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How do I choose a dark brown hair color?

With so many different shades of brown hair color to choose from, selecting the right dark brown hue for your hair can be tricky. Dark brown hair ranges from rich chocolates to deep espresso browns. The right shade can complement your complexion beautifully, while the wrong tone can wash you out or appear too brassy. Here’s a complete guide to finding the most flattering dark brown hair color for you.

What are the different types of dark brown hair color?

Here are some of the most popular dark brown hair shades to consider:

Dark brown hair color Description
Chocolate brown A rich, warm brown with red undertones
Espresso A very dark brown that resembles the deep color of espresso coffee
Chestnut brown A reddish-brown shade with golden undertones
Mahogany brown A reddish-brown with subtle hints of purple
Maple brown A muted, cool-toned brown
Ash brown A brown hair color with grey undertones

The shade that will look best depends on your skin tone and undertones. Keep reading for tips on finding the most flattering dark brown color for you.

How do I choose the right dark brown hair color for my skin tone?

Finding the perfect dark brown hue has a lot to do with your complexion. Here are some tips for choosing the most complementary shade based on your skin tone:

For fair or pale skin:

Those with fair skin that burns easily typically have cool undertones. Ash brown and maple brown hair colors will suit you best, as they have a muted, cooler tone that won’t overwhelm your complexion. Stay away from warm shades like chestnut brown or chocolate brown, which can make your skin look washed out in comparison.

For medium or olive skin:

If you have medium to olive skin with yellow or golden undertones, you can pull off both cool and warm dark brown tones. Try rich chocolate browns with red undertones to complement your complexion beautifully. You can also go for an espresso shade for a bit more contrast against your skin.

For darker or deep skin:

Women with darker or deep skin tones typically have warm undertones. Go for an intense, warm shade like mahogany brown or chocolate brown. These shades will harmonize with your undertones rather than competing with them. Stay away from cool-toned browns, which may look dull against your skin.

Should I go darker or lighter with my dark brown color?

In general, those with lighter complexions can go for a slightly darker brown hair color without washing them out. If you have paler skin, a rich chocolate brown will look beautiful and striking. For those with medium to olive skin tones, try matching the depth of your hair color to the depth of your complexion. Women with darker skin can experiment with lighter and darker brown shades since intense colors won’t overwhelm their complexion.

How do I maintain my dark brown hair color?

Deep, dark hair colors look beautiful but do require some upkeep to keep your color looking rich and glossy. Here are some tips:

  • Use a sulfate-free shampoo to help preserve color and prevent fading.
  • Wash hair in cool water instead of hot, which can open the hair cuticle and cause color to escape.
  • Use a deeply conditioning hair mask once a week.
  • Limit use of hot styling tools like curling irons or straighteners.
  • Use leave-in treatments with UV protection to prevent fading.
  • Get a gloss or glaze treatment every 4-6 weeks to refresh color.

With proper maintenance, you can keep your dark brown hair looking shiny and vibrant for weeks.

What if I want to go darker?

If your heart is set on an ultradark brown or black hair color, proceed with caution. This is a dramatic change that can be tricky to pull off. Here are a few tips:

  • Do a strand test first to see if very dark shades complement your complexion.
  • Transition gradually by starting with a medium brown, then going darker over 2-3 sessions.
  • Use a semipermanent color rather than permanent dye at first in case you want to go back lighter.
  • Consider adding subtle highlights around your face to prevent a look that is too flat and harsh.
  • Use a deep conditioning hair mask weekly to add shine and softness.

Going dramatically darker can be stunning, as long as you ease into it gently. Work with a skilled colorist to find the right jet black or espresso shade for your skin tone.

What if I want to go lighter?

For those who want to transition their dark brown hair to a lighter shade, you’ll need to gradually lighten your hair following a professional bleaching process. Here are some tips:

  • See a colorist to have your hair bleached safely to avoid damage.
  • Tone hair after lightening to avoid brassiness.
  • Use a nourishing hair mask or treatment to restore moisture.
  • Transition to lighter hair over multiple sessions to keep damage minimal.
  • Trim regularly to remove dry ends as your hair lightens.
  • Use a purple shampoo to maintain soft blonde and brown tones.

Lightening your hair from dark brown to light brown or blonde should be done with care to keep hair healthy. But going gradually and using restorative treatments will allow you to brighten up safely.

What are the best at-home dark brown hair dyes?

Here are some of top-rated at-home dyes for dark brown hair:

Brand Shade Name Key Features
Clairol Natural Instincts in Dark Cool Brown No ammonia; tones hair as it colors
L’Oreal Paris Superior Preference in Darkest Brown Fade-defying shine; moisturizing formula
Revlon Colorsilk in Soft Black Rich, multi-tonal color; easy to apply
Garnier Nutrisse in 60 Dark Chocolate Brown Nourishing avocado, olive, and shea oils

Always do an allergy test before using permanent at-home dyes to check for sensitivities.

Should I get my dark brown color done professionally?

Visiting an experienced hair colorist is highly recommended if you want to achieve a rich, glossy dark brown hue with perfect grey coverage. Seeking professional help can ensure you end up with a flawless, low-maintenance result. Some key benefits include:

  • A customized consultation to find the most flattering shades.
  • Expert techniques for blending and creating multidimensional color.
  • High quality salon hair color products.
  • The ability to incorporate highlights or lowlights seamlessly.
  • Fading and regrowth are handled with professional touch-up visits.

While at-home kits work for quick color refreshes, a pro colorist is your best bet if you want a transformative dark brown shade that compliments perfectly.


Choosing the perfect dark brown hair color involves considering your skin tone, deciding on the right depth and tone, and using professional color services if you want stunning salon results. With the right shade of rich chocolate, espresso or chestnut brown, you can look naturally radiant. Take your time deciding on your ideal brunette hair color and maintain it carefully for head-turning shine and dimension.