Although the drama of colorful ombré and unicorn hair can be exhilarating, there's something to be said about the peace that comes from minimalist and low-maintenance hair colors. And with shades like “expensive brunette” at your disposal you can enjoy a manageable hairstyle while still looking super polished. “Expensive brunette is a brunette hair color that is shiny, glossy, rich, healthy, and has purposeful dimension to it while keeping things simple yet high quality,” says Jason Lee, hairstylist, colorist and founder of Mela & Kera. It’s also one of the biggest hair trends for fall 2022 — just open up Instagram to see the proof.
Of course, opting for darker hair colors is nothing new in colder weather, but thanks to Hailey Bieber and a plethora of other A-listers, expensive brunette is ruling the hair world for its ease and versatility. For starters, whether you have blonde, brunette, black, or red hair, anyone can adopt the trend. You can even opt for a gloss to add tonality and darken your natural color, or try lowlights as a way to dip your toes into the trend.
As a member of the brown hair family, expensive brunettes also give your hair a healthier appearance since darker shades reflect more light. The most important thing to nail the look is enhanced shine. According to Lee, it should be natural and mesmerizing.
Ahead, TZR spoke to celebrity hairstylists for their take on the trend, the popular hues that are making the rounds on social media, and products to help you maintain the color throughout autumn.
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Soft Money Brunette
Soft money features a lighter brunette tone with strategic placement at the natural part to give the hair movement, without losing the foundational brunette color, says Matrix brand ambassador, George Papanikolas. Pro tip: Keeping highlights away from the root area avoids any unnatural “zebra” effects. As for maintenance, Katie Reid, Kevin Murphy design director and education manager, recommends Kevin Murphy Color Me Gloss, her go-to product for strength and shine, as it repairs the hair up to 25% and thickens hair by 37%.
Lorena M. Valdes, colorist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, thinks of caramel drizzle as rich warm tones with a pop of light caramel highlights. For maintenance, Brass Off All-In-One Toning Sprays is great for toning at home in between services as the buildable formula will help neutralize brassy, orange tones. You can also finish with the Mela & Kera Smooth Ends to seal frayed ends so that hair doesn’t break, allowing for an even porosity from root to tip.
According to Papanikolas, “expensive brunettes should have an overall blended tone-on-tone effect usually in the neutral and cool tones.” The expert suggests mocha haven for golden and olive skin. “The universal rule for highlights to be the most flattering is to stay within four shades of the base color,” the pro shares. “This allows dark hair to go lighter with a soft sophisticated blended result, and no harsh contrast from the base color.”
Caramel chocolate is a dark natural brunette with an intense caramel chocolate tone that is blended seamlessly, says Valdes. And according to Reid, the key to colored hair is using restoring products at home that will add back in moisture and shine — this will keep your expensive brunette shade brilliant for as long as possible. Opt for Kevin Murphy Repair Me Rinse to replenish and rebuild the hair and help to multiply the hair bonds.
Soft Golden Babylights
“Anyone can be an expensive brunette but the healthier the hair, the shinier it will appear,” Lee tells TZR. The expert recommends adding touches of balayage or babylights to create dimension without appearing overly contrasty. “With this shade, varying tones from warm to golden hues will add multi-tonal elements throughout the hair.” The pro suggests cleansing with Mela & Kera Balayage Exceptionnel shampoo and conditioner to keep hair soft and shiny while protecting your color from fading.
Black and very dark hair with highlights, like this dark power shade, should be within two shades of the natural color to give the hair soft movement, says Papanikolas. “Neutralizing unwanted brassy tones creates the difference between brunette hair looking expensive and faded, brassy, and cheap,” says Papanikolas. For that, the pro recommends Matrix Dark Envy formulated with green pigments to help neutralize unwanted red tones for darker hair.
Baby Velvet Brown
Valdes describes baby velvet brown as a darker brown with rich red and brown highlights elegantly emphasizing what nature would typically do as it fades. The pro recommends investing in clarifying or metal detoxing products like the L’Oréal Professionnel Metal Detox to pull out any impurities that would cause a lack of shine or frizz.
Godiva Chocolate Brown
A beautiful mix of dark brown and warm honey brown swirls creates this Godiva chocolate brown hue. The cool and warm color combination makes it well suited for a variety of skin tones. For day-to-day, keep hair glossy and healthy with Matrix Instacure that will promote shine and help fill in the cuticle from heat and chemical services. For an expert tip: Avoid washing hair every day to prevent color from stripping. Instead, opt for a dry shampoo when the scalp is feeling oily.