How To Find The Perfect Brunette Hair Color For Your Skin Tone

Brunette Hair Color Main (1)

Let’s be real with each other: The word brown doesn’t begin to do justice to the spectrum of brunette shades. The range of brunette hair color options is thrilling—think honey, fawn, caramel, cocoa and truffle. At its best, brunette hair color is sexy, sophisticated, elegant, chic, flattering and fabulous so what are you waiting for? If you’ve said to yourself, what hair color is right for me, we’ve got you covered. Whether your shade is a warm brown hair color, a cool brown hair color, light golden brown hair color or light caramel brown hair color—here are some tips for being the best brunette you can be. Our guide to choosing the best brown hair color for you continues below.


1. Shine: The Secret to Standout Brunette Hair Color


Shine is everything—it’s the difference between flat, mousy color and shimmering, gorgeous, dimensional color. Darker and cooler brunette tones (think: 1b hair color) need shine, or else they risk appearing muddy—and that’s never the goal. In short? Dry, coarse texture is the enemy of high shine so your mission is to keep your hair as hydrated as possible at all times. That’s the secret to brunette, cool hair colors.

To do this, choose shampoos and conditioners with moisturizing ingredients, like the Matrix Food For Soft collection with avocado oil and hyaluronic acid. Treat your hair with a nourishing oil like Food For Soft Multi-Use Hair Oil before styling. Limit use of thermal tools that can dry out your hair, and when you do style with a dryer or iron, be sure to use a thermal protection spray like Length Goals Multi-Benefit Styling Spray to shield from heat damage. It’s also a good idea to dial down the temperature. Matrix Artistic Director Robert Santana tells his brunette clients to set their blow dryers and flat irons no higher than 300 or 325 degrees. “If you divide your hair into small sections to dry or style,” he explains, “you will achieve the sleek results you love without high temperatures.”

2. Dimension Is Key


Simply said? Solid brunette color is a no. If you look closely at the deepest brown hues, you’ll see a lot of tonal variation, from roots to ends. “It may be a muted result, but I always create subtle highlights for my brunette clients,” says Matrix Celebrity Stylist George Papanikolas. “The highlights are generally only a shade or two lighter than the base color, but they give the hair dimension and vibrancy, and the overall result is always natural and youthful.”


3. What’s The Best Shampoo for Color Treated Hair?


A shampoo formulated for color-treated hair such as Matrix Color Obsessed Shampoo for Color Treated Hair will help your brunette color retain its vibrancy and shine. Consider alternating your regular shampoo with a toning formula like Matrix Brass Off Shampoo, which deposits blue-violet pigment to neutralize unwanted brassy or orange tones. If your hair is dark brown, try Matrix Dark Envy Green Toning Shampoo, which eliminates underlying red tones. For toning that also conditions, opt for Brass Off All In One Toning Leave-In Spray, Brass Off Custom Neutralization Mask or Dark Envy Red Neutralization Toning Red Hair Mask.


4. How Do I Find My Perfect Shade of Brunette?


There are several factors to consider when choosing a brunette hair color, but most pros agree—start by assessing your complexion. Finding the right match for your skin type is key if you want your brown hair color to bring life to your features and flatter your complexion. 


How to Find Your Skin Tone


The first step is to determine your skin tone. You have three choices: warm, cool or neutral. If your skin is warm, it might be described as peachy, yellow or golden. If it’s cool, you’ll see undertones of pink, red or blue. If your skin tone is neutral, you will have a combination of some of the above. Remember also you’ll be cool, warm or neutral whether your complexion is light, medium or dark. Those levels need to be factored into your final color choice as well. Once you’ve assessed your complexion, you’re ready to work with your stylist to create the perfect brunette hair color. 

You: Fair, Cool Skin Tone

Light Ash Brown Hair Color



Light ash brown hair color is cool and sophisticated, especially if your complexion is fair and your eyes are light blue or brown. Opt for this shade if your natural color is light or medium cool brown. This is the shade you want if you don’t want to see any red or gold in your hair color. Add a few cool blonde highlights for elegance. 

Sandy Brown Hair Color



Sandy brown hair color is a light, cool or neutral beige shade. It’s a beautiful color for those with light, cool complexions and light blue or green eyes. Sandy brown hair color looks great with beige blonde highlights—the combination is sophisticated, elegant and adds dimension.


