Stunning Medium-Brown Hair Colors for Every Skin Tone

While there's an entire wheel of hair color options—dark blonde, strawberry blonde, dark brown, red, or even rose gold—there's something classic, rich, and endlessly beautiful about a medium-brown. We have reason to believe brown hair can look good on just about everyone, even famous blondes like Blake Lively or Gwen Stefani (seriously— Google them with darker hair, you won't be disappointed. In fact, you'll probably be inspired to follow their lead).

So, how does one choose the most flattering color? "I would start by deciding if you need to be warm or cool brown depending on what’s going to look best on your skin tone," says celebrity colorist Nikki Lee.

Meet the Expert

• Nikki Lee is a celebrity colorist and the owner of Nine Zero One salon, located in Los Angeles.

• Millie Morales is a celebrity stylist and colorist for the haircare brand Garnier.

Dark Brown With Highlights

Priyanka Chopra Jonas's brunette locks part at the side and tumble in waves just below the shoulder. This layered cut displays a subtle dimension that shows off her highlights and has enviable texture.

Before trying a look like Chopra Jonas's , ensure the shade will serve to flatter your eyes and skin. "My best advice is to check your eyes and skin color. Pick a shade that will brighten your eyes and even your skin tone," says Morales.

Golden-Brown Balayage

Issa Rae's springy curls positively shimmer here. Her brunette shade, shows off with a summery golden-brown balayage.

Be sure to show up at the salon in your usual hairstyle to help your stylist figure out color placement. "If the client likes to wear natural curly hair, a hand painted technique is a great way to go," says Morales. "When using this technique, you enhance the type of curls that need the spotlight to create a natural look."

Warm Balayage Mix

Jamie Chung is known to be a hair chameleon, and looks stunning in any shade, but we must say that this warm balayage mix is one of our favorites. "The great thing about medium brown is that it complements all skin tones," says Lee. The key is to determine your undertones and go cool or warm.

Caramel Bronde

We've always been a fan of Cleo Wade's stunning curls. Her medium-brown locks are woven with a gorgeous caramel bronde shade to lighten up the overall appearance.

According to Lee, the shade isn't "the most high maintenance color. But it will require regular touch ups, unlike doing just highlights, you can go a bit longer."

Deep Chocolate

Lily Aldridge has been our inspiration for brunette hair since day one. Here, she shows off deeper chocolate locks with just a few highlights on the ends to soften the appearance.

Flaxen Blonde Highlights

While Beyoncé is often rocking honey blonde hues, she'll occasionally vacillate between medium brown and a flaxen blonde shade. For the 2016 Met Ball, she went darker and straighter than usual, with golden highlights and a dramatic eye shadow.

Medium Brown

Ashley Graham has the kind of thick, shiny brown hair that makes us feel guilty about all the bad dye jobs we've inflicted on our own locks. Here, she sports an even-toned medium shade parted to the side with soft waves.

Rich Brown With Blonde Highlights

It's no surprise that there's supermodel in Kaia Gerber's blood, as just about every photo of her feels campaign-worthy. Her long hair somehow always looks windswept, and is a rich brown elevated with light, barely-there blonde highlights.

Tawny Highlights

Jourdan Dunn is another woman who isn't afraid to switch it up her look, so her red-carpet style can be a welcome surprise. Here she debuts her long, flowing brunette strands with subtle tawny tones.

Chestnut Ombré

Alexa Chung is the queen of shoulder-length cuts and undone waves. We love this dark-chestnut to light-brown ombré, with the ends painted a golden bronde.

Sparkling Amber

Mandy Moore's hair journey has brought her from brown, to blonde, to bronde, to raven, and now to medium brown with sparkling amber highlights throughout.

Classic Dark Brown

Joan Smalls has the bedhead of our dreams. Her carefree, voluminous dark hair has subtle highlights around her face and towards the ends of her locks.

Golden-Brown Ombré

Chrissy Teigen's gorgeous hair is almost always a soft mix of dark blondes and brunette hues, and we're not mad about it. This warm, golden-brown ombré complements her saffron colored dress.

Dark Golden Brown

Mindy Kaling's chocolate locks have a glowing bronde balayage that gives this native Bostonian a west-coast vibe.

