Minimalism and earth tones have dominated interior decor for quite some time, and now those shades have finally made their way into hair color trends. Mushroom brown hair, in particular, has taken over our feeds—and we're here to gush. The taupe-like shade of brown, which leans more cool than warm, has become popular to pair with worn-in blonde highlights. It lends an icy infusion of dimension to darker base colors and provides a natural-looking base for blondes and brunettes alike.
Celebrity colorist Aura Friedman describes the trending shade as having a multitude of personalities, from a mushroom-y gray to a blend between mauve-ish pinks and taupe-toned browns. Once the hair has been lightened to a certain level, Friedman notes skin tone and eye color are the deciding factors that influence which color route to go down for each client.
Meet the Expert
- Aura Friedman is a New York City-based colorist with more than 20 years of experience. Her work has been seen in major runway shows, magazine editorials, and on celebrity clients including Lady Gaga.
- Natalie Rotger is a colorist at the Jenna Perry Hair Studio in New York City's East Village.
"For my natural brunettes, it can be a way to spice up your usual highlight appointment by simply playing around with earthy tones a bit more as opposed to rich warmer hues," explains colorist Natalie Rotger. But she says blondes can play with the color too: "If you're a blonde looking to try something different without going full brunette, mushroom brown can be really fun to do while staying a bit on the lighter end of the spectrum."
Mushroom Brown Hair
Choosing a Shade: Skin tone and eye color will help you and your colorist decide which undertones of mushroom brown to pair with your natural coloring.
Maintenance Level: High. "This color can be pretty high-maintenance if you're hyper-focused on it being super ashy at all times," Rotger says. "It's a tone that easily comes out of the hair after a couple of weeks with a gloss."
Goes Great With: Earthy or bronzy makeup colors; balayage
Similar Shades: Gray, taupe, mauve
Price: Your average cost for transformative color is going to start at around $300. At-home touch-ups will range from $5 to $30. Using a color-depositing shampoo or conditioner at home on pre-lightened hair can make this a more affordable, temporary, and lower-maintenance look.
Keep reading for everything you need to know about mushroom brown hair, plus all the inspiration you need to take with you to your next color appointment.
We like to think Hailey Bieber is responsible for putting this trend on the map. She traded in her warm and beachy, fully highlighted mane for a more effortlessly lived-in mushroom brown base color that seamlessly blends into her blonde tips, and we have to admit, it's one of our favorite hair moments she's had to date.
Face Framed Tints
Face-framing streaks of mushroom brown are another way to try out the trend. But be warned: to get mushroom brown-tinted streaks on much darker base colors, you'll run into the same issue you'll encounter with any lightening process— combating brassiness. "We would need to be bleach the hair beforehand and then tone it down afterward to [achieve] the desired mushroom tone," explains Friedman. Or, if you have pre-existing color on your dark strands and are already facing brassiness, Rotger says "playing around with some color depositing shampoos and conditioners can be a fun way to see if it's something you're interested in doing" with more permanence.
Change of Highlights
Even if mushroom brown hair is simply about changing up your highlights as a brunette, you still need to go through the process of lifting your natural color out to a certain level of lightness, Rotger explains. This ensures there's not much warmth left after an easy, ashy gloss at the sink. "I think mushroom brown is definitely a moment, which is why I prefer achieving it with a gloss, as it does wash out eventually," she says.
Typically, this is not the hair color you take into your own hands at home. However, "if the person's hair is light enough to begin, then yes," all signs say go for it, Friedman says. She recommends using Colorsilk by Revlon for an affordable, all-over mushroom brown transformation. We loved Gigi Hadid's recent trade-in of her warm blonde streaks for this rich-rooted mushroom brown color.
To keep these extra icy streaks in your rich brunette coloring, Rotger recommends a color depositing product such as the Matrix Brass Off Mask ($24) and Shampoo ($20). "Leave the mask on for a couple of minutes before rinsing," she says, while noting that blue is best for darker brunettes and purple is typically best for lighter ones.
Toned Down and Out
No matter how light or icy you go with your mushroom brown hair color, it's going to require some TLC and finding the right products to keep up your tone after leaving the salon. "My number one recommended product for hair health, color preservation, and strand strengthening is the K18 Hair Mask," Friedman says. "It's better than all bond builders—in a class of its own—and can be used as a daily leave-in hair treatment."
"This color can be pretty high-maintenance if you're hyper-focused on it being super ashy at all times," Rotger says. "It's a tone that easily comes out of the hair after a couple of weeks with a gloss. But it can also be low-maintenance if you use color depositing shampoos or conditioners that are either blue or purple, depending on how light your hair is."
If you don't have any pre-existing color, don't fret: You can still hop on the mushroom brown bandwagon. "For my blondes," Rotger says, "it would be a couple of glosses, layering them on to achieve the desired depth of a brunette and finishing off with an ashier or cooler-toned gloss." Regardless of your starting off point, "whether it be layering on a couple of glosses or fully committing to a permanent hair color," Rotger assures us, a total transformation is totally possible.
Skin types with warmer undertones look great with mushroom brown hair, "but it's just a little more earthy and neutral in tone, rather than super ashy," says Rotger, whose reasoning is that going too ashy on certain skin tones could wash you out a bit and may not look as natural.
We love this mushroom brown highlighted infusion. There's a subtle hint of pink and a subtle hint of gold, all while maintaining that naturally lighter yet cooler-toned variation against her dark brunette base color. It's the perfect bronde, just slightly muted, that's sure to give off a fun gleam of colors under various lightings.
Similar to Margot Robbie's natural dirty blonde base color, "the mushroom brown hair color works best on level six and lighter, so that’s a dark blonde or lighter," says Friedman. The reason both experts say this hair color works best on those who have lighter hair colors to begin with? "There's a little more room to play with cooler tones," explains Rotger. Toning out the natural brassiness that darker colors tend to experience during the lightening process is in large part what keeps this trend on the higher-maintenance end of the spectrum.
The placement of your mushroom brown hair color can have a huge impact. Adding a few face-framing pieces surrounding a darker base can make your cool, earthy browns really stand out and give your color an effortless dimension without needing to do a full head of highlights. (Your strands will thank you, too.)
While anyone can adopt this hair color, Friedman says her "ideal candidates will range from very pale to olive skinned, so the hair color can pick up on those golden and pink undertones in skin color."
We love the way these bronzy makeup tones and natural earthy colors, like a nude lip and brown smokey eye, look when paired with cooled-down mushroom brown strands.
Balayage is a great way to wear mushroom brown, and can even help in making the maintenance a little lower than usual with less frequent upkeep needed. Displaying a drawn-out contrast between dark and light, or even warm and cool, allows for a very natural blend of color progression.