Expert Tips For Caring For Brunette Hair
Brunette might be the most common hair color, but it’s anything but basic. From light honey brown to dark espresso — and everything in between — those with brown hair have the ability to transform their look with just a few simple tweaks. Highlights, lowlights, or a gloss can make a huge difference in adding new dimension to brunette hair without having to completely overhaul your entire base color.
Not to mention, brunettes aren’t as susceptible to some of the same color woes as redheads and blondes. They also have some built-in natural protection from the sun thanks to the darker pigment in their hair (called Eumelanin). That’s not to say they are immune to damage, however. Like all hair hues, brunettes can be affected by hard water, pollutants, heat styling, and yes, the sun.
To help you learn what you need to know to care for your brunette hair, plus the best products for brunettes, we asked our color experts dpHUE Education Lead, Jocelyn Smith and celebrity colorist (and dpHUE co-founder) Justin Anderson their tips and tricks for brown hair. Read on for the ultimate guide for how to care for brunette hair.
What Are The Different Types Of Brunette?
Hair color is typically described by levels, ranging from 1 to 10 with one being the darkest and 10 being the lightest. Brunette hair falls in levels 1 through 5 with the lighter the level, the warmer it will be in tone and the darker the level, the cooler the tone. Think of it like chocolate, says Jocelyn, with dark chocolate as a “cool” brown and milk chocolate as a “warm” brown.
The levels of natural brunettes are:
- 5 Light Brown
- 4 Medium Brown
- 3 Dark Brown
- 2 Very Dark Brown
- 1 Black
Deciding which brunette is right for you comes down to deciding both how dark you want to go and what tones you want. For instance, if you want your brunette to be a warm hue, you won’t be able to go super dark because by nature, dark browns are inherently cool in tone. “An easy rule of thumb is going with a shade that compliments your skin tone,” says Justin. “Warmer and more neutral brunette tones look amazing on cooler skin tones. Ashy browns and richer brunette tones compliment warmer skin tones. With that said, don’t let this prevent you from branching out and trying something new. Always go with whatever you feel most confident!”
How To Repair Brunette Hair
Keeping brunette hair healthy is the best way to make sure you not only get the most vibrant color, but that it’s the most long-lasting. “It's important to first ensure the health of the hair is at a high optimal level before and after chemically coloring hair,” says Jocelyn. “When hair is in a healthy state it allows the color to take better and last longer.” Shampooing, heat styling, and exposure to the elements are all common causes of damage that can interfere with your brown hair color. Avoid over shampooing your hair and switch to styling products that protect against damage, like our Color Fresh collection. If you heat style, thermal protective products like our Color Fresh Thermal Protection Spray protects hair from hot tools up to 450 degrees.
Many traditional styling products (and even some conditioners) have silicones and other coating compounds that can damage the hair by diminishing color penetration, says Jocelyn. Instead, she recommends reaching for a product like our Color Fresh Oil to smooth and protect without coating your strands.
How To Protect & Maintain Brunette Hair
To help prevent fading and protect your brunette hair color, you’ll want to be thoughtful about how you wash your hair. That’s because one of the biggest causes of fading in brown hair comes from over shampooing your hair. So, instead of using harsh cleansers, she suggests opting for a shampoo alternative like our ACV Rinse or ACV Rinse Lite, which has a special color-locking technology. It also contains Apple Cider Vinegar to wash hair without stripping away essential moisture.
Another common water-related issue for brunettes is brassiness, especially for brunettes with highlights.
“Hard water can cause brassiness in any hair color but will really show up in highlights because those lighter stands like to hold on to minerals and impurities causing that brassy or reddish/orange look,” says Justin.
“Use dpHUE’s Brightening Powder to brighten up your highlights by pulling out those unwanted impurities.” While in blondes, brassy tones will appear yellow, in brunettes they will look orange. Jocelyn suggests the Cool Brunette Shampoo and Conditioner, which feature a special blue pigment to neutralize the orange tones in brunette hair. When used weekly or twice weekly, depending on the severity of the brassiness, they can help alleviate those orange tones.
How To Enhance Brunette Hair
Brunettes of all shades can enhance the vibrancy of their hue with the help of our Gloss+ semi-permanent hair color in a deep-conditioning base. “Utilize our Gloss + brunette shades to deepen your hue in-between salon visits or to play around with your natural brunette color without the permanent commitment,” says Jocelyn. By adding tone and shine, you’re reinvigorating your brunette without having to give it a full salon color service. It’s the ultimate low-maintenance glow up!