50 Medium-Brown Hair Colors That Prove There's a Shade for Everyone

Regina Hall, Chrissy Teigen, and Mandy Moore

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While there's an entire wheel of hair color options—dark brown, platinum blonde, or even rose gold—there's something classic, rich, and endlessly beautiful about a medium-brown tone.

So, how does one choose their most flattering medium brown? "I would start by deciding if you need to be warm or cool brown depending on what’s going to look best on your skin tone," says celebrity colorist Nikki Lee. We tapped Lee and stylist Millie Morales for their industry expertise and pro tips on going brunette.

Meet the Expert

  • Nikki Lee is a celebrity colorist and the owner of Nine Zero One salon, located in Los Angeles.
  • Millie Morales is a celebrity stylist and colorist for the haircare brand Garnier.

Keep scrolling for 50 of our favorite shades of medium-brown hair. Don't be surprised if you end up calling your colorist after.

Medium Brown

  • Choosing a shade: Consider your undertones. Usually, warm shades (amber, honey brown, caramel) tend to favor warm undertones while cool shades (chestnut, ash brown, sandy brown) flatter cool; neutral can go either way.
  • Maintenance level: Low to medium
  • Goes great with: All skin tones
  • Similar shades: Illuminated brown, ash brown, auburn
  • Price: This can range greatly ($100-$500) and will depend on the salon, coloring technique, and shade. Typically, the greater the difference between your natural color and your desired color, the higher the cost.
01 of 50

Dark Brown With Highlights

Priyanka with medium brown hair

Steve Granitz / Getty Images

Priyanka Chopra Jonas's brunette locks part at the side and tumble in waves just below the shoulder. This layered cut displays a subtle dimension that shows off her highlights and has an enviable texture.

Before trying a look like Chopra Jonas's, ensure the shade will serve to flatter your eyes and skin. "My best advice is to check your eyes and skin color. Pick a shade that will brighten your eyes and even your skin tone," says Morales.

02 of 50

Golden-Brown Balayage

Issa Rae

TARA ZIEMBA / Contributor / Getty Images


Issa Rae's springy curls positively shimmer here. Her brunette shade shows off with a summery golden-brown balayage.

Be sure to show up at the salon in your usual hairstyle to help your stylist figure out color placement. "If the client likes to wear natural curly hair, a hand-painted technique is a great way to go," says Morales. "When using this technique, you enhance the type of curls that need the spotlight to create a natural look."

03 of 50

Warm Balayage Mix

Jamie Chung with wam balayage hair

Jon Kopaloff / Getty Images

Jamie Chung is known to be a hair chameleon and looks stunning in any shade, but we must say that this warm balayage mix is one of our favorites. "The great thing about medium brown is that it complements all skin tones," says Lee. The key is to determine your undertones and go cool or warm.

04 of 50

Caramel Bronde

Cleo Wade

J. Countess / Contributor / Getty Images

We've always been a fan of Cleo Wade's stunning curls. Her medium-brown locks are woven with a gorgeous caramel bronde shade to lighten up the overall appearance.

According to Lee, the shade isn't "the most high maintenance color. But it will require regular touch-ups, unlike doing just highlights, you can go a bit longer."

05 of 50

Deep Chocolate

Lily Aldridge with deep chocolate hair

John Shearer / Getty Images

Lily Aldridge has been our inspiration for brunette hair since day one. Here, she shows off deeper chocolate locks with just a few highlights on the ends to soften the appearance.

06 of 50

Flaxen Blonde Highlights


Rabbani and Solimene Photography / Getty Images


While Beyoncé is often rocking honey blonde hues, she'll occasionally vacillate between medium brown and a flaxen blonde shade. For the 2016 Met Ball, she went darker and straighter than usual, with golden highlights and a dramatic eyeshadow.

07 of 50

Medium Brown

Ashley Graham with medium brown hair

Kevin Mazur / Getty Images

Ashley Graham has the kind of thick, shiny brown hair that makes us feel guilty about all the bad dye jobs we've inflicted on our own locks. Here, she sports an even-toned medium shade parted to the side with soft waves.

08 of 50

Rich Brown With Blonde Highlights

Kaia Gerber

Mike Marsland/BFC / Getty Images



It's no surprise that there's supermodel in Kaia Gerber's blood, as just about every photo of her feels campaign-worthy. Her long hair somehow always looks windswept and is a rich brown elevated with light, barely-there blonde highlights.

