If you’re a natural brunette, or you're simply looking to change up your look, consider a light brown hair color. From highlights to ombré ends to an all-over treatment, there are plenty of hair color ideas to try out. Not sure where to start? We spotted a few trending shades like “Cowboy Copper” and “Light Brownie Brown” that complement all skin tones and hair types. We also tapped a roster of celebrity hairstylists to share the top 22 light brown hair color ideas to inspire your next look.
22 Light Brown Hair Color Ideas to Spruce Up Your Natural Shade
From caramel highlights to bronde balayage
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Meet the Experts:
- Min Kim is a master colorist at Butterfly Studio Salon in New York City. She’s also a global brand ambassador for L’Oréal Professionnel and premier balayage educator. She specializes in hair trends, styling techniques and color services, specifically French balayage.
- George Papnikolas is a Los Angeles-based hair colorist and brand ambassador for Matrix. He previously worked on editorial shoots for Allure, InStyle and People Magazine. His clients include Madonna, Hailey Bieber, Nicole Scherzinger and Kim Kardashian.
- Shvonne Perkins is a master colorist and manager of training for Madison Reed. She has over 14 years of experience in the industry, specializing in color services and educating future stylists on innovative techniques.
- Adina Pignatare is a hair color specialist and ambassador for L’Oréal Professionnel. She specializes in balayage, foil and vivid services at the Designer's Edge Salon in Massachusetts.
- Eric Lopez is a top designer stylist at Katherine Jon Salon in New York. He has over four decades of experience in the industry. He specializes in hair treatments such as relaxers, permanent waving and dimensional color formulations. He also does men’s barbering and styling.
- Guy Tang is a hair educator and creator of Mydentity, a haircare brand that offers styling products and color dyes to licensed professionals. He’s based in California and is best known for his YouTube channel ‘GuyTangHair’ where he posts fitness, beauty and lifestyle videos.
- Jenna Perry is a celebrity hairstylist and owner of Jenna Perry Hair Studio in New York. She has a decade of experience in coloring, styling and cutting hair. She’s behind some of the trendiest looks on clients like Emily Ratajowski, Maude Apatow, Karlie Koss and Bella Hadid.
- Sharon Dorram is a celebrity colorist and owner of Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger Salon with over three decades of experience in the field. She is also a color director and brand ambassador for Virtue. Her previous clients include Barbara Streisand, Kate Hudson, Meg Ryan and Priyanka Chopra.
- Jennifer Korab is a celebrity hairstylist and owner of Renaissance Salon in New Jersey. She has over a decade of experience working in commercial, runway and editorial spaces. She is certified in all coloring techniques, haircutting and hand-tied extensions.
- Carin Freidag is a brand educator leader for Clairol and has 30 years of experience in the industry. She has extensive knowledge of hair coloring, haircare and chemical treatments. As a senior global manager for the brand, she also educates others on the products and the best practices of coloring your hair at home.
1. Cinnamon Swirl
We predict that “Cinnamon Swirl” is going to be huge, as celebs like Zendaya and Priyanka Chopra are already rocking the hue. As Kim told us in a previous story, this shade embodies “the warm and cozy vibes of the season. Its rich, earthy tones evoke feelings of comfort and the changing colors of the leaves.” To achieve the color, a stylist uses the balayage method and mixes three tones together (i.e, cinnamon, copper and caramel).
2. Light Brownie Brown
This light brown hair color is just as sweet as the dessert. According to Korab, the shade adds golden tones throughout a natural brunette base to give it dimension and shine. Korab suggests applying a gloss toner to neutralize brassiness, while adding shine, softness and vibrancy to your golden brown hue.
3. Smoky Mauve
This Hailey Bieber-approved color is sure to add some oomph to your light brown locks. “This hair color blends the soft romantic essence of mauve with a touch of smokiness. The muted, cool-toned shade evokes a sense of mystery and elegance that complements the autumn weather and the season’s latest fashion trends,” says Kim. To recreate the multi-dimensional shade, a stylist will mix mauve, lavender and other cool tones together.
