The most flattering brunette hair colors for every skin tone

The most flattering brunette shades for your skin tone
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The most flattering brunette hair colors for every skin tone

Golden brown

There's no shortage of reasons to envy Gisele, but her beachy hair color rises to the top of our list. "It's very natural-looking and warms up her skin," says hairstylist Harry Josh, who colors the supermodel's hair. Ask your colorist for a light brown base with highlights a few shades lighter added to give it dimension: "We don't go much further than her natural color so that she can go forever without a touch-up—three times a year, max," Josh says.


Yes, we're still into ombré. More specifically, Jessica Biel's ombré. The varying dark-to-light shades blend together so there aren't any harsh lines. "The color actually threads to the top around her face," Josh says, which keeps it from looking severe around her fair skin. To steal Biel's look, ask your colorist for a medium brown base and stick within a two-shades-lighter range through the tips. A bonus styling trick from Josh: "Waves look the best with ombré," he says. "Worn straight, you can see how the color is painted in."

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Katie Holmes's dark, even shade may be understated, but it's still rich. "It starts with a really chocolatey base, but there's a hint of ruby," says colorist Rona O'Connor. Ultradark shades can look goth against light complexions, but that little tinge of red has a big impact: "It comes through in thick ribbons, and because the shades are very close to each other, it looks really soft," says O'Connor.


Sandra Bullock's olive undertones can handle the intensity of this deep walnut hair color without looking washed out. (A touch of red in the shade helps, says Josh.) It has to be shiny, though, to keep the color from falling flat. Josh's fix? Stop by the salon between color appointments for a gloss, or try an at-home version. Maintenance is crucial, too, when you're going for even, all-over color, so be prepared to visit the salon frequently: every five weeks if you have grays or every two months if you don't.


"Sofia Vergara's a natural blonde, so we lightened her up toward that," says O'Connor. The technique: Begin with a light brown base, then paint very thin golden highlights across the crown. "The highlights start an inch from the roots, with the slivers getting bolder as you go down," she says. "The brightest halo of color should be in the front and start at the cheeks."

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Jessica Alba's subtle, modern ombré is "dark at the top, but the bottom is ashy instead of bright," says O'Connor. To get this look, ask for sandy brown highlights blended over an espresso base. The shade may be muted, but it noticeably warms up medium complexions: "There's a really soft transition of color that gives it a golden feel," says O'Connor.

Ashy bronze

Leona Lewis's hair color glistens—and it's not just because of the camera's flash. "She has bronze skin, so the ashy brown base is a good start," says O'Connor. "The muted gold tones around her face are a good balance—too much yellow would make her skin look orange." Because this shade can easily become brassy, O'Connor recommends washing with a violet-tinged shampoo and conditioner to prevent fading (we like Clairol Professional Shimmer Lights Shampoo).


"It looks all one color, but it actually gets lighter from the ear down," Josh says of Joan Smalls's deep coffee shade. To get the look, be sure to stay within two levels of your base color: It makes maintenance easy and the shade believable. And don't forget the brows. "It looks like her brows were lightened ever so slightly to take the edge off," says Josh. "It all blends harmoniously with the tone of her hair."

Raven brown

"Zoë Saldana is on the lighter side of dark skin, but because this raven brown shade doesn't have much blue in it, it doesn't look hard on her," O'Connor says. When you're going for an intense, all-over shade—this one's nearly black—shine is superimportant. So's your hair's texture: "If you have frizzy hair, do a smoothing treatment before you get it colored," says O'Connor. "Smooth hair reflects light better."

Whoever said brown is boring never met these rich brunette shades. Honey, toffee, espresso -- we're craving every single one.

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