We fully believe that light brown hair is magic—it complements anyone and everyone. No matter your hair type, texture, eye color, or skin tone, light brown hair is destined to look good. It's a universally flattering hair color and one that's perfect for displaying summery highlights. It also requires little to no maintenance (especially compared to other popular hair color trends—like copper or peach). While it's never been a hair color that's gone out of style, its effortless upkeep and versatility are why we think it's trendy right now.
Whether it's Beyoncé's golden brown bob or Lily Collins's sand-hued tresses, celebrities are inspiring us to go lighter with our locks. "The most flattering shades tend to be within two shades of your natural color," says colorist George Papanikolas. We spoke to Papanikolas and hairstylist Larisa Love for more light brown hair ideas.
Meet the Expert
- Choosing a Shade: "If you have olive skin or a darker complexion, a cool-toned brunette would be most suitable. If you have a more pale complexion, a warm-toned brunette will complement you best," says Love.
- Maintenance Level: Low to medium. "Being a brunette is easier than being any other color because you don’t need to lift exponentially, and brunettes fade slower," says Love.
- Goes Great With: All skin tones
- Similar Shades: Illuminated brown, bronde, ash brown
- Price: Can start at $200. According to Love, "The price at the salon varies on your hair texture, length, and history. The first appointment in the salon will probably be the most expensive to get you to the perfect shade of brunette you’ve been dreaming of."
Below, check out 25 variations of light brown hair.
Light Brown Ombré
Though Brit beauty Alexa Chung has gone darker with her hair, we're still not over this perfect light brown color. Her dark-to-light brown ombré is subtle but showcases a bit of her signature edge.
Jessica Biel's long, glossy waves are California beach girl meets Hollywood starlet. "Light brown can complement any skin tone, but the underlining pigment is what’s important," Love says. "Skin tone is a key factor in choosing the right shade of brunette."
We adore Issa Rae's natural brown shade worn in this slicked-back style with loose curls. Her auburn color is shiny, vibrant, and rich without any obvious highlights, balayage, or roots. What a perfect example of "less is more."
Emily Blunt is known to oscillate between light and dark tresses, but this gradient brown number has us rooting for team brunette. Loose, face-framing tendrils add softness to this style while copper eyeshadow pairs perfectly with her baby blues.
It's always exciting to check in on model Joan Smalls because you truly never know what hair color she'll be trying next. While she's prone to versatility, Smalls most often rocks dark brown hair, so the addition of caramel streaks, seen here, is a fun statement.
Warm-Toned Light Brown
Ashley Park proves that light brown hair is glamorous. By wearing her tresses long and with a slight wave, she takes them from ordinary to extraordinary. For similar texture and undulating definition, try spritzing Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray from mid-lengths to ends.
We can't decide what we like more: Ciara's soft feathery fringe or her tiger's eye hair color with multidimensional hues. "Dark hair that is going lighter always pulls warm, so unless you want a coppery-brown, it's important to use an ash tone to balance out and neutralize the unwanted orange tones," says Papanikolas.
Preserve color by washing hair less frequently and waiting a full 72 hours after a color treatment before shampooing and conditioning.
Light Brown Sombré
Chrissy Teigen has been a pioneer of the light-brown hair trend, and it's easy to see why. We love how the soft, sweeping waves in her long bob perfectly shape around her glowing skin.
Laverne Cox's cool-toned take on light brown has us swearing off shades with "honey" in the name for the foreseeable future. Her sleek, wet-look bob seriously elevates the color.
Natalie Portman is one of Hollywood's most consistent supporters of light brown hair. In this Oscar-worthy look, she adds dimension to her chic bob with brown balayage. Maintenance-wise, this color requires minimal upkeep.
Gisele Bündchen is always seen with hair that's dyed varying shades of "bronde," or a brown/blonde hybrid color. Here, it's more brown than blonde, but her soft and subtle highlights could make you do a double-take.
Every photo taken of Sofia Vergara looks like it could be used for a luxury shampoo ad. Her long brown locks with subtle highlights are the picture of hair health. To get her next-level shine, invest in some hair oil.
We can't get over Nina Agdal's super soft blonde highlights. They meld into the rest of her brown hair so perfectly. To keep color in tip-top shape, at-home care is essential. Love's product picks? Joico Defy Damage Shampoo and Conditioner ($43) and K-PAK Color Therapy Luster Lock Spray ($11).
When it comes to her hair, it's no secret that Kim Kardashian likes to experiment with different colors and styles. But here, she wears her long cedar brown tresses straight for a classic look. It's simple, yet statement-making.
While Cara Delevingne is known for her blonde hair and dark, thick eyebrows, we are loving this light-brown hair moment. The golden brown hue radiates warmth making her effortless waves just that more beachy.
Gemma Chan is pictured here sporting a long, brunette shade with nearly black roots and much lighter brown ends. The subtle color melt creates depth and looks especially great with a slight wave.
Whether she's rocking long hair or this curly crop, Tyra Banks's hair is always fierce. The combination of golden-flecked highlights and blown-out curls add dimension and interest to this understated cut—not to mention, the color seems to match perfectly with her hazel eyes.
Maggie Q's mane is basically a master class in achieving illuminating light brown color. Tawny highlights emit a sunkissed feel while long layers add some texture to this sleek style.
Cafe Au Lait
Lucy Hale's bendy waves are visually effortless. And since the light brown shade is not too far off from her natural hair color, maintenance is a breeze. In fact, dark grown-out roots feel intentional and only add to this look's casual-cool vibe.
Meagan Good's golden, reddish-brown highlights are chic, which help to counterbalance an eclectic hairstyle (undercut-meets-locs-meets-curls-meets braid). Honestly, there's a lot going on, but we love all of it.
Jessica Alba, to us, is basically the poster child for light brown hair. She's been rocking the color for years, and it always looks fresh, light, and youthful. Here, her soft brown and caramel tones beautifully complement her skin's olive undertones.
Miranda Kerr's light brown hair looks best when styled in a wavy, textured lob. The key to this look is volume, which Kerr has at the roots of her hair. Try using Ouai Volume Spray ($26) for a similar boost.
How can you lighten dark brown hair?
Although there are natural ways to lighten your hair, in order to avoid damage and any unwanted surprises, you may want to ditch the DIY solution. "There are so many factors when choosing the right shade and type of color technology that it's really recommended to see a professional to get the best result," says Papanikolas.
How long does it take to go from blonde to brunette?
It will vary depending on your starting color and desired color, as well as the texture of your hair. The greater the difference in colors and the more curly or dry your hair is, the longer it will take. This can range anywhere from two to five hours.
What color highlights look good on light brown hair?
Light brown hair is incredibly versatile, meaning, there is a wide variety of highlights to choose from. Blonde, caramel, and beige highlights are popular choices but consider your undertone before you decide to go warmer or cooler. Also, consider trying a lowlight to add dimension.