6 Exciting Summer Hair Color Ideas for Brunettes
Because blonde highlights aren't the only option.
It's a myth that brown hair is boring. In fact, there are a ton of ways brunettes can elevate their hair color, whether it's adding dimension to a chocolate brown base with caramel sun-kissed ombré highlights, or a bold contrasts with chunky '90s-inspired honey blonde streaks.
Another common misconception is that going lighter is the only option for summer.
In reality, the best hair color for the season is whatever you want it to be. With these two important notes in mind, if you are looking for inspiration for your next hair color ahead of your pre-summer salon appointment, you're in the right place.
We checked in with three top colorists to find out what shades they predict will be most requested for summer 2021. Ahead, the experts break down six trending brunette hair colors, along with tips on how to maintain them.
1. Ombré Highlights
"[Ombré] is such a great way to color brunette hair because you can tailor it to exactly what each client loves and it's the best way to keep a brunette true to their color without going too blonde," says Tracey Cunningham, celebrity colorist. "I love doing caramel and honey highlights. It is a trend that will never go away because it is what natural hair looks like and it mimics the sun kissed hair color you had as a child."
Even though ombré highlights have a natural finish, you're still coloring your hair, so Cunningham recommends using a color-safe shampoo and conditioner to prevent your highlights from fading. Redken's Color Extend Magnetics Shampoo and Conditioner are both sulfate-free and acidic to keep hair balanced while protecting the tone and vibrancy of your color.
2. Red Tones
Ask any dyed brunette what annoys them most about their hair, and they'll probably tell you brassiness and unwanted red tones. However, nothing says summer like warmth, so why not add a little bit of heat to your existing brunette base? "Tones of red are perfect for brunettes in the summer because the warm tones will not only match the climate change, but it's instant eye-catching vibrancy that will fade out beautifully, making the color wearable for an everyday look," says Sharon Spellman, Matrix brand ambassador. Take Zendaya's face-framing mahogany highlights, for example.
If you're working with red this summer, Spellman recommends incorporating color-safe products into your routine — especially if you heat style and plan on spending time in the sun. Matrix Keep Me Vivid Leave-In nourishes hair, plus offers both heat and UV protection.
3. Chunky Highlights
The beauty trends of the '90s are best described by one word: iconic. Unsurprisingly, many of the decades looks are trending again, during a time when we've all been leaning on nostalgia for comfort. And that includes chunky highlights. "Yes, the 90's are back!," confirms Hitomi, master colorist at Rob Peetoom Williamsburg. "If you're bold enough to try out chunky highlights, it's a fun way to add into your sense of style."
Hitomi says if you're concerned about the highlights looking like barcode, ask for a few foilyage pieces on the ends to connect with the chunky pieces. Another tip? Consider investing in a blow dryer that doesn't rely on wind power and pressure to try hair. The colorist is a fan of BioProgramming hot tools.
4. Sun-Kissed Balayage
Here, Priyanka Chopra Jonas demonstrates that sun-kissed highlights, like balayage, can be extra subtle. Instead of honey blonde, the actress has added caramel highlights to her ash brown base. "This is a technique where lightener is painted onto the hair to create a natural-blended highlight effect," explains Spellman. "It's extremely low maintenance and will accentuate key features of your face while leaving your hair dimensional and healthy."
For extra glossy deep brunette hair, try the Shine Conditioner from Anomaly, the star's haircare line. The clean formula includes shine-boosting and softening ingredients like jojoba oil and murumuru butter.
5. The Money Piece Highlight
"Having a chunky, bold piece in the front will brighten up your look without having the whole head highlighted," says Hitomi. "A lot of celebrities have been trying this lately, like Dua Lipa and Bella Hadid. Also, when you put your hair up with this style, you'll have a lightness that looks like the sun gave you a natural highlight."
When you're adding any bright blonde shade to dark hair, Cunningham says it's important to take care of your hair health because the chemical processing can be damaging. While the colorist uses Olaplex's Standalone treatment with every color service at the salon, she recommends using the brand's No.8 Bond Intense Moisture Mask at home. "It works from the inside out and will not weigh the hair down," says Cunningham. "This highly concentrated formula is scientifically proven to add two times more shine, four times more hydration, and six times more smoothness for all hair types after just one use."
While Dua Lipa has experimented with this trend by adding super chunky blonde pieces to the top front half of her hair, Bella Hadid demonstrates another way to do the money piece highlight. Here, she's added two thin, face-framing, fire-red strands to her signature deep chocolate brown hair.
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6. Mushroom Brown
For brunettes who want to stick to cool undertones for summer, mushroom or sandy brown are popular choices. "I always say that hair colorists are superheroes fighting red, orange and brassy tones," says Cunningham. "Luckily, Redken Shades EQ has so many good hair colors to help get the ash brown hair colors that brunettes want.