09 of 50

Tawny Highlights

Jourdan Dunn with tawny highlights

Epsilon  / Getty Images

Jourdan Dunn is another celeb who isn't afraid to switch up her look, so her red-carpet style can be a welcome surprise. Here she debuts her long, flowing brunette strands with subtle tawny tones.

10 of 50

Chestnut Ombré

Alexa Chung

Samir Hussein / Getty Images


Alexa Chung is the queen of shoulder-length cuts and undone waves. We love this dark-chestnut to light-brown ombré, with the ends painted a golden bronde.

11 of 50

Shiny Amber

Mandy Moore with shiny Amber hair

Dan MacMedan / Getty Images

Mandy Moore's hair journey has brought her from brown to blonde, to bronde to raven, and now to medium brown with shiny amber highlights throughout.

12 of 50

Classic Dark Brown

Joan Smalls

Stephane Cardinale - Corbis / Getty Images


Joan Smalls has the bedhead of our dreams. Her carefree, voluminous dark hair has subtle highlights around her face and towards the ends of her locks. The color really brings out her brown eyes.

13 of 50

Golden-Brown Ombré

Chrissy Teigen with ombre golden brown hair

Steve Granitz / Getty Images

Chrissy Teigen's gorgeous hair is almost always a soft mix of dark blondes and brunette hues, and we're not mad about it. This warm, golden-brown ombré complements her warm undertones and her sage-colored dress, we might add.

14 of 50

Cherry-Hued Brunette

Emma Watson


Toni Anne Barson/Getty Images 

Emma Watson's brunette locks and auburn balayage pair perfectly with her dark brown eyes and nearly neutral lip shade. Whereas a darker hue might appear stark against her fair complexion, this medium brown shade is soft and complementary.

15 of 50

Dark Golden Brown

Mindy Kaling with bronde balayage hair

John Shearer / Getty Images

Mindy Kaling's chocolate locks have a glowing bronde balayage that gives this native Bostonian a west-coast vibe. It also flatters her skin's warm undertones.

16 of 50


Lily Collins

Jeffrey Mayer / Contributor / Getty Images

Lily Collins is the definition of princess hair. Here, her flowing locks are having a Jackie-O moment, showcasing her rich cinnamon brown with high-wattage shine. To keep hair healthy and glossy, remember to invest in a color-safe wash routine.

17 of 50

Deep Rich Brunette

Ciara with rich brown hair

Frederick M. Brown / Stringer / Getty Images

Ciara never lets us down with her hair, no matter the length or hue. Here, she adorns her side-parted, soft waves with a bit of medium-brown highlights. Not only do they add depth to her strands but they also brighten her complexion.

18 of 50

Multi-Dimensional Ombré

Taraji P. Henson


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The romantic, side-swept look is classic Taraji. This ombré goes from chocolate at the roots, to golden brown, and finishes with a sandy blonde (were you able to follow that?).

19 of 50

Tawny Balayage

Sandra Bullock with a tawny balayage

Steve Granitz/Getty Images

Sandra Bullock is one of the most beloved brunettes in Hollywood. Here, she has a tawny balayage that runs through her darker mane. To replicate her style's undone finish, apply a texturizing spray.

20 of 50


Lea Michele

Steve Granitz/WireImage / Getty Images

On the darker end of the spectrum, we have Lea Michele, who offers a ton of subtle dimension using tones from raven to auburn and warm brunette. This look is best achieved by a pro colorist versus attempting a DIY dye job at home.

21 of 50

Dimensional Brunette

Zendaya with warm, touseled curls

Stephane Cardinale / Corbis / Getty Images 

Zendaya sports a warm, golden brown hue that manages to pack loads of dimension without overtly obvious highlights. We love the echo of color in her eye makeup, as well.

While it's generally safe to color your hair at home, you'd be wise to skip a DIY dye job if you've recently relaxed your hair, as it can cause unnecessary damage.

22 of 50

Auburn on Chocolate

Chanel Iman

Michael N. Todaro / Getty Images


Another master of the ever-changing brunette locks, model Chanel Iman demonstrates a subtle shock of auburn with a chocolate base on this sleek, mid-length hairstyle.

23 of 50

Soft Chestnut

Bella Hadid with soft chestnut hair

Rosdiana Ciaravolo/Getty Images

As a fashion model, Bella Hadid has worn every hairstyle and color under the sun. Her natural look is more of a subdued brunette. We love this slicked-back, semi-wet look wavy bob in a soft chestnut hue.

