Here's the thing about balayage and ombré hair color: It's effortless. We're not only referring to the relaxed vibe it gives off—although it does radiate a certain carefree energy that we love—but also to the post-salon upkeep and maintenance. Thanks to the seamless color transition between lowlights and highlights, ombré grows out naturally without the need for color-correcting shampoos, conditioning treatments, or toners. Anyone who has ever gone platinum or pastel knows that this is a major bonus.
"Ombré is a technique of hand-painting color from dark at the roots to gradually lighter on the ends. This color change includes all of your hair going from dark to lighter, subtly starting around the mid-shafts," explains hair pro Erica Conan. "It’s a smooth transition from your natural hair color that melts into subtle highlights and the brighter pops towards the end," adds colorist Denis de Souza. The result is a look that is highly customizable.
Meet the Expert
- Erica Conan is the Director of Education at ColorProof.
- Denis de Souza is a celebrity colorist. His clients include Alessandra Ambrosio, Lily Collins, and Nicole Richie, among others.
Keep scrolling to see 25 stunning examples of brown ombré hair to show your colorist before your next salon appointment.
Choosing a Shade: The most important aspect is talking to your stylist about the end result you hope to achieve with ombré. "Your stylist will be able to help you choose colors that not only complement your complexion but also base the decision on how much maintenance you want to commit to," says Conan.
Maintenance Level: Low-to-medium. "By design, ombre is going to be a lower maintenance color choice allowing you to go longer between salon appointments, so long as the root color you choose is similar to your natural hair color," says Conan.
Goes Great With: Hazel, brown, or green eyes, olive-toned complexion
Similar Shades: Balayage, lowlights, babylights
Price: "On average, you can expect a starting price around $160 for the color service alone (meaning cut not included)," says Conan.
Straight and Two-Toned
Whether you're growing out blonde hair or trying to brighten up a darker 'do, you can't go wrong with Jamie Chung's cool-toned brunette ombré look. It strikes the perfect balance against her warmer golden color.
If your hair is naturally dark brown and you'd rather keep that as your base, look no further than this soft, subtle ombré. Shay Mitchell's rich locks fade seamlessly into a milk chocolate shade, adding a new dimension to her long waves.
Dimensional Blonde Bob
To us, this is the epitome of summer hair goals. The color transition is starker and makes a bold statement. The best part? You don't have to be Queen Bey to pull off this look. According to de Souza, "[ombré] is low maintenance and looks good on pretty much everyone."
Laverne Cox is coming in hot with her sleek ombré 'do and flawless smoky eye. By pulling hair back, her caramel color becomes more prominent, framing her face and brightening her complexion. It's sophisticated and sultry.
Light Oak Waves
In this memorable brown ombré hair look, Miley Cyrus's color starts out chocolatey and slowly transforms to a light oak brown. Warning: this style will certainly make you want to run your fingers through your tousled waves constantly.
Many ombré styles showcase fairly dramatic transitions from brown to blonde, but Jessica Biel's style is an understated medium brown to chestnut. Be sure to let your stylist know if you don't want the color shift to be bold.
Honey Brown Bob
Ombré doesn't have to end in blonde, as proven by this dimensional honey brown transition. Opt for waves like Yvonne Orji to highlight dimensional and create movement. Finish by swiping some color onto your waterline for lower-lash emphasis.
For a statement-making look, go for a dark brown color that transitions to pink ends à la Gemma Chan. Experimenting with color can be a fun way to change up your look. But if you're not ready for the commitment, opt for a temporary hair dye.
Tousled Toasted Blonde
We also love a look that goes all out with sunny color, with the blondest pieces placed at the front. Ashley Benson's hair is beachy and sun-kissed. And ombré color only adds to its visually effortless look.
Strawberry Blonde Curls
We love the way Janibell Rosanne's hair transitions from dark brown to caramel brown and strawberry blonde. Her curls and volume naturally help to blend these colors together.
Ombré works on most hair textures, however the end result may vary. "When going to your consultation, you should arrive with how your hair looks most of the time to give your stylist an idea of what is realistic," suggests Conan.
Curtain bangs and a half-up, half-down style make Ciara's caramel brown ombré fun and stylish. The ends are multi-dimensional, yet the color transition is seamless throughout the mid-lengths.