Cherry-Hued Brunette

Emma Watson's brunette locks and auburn balayage pair perfectly with her dark brown eyes and nearly neutral lip shade.


Lily Collins is the definition of princess hair. Here, her flowing locks are having a Jackie-O moment, showcasing her rich chestnut brown with high-wattage shine.

Deep Rich Brunette

Ciara never lets us down with her hair, no matter the length or hue. Here, she adorns her side-parted, soft waves with a bit of medium-brown highlights.

Multi-Dimensional Ombré

The romantic, side-swept look is classic Taraji. This ombré goes from chocolate at the roots, to golden brown, and finishes with a sandy blonde (were you able to follow that?).

Tawny Balayage

Sandra Bullock is one of the most beloved brunettes in Hollywood. Here, she has a tawny balayage that runs through her darker mane.

Auburn Toned

On the darker end of the spectrum, we have Lea Michele, who offers a ton of subtle dimension using tones from raven to auburn and warm brunette.

Dimensional Brunette

Zendaya sports a warm, golden brown hue that manages to pack loads of dimension without overtly obvious highlights.

Though it might be tempting, exercise caution when attempting an at-home dye job. "Simple root touch ups are fine to do at home as long as you can match your color correctly," says Lee. "I wouldn’t recommend going more than two shades above/below your natural shade. Leave big color changes to the professionals."

While it's generally safe to color your hair at home, you'd be wise to skip a DIY dye job if you've recently relaxed your hair, as it can cause unnecessary damage.

Auburn on Chocolate

Another master of the ever-changing brunette locks, model Chanel Iman demonstrates a subtle shock of auburn with a chocolate base on this sleek, shoulder-length hairstyle.

Soft Chestnut

As a fashion model, Bella Hadid has worn every hairstyle and color under the sun. Her natural look is more of a subdued brunette. We love this slicked back, semi-wet look wavy bob in a soft chestnut hue.

Soft Brunette

Soft Old Hollywood waves in a medium-brown hue complement Jessica Alba's tan complexion and dark eyes.

Dark Roots, Warm Highlights

Laverne Cox is another hair chameleon, known for shifting her look from everything to a blonde chin-length bob to full honey-colored curls and even magenta waves. We adore this sleek low bun with dark roots and warm highlights.

Medium-Brown With Subtle Highlights

On the opposite end we have ever-consistent Dakota Johnson. She's pretty much always sporting long, piece-y bangs, though her shade of brown varies. Here, she has a medium-brown color with very subtle highlights.

Warm Highlights

Halle Berry's curls show off well-placed warm highlights that add an extra note of depth and dimension. To keep hair treated healthy and color vibrant between salon visits, Lee recommends utilizing masks and treatments. "Garnier’s Nutrisse Color Revivers ($8) are a great treat for post-colored hair—they instantly restore softness and smoothness to hair while refreshing color."

Brunette Roots, Sun-Washed Ends

We usually picture the third Olsen sister as a blonde, but she's rocked medium- brown hair more than once. This take features solidly brunette roots that fade off to sun-washed blonde ends.


Tessa Thompson is typically on the darker end of the brunette spectrum, but this version with big curls has a slight ombré that gives the look an overall softer effect.

Dark Brown Highlights

John Shearer/Contributor/Getty

We adore the rich brown ribbons of reddish-brown running through Kerry Washington's hair.

Cool-Toned Medium-Brown

Another take on cooler toned medium-brown, Selena Gomez's raven roots trickle down to cool chestnut and fade into and ashy bronde at the ends.


Mila Kunis' all-one-shade of medium-brown is the perfect complement to this molded red carpet hairstyle.

Sun-Kissed Brunette

Golden highlights soften the overall vibe of Sofia Vergara's hairstyle, giving her a sun-kissed appearance.

Honey-Hued Brown

The trend-averse should look toward Kate Middleton for inspiration. She opts for a classic medium-toned brown without very obvious highlights.

Sunny Brunette With Subtle Highlights

For fair complexions, this sunny brunette shade with lots of subtle highlights seen on Alison Brie is a wonderful option.

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