4. Bronde Balayage
Bronde will always be a tried-and-true shade, so adding balayage to the mix is a smart move, because it allows the color to grow out more seamlessly. As one stylist previously told us, the hair color is pretty customizable. “It allows natural brunettes to adjust the tone of their hair to be warmer or cooler, and it sits right in the middle of the hair color spectrum, so a variation of this shade works for most clients,” said Papnikolas.
5. Chestnut Brunette
From Kaia Gerber to Anne Hathaway, celebs are loving this light brown hair color. “Chestnut Brunette is luminous and reflective, which is a departure from the subdued, ash brown tones from seasons past,” said Perkins. To achieve the shade, a stylist will mix mahogany, golden and copper tones together before applying it directly to your strands.
6. Ginger Hazel
If you want a copper shade, but you don’t want to sacrifice too much of your light brown locks, “Ginger Hazel” should be on your radar. A copper glaze is usually applied to strands to create a richer shade. As one stylist previously told us, you’ll want to use a hair mask at least once a week to maintain the vibrancy of your new color.
7. Warm Brunette
When it comes to light brown hair, highlights are the best way to brighten up your look. As Pignatare explains, “When I paint on a brunette, I always stay on the surface, so I don’t expose too much warmth.” To maintain the shade, moisture is key, so invest in nourishing styling products to strengthen strands and safeguard your color.
8. Expensive Brunette
“Expensive Brunette” continues to be the most requested hair colorin salons—and it's easy to see why, as it offers dimension and movement, while adding shine to darker locks. “It's shiny, glossy, rich and it makes your hair look healthy. It has dimension to keep things simple, yet super [sleek],” says Freidag. “It uses a blend of three tones and highlights to deliver a translucent color result.” The expert says you can also achieve the color at home by usinga light golden brown color box.
Like we said, bronde will never go out of style—just look at supermodel Gisele Bündchen for proof. To get the timeless color, “a semi permanent rinse (with a mixture of dark blonde and light brown) is applied throughout the hair. It can easily be achieved if someone is already blonde and wants to darken their natural shade,” says Dorram.
10. Whipped Cappuccino
Doesn't the sweet swirl remind you of a certain delicious beverage? As stylist Eric Lopez previously explained, “This hair color is a caramel brunette mixed with milky blonde. It seamlessly blends balayage and baby highlights together and works best on naturally brown hair." To keep your color vibrant, the expert recommended using a hydrating shampoo and conditioner to bring back shine.
11. Money Pieces
Money piece highlights aren't behind us just yet. These face-framing tendrils offer an easier way to brighten up your hair without having to commit to an all-over dye job. As Lopez explains, “It can be super subtle. Money pieces are the most flattering when kept right around the face.” With a bit of foil on the front strands, you can have some striking highlights just like our girl Ciara.
12. Cowboy Copper
“Cowboy copper” is a popular pick that’s loved by celebs like Emily Ratajowski and Meg Thee Stallion. To create the hue, a stylist will apply a classic red shade as a base and add light brown tones throughout. Note: Since it has reddish tones (which is known for fading quickly), the experts suggest using color care products to maintain the vibrancy and moisture of your hair between touch-ups.
13. Winter Gold
In 2023, “winter gold” is proving to be a winner for hair color inspiration. The trendy shade features a brown base with specks of gold throughout, which adds warmth and softness to the locks. To recreate the color, a stylist focuses on highlighting key areas (i.e., the crown, the ends and a few face-framing pieces) to enhance your facial features.
14. Honey Brown
If you’re interested in trying a honey brown hair color, just show your stylist any picture of Beyoncé. It’s been the singer’s staple hue for years and we definitely see the appeal. “The base of this look is a warm brown with honey highlights. Golden tones are placed on top to give the hair a goddess feel,” says Tang. To maintain the color, the expert recommends using a hydrating conditioner to reduce color fading and a heat protectant to minimize damage.
15. Light Brown Ombré
Ombré was all the rage in the mid-2000s and it continues to be a favorite in 2023. If you want to enjoy being both a brunette and a blonde, this technique blends the two hues together beautifully. As Tang explains, your stylist will begin with a solid color base before gradually lightening the hair, starting at the midpoint. “The ends should be the lightest color and everything should flow smoothly [throughout the hair],” he adds.