24 of 50

Soft Brunette

Jessica Alba


Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

Soft Old Hollywood waves in a medium-brown hue complement Jessica Alba's tan complexion and dark eyes. This is a classic color that wears well all year round.

25 of 50

Dark Roots, Warm Highlights

Laverne Cox


Steve Granitz/Getty Images

Laverne Cox is another hair chameleon, known for shifting her look from everything from a blonde chin-length bob to full honey-colored curls and even magenta waves. We adore this sleek low bun with dark roots and warm highlights.

26 of 50

Medium-Brown With Subtle Highlights

Dakota Johnson

Elisabetta A. Villa/Getty Images


On the opposite end, we have ever-consistent Dakota Johnson. She's pretty much always sporting long, piece-y bangs, though her shade of brown varies. Here, she has a medium-brown color with very subtle highlights.

27 of 50

Warm Highlights

Halle Berry


Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

Halle Berry's curls show off well-placed warm highlights that add an extra note of depth and dimension. To keep hair treated healthy and color vibrant between salon visits, Lee recommends utilizing masks and treatments. "Garnier’s Nutrisse Color Revivers ($8) is a great treat for post-colored hair—they instantly restore softness and smoothness to hair while refreshing color."

28 of 50

Brunette Roots, Sun-Washed Ends

Elizabeth Olsen on the red carpet with light brown hair

Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images


We usually picture the third Olsen sister as a blonde, but she's rocked medium-brown hair more than once. This take features solidly brunette roots that fade off to sun-washed blonde ends.

29 of 50

Cocoa Ombré Curls

Tessa Thompson with cocoa hair

Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images 

Tessa Thompson is typically on the darker end of the brunette spectrum, but this version with big curls has a slight ombré that gives the look an overall softer effect. Did we mention that it's super low-maintenance, too?

30 of 50

Dark Brown Highlights

Kerry washington at the 2020 vanity fair oscar party

John Shearer/Contributor/Getty


We adore the rich brown ribbons of reddish-brown running through Kerry Washington's hair. Since red tends to fade easily, avoid washing your hair at least for a couple of days post-color.

31 of 50

Cool-Toned Medium-Brown

Selena Gomez with brown balayage hair

Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Another take on cooler-toned medium-brown, Selena Gomez's raven roots trickle down to cool chestnut and fade into an ashy bronde at the ends. Her long hair really showcases her depth of color.

32 of 50


Mila Kunis with slick brown hair

Rich Fury/Getty Images

Mila Kunis's all-over single shade of medium-brown is the perfect complement to this molded red carpet hairstyle. Just keep in mind that single-process color will require more maintenance than if you were to go the highlighted route.

33 of 50

Sun-Kissed Brunette

Sofia Vergara long, wavy hair with caramel highlights

Steve Granitz / WireImage / Getty Images

Golden highlights and loose waves soften the overall vibe of Sofia Vergara's long tresses, giving her a sun-kissed appearance. It's subtle summer hair that translates to effortless beauty.

34 of 50

Honey-Hued Brown

Kate Middleton Hair
Getty Images

The trend-averse should look toward Kate Middleton for inspiration. While she is usually the picture of elegance with her signature chestnut locks, here, she opts for a classic medium-toned brown without very obvious highlights. And hey, if it's good enough for royalty...

35 of 50

Sunny Brunette With Subtle Highlights

Alison Brie

John Lamparski/Getty Images

For fair complexions, this sunny brunette shade with lots of subtle highlights seen on Alison Brie is a wonderful option. For an extra dose of gloss, spritz on some shine spray.

36 of 50

Cool-Toned Dark Brown

Chloe Bailey

Aaron J. Thornton / Getty Images

If you're looking for a universally flattering hair shade, look no further than the cool-toned dark brown that Chloe Bailey is sporting on her long locs. The touch of peanut-colored highlights adds extra dimension.

37 of 50

Cinnamon Highlights

CL of 2NE1

Han Myung-Gu / Getty Images

CL, from the K-pop mega group 2NE1, is not afraid to try new hair color trends ‚ but this warm brown shade really checks all the boxes. Adding a kiss of cinnamon-colored highlights helps warm up fair complexions.

38 of 50

Milky Brown

Hailey Bieber

Lionel Hahn / Getty Images

Hailey Bieber's almond highlights seem to just melt into her hair—just like milk in coffee. This hue gives a sun-kissed vibe that's perfect for the summer months.

