Ash brown hair color is a cool-toned brown shade that mixes brown and gray tones to create a natural-looking neutral hue. The color can appear slightly on the grayish side, leading some to wonder if ash brown looks grey. The answer depends on several factors, including the specific level and tone of ash brown, as well as individual preferences. With the right formulation and styling, ash brown hair can look sophisticated without skewing overly gray. Let’s take a closer look at what makes ash brown unique to understand if and when it may take on grey undertones.
What is Ash Brown Hair?
Ash brown hair gets its name from having cool, ashy undertones mixed with light or medium brown base color. It’s the cool tones that counteract the warmth in brunette hair and give it a neutral or slightly grayish finish. The primary color characteristics of ash brown hair include:
- Cool, beige-brown base color.
- Neutralizes unwanted red, orange, and golden brassiness in brown hair.
- Adds blue, violet, and green subtle tones to cancel warmth.
- Produces a natural, soft, muted brown shade.
- May incorporate lighter brown and dark blonde highlights.
You can find ash brown in light, natural, medium, and dark brunette shades. It’s ideal for anyone with neutral to cool skin tones and hazel, blue, or green eyes. The ash brown hair color palette includes hues like:
- Dark ash brown – a rich neutral brown, like milk chocolate.
- Medium ash brown – a natural beige-brown, with subtle grayness.
- Light ash brown – a soft, cool-toned light brown.
- Ash blonde – a smoky gray-beige blonde.
Does It Look Grey?
The short answer is sometimes. Ash brown hair sits on a spectrum between brown and gray. In certain lighting conditions and styling, it can take on more of a grayish cast. Here are some factors that affect whether ash brown leans warm brown or cool gray:
- Depth of Color – Darker ash browns appear less gray than lighter ones.
- Tones – More blue = cooler and grayer. Green adds warmth.
- Highlight Contrast – Lighter highlights = more dimension.
- Hair Texture – Coarse hair shows more gray than fine strands.
- Styling – Straight styling emphasizes coolness. Waves add warmth.
- Lighting – Indoor light washes it out grayer than sunlight.
So in the right conditions, ash brown may take on a subtly gray appearance. But a quality color formulation tailored to your base and tones will maintain a balanced, natural-looking brown.
Avoiding Excess Grayness
If your ash brown is looking more charcoal gray than taupe-brown, there are ways to tweak it. Here are tips to make ash brown feel more brown than gray:
- Add warmth with coppery gloss or toner.
- Lighten up the base and lowlights.
- Soften your part line with face-framing highlights.
- Rinse with blue-violet toning shampoo, not purple.
- Style with soft waves using a 1-inch iron.
- Use goldwell colorance semi-permanent in 6bg
- Finish styles with shine serum to reflect light.
You can also embrace the grayness and enhance it by:
- Using a violet-tinted conditioner to amp up coolness.
- Incorporating platinum babylights around the face.
- Using a gloss in ash or silver shades.
- Playing up the gray with edgier styling.
- Boosting shine with moisturizing masks and serums.
- Using a touch of temporary gray root concealer.
Choosing Your Shade of Ash Brown
Finding the right level of ash brown for your look is key to getting the ideal balance of brown and gray. Here are some tips for choosing ash brown hair color:
- Fair/cool skin – Light to medium ash brown.
- Medium skin – Natural to dark ash brown.
- Olive/dark complexions – Medium to dark ash brown.
- Stick within 2 shades of your natural level to look natural.
- Lighter = more gray. Darker = more brown.
- Add some warmth like goldwell colorance gloss in 6bg.
- Customize your formula to match your undertones.
- Do a strand test to check the tone in natural light.
The most foolproof way to achieve a customized ash brown shade is to consult with an experienced colorist. Describe the overall look you want in terms of warmth, depth of color, and maintenance level. Your colorist can then conduct a thorough consultation, analyzing your skin tone, eye color, hair condition, and natural level to devise the ideal ash brown formulation. This personalized approach results in an ash brown shade tailored to complement your features and avoid looking overly gray.
Style for Dimension
Your ash brown hair color may look most gray and flat straight out of the salon. That’s because dyeing process deposits color evenly from roots to ends, resulting in a uniform shade all over. But single-dimensional color can read dull and gray. The solution is strategic highlighting and styling to create depth and dimension. Here are some techniques:
- Face-framing highlights around face.
- Subtle balayage or ombre lighter ends.
- Gloss to add warmth and shine to midlengths.
- Volumize hair at roots for lift.
- Soft waves and curls add depth and warmth.