16. Caramel Highlights
As mentioned, highlights can be a great addition to light brown hair. To recreate Jessica Alba’s signature look, Tang says it'll come down to the mixture. “Rich golden or cinnamon highlights on top of a brunette base will create the caramel hair color,” he says. The expert also mentioned this hair color works best for wavy to curly hair because it offers movement and shape, so raking a styling cream through will define your caramel curls.
17. Milk Latte
This light brown color is great if you're looking to make a subtle change. Also known as the bronde version of “quiet luxury,” the color technique is quite simple. According to Perry, lowlights are added to a natural blonde base. To create Lo Bosworth’s color, the celebrity hairstylist used equal parts of dye before adding a gloss treatment to brighten things up.
18. Light Neutral Brown
“This neutral light brown is as close to a natural light brown as possible. Depending on one’s natural color, it may require [using a] permanent color to lighten locks or a semi-permanent color to tone down your old shade,” explains Dorram. “The look is rich and super natural—plus, hair will look healthy and shiny.”
19. Light Golden Brown
This shade is similar to the honey-toned hue (see: #14), but it gets brighter over time. “This color is achieved naturally on a brown base when your hair is exposed to the elements like the sun, sea or wind over a long period of time,” says Dorram. “The ends of the hair will warm up slightly and the base shade will lift, giving it a glow.” To get the look in a salon, your stylist will weave in highlights that are two to three shades lighter than your natural base. She adds, “This color is pretty low-maintenance and can last for up to four months [without touch ups].”
20. Light Ash Brown
“This is a universal light brown we see on lighter brunettes. It usually falls between light neutral brown and medium brown,” says Dorram. “This is a great color because you can lighten or deepen it, depending on the direction you want to go.” To prevent brassiness, Dorram suggests using a sulfate-free shampoo and a nourishing conditioner to maintain the shade's vibrancy and overall health of your hair.
All of the experts agree that this is a great option for light brown hair. It’s achieved by adding fine highlights throughout, especially around the face, so you look like you’ve been kissed by the sun like Jessica Biel here. “It’s a low maintenance hair color that gives a more natural look,” adds Korab.
22. Light Cinnamon Brown
“With light natural brown as the undertone, the cinnamon in this shade doesn’t get too orange. This color is perfect for the seasonal shift from fall into winter and looks fabulous on warm skin tones,” says Friedag. As Eva Mendez shows us, this tone isn't too intense—even for those who prefer a more natural look. Friedag recommends a demi-permanent hair color that leans more towards light auburn (or a rose gold hue if you want to go lighter). She also suggests that a hair gloss can keep your reddish brown color vibrant between appointments.
Additional Things to Know
What Is Considered Light Brown Hair?
When it comes to the color wheel, you can think of light brown hair as being smack dab in the middle. As Tang explains, “Light brown hair has hints of gold and may even appear blonde in certain lighting. It’s a balanced mix of brunette and blonde tones, which is perfect for those who are indecisive.”
How to Maintain Light Brown Hair
All of the experts we interviewed say your wash and styling products are crucial. Some key players to have in your routine include a heat protectant, a leave-in conditioner, and of course, a sulfate-free shampoo and a nourishing conditioner. “Light brown hair can easily fade when it's exposed to too much heat, so try to avoid overusing heat tools and always apply heat protectant when you do use them. It’s so important to maintain your color,” says Tang.
Another great tip from our stylists? Invest in a hair gloss treatment. As Perry notes, “Hair gloss treatments are great for enhancing hair color and maintaining natural shine.” Whether you try one at the salon or do one straight at home, this bi-weekly step can help refresh your color and improve the overall health of your hair.
How to Find a Light Brown Hair Shade That Works for You
For starters, we recommend booking a consultation with your stylist. They can walk you through different options until you find your desired shade. They can also guide you through more specific questions that you may not have considered like whether you should get highlights or lowlights? Should you try a few face-framing pieces to brighten your look or do a complete overhaul with a trendy all-over shade like “Cowboy Copper?” Remember: Communication is key.
You might also want to find a hair color that complements your skin tone. If you have fair skin, try cool-toned shades like ash blonde and light cool brown. If you have tan or olive skin, or a darker complexion, consider warm-toned shades like chocolate brown with subtle blonde highlights and caramel brown. And with that, go forth and pick out a light brown hair color to try out.