formulated, and personalized to a tee.

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Brassy Brown

The "brassy" hair color usually gets a bad rap, primarily for its perceived unwanted orange undertones. But when you pull off the shade (and undertones) perfectly so they look natural rather than neon? Yes, please.

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Light Chestnut

With a warm skin color, it's always a good idea to find a warm hair color to match (in this case, a complementary chestnut brown). Bonus points for gorgeous, bouncy curls too.

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Sand Beige

Aka, "almost blonde." The lightest brown you can go (while still falling under the "brunette" category) is probably this soft sandy beige. (Keep it as healthy as this shiny style with a good smoothing serum.)

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Blonde Sprinkles

Tight curls are perfect for sprinkling in pops of color. Rather than highlighting entire sections, warm up brown hair with some unexpected dashes of gold or honey to lighten things up.

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Can't decide between going red or going brown? Try both. This auburn hue is the perfect middle-ground between "firetruck" and "milk chocolate," and we're obsessed.

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Ashy Brown

To go only a few shades darker than a "dirty blonde," try a cool, ashy shade of brown like this one. Multifaceted high-and-lowlights balance it out so it doesn't veer into "gray" territory if that's not what you're looking for.

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Honey Hair

Good beach waves are made all the more covetable with great color. We love the look of this long balayage complete with sweet honey highlights.

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Copper Tones

Naturally brown hair tends to get slightly brassier in the sun anyway—so a brown-to-copper ombré is a simple way to fool people into thinking your dye job is au naturale.

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Deep Raven

It's almost black—but not quite. If you're tempted to go to the dark side, you can't go wrong with a deep raven hue (that happens to be flattering on all complexions).

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Rich Chocolate

If you're a natural brunette (whose shade could possibly be described as "mousy" by Elle Woods), up the ante by going for an ultra-rich and saturated brown that's more "chocolate mousse" than "dishwater."

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Nearly Black

If you're looking to go dark dark, try a rich, deep chocolate-brown (that borders on jet-black) and wear it slick-straight for extra impact.

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Dark & Pigmented

We always encourage people to go for the bold and make the chop. (Find our favorite bob inspo here.) Choose a rich dark-brown color for instant grown-up, Victoria-Beckham vibes.

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Golden Toffee

There are endless shades of brown to choose from, many of which have been worn for decades—but a multidimensional golden-brown like this one somehow feels completely fresh.

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Dark to Light

Don't be afraid of a little contrast. For depth, this colorist enlisted babylights, strandlights (aka, a freehand coloring technique), and color-blocking for a major brown balayage moment, featuring ashy-blonde ends.

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Coffee Roast

You don't have to be a coffee lover to appreciate deep, mocha-hued curls. Make a dark-brown color extra-dimensional with an extra-shiny style. (Find our best curly hair tips here.)

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Tawny Waves

Have a "bronde" moment with face-framing, golden highlights mixed in with a neutral, tawny brown. (Gorgeous loose waves sold separately.)

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Blended Browns

The beauty of brown hair is you can incorporate however many hues you so choose. And why pick just one? You can blend together honey, toffee, bronze, and more (as long as your colorist knows what they're doing—don't try this at home).

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Gingerbread Latté

If you're looking to take a reddish-brown hue for a spin, this gingerbread latté color is all the rage (and it works on any hair texture).

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Smoky Brown

If you're a natural blonde trying to take the plunge into darker territory, try an ashy, smoky brown like this shade, with cool, grayish undertones.

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Strands of Gold

It doesn't have to be sunny out for you to lighten things up. If your brown hue is feeling lifeless, brighten it with sunny, golden highlights (that'll almost put you in the blonde category—but not quite).

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Try a brown balayage with dark (chocolate) roots and blonder, cookie dough-hued highlights. (Hungry? Same.)

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Light-Brown Braids

Make a statement with extra-long box braids in a warm, light-brown hue. (Top it off with a bandana for bonus points.)

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Honey Brown

Say "yes" to sunny, honey highlights with darker brown lowlights. (Of course, if your curls are this insane, you can pull off anything,)

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We love purple hair and reddish tints—but a saturated, eggplant-hued brown takes the cake. It might be unexpected, but styled into a blunt, wavy bob? We have no choice but to stan.

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Pumpkin Spice

Make waves with a multifaceted pumpkin-spice hue. (Believe it or not, this color is 100 percent natural. We know—life isn't fair.)

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Tinted Tresses

Give dark, saturated hair some extra dimension with some tinted, subtle highlights (and stunning beach-wave styling).

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Reverse Ombré

Flip the ombré look on its head (literally) with a reverse version featuring gorgeous brown hues. The honey-chestnut roots shaft blends into the rich, dark-brown ends perfectly.

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Chocolate Hazelnut

Whether your highlights are natural or not, we love the contrast of a rich, dark brown with splashes of lighter, warm hues throughout (that make it look like you just spent a summer on the beach).

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Natural Roots

Brown hair is versatile—whether you love your natural hair color or not, it's usually fairly easy to go a few shades lighter or darker. Keep your roots intentionally darker (or smudged) for an effortlessly chic (and slightly more low-maintenance) dye job.

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