The summer is a great time to refresh your beauty look with anything from the season’s top makeup trends to an updated skin care routine to, of course, a new summer hair color. This season colorists are predicting chocolate brown and more rich brunette hair shades to really take off for a few reasons. “Like all darker shades, when you go brown, your hair stays healthier because it reflects the sun more — making brown shades a low maintenance option,” says Chiara Scudieri, founder of hair company, I.C.O.N, of its popularity. Min Kim, L’Oréal Professionnel global ambassador echoes this: “Shades of brown are not damaging as there is no lifting or lightener used unless you're adding lighter pieces to existing dark hair.”
Plus, from bronde to chestnut, there’s no shortage of brunette color options. But, with so many shades to choose from, how do you narrow down your search? According to Kim, it’s all about the undertone of your skin. “By looking at your veins, if you see blue or purple, you are most likely a cool undertone,” the expert shares. “On the other hand, if you see green, you have a warm undertone.” Although the general rule of thumb is to choose a shade that is opposite your undertone for your hair color, Aaron Bradford, colorist at NYC-based hair studio Cedric Salon, told TZR that this isn’t always the case — sometimes it’s best to accentuate your natural pigments instead of contrasting them. When in doubt, discuss your color goals with your colorist.
If you’re looking to go darker for summer (a la J.Lo), check out all the intel on the season’s trending chocolate brown and brunette shades ahead — plus, the best products and tips to preserve your new color.
Colorists are often working with balayage (a technique wherein the color is “painted” in by hand) for brown hair this summer to create a soft, warm look with depth. Balayage brunette has a lovely lived-in aesthetic to it, with swirls of lighter brown throughout the hair. In terms of maintenance, Shvonne Perkins, lead educator at Madison Reed, recommends using a tinted mask or conditioner to help re-deposit the warmer tones that fade over time. “Tinted conditioners are easy because they are a one-stop shop and you can work them in place of your regular condition about every other or every third wash,” the pro tells TZR.
The perfect balance of dark and light, this brunette shade is dimensional with some highlights and a baby balayage. According to Olivia Cassanova, IGK Hair partner and colorist, it’s a little bit more maintenance than a mocha brown shade, its darker cousin, but not as much as being a bright blonde. “As long as your colorist gives you a suitable tone and level of lightness, it can also work for every skin tone and hair texture,” she shares. “It’s the perfect way for brunettes to dabble with the idea of going lighter without committing to anything they can’t handle.”
A brown that is no stranger to the spotlight, Kim loves chocolate brown (also referred to as rich espresso brown) for its ability to work with all textures. “It is a winner for shine and can be customized with lighter ends, dimensional pieces, or an all-over mega shine with rich brown shade all over,” the expert shares. The shade — a dark brown that is almost black but not as dense — is great for anyone seeking a more dramatic look.
According to Perkins, expensive brunette refers to shades that are more medium to dark brown but feature a soft splash of dimension through well-placed highlights throughout the hair. The highlights, thinner strokes than a balayage, don’t have to be super blonde either — caramel and mushroom tones woven into the overall color can add the perfect dimension.
Mocha Toffee Melt
A beautiful marriage of a dark base and a warm highlight, mocha toffee melt is beloved by many A-listers. And according to Kim, it adds the perfect combination of cool and warm colors, which makes it suitable for most skin tones. “The mix of tones works for all textures as the lighter tones can liven up curly ends — meaning your hair doesn’t have to be pin straight to see the play of shades.” A pro tip: Going in for glosses in between appointment is a great way to maintain the richness of this brunette shade.
This is a not-quite-red brunette, perfect for those that don’t want to go full brown. To achieve, Perkins beings with a warm chestnut brown and adds a gloss overlay of auburn or mahogany tones that make the brunette warm and toasty without being a true red. It is essential to use hair care products that protect your color as red tones tend to fade the fastest. Scudieri suggests sulfate-free shampoos like ICON Cure that contain color-protecting ingredients such as Prodew 500 — an amino acid blend that repairs hair damage on the surface, while strengthening its structure and protecting color from fading.
Sunkissed Shadow Highlights
If you’d like to keep the base of your color dark, adding in honey sunkissed highlights around your face can be a fun way to dip your toes into a new style for the upcoming season. “Face-framing highlights and lighter ends creates a thicker, fuller illusion with dimension to lighten up brown hair for summer,” says Rita Hazan, celebrity colorist. “Selecting this brunette shade requires much less upkeep than the lighter and brighter colors, which means less damage from frequent coloring,” adds Bradley Leake, celebrity hair colorist.
Louis Vuitton Brown
Yes, this shade — brunette with a gold undertone — is inspired by all the different tones you see in a Louis Vuitton bag. “This is the biggest brown hair trend for summer,” Scudieri tells TZR. Best of all, it’s great on all textures. “On fine hair it adds dimension, making it look fuller.” Whereas, on thicker hair textures it provides movement and volume with the plethora of thin highlights worked in. According to Michael Canale, celebrity hairstylist, maintenance for this shade is critical, and your color life depends on a good routine. “Ideally, you should go in for touch-ups every four weeks,” the pro tells TZR. “Depending on the root color and hair growth speed, you may need to go in more frequently, especially if you’re using your brunette color to cover up gray hairs.” Despite the upkeep, if you really want to emulate that “Old Money” look that’s currently all over TikTok, then this might just be the perfect rich girl brunette color for the season.
Cassanova gets requests for traditional mocha every single summer. She credits it to the beautiful medium brown color that looks great on every skin tone (and undertone) and hair texture. “It’s usually a solid color, which also means that it tends to be pretty low maintenance,” the expert shares. And since even monochrome brunette shades can look dull without some upkeep, Richy Kandansamy, colorist and R+CO collective member suggests keeping up on trims, dustings (method of trimming dead ends without parting with tons of length), and utilizing a deep conditioner every one to two weeks.
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