The Brunette Color Guide: 15 Sultry Shades of Brown Hair

Updated 11/25/19

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 sombré 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.

Natural Dark Brown With Subtle Highlights

Joan Smalls with wavy brunette hair
Dimitrios Kambouris / Staff / Getty Images

When Joan Smalls worked long curly locks earlier in the summer of 2017, 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.

Natural Brown Almost Black

Kendall Jenner with a dark brunette bob.
​​Axelle/Bauer-Griffin / Getty Images

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?) 

Chocolate Brown

Zendaya with chocolate brown hair
Amanda Edwards / Contributor / Getty Images

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), and 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 ($18).

Brunette-Meets-Bronde

Olivia Palermo with brunette blonde hair.
Jared Siskin / Contributor / Getty Images

Olivia Palermo appears frequently on just about every one of our Pinterest boards. 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. 

Medium Brown With Balayage Highlights

Lily Aldridge with brunette hair with blonde highlights
Jon Kopaloff / Contributor / Getty Images

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 ($5). 

Coppery Light Brown

Alexa Chung with blunt bangs and brunette hair color.
Getty Images

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

Medium Brown

Jessica Biel with rich brown hair.
Getty Images

OK, not only is Jessica Biel married to Justin Timberlake, but 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 PHYTO Botanical Smoothing Balm ($30).

Mocha Brown

Nina Dobrev with a rich, chocolate brown bob.
JB Lacroix / Contributor / Getty Images

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. 

Dark Brown With Copper Ombré

Jenna Dewan with copper ombré hair.
Getty Images

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

Medium Brown With Subtle Balayage

Selena Gomez with a subtle balayage.
Rob Kim / Getty Images

We can't get enough of Selena Gomez's medium-brown mane 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 Oribe's Glaze for Beautiful Color ($58) over pin-straight strands.

Dark Brown With Red Tones

Olivia Wilde with dark brown meets red hair.
Bruce Glikas / Contributor / Getty Images

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.

Light Brown With Face-Framing Highlights

Miranda Kerr with face framing highlights
Jun Sato / Contributor / Getty Images

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.

Honey-Hued Bronde

Sofía Vergara with honey brown hair
Getty Images

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

Light-Bronde With Visible Roots

Jourdan Dunn with light brown hair with visible roots.
Mike Marsland / Getty Images

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 Argan Oil Blow Out Creme ($9) to get a sleek end result like the model's.

Light Chestnut Brown

Jessica Alba with light chestnut brown hair
Jon Kopaloff / Getty Images

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.

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