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Is ginger closer to blonde or brown?

Ginger hair color falls somewhere in between blonde and brown on the spectrum of natural hair colors. But is it actually closer to one or the other? In this in-depth article, we’ll examine the different shades of ginger and analyze just how similar ginger is to blonde and brown hair.

The Color Spectrum of Natural Hair

Human hair color ranges from platinum blonde to jet black, with many shades in between. Here’s a quick overview of the natural hair color spectrum:

  • Blonde – Very light blond to dark golden blond
  • Ginger – Strawberry blond to dark auburn red
  • Brown – Light brown to very dark brown
  • Black – Jet black hair

As you can see, ginger hair falls right between blonde and brown. But let’s take a closer look at the different ginger shades to understand its place on the spectrum.

The Shades of Ginger Hair

Not all ginger hair is created equal. The amount of red pigment can vary greatly, creating ginger shades that lean more strawberry or more auburn.

Ginger Shade Description
Strawberry Blonde Very light ginger with more blond than red
Light Copper Light ginger with distinctly red tones
Medium Copper Medium ginger with even mix of blond and red
Dark Copper Darker ginger with more red than blond
Auburn Darkest ginger that’s more red than blond

As the table shows, strawberry blonde contains more blonde than red, while auburn ginger has a stronger concentration of red. So ginger hair color occupies a wide section of the color spectrum.

How Ginger Compares to Blonde

Now let’s analyze how close ginger is to blonde hair specifically. There are a few key similarities and differences:

  • Lightness – Blonde shades are lighter overall than ginger shades.
  • Red pigment – Blonde has little to no red pigment, while ginger is defined by red tones.
  • Highlighting – Blondes highlight even lighter (ex: platinum), gingers go coppery.
  • Gray blending – Blondes blend gracefully into silvery grays, gingers fade to unflattering orange.

While strawberry blonde is quite close to light golden blonde, most ginger shades have too much red pigment to really blend seamlessly into blonde hair. The red undertones create obvious contrast.

Blonde and Ginger Overlap Blonde Advantages Ginger Advantages
  • Strawberry blonde
  • Some light coppers
  • More versatile for highlighting
  • Gracefully blends with grays
  • Brighter color intensity
  • Distinctive color palette

So while blonde and ginger overlap at the lightest shades, overall ginger stands out as the more vibrant, distinctive color that pairs less seamlessly with blond or gray hair.

Comparing Ginger to Brown Hair

How about the other side of the spectrum – how similar is ginger to brown hair shades? Let’s compare:

  • Lightness – Brown hair is darker overall than ginger.
  • Red tones – Brown lacks noticeable red tones, ginger is defined by red.
  • Highlighting – Browns go slightly lighter brown, gingers go copper.
  • Fading – Browns fade to mousy tones, gingers go orangey.

As with blonde, there is some overlap with strawberry blonde and light brown. But most brown shades are too dark to blend naturally with the brightness of ginger hair. The red pigment also contrasts strongly against neutral to cool-toned browns.

Brown and Ginger Overlap Brown Advantages Ginger Advantages
  • Strawberry blonde into light brown
  • Seamless blending into darker colors
  • No dramatic fading over time
  • Brighter color intensity
  • Unique red tones

Most ginger shades stand out against the darker, neutral background of brown hair. But lighter browns can occasionally blend into strawberry blond and light copper ginger hues.

Is Ginger More Blonde or Brown?

Given these comparisons between ginger and the two adjacent color families, is ginger actually closer to blonde or brown on the natural hair color spectrum?

The characteristics that set ginger apart from both blonde and brown are:

  • Defining red pigment – absent in blonde and brown
  • High color intensity – blonde is lighter, brown is darker
  • Distinctive color palette – more varied tones than blonde and brown

The main overlaps are:

  • Some blending into lightest blonde shades
  • Some blending into lightest brown shades

But for the most part, ginger occupies a unique place on the color spectrum that is neither predominantly blonde nor brown. The strongest connection is to strawberry blond on the very light end of the ginger family. But overall, ginger stands out as its own distinct shade category.

Blonde Traits Brown Traits Ginger Traits
Lightness Very light Darker Medium brightness
Pigment Yellow Neutral brown Red
Highlighting Goes lighter Goes slightly lighter Goes coppery
Lowlights Neutralizes yellow Adds depth Intensifies red
Fading Silvery Mousy Orangey

As shown in the table, ginger is really in a class of its own, with some traits akin to the lighter end of blonde and some similarities to light brown – but with its own distinctive color palette and behavior.


When analyzing the wide range of natural ginger shades in relation to blond and brown hair, ginger emerges as its own definitive color category. The main overlap is a blending into strawberry blond at the lightest ginger end of the spectrum. But overall, ginger stands apart as a uniquely vibrant shade family brightened by defining red pigment. So ginger hair is not conclusively closer to blonde or brown – instead, it occupies a distinctive place on the color spectrum.