You: Fair, Warm Skin Tone

Golden Brown Hair Color


Golden Brown Hair Color


Golden brown hair color, or 4g medium golden brown hair is a warm, friendly shade—it’s beautiful on people with peachy or golden skin and warm brown or warm green or hazel eyes. Consider adding some dark golden blonde highlights to your golden-brown hair color for a stunning color combination.


Light Caramel Hair Color



Light caramel brown hair color is a warm, tawny hue. It’s ideal for people with golden, warm complexions and warm brown eyes. Avoid this shade if your complexion is cool or extremely fair or pink—it’ll clash with your skin.


You: Fair, Neutral Skin Tone

Cocoa Hair Color



Cocoa hair color is a cool, pearly brown shade that looks beautiful on fair skin and with light blue or green eyes. It’s a beautifully balanced shade—neither too ashy nor too warm. Light cocoa hair color comes alive when you add creamy blonde highlights for a little dimension.


Café-Au-Lait Hair Color



Café-au-lait hair color is a pale and creamy hue that’s as elegant as it is striking. Let it be known though—this isn’t a shade that fights for attention. It enhances peaches-and-cream complexions and offsets your beautiful eyes.


You: Medium, Cool Skin Tone

Khaki Brown Hair Color


Khaki Brown Hair Color


This cool hue is modern and on-trend. It’s the perfect choice for a cool complexion and brown or hazel eyes. Consider adding a few creamy highlights for subtle contrast to create your perfect hair color.


Dark Chocolate Hair Color



This shade looks as delicious as it sounds. Dark chocolate hair color is a rich, deep, cool brown hue. It looks incredible on anyone with an olive complexion and brown eyes. If well cared for with the right products, this shade evokes a vibe of luxury and sophistication.


You: Medium, Warm Skin Tone

Butterscotch Brown Hair Color



Golden butterscotch highlights swirled throughout a warm brown base will complement your warm complexion and give you a healthy, radiating glow. Get ready to accept the stream of compliments that will no doubt ensue with this flattering shade if you have medium, golden skin.


Auburn Brown Hair Color



A brown with just a hint of warm red is a stunning choice for people with medium skin and brown, hazel or green eyes. It’ll pick up the buttery tones and camouflage sallowness in warm skin.


You: Medium, Neutral Skin Tone

Beige Bronde Hair Color



This neutral, yet chic shade will look great on both cool and neutral complexions, as it counteracts any hint of ruddiness. Consider asking your colorist for a neutral brown base with sophisticated beige highlights in order to create a natural-looking result.


Truffle Brown Hair Color


Truffle Brown Hair Color


A pure, natural, medium brown like this one, without cool or warm accents, will enhance your natural beauty.This rich, glossy shade strikes a stunning contrast with a medium complexion.


You: Dark, Cool Skin Tone

Espresso Brown Hair Color


Espresso Brown Hair Color


As deep and rich as freshly-ground coffee, this shade is bold and dramatic. As with all brown hair colors, shine is essential. Ask your colorist about regular hair glossing treatments. A demi-permanent formula like Matrix SoColor Sync infuses hair with nourishing oils, and also puts a high-gloss polish on the hair—much like the effect of finishing a manicure with a topcoat.


Plum Brown Hair Color



Plum brown hair color is a dark, dramatic shade with a deep violet cast. This is a striking choice for people with cool, fair or medium complexions and cool brown or blue eyes. If you want to keep your look a bit more conservative, consider asking your stylist for a few deep plum balayage or ombré highlights within your brunette hair, instead of an overall plum brown.


You: Dark, Warm Skin Tone

Deep Mahogany Brown Hair Color



Mahogany brown hair color is a deep reddish-brown shade that looks amazing with dark, golden complexions. This shade sets off a warm, dark skin tone and makes it look radiant.


Dark Toffee Brown Hair Color



Another great warm shade for dark, warm skin tones, this hue features more of a golden cast than the red in mahogany brown. For an especially flattering effect, ask your stylist for a dark golden-brown base and warm toffee highlights concentrated on the mid-length and ends of your hair.


You: Dark, Neutral Skin Tone

Chestnut Brown Hair Color


Chestnut Brown Hair Color


This is a gorgeous, rich shade that looks great on most complexions. It’s also an ideal neutral canvas—talk to your colorist about creating caramel or pale highlights to give this hair color a little extra movement.