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Is brunette black or brown hair?

Is brunette black or brown hair?

Brunette hair color falls in the range between black and brown hair. It is characterized by varying shades of brown hair, from light brown to dark brown. While there is no definitive answer as to whether brunette is considered black or brown hair, it is generally categorized as a shade of brown hair, just on the darker end of the spectrum. The key factors that distinguish brunette from black hair are the undertones and highlights present.

Defining Brunette Hair Color

Brunette hair color is characterized by rich, warm brown tones. It covers a wide spectrum of shades from light to dark brown. Here are some common shades of brunette hair:

Light brown Milk chocolate brown
Ash brown Dark ash brown
Golden brown Espresso brown

The main undertones found in brunette hair are golden, ash, and red. These undertones distinguish brunette from true black hair and give it dimension. Black hair has blue, purple, or cool undertones while brunette hair is warm and rich.

Some common highlights and lowlights found in brunette hair include:

– Caramel highlights
– Honey blonde highlights
– Chocolate brown lowlights
– Cocoa brown lowlights

These highlights and lowlights interspersed throughout the hair add depth and visual interest. Black hair tends to have a solid, uniform color while brunette hair has more variation.

Distinguishing Brunette from Black Hair

While both brunette and black are dark brown hair colors, there are some key differences:

Brunette Black
Warm, brown undertones Cool, blue/purple undertones
Dimension from highlights Uniform solid color
Light reflects off strands Light absorbs into hair

When viewed in sunlight, black hair often looks black or blue-black because it absorbs all wavelengths of light. Brunette hair has red, golden, and brown tones mixed throughout so you can see dimension as the light reflects off strands differently.

Black hair also tends to be slightly cooler in tone than brunette hair. While brunette covers warmer chocolate browns, black hair has a bluish cast and lacks warmth. Cooler ash brown hues can overlap with black, but most warm brown shades are firmly in the brunette category.

Categorizing Brunette as a Brown Hair Color

Most hair color classification systems group brunette under brown rather than black hair. Here are some reasons why brunette is considered a shade of brown:

– Brunette covers the mid-range of brown shades from light to dark brown. It transitions smoothly between lighter brown and darker black hair.

– Brunette hair has brown pigment. The melanin in brunette hair produces warmer brown and red tones. Eumelanin in black hair creates cooler undertones.

– Like other shades of brown hair, brunette hair lightens gradually to lighter brown hues before transitioning to blonde. Black hair lightens directly to orange then yellow.

– Stylists use brown hair dyes to achieve different brunette shades. Black hair dye is used primarily for off-black and true black hues.

– Brunette hair is universally recognized as a brown shade, even if on the darker end. Dark brown is still classified as brown rather than black.

So while brunette hue borders on black hair color, it falls squarely in the brown color category. Its characteristic warmth and graduated range of shades makes brunette a versatile, rich brown hair color.

Typical Brunette Shades

There are many beautiful brunette hair color shades. Here are some of the most common and popular brunette shades:

Chocolate brown Rich, dark brown with striking red undertones
Chestnut brown Deep brown base with warm red and golden blonde highlights
Mocha Dark cocoa brown color with caramel highlights
Espresso Inky dark brown close to black
Dark chocolate Very deep, cool brown just above true black

These luscious brunette shades allow for lots of versatility. Stylists can customize the ratio of different brown hues and undertones to achieve a natural, dimensional brunette hair color.

Flattering Skin Tones for Brunette Hair

Brunette hair color works well with a variety of skin tones:

– Warm skin tones: Caramel, olive, peach, yellow undertones
– Cool skin tones: Pink, rose, red undertones
– Neutral skin tones: Balanced mix of warm and cool

The rich brown shades in brunette hair complement and enhance most complexions. Cool-toned brunette with ash brown hues look striking against warm skin. Golden brown brunette pops against cool pink skin.

Brunette shades also help minimize ruddiness or sallowness in skin tone. The espresso hues can make teeth look whiter and brighter as well.

Hair Color for Brunettes

There are diverse options for hair color if you have brunette hair:

Lighter brown Add caramel, blonde highlights
Darker brown Lowlight with espresso, chocolate hues
Red tones Infuse cinnamon, auburn
Ash tones Cool it down with ash brown
Balayage Freehand paint lighter brown and caramel

Subtle highlights and lowlights let brunettes go gradually lighter or darker while maintaining dimension. Adding tones like red keeps the richness. With balayage, stylists hand-paint color to look natural.

Celebrities with Brunette Hair

Many gorgeous actresses sport brunette locks:

Jennifer Aniston Golden brown with blonde highlights
Anne Hathaway Deep espresso brown
Eva Longoria Luminous chestnut brown
Penelope Cruz Dark chocolate brown with auburn tones

Their stunning brunette manes showcase the glamorous appeal of brown hair with depth, gloss, and richness.

Maintenance for Brunette Hair

To keep brunette hair looking healthy and vibrant:

– Use sulfate-free shampoo to retain color vibrancy
– Apply conditioning masks weekly to boost shine
– Get a trim every 6-8 weeks to prevent splitting ends
– Use a glossing treatment monthly to enhance color
– Protect hair from sun exposure to prevent fading

The right products will lock in moisture, add shine, and keep those beautiful brunette locks glowing.

Dyeing Hair Brunette

To dye your hair a rich brunette shade:

Pick a brown shade Match to your skin tone and desired depth
Do a strand test See how color develops on your hair
Lighten if needed Lift existing color first for true color
Apply dye Follow instructions for time and application
Rinse and nourish Shampoo out dye, condition hair

It’s best to get your hair colored by a professional stylist to achieve an even, natural-looking brunette shade.

Going Lighter or Darker

If you want to tweak your brunette hair:

Go lighter Use highlights or balayage for a sun-kissed look
Go darker Apply a rich chestnut or chocolate brown dye
Boost shine Use a glossing treatment or conditioning mask
Change tones Add a glaze to infuse red or ash tones

Subtle changes over time let you gradually modify your brunette color. Quick glossing or glazing services can shift the tone.


Brunette straddles the line between brown and black hair, exhibiting aspects of both. Its characteristic warmth and brown base classify brunette as a shade of brown rather than true black hair. With its multifaceted mix of brown, red, and golden tones, brunette hair color is dimensional, wearable, and gorgeous on most complexions. As a versatile and dynamic brown shade, brunette hair makes a beautiful, natural-looking hair color.