The Brunette Color Guide: 15 Sultry Shades of Brown Hair

Updated 10/04/17

They say blondes have more fun, but we're taking a stand and challenging that notion. Some of our favorite and most pin-worthy looks and styles of the past year were sported by a brunette (or a temporary brunette—no judgment here). Not to mention that the different shades and tones brown hair can take on is mesmerizing—from amber to raven to sombre to espresso, we can't look away from a good brunette dye job. Whether you're looking for a major hair transformation or just a subtle transition that'll still warrant a double take, we're willing to bet you'll find a look in our gallery of favorites.

For all this and more, click on through!

brunette hair inspiration
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Natural Dark Brown With Subtle Highlights

When Joan Smalls worked long curly locks earlier this summer, we couldn't get over the gorgeous rich color. Subtle lightness added throughout the deep brunette helped to create dimension and show off her beautiful curls.

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Natural Brown Almost Black

While she's not nearly as much of a hair chameleon as her sisters, Kendall Jenner's perfect dark natural strands should remain untouched by hair dye. (If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?) 

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Chocolate Brown

We can't say we were surprised when Zendaya was announced as CHI's first-ever celebrity brand ambassador. She's a strong advocate for natural hair and embracing your roots (literally), we're big fans of her grit (and her beautiful chocolate-brown locks). For shiny strands like Zendaya's, apply CHI Argan Oil Plus Moringa Oil Conditioner ($17).

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Brunette-Meets-Bronde

Taking a look at our Pinterest boards, Olivia Palermo appears frequently on just about every one of them. Her clothes, her wedding dress, her hair—we want 'em all. Speaking of the latter, we haven't been able to forget this brunette-meets-bronde dye job that accents the socialite's features perfectly. 

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Medium Brown With Balayage Highlights

If we didn't know any better, we'd think Lily Aldridge's balayage was painted on by Michelangelo himself. This look is the perfect way to bring lightness to brown hair without going the full-blown highlight route. However, because lightening hair can cause unsightly damage, we recommend nourishing your mane with Biosilk Color Therapy Conditioner ($16). 

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Coppery Light Brown

We're cheating a bit here, but we had to include Alexa Chung's coppery strands to our roundup. Hey, no one ever said brunette had to be all brown, right? We like that she kept some brunette color at the roots to add more dimension to the overall color.

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Medium Brown

Okay, not only is Jessica Biel married to Justin Timberlake, she also won the genetic lottery. Sigh. Celebs are so #blessed. While we've seen her rock a ton of bronde and balayage looks throughout her career, we find ourselves swooning over this simple, natural-looking hue. For healthy locks like Jess's, try quenching dry strands with Carol's Daughter Hair Balm Nourishing Liquid Pomade ($10).

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Mocha Brown

Hold on, let us grab our sunglasses to shield our eyes from the amazingly vibrant mocha color happening here. Nina Dobrev's modest mane is proof that you don't need to hit the dye or bleach heavily in order to achieve stunning color. 

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Dark Brown With Copper Ombré

There's always that one celebrity who is so aesthetically perfect it's almost upsetting, and that person for us is undoubtedly Jenna Dewan-Tatum. No matter what chop, color, or style she chooses for her hair, it's always undeniably flawless. This sombre bob is another example of how wonderous her hair truly is, transitioning from a deep brown to a sassy (yet subtle) copper.

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Medium Brown With Subtle Balayage

We can't get enough of Selena Gomez's medium-brown sleek main with subtle balayage. While simple in nature, this color elicits an air of mystique, adding to the appeal behind the flawless singer. To mimic this striking look, we suggest applying Oscar Blandi Vivid Clear Shine Glaze ($28) over pin-straight strands.

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Dark Brown With Red Tones

Olivia Wilde told us she attributes her youthfulness to wine, but we're thinking her colorist has a hand in that as well. We're totally digging this dark brown bob with subtle red tones.

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Light Brown With Face-Framing Highlights

Miranda Kerr has that total lit-from-within thing going on, but those face-framing highlights definitely help, too. It's such a subtle touch to brunette hair, but it makes a world of a difference.

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Honey-Hued Bronde

Call it bronde, dirty blond, or whatever you like, but we think Sofía Vergara's honey-hued (pseudo-brunette) locks are a must-try, no matter the season. 

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Light-Bronde With Visible Roots

We're all about finding sneaky tricks for covering our roots, but we think Jourdan Dunn's visible roots here are an exception to the rule. Couple those with a light-bronde bob and you've got a seriously red carpet–worthy head of hair. We suggest using SheaMoisture Professional Smooth Finish Blow Dry Cream ($20) to get a sleek end result like the model's.

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Light Chestnut Brown

Also rocking roots, Jessica Alba looks gorgeous in this chestnut color. Pairing the color with messy-on-purpose strands, she's making the case for imperfect hair.

This story was originally published on January 4, 2016, and has been updated.

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