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17 Photos of Dark Brown Hair With Highlights to Show to Your Colorist

dark brown hair with highlights

While there are no rules when it comes to hair color, there does seem to be a universally agreed-upon pattern that most people follow: go lighter in summer and darker in winter, which makes sense considering that it mimics a natural seasonal fluctuation. That means no matter if our hair is bright blonde or a rich shade of auburn, the color will inevitably lighten underneath the summer sun, and darken again in the sun's absence. However subtly or dramatically it does so, depends on your hair's original color and type. 

For some people, this means that effortless highlights, or a natural sun-kissed balayage effect, will develop over the course of a summer. For most people, though, that aforementioned lightening effect is much more subtle—maybe just a tone or two brighter than the original color (yes, we're looking at you, brunettes). If this sounds like you, but you still crave natural-looking dimension and summer-y bronzed highlights, it's time to book a salon appointment. Expert colorists know just how to achieve your desired result.

Dark brunette to golden blonde

Justin Anderson is an expert colorist at Nine Zero One Salon in Beverly Hills. He's also the co-founder of haircare brand dpHUE...You know, the brand that makes the super popular Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse ($35)? Justin is responsible for this seamless dark brunette to golden blonde color. We're putting this at the top of our Pinterest boards.

Dark brown to ash blonde

Johnny Ramirez is a celeb colorist and owner of the buzz-worthy Beverly Hills hair studio, Ramirez Tran Salon. His specialty is creating "lived in" and beach-y hair color, like this dark brown to ash blonde example. We like how her textured layers show off the highlights and add a bit more dimension. 

Chestnut with golden highlights

If you prefer to keep your brown hair more golden-toned, you might like this chestnut shade that's also courtesy of Johnny Ramirez. We like how the main brunette color is complemented by honey-colored highlights at the front. 

Subtle caramel highlights

For darker brunettes who don't want obvious golden highlights, take heed from this subtle caramel color, which especially flatters medium to olive skin tones. 

Cool-toned highlights

This subtle ombre situation, also from Johnny Ramirez, is the perfect example of cool-toned highlights, for brunettes who "don’t like any kind of warm tones," as Ramirez put it. 

Wavy brunette lob

Anh Co Tran is an expert celebrity colorist and the other half of Ramirez Tran Salon. We like this wavy brunette lob that's dispersed throughout with hazy golden highlights.

Melded color

For an edgier look, try recreating this melded color from Anh Co Tran. Complete the look with tousled, lived-in texture. Personally, we like Verb's Sea Texture Spray ($18). 

Brown beige and ice gold

Kimemily Pham is an expert colorist and owner of Excellent Hair Salon & Spa. She calls this color "brown beige and ice gold." What starts out as dark brunette at the roots slowly transitions to a cool ash blonde at the ends.

Cool gold color meld

Pham is also responsible for this cool gold color meld, which looks incredibly shiny and glossy, especially when paired with big barrel curls. It's making us want to reach for our GHD Curve 1.25 Inch Soft Curl Iron ($199). 

Auburn color meld

Pham also created this auburn color meld, which we love, since dark brunette is usually highlighted with gold tones. Even though this deep red is more typical of Autumn, we think the glossy red highlights work perfectly for summer too. 

Dark brunette with highlights

Alysa Pace is a hairstylist and colorist at Bomane Salon in Beverly Hills. She created this dark brunette color with subtle light brown highlights. The color and cut are perfectly '70s-esque.

Yellow blonde highlights

As Pace put it best in her Instagram caption, "let there be gold." Ribbons of yellow blonde highlights give this a beach-y and California-girl vibe.

Nikki Lee color

Nikki Lee is a colorist and co-owner of Nine Zero One Salon. Her Instagram feed is full of perfectly-highlighted hair, but we have a special preference for this mid-length masterpiece. 

Blonde highlights

We also like this style, which is from Nikki Lee as well. Instead of highlights interspersed without, the blonde highlights are concentrated at the ends and the front. 

Dark brunette

Matt Rez is colorist at MÈCHE Beverly Hills. He specializes in balayage, which is a coloring technique that creates gradual-looking color. We love this super dimensional dark brunette color with varying shades of blonde. 

Light and fresh highlight

Cherin Choi is a colorist and co-owner of @NovaArtsSalon. Check out her Instagram feed for fascinating before-and-after transformation pictures like this, in which she changed a client's hair color to something lighter, fresher, and glossier. 

Subtle and natural highlight growth

Kristin Ess is founder of her namesake hair brand, which can be found at Target (we love her Strand Strengthening Reconstructive Moisture Mask $14). She posted this photo to her Instagram account, explaining that this is 9 months post-color. It's the perfect example of how highlights should grow out...subtly and naturally. We're obsessed.

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