Brown hair: Top shades to try this year

Who said brunettes were boring? 

Brunettes: boring? Think again. With an abundance of A-list celebrities and models opting for brown hair – that range from deep, sultry mahogany and alluring amber shades, to more exotic honey and caramel tones – the prospect of joining the brown hair camp has never been more enticing.

But where do you start? With a bounty of brunette shades and variations that appear too subtle tell apart, it seems all too easy to miss the mark by going just half a shade too light or dark. But not with our guide to the best brown hair options for 2016. So, before you cross over to the dark side, here’s a breakdown of the coolest brown hair shades – and clues on who they’d suit – we think you should try now.

Brown hair shades to try

umber ombre brown hair rose byrne
Rose Byrne rocks her rich umber hair with honey-toned ombre. Credit: Getty Images

Umber brown with honey ombre

Perfect for: True brunettes, or if you have dark to very dark brown hair with a slight red tint. Having lush honey ombre ribbons threaded through is a great way to inject a subtly sexy, summer vibe into that earthy, natural brown base colour. The bonus? It works to complement fairer skin with pink, yellow and olive undertones.

Get your colour inspiration from: Rose Byrne, if you have a shorter crop, and Victoria’s Secret model Lily Aldridge if you have long, flowing locks.

golden brown hair sofia vergara
An exotic golden brown shade makes the perfect match for Sofia Vergara’s medium skin tone. Credit: Getty Images

Light golden brown

Perfect for: Those who want a more natural look, but with a subtle exotic twist. This is a great way to warm up your natural medium brown colour for sunshine season. Best suited to fairer complexions with olive undertones, this beach-ready, golden caramel hue works well to complement a healthy summer glow and will look even better as you tan.

Get your colour inspiration from: Thanks to its exotic, beachside appeal, the sexiest, sassiest South American ladies are fans. Think Gisele, Sofia Vergara, and Victoria’s Secret Angel Alessandra Ambrosio, to name but a few.

mahogany brown hair katie holmes
Katie Holmes proves that a deep mahogany is one of the most elegant brown hair shades around. Credit: Getty Images


Perfect for: Fair-skinned ladies with pink undertones, this intense, sultry shade is the grown-up way to do brunette. The combination of a rich chocolate base and subtle red overtones result in a bold yet sophisticated look that’s just perfect for autumn and winter. Tip: if you’re particularly pale, this deep mahogany shade can wash you out, so best to double check the colour against your skin before making a decision.

Get your colour inspiration from: Katie Holmes and Ashley Greene are the perfect poster girls for one of 2016’s richest, most elegant brunette shades.

amber toned brown hair jourdan dunn
Working soft amber tones into a darker base like Jourdan Dunn can have incredible brightening effects on your complexion. Credit: Getty Images

Brown amber

Perfect for: Warmer, olive skin tones and darker-skinned ladies who want to lift their naturally dark locks for the summer. Think of it as a deeper, darker amber (less orange, more brown) that works wonders to brighten up darker complexions while still maintaining a fairly natural feel.

Get your colour inspiration from: Jennifer Lopez and Jourdan Dunn, who has woven this shade through her dark mocha crop using a soft sombre technique to stunning effect.

chocolate brown hair mila kunis
Mila Kunis works her chocolate brown locks with the subtlest golden-toned highlights. Credit: Getty Images

Chocolate brown with golden highlights

Perfect for: Women with medium complexions and warmer undertones, and those who want to make their natural chocolate brown hue pop without committing to an overall colour change. Weaving in ribbons of delicious-looking golden syrup colour – whether using traditional highlights or balayage – can have an instantly brightening effect. The best part? It works all year round!

Get your colour inspiration from: Mila Kunis, if you’re fair-skinned, or Jenna Ushkowitz if you’re Asian.

bronde hair cara delevingne
Can’t decide between brown or blonde? Get the best of both worlds like Cara Delevingne. Credit: Getty Images


Perfect for: The trend conscious. As the name suggests, ‘bronde’ falls somewhere between brown and blonde, which, according to just about every industry expert and stylist, is the place to be in terms of hair colour this year. But not only has bronde become the hottest hue of 2016, it’s also ideal for blondes who want to go a little darker without having to commit to such a dramatic change (and vice versa, brown haired girls who want to lighten up naurally).

Get your colour inspiration from: Anyone who is anyone in the media circuit has given this combination a go at least once this year, so there’s certainly no shortage of well-known sources to draw inspiration from. Elizabeth Olsen, Blake Lively, Cara Delevingne… they’re all proof of how to work this so-hot-right-now shade.

espresso brown hair joan smalls
Joan Smalls proves that a sultry espresso shade works a treat on darker skin. Credit: Getty Images

Espresso sombre

Perfect for: Dark-skinned ladies who want to keep their rich, yet cool coffee colour glossy and intense, but would like something a little bit lighter to help frame the face. Starting dark at the top, and slowly fading into soft toffee brown towards the tips, the espresso sombre is a beautiful compromise for those who want that brightening effect, but aren’t so keen on the streakiness that natural hair is prone to when taking on foil highlights.

Get your colour inspiration from: Our favourite dark-skinned ladies Kerry Washington and Joan Smalls.

See? With a list of colours as delicious sounding as the next, brown hair is back and more beautiful than ever this year.

Sign up to our newsletter and get exclusive hair care tips and tricks from the experts at All Things Hair.