39 of 50

Peek-a-Boo Highlights

Ariana Debose

Jeff Spicer / Getty Images

Dark brown hair plus golden peekaboo highlights equal a match made in heaven. It's such a great option for those who don't want to or can't commit to a full dye job.

40 of 50

Aperol Spritz Hair

Gigi Hadid

Emma McIntyre / Getty Images

Some may not know, but Gigi Hadid's natural hair is blonde—which makes her warm brown locks even more impressive. But what we love most about the shade is the orange, Aperol spritz-colored balayage that adds a ton of richness.

41 of 50

Almost Blonde Brown

Eva Mendes

Alexander Tamargo / Getty Images

Eva Mendes's honey-colored highlights borders on blonde, but the darker roots keep the look low maintenance. Big, voluminous waves are the perfect marriage with this warm hue.

42 of 50

Copper Dipped Ends

Kelly Rowland

Johnny Nunez / Getty Images

Kelly Rowland has always sported a dark-brown 'do. With this look, it's like she's dipped her long hair into a vat of copper dye—and the result is a natural look that's easy to grow out.

43 of 50

Rich Hot Chocolate

America Ferrera

John Shearer / Getty Images

One way to make brown hair look rich and multi-dimensional is to add warm-toned highlights that are just a shade or two above your natural hair color. America Ferrera's straight and sleek style proves our point 100 percent.

44 of 50

Warm Cinnamon Highlights

Willow Smith

Rich Fury / Getty Images

Don't you love the subtle stripes of cinnamon-colored highlights that are woven into Willow's locs? We definitely do—and the up-do? Another chef's kiss moment from the rock star.

45 of 50

Deep Mahogany Brown


Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

Normani normally rocks black tresses, but she opted to go a bit lighter (and warmer), which really brings out the richness in her skin tone. The long ponytail also has lighter, auburn highlights, too.

46 of 50

Multidimensional Bronde

Aubrey Plaza with multidimensional brown hair

Amy Sussman / Getty Images

After a brief foray into the platinum blonde life, Aubrey Plaza returned to her signature dark locks. But the influence of her blonde days is apparent, as evidenced by the warm, multidimensional highlights in this medium brown shade. The big, loose curls further showcase the color.

47 of 50

Cool Depth

Jisoo with cool brown hair

Stephane Cardinale - Corbis / Getty Images

Jisoo's deep medium brown shade has ashier-brown undertones, making it ideal for those with cooler or neutral undertones to their complexion. Try a hair gloss or glaze to replicate her next-level shine.

48 of 50

(Temporary) Hints of Blonde

Nico Parker with a braided brown and blonde updo

Jeff Spicer / Getty Images

For those with textured hair, braids with extensions are a great way to enjoy a temporary color change, as evidenced by Nico Parker's braided updo. Strands of blonde interspersed throughout play up the movement of this stunning style.

49 of 50

Richest Auburn

Jenna Ortega with rich auburn toned hair

Daniele Venturelli / Getty Images

Even goth icons lighten up from time to time. Taking a break from the pitch-black pigtails she dons as Wednesday, Jenna Ortega's copper-ish locks are a great option for those looking to seamlessly transition from brown to red (or vice-versa).

50 of 50

Multi-Tone Medium Brown

Regina Hall with a centered parted brown bob

Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

Regina Hall's choice of hairstyle—a center-parted, blunt-cut bob—is excellent for showing off the variety of perfectly-blended tones in her medium brown hair. We're seeing a seamless melding of caramel, cinnamon, and blonde hues.

  • Can you dye your hair brown at home?

    Though it might be tempting, exercise caution when attempting an at-home dye job. "Simple root touch-ups are fine to do at home as long as you can match your color correctly," says Lee. "I wouldn’t recommend going more than two shades above/below your natural shade. Leave big color changes to the professionals."

  • Is medium brown hair cool, warm, or neutral?

    It can be all of the above since the shade of medium brown will determine its tone. For example, hues with notes of beige (e.g. mushroom brown) are considered cool, whereas those with flecks of gold (e.g. honey brown) are warm. A neutral brown is one that displays both cool and warm tones, such as bronde.

  • How can you take your brown hair from warm to neutral?

    Your colorist will remove warmth by mixing in cooler tones. Blue shampoo may also help to neutralize your warm color.

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