Dark and Grown-Out
Brown ombré hair doesn't have to be dramatic unless that's what you're going for. Here, Lily Aldridge proves that less is more. Color stays dark further down the shaft and embraces slightly lighter ends, especially near the face.
Who said ombré has to be all dark at the top? No one. We love Bella Thorne's style with bright, '90s-inspired face-framing pieces. Just keep in mind that these blonde accents will require slightly more maintenance in order to keep color on point.
Here's an example of sun-kissed, light brown ombré hair that feels attainable and elevated at the same time. "Most ombré colors are based off of your natural hair color to allow for easy maintenance and give dimension throughout your hair," comments Conan.
Light Brown Curls
Light brown ombré hair combined with curls is a match made in hair heaven. We love how Zendaya's natural hair texture makes the look subtle and a major statement, all at the same time.
Dirty Blonde Ponytail
We love how a ponytail can highlight the drama of your ombré hair color including in a sleek, twisted style like Heidi Klum's. It has us wondering: Why choose between being blonde or brunette? With ombré, you can be both.
Dramatic Cool Tones
When it comes to her hair, Soo Joo Park loves to play with color contrasts. The cool-toned hues of both her brown and blonde colors complement her skin's neutral undertones perfectly.
Mushroom Brown Lob
Short hair ombré makes a statement with rich brown roots that turn into cool-toned mushroom brown. In terms of your cut, de Souza recommends going no shorter than shoulder-length to get ombré's full color transition. Whether worn tousled or sleek and straight, the result is stunning.
Brown ombré looks that are on the verge of being auburn are right up our alley. Rocking a stark middle part like Gabrielle Union adds a nice contrast to free-flowing locks. But for a fun and flirty finish—and to show off darker roots—try flipping hair to one side.
Here, Hailey Bieber kept her roots and mids ash brown, but the rest of her color reads sun-kissed. To lighten up your color even more—albeit subtly—consider adding face-framing highlights to your ombré look.
Warm Caramel Highlights
Creating a half-and-half style has the potential to result in a boxy look, but the seamless transition on Nina Dobrev—along with the face-framing blonde and interspersed lowlights—creates the perfect balance.
Long and Sleek
Ease your strands into a brown ombré with Eiza Gonzalez's long, sleek style. From this angle, you can see just how seamless the color meld is when ombré hair is done well. Bravo!
Here's another half-brown, half-blonde ombré color. Even though the two colors are distinct, the line between them is blended and diffused in true ombré fashion. Go for a deep side part like Marion Cotillard to flatter a round face and for a finish that's très chic.
According to de Souza, highlighted hair is like a sponge. He recommends avoiding any shampoos, conditioners, or styling products that are not clear in color. "Using pigmented products will eventually darken your highlights," he notes.
This chocolate, walnut, toasted chestnut, and honey bronde ombré hair is subtle and perfectly melded. (And yes, the hue names are making us hungry, too). To keep brown ombré hair in tip-top shape, de Souza says that color-safe shampoo is a must. Our pick? Verb Ghost Shampoo ($20).
Chocolate With Caramel Streaks
Kerry Washington offers up another mouth-watering hue of chocolate brown with a subtle transition from dark to light. To keep dyed strands healthy and soft, consider adding a shine serum like the Kristin Ess Weightless Shine Working Serum ($15) to your routine.
How long does ombré last?
It will vary depending on hair color, length, and products, but ombré can last up to six months.LEARN MORE: The Benefits of Ombré Hair Color
If you have dark brown hair, what color ombré will look best?
The possibilities are endless and will come down to how dramatic or subtle you want to go with your color transition. Cool-toned medium browns like ash or mushroom will create soft dimension. Meanwhile, warmer tones like caramel and honey can work to brighten. Red-toned copper and auburn pair nicely with dark brown, as well.
How do you go from ombré hair back to your natural color?
One option is to get a haircut. But if your hair isn't long enough or you're not looking to go too short, head to the salon and consult a professional. They may decide to dye your hair back to your natural color by first lightening or darkening and then maybe even adding in some highlights.LEARN MORE: How to Grow Out Your Natural Hair Color