- Try side parts or off-center parts instead of harsh middle parts.
- Shine serums boost radiance and brightness.
When your ash brown hair moves, shines, and frames your face with strategic coloring, it appears much more dynamic and brown in comparison to flat, one-note gray.
How Lighting Affects Ash Brown
The type of lighting you’re in can impact whether ash brown skews brown or gray. Here’s how:
- Natural daylight shows the true tones of ash brown hair.
- Warm environments like outdoors emphasize the brown.
- Cool bluish light washes hair out and makes it look more gray.
- Indoor light isn’t as intense so hair appears darker and cooler.
- Yellow indoor lighting casts warmth onto cool ash brown hair.
- Bright light shows off dimension better than dim environments.
Ash brown hair tends to look its most lively and brownish in glowing natural light. Indoors under fluorescent lights, the same hair may come across more monotone and grayish. So assess your ash brown shade in different lighting before deciding if it’s too gray.
Caring for Ash Brown Hair
To keep ash brown hair looking shiny and vibrant instead of drab, be diligent about proper care between salon visits. Here are key maintenance tips:
- Purple shampoo 1-2x per week to prevent brassiness.
- Blue toning conditioner to maintain cool tones.
- Weekly rejuvenating hair masks.
- Avoid chlorine, saltwater, and minerals that can deposit metals.
- Blow dry with a heat protectant and use low heat.
- Trim regularly to prevent dried ends.
- Use gloss or toner to refresh color between dye jobs.
With the right maintenance regimen, you can keep ash brown hair looking dimensional, shiny, and chic.
How to Transition to Ash Brown from Other Colors
Want to go from blonde, red, or traditional brunette to ash brown? It’s definitely possible with a strategic color plan:
- Fill hair with a brown demi-permanent before applying ash brown dye.
- Tone hair with a green-based toner to cancel redness.
- Lighten ends if going darker to avoid major contrast.
- Gradually go darker over multiple sessions.
- Color remove or let red fade before dyeing.
- Neutralize warmth with blue anti-red shampoo.
- Apply a balanced medium brown filler all over.
- Use low-volume ash brown dye first.
- Lighten hair first for lighter ash brown shades.
- Use a violet-ash toner on middle and ends to pre-tone.
- Opt for darker ash brown hues if you don’t want to lighten.
- Incorporate lighter face-framing highlights.
Consult a colorist to devise the optimal transition plan. With the right steps, you can gradually and seamlessly shift to ash brown hair from any starting color.
Ash Brown Hair Inspiration
Need some visual inspiration for chic ash brown hair looks? Here are beautiful examples of celebrity and model ash brown hair colors to show your colorist:
|Khloe Kardashian||Dark ash brown base with warm coppery highlights|
|Kendall Jenner||Dimensional medium cool brown with subtle blonde|
|Emma Stone||Light ash brown balayage on natural brown hair|
|Mindy Kaling||Rich neutral dark brunette shade|
|Kim Kardashian||Slightly smoky one-note ash brown|
|Bella Hadid||Mushroom brown base with platinum highlights|
Still have questions about how ash brown hair color looks? Here are answers to some common queries:
Does ash brown fade quickly?
Ash brown hair color lasts 4-6 weeks like other standard permanent dyes. To make it last longer avoid washing daily, use color-safe shampoo and conditioner, and refresh with gloss treatments.
Does ash brown look natural?
When professionally formulated to match your natural level and tones, ash brown can look very natural and complementory to cool complexions. Strands look healthy and dimensional.
Can you do ash brown balayage?
Absolutely! Hand-painted ash brown babylights woven throughout the midlengths and ends looks beautiful and natural. Keep roots darker for grow-out.
Does ash brown work onwarm skin tones?
Those with golden, olive and darker complexions look best in ash brown shades with some warmth added like goldwell colorance in 6bg. Avoid going too light.
How do you tone down ash brown?
If your ash brown is too ashy, add warmth by using a copper, gold or caramel semi-permanent gloss or toner. Lighten base color and concentrate on highlights
Ash brown hair is meant to be a soft, natural-looking neutral brown, not skewing overly cool and gray. Factors like your base color and undertone, dye formulation, highlight placement, and styling all impact whether ash brown shades appear more gray vs brown. Working with an expert colorist and communicating the overall look you want to achieve will help avoid an unflattering end result. The right formulation and proper maintenance ensures ash brown hair stays looking dimensional, shiny, and chic. With these insights, you can confidently rock ash brown hair that earns compliments, not comparisons to gray grandma hair.