We’re Calling It: “Jet Set Brunette” is This Summer’s Answer to “Expensive Brunette”

Think: blended brunette (with a hint of drama)

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Image by Dasha Burobina

Ever leave the salon with a new hair color that’s completely different from the one you came in for (and realize you’re stuck with it for the next few months)? Yeah, not great. Personally, I’m someone who’d prefer baldness over a dye job that screams Christina Aguilera in the late 90s (sorry, X-tina), so finding the right hair color is extremely important to me.

When debating which color to try this summer, I was torn. While I liked the subtle sophistication of the "Expensive Brunette" look, I also wanted something that would be a bit bolder and brighten up my face. And that’s exactly what I told Madison Roulan, founder of Rule On salon, who then suggested I try a new variation of brunette color that she just coined a term for: Jet Set Brunette.

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Meet The Expert

Madison Roulan is an Instagram-famous hair stylist with over 10 years of experience. She recently opened her own salon, Rule On, which she co-owns with her brother, Matthew in NYC.

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Getty Images/Arnold Jerocki / Stringer

As you can see, Jet Set Brunette is all about channeling a ‘just got off the beach in Capri’ vibe. Like “Expensive Brunette,” it starts with adding layers and layers of highlights for a natural, blended base (as opposed to big bold chunks or ombré). The key difference between the two trends is that a few money pieces—'90s-inspired, face-framing highlights—are added to brighten the front and give you a more textured and sunkissed tone. “You want people to think you just got back from an island vacay,” Roulan explains. “The base color is a rich brown with subtle highlights throughout, while the front pieces are blonde enough to add dimension without taking away from the sophistication of the look,” she adds. 

So, how do you get the look yourself? Read on for the exact colors and techniques Roulan used on me, plus her favorite products to keep the color from getting brassy over the summer. 

How to Get The Jet Set Brunette Look

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Courtesy of Sydney Meister

It’s All in The Tone

First, some cosmetology 101: “When a colorist mentions the word ‘tone,’ they’re talking about the degree of warmth or coolness in your hair. It ranges from level 1 (black) to level 10 (blonde),” Roulan says. “For the Jet Set Brunette trend, you want to be at a level 8. This lightens the warmth of a brunette base without introducing red or orange undertones.”

In my case (shown above), Roulan mixed shades 7.13 (satin blonde) and 9.13 (sandy beige) from L'Oréal’s DIA Richesse line to reach a solid 8.34. “The specific color will vary depending on how brunette your base is. Just be sure to stay in the 8 range to create a sunny, light caramel tone with a little bit of coolness,” Roulan adds.

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Getty Images/Frazer Harrison

Babylights Create Cohesion

Once you have the tone down, you want to add some shine with babylights. These are finely woven highlights that add subtle dimension—and per Roulan, they should be applied with a foilyage method (or “strandlighting”) instead of balayage. “The difference between foilyage and balayage is that foilyage involves painting the hair directly on the foil (instead of painting an entire section of hair outside of the foil in open air, like you do with balayage). This creates a universally brightened look, while still allowing the brunette foundation to peek through.” To that end, she also mentions: “Balayage uses a hand-painted technique for a softer natural color. Foilyage, on the other hand, brightens the entire head by weaving and teasing babylights in the foil. The final effect is sun-kissed, seamless and blended throughout."

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Getty Images/Bravo

Money Pieces Make a Statement 

Finally, to top everything off, you want to add money pieces that repeat the tone of the babylights. While the babylights add shine throughout your hair, the money pieces are thicker and help frame the face and brighten it. “The final effect is subtle and sunkissed with a hint of drama. Everything is natural and understated while still evoking a feeling that you just hopped off a plane from Tulum.” 

What I love most about this trend is that the color is subtle, but makes a noticeable difference. Since I visited the salon two months ago, people have asked me, “What’s different about you?” instead of, “Did you color your hair?” which is exactly the effect I was going for. Also, it’s held up great so far—no noticeable brassiness, especially since Roulan provided every product I’d need to keep the color bright (all of which you can shop below).

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Why You Should Trust Us

Sydney Meister is PureWow’s Assistant Lifestyle Editor. Along with covering the latest interior design trends and home hacks, she writes about everything from relationships to travel, must-have wellness products and what's happening in the world of celebrity design. Before PureWow, Sydney worked for various interior designers across NYC—primarily as a content creator focusing on trend forecasting and reporting. She's a go-to resource when it comes to interior styling tips and product recs to keep your home looking au courant (hint: it's time to ditch the modern farmhouse look).

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Assistant Editor

Sydney Meister is PureWow's Assistant Editor, covering everything from dating trends and relationship advice (here's looking at you, 'soonicorns') to interior design, beauty...