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What shades are brunette?

Brunette hair color encompasses a wide range of shades from light to dark brown. When most people think of brunette hair, a medium brown shade comes to mind. However, brunette hair can vary dramatically in tone and depth of color. Understanding the different categories and shades of brunette hair can help you choose a color that is perfect for your complexion and style.

What are the different categories of brunette hair color?

Brunette hair color is generally categorized into three main types:

Light Brown

Light brunette shades include colors like brown sugar, milk chocolate, and warm beige. This category includes brunette shades that are on the lighter end of the spectrum. Light brown hair has a luminous quality and frequently shows off warm golden, peach, or caramel highlights. These shades tend to complement fair complexions with pink or olive undertones especially well. Light brunette hair is often referred to as chestnut, taupe, or ash brown.

Medium Brown

The most common brunette shades fall into the medium brown category. This covers the wide range of brown shades that are neither exceptionally light nor exceptionally dark. Medium brown includes popular shades like coffee, mahogany, and mocha. Dimensional shades like chocolate with caramel highlights also fall into the medium brown family. Medium brunettes look great on most complexions. Olive, tan, and medium to fair skin tones can all wear the range of medium brunette beautifully.

Dark Brown

For those who want to go darker, rich espresso, cocoa, black coffee, and deepest brunette shades beckon. Dark brown hair looks striking on fair or olive skin with brown or hazel eyes. The contrast flatters. These nearly black dark brunette shades also pair well with tan or brown complexions, helping eyes pop. People often describe these rich chocolate and coffee-inspired colors as having a black base with brown highlights or tones.

What are some examples of light brown brunette shades?

Here are some beautiful options for light brunette hair color:

Beige Brown

This ultra-light brown has beige undertones that give hair a gorgeous luminosity. The shade flatters fair complexions.

Brown Sugar

With its warm golden tan hue, brown sugar flatters peaches and cream or olive skin tones.


Butterscotch brown hair features creamy yellow undertones. This light golden brown looks beautiful on pale to tan skin.

Mushroom Brown

Mushroom brown is a soft gray-brown shade that beautifully complements peach and pink complexions.


Taupe is a grayish tan brown that looks elegant and refined on fair skin.

What are some examples of medium brown brunette shades?

The medium brown family of brunette includes flattering shades like:


Chestnut hair features dimensional golden copper highlights on a rich brown base. This flatters those with yellow undertones.


Chocolate brown hair perfectly pairs with hazel or brown eyes. It has a neutral to cool undertone.


This shade evokes a dark roast coffee bean color. It’s rich while maintaining a touch of warmth.


A contouring neutral brown, espresso brown hair brings dimension. It’s ideal for oval faces.


Walnut is a dimensional medium-dark brown with gray tones throughout. It’s trendy and chic.

What are some examples of dark brown brunette shades?

Deep rich brunette browns include:

Black Coffee

Black coffee hair mimics the darkest roast. This crisp black-brown looks best on cooler complexions.

Black Cherry

Black cherry hair combines black and burgundy tones. This vampy color excels on porcelains with pink undertones.

Chocolate Mousse

Recalling a rich dessert, chocolate mousse hair is decadent. This alluring black-brown amplifies green or brown eyes.

Espresso Roast

This is the darkest brown before black. Espresso roast hair provides contrast on fair cool tones.

Smoked Chocolate

Combining black, brown, and slate gray, this shade smolders. It’s ideal for olive or neutral-cool complexions.

How do you choose the right shade of brunette for your skin tone?

Choosing the most flattering brunette hair color hinges on your complexion. Here are some tips:

Fair Skin

Those with very fair skin look best in light to medium brunette shades with an ash, taupe, or mushroom undertone. Chocolate browns with red or gold tones can overwhelm fair skin.

Light Tan Skin

If you have fair to light tan skin, try soft warm brown shades like milk chocolate and honey brunette. You can also wear reddish browns like cinnamon and auburn beautifully.

Medium to Olive Skin

Medium warm browns like chestnut, maple, and mahogany flatter those with medium to olive skin tones. Espresso and black cherry shades also pop against warmer mid-tones.

Darker Brown Skin

People with naturally darker skin and brown eyes stand out in darker ebony browns with a touch of warmth like smoked chocolate and coffee brown. Warm auburn-browns also complement.

Yellow Undertones

Those with yellow golden undertones in their skin can wear a wide spectrum of brunette shades. From buttery light browns to caramel and cognac colored dark browns, yellow undertones support the warmth.

Pink or Red Undertones

People whose skin has a rosy or ruddy tone will look best in brunette shades with a hint of ash. Cooler mushroom, dusty beige, ash brown, and neutral chocolate shades will be most flattering.

How does your eye color affect which brunette shades look best?

Your natural eye color provides an easy guide to selecting harmonious brown hair tones.

Light Eyes

Blondes and redheads with blue, green, or hazel eyes tend to look fabulous with warm browns like maple, caramel, and auburn. These shades bring out light eyes beautifully.

Light Brown Eyes

Those with amber, whiskey, or light brown eyes can wear the full spectrum of brunette shades. From dark espresso to bright copper, you can pull off any delicious brown tone.

Dark Brown Eyes

Deep chocolate, espresso, and black cherry shades will make the most contrast against dark brown eyes. You can also wear lighter mushroom and taupe brown shades beautifully.

How do you maintain different brunette shades?

To keep brunette hair color looking rich and glossy:

Use Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Sulfate-free shampoos help retain color vibrancy and shine while keeping hair moisturized.

Wash Less Frequently

Washing brunette hair less often preserves the crispness of the color. Every other day or 2-3 times weekly is ideal.

Use a Rich Conditioner

Brunette hair needs regular conditioning to stay strong against fading. Opt for weekly masks too.

Protect Styling

Use heat protectant sprays before hot tools. Let hair air dry when possible. Keep styling gentle.

Gloss Between Dye Jobs

Glossing treatments can refresh brunette color saturation between salon visits every 4-6 weeks.


Brunette hair color comes in a kaleidoscope of gorgeous shades. Whether you love bright copper brown, neutral mushroom brown, or succulent chocolate shades, brunette hair offers limitless options. The key is choosing a shade that flatters your complexion. Warm golden browns pair best with yellow undertones, while ash browns complement pink skin. Eye color provides another handy guide. To keep brunette hair shiny and vivid, protect it from fading with sulfate-free products, less washing, and glossing treatments. With so many beautiful brunette shades, you can find a color that makes you feel gorgeous and express your personal style.