The Best Brunette Hair Colors for Different Skin Tones

A master colorist breaks down the best brown hair colors for warm and cool undertones.

Selena Gomez, Beyonce, and Dakota Johnson in formal attire, all with brown hair.
Photo: Getty Images/InStyle

Brown hair is anything but boring. Whether you're going over to the dark side for the first time or you're a natural brunette that wants to enhance your color, there's a myriad of shade possibilities.

Choosing to go dark is the first step, but finding the right shade for your complexion is the other half of the equation. That's why we turned to Nick Arrojo, founder of Arrojo Studio in New York to create a complete guide on which brunette shades work best for every skin tone.

Once you're enjoying your new brown shade, Arrojo stresses the importance of preserving it by using shampoo and conditioner tailored for colored hair and treating strands with a weekly treatment (such as Arrojo Whipped Treatment, $31) to maintain its vibrancy.

Now, who said blondes have more fun? Keep scrolling to find out the best brunette shade to compliment your skin tone.

01 of 07

Fair With Cool Undertones

Dakota Johnson with long chestnut brown hair and a formal gown
Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Those with fair skin with cool skin tones have a blueish undertone to their skin and often burn easily when out in the sun. Look at your veins in natural light. If they look blue or purple, then you have cool undertones. Dakota Johnson's warm, chestnut shade with red and golden undertones will brighten up fair complexions that err on the cool side.

02 of 07

Fair With Warm Undertones

Katie Holmes with deep caramel color hair with a side part
Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

Those with warm undertones have a more yellow or green undertone. If your veins have a green tint to them instead of blue, then you have a warm undertone.The best way to compliment a fair complexion with warm undertones: Katie Holmes with her deep caramel color. "Keep the caramel cool for a nice contrast," says Arrojo.

03 of 07

Medium With Cool Undertones

Bella Hadid with charcoal brunette hair with a middle part that is slicked back

If you don't burn easily when out in the sun, but have a blue undertone to your skin then you fall into this category. Arrojo says that a neutral brunette shade like Bella Hadid's charcoal-toned brown pairs well with a medium complexion with cool undertones.

04 of 07

Medium With Warm Undertones

Emily Ratajkowski with light chocolate brown hair and natural makeup
John Shearer/Getty Images

Those with a medium skin tone with warm undertones, such as Emily Ratajkowski or Beyoncé, will find that gold jewelry looks best, compared to silver. If you have a medium complexion that leans on the warm side, Arrojo says that a light chocolate brown shade, seen here on Ratajkowski, is the perfect balance for your skin tone.

05 of 07


Selena Gomez with her brunette hair pulled back into a low ponytail
Kevin Mazur/AMA2016 /Getty Images

Olive skintones are considered warm or even neutral. Your veins may be somewhere in between blue and green. For olive complexions like Selena Gomez, Arrojo suggests opting for a dark chocolate brown that will create a striking contrast with your skin tone.

06 of 07

Dark With Cool Undertones

Viola Davis with her medium length hair with caramel highights parted to the side
Matt Winkelmeyer / Staff

Arrojo says that multidimensional highlights, like Viola Davis with her ribbons of color, add softness and warmth to dark skin tones with cool undertones. Caramel or warmer red highlights are a great choice for this skin tone.

07 of 07

Dark With Warm Undertones

Yvonne Orji with long, copper colored hair and a sequined jacket
Amy Sussman / Getty Images

To enhance the natural warmth of this skin tone, Arrojo recommends a coppery brown shade, as seen on Yvonne Orji. This brunette shade gives your skin the ultimate "glow from within" look.

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