This Summer’s Biggest Hair Color Trend Is The Complete Opposite Of What You’d Expect

Platinum hair is on hiatus.

by Elise Tabin
dark hair colors for summer
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The prerequisite hair color for summer has always been a lighter shade than your norm. While highlights and blonde tones usually steal the stage during the warmer months, brunettes and redheads often get a bump in the brightness department courtesy of strategically placed babylights and highlights. And then there are those that make a full-on change from dark to light hair as the temperatures rise. According to celebrity hairstylist Clariss Anya Rubenstein, the idea that you should go lighter in the summer stems from the natural side effects sun exposure has on your hair. "It naturally bleaches and lightens it, especially the ends, creating a sun-kissed effect, which is why lightening the hair during the summer months is so popular,” she says.

Yet all that is going out the window for summer 2024 as a major hair color pendulum shift is in full effect. According to Chase Kusero, celebrity colorist and co-founder of IGK Hair Care, there is a shift towards darker hair right now. "It is partly due to a desire for a fresh, bold look that stands against the traditional summer hair color palette,” he shares. “Celebrities and influencers often set the stage for beauty trends, and recently, many are embracing darker shades, inspiring many people to do the same. Also, darker hair can contrast sharply against summer looks and sun-kissed skin and stand out."

Sharon Dorram, celebrity colorist and co-founder of Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger Salon in New York City, is witnessing a surge of clients richening up their blonde hair to bronze and bronzed hair to brunette. “More of my natural brunettes are wanting to go darker, and lighter brunettes want to deepen their color overall. Those with highlights are asking to go a few shades darker for the summer, opting for more bronze and caramel shades,” she says. “People are leaning into rich, deep shades right now, like chocolate and espresso, which are normally more popular in the fall and winter. They want a sophisticated look that's relatively low-maintenance compared to blonde.” Or, maybe they are following in the trendy footsteps of Megan Fox, Kaia Gerber, and influencer Danielle Zaslavskaya, who have all recently ventured to the darker side. So, is the unwritten rule of hair color that going lighter in the summer is a must over? Maybe. "Dark summer hair makes a statement and can be more alluring, mysterious, and sexy,” Dorram adds. “Plus, it automatically looks healthier and shinier."

Ahead, TZR dives into the of-the-moment hair color, exactly what to ask for at the salon, and how to maintain your darker shade.

Rich Girl Brunette Is In

Hair color trends often come in waves, and right now, rich, healthy-looking brunette shades are capturing the spotlight. Rubenstein says darker strands are stunning against sun-kissed skin. “The contrast not only stands out among the typically lighter summer shades but also exudes a sense of sophistication and elegance.”

Deeper shades are a welcome departure from the typical sun-kissed strands that some brunettes gravitate towards once sweltering temperatures hit, and they can also be a good way to nurse damaged hair back to health since less, or no, bleach is used, helping to maintain the hair's integrity and reduce damage. "Typically, maintaining brunette color involves less lightening, and therefore, less stress on the hair," Kusero adds. Another reason to go darker? Amped up shine. He says that when darkening the hair, the cuticle is sealed with a semi- or demi- permanent color, reflecting more light. "Lightening the hair opens up the hair cuticle, which can create a lack of shine." Rubenstein adds that darker tones also provide more consistent color, preventing the uneven and brassy appearance that can occur with lighter hair.

Blonde Goes Deeper & Darker

Blonde is always in style for summer, but the tones are getting deeper this year. For blondes who want to darken their color, Kusero suggests asking for caramel or honey tones, "which provide warm, subtle depth. It's best to ask your colorist for shades that complement your skin tone and natural hair color." He also says incorporating lowlights can add dimension and depth to the hair without fully dying it.

When done strategically, highlights can add depth to lighter hair when the overall goal is to go deeper. "Darker highlights give dimension and depth to the hair, making it look fuller and more dynamic," Kusero says. "Using shades slightly darker than the base color creates a subtle, natural-looking contrast without making the hair appear too light."

What To Ask For At The Salon

If you choose to go darker this summer, inky blacks and lifeless brondes are not what you should walk out of the salon with. Colors like teddy bear brown, brown copper, chocolate milk, and espresso are all trending for summer brunettes. But to get your desired look just right, it’s crucial to consider your skin tone and undertones. "When you go from light to dark, multiple sessions may be needed because sometimes, achieving the desired darker shade may take time to ensure even color absorption and hair health,” Rubenstein says. “Instead of a specific color, ask for a transition plan tailored to your hair type, which may include intermediate shades or treatments to protect and prepare your hair."

For brunettes who want a subtle change, darkening your current color a few levels can make a significant difference. "Going a shade or two darker can give a fresh look without straying too far from your natural color," Kusero explains. Another option is to keep your hair its natural brown color and add a few caramel-colored highlights, which Rubenstein says gives more of a slightly sun-kissed effect. Lowlights can also add depth when transitioning to a darker shade.

As for blondes who want to dip their toes into the deep end of the color spectrum, Rubenstein recommends shades like raw honey and caramel highlights. “These will add warmth and dimension while still retaining the blonde-ness in the hair without making a full transition to brunette. You can keep the color subtle or make it more pronounced.” A few strategically placed, thin money pieces one to two shades lighter than the rest of the color is another way to incorporate more depth and dimension to typically lighter hair.

Semi-permanent rinses also have their place. Dorram suggests using them first to test how the hair looks darker to ensure you like it. "Semi-permanent color can last up to eight weeks. Test driving a darker color with one is a good technique that works well on anyone with highlights who wants to go darker because the highlights will take on a slightly lighter shade than the natural base color. The hair will also look healthier."

One piece of advice that Rubenstein says is crucial when going darker for the summer is to consult a colorist rather than trying to do it yourself at home. "It is important that the shade you ultimately choose complements your skin tone," she says. "Always discuss specific looks you've seen on people with similar complexions, and be ready to adjust your makeup routine accordingly."

How To Maintain Your New Dark(er) Color

Darker hues require a different at-home maintenance plan since the sun, routine shampooing, and even salt water can cause the color molecules to slip out of the hair. To prevent the sun and pool water from stripping your hair, Dorram recommends using a barrier cream product, such as the Crown Affair Renewal Mask or Philip B Thermal Protection Spray. “Use it before going in the sun and blow drying the hair to maintain a fresh-looking color."

The right hair care products are essential to preserving the health of your new hair color. "Chemically treated hair tends to oxidize, leading to unwanted red or green undertones if it is not properly maintained," Rubenstein says. To minimize oxidation, she says high-quality color-protecting shampoos and conditioners, such as Nexxus Color Assure Shampoo and Conditioner, are musts. "Also, using a hair mask in place of regular conditioner every fourth wash will also help the hair maintain moisture and prevent oxidation," she adds. Toning products work wonders to keep rich brown shades and even deepened blondes looking fresh. An at-home toning mask like IGK Color Depositing Mask in Brown Bella or Overtone Chocolate Brown Coloring Conditioner subtly enhances your color by adding pigments to look more vibrant.

What About When Fall Comes Around?

With darker strands, there's no need to make a major change once summer fades away and fall rolls around. Kusero says these of-the-moment hues will hold into fall, and because these shades are versatile, they can transition seamlessly into the cooler months. "You can deepen the color slightly or add richer, autumnal hues like deep auburn or chestnut, but this subtle shift will keep your look fresh and seasonally appropriate,” he shares.