It’s not that brunettes are making a comeback (when did luscious brown locks ever go out of style?) but the rich tones of the Allison Williams and Alexa Chungs of the world are definitely having their moment. And if everyone has their eye on brown hair this season, you’ll want to have it at its shiniest, multi-tonal best. We chatted with Douglas Timleck, hair colour specialist at Hair on the Avenue in Toronto, for the latest trends in brown hair colour, and how to rock the right one for you.
Brown hair—always the right shade
Depending on your natural hair colour and how exactly you plan on changing it up, there are so many ways to find your perfect shade of brown, from cognac to deep espresso. It all comes back to your skin tone and what hair colour complements it best: for example, if there’s more pink to your complexion, then stay away from gold and copper-based highlights, advises Timleck.
Richer and coppery reds work best on people with an olive skin tone. For a bold and flattering change-up, try out a dark or ashy brown with a fair complexion (those with cool undertones to their skin). It’s why Katy Perry—a natural blonde— always comes back to this striking look.
Think high shine
It’s always a good idea to put a gloss on top of hair colour. “It prolongs the colour by sealing up the cuticle and locking everything in,” says Timleck. How fast your colour will fade out also depends on the time of year. Because of increased exposure to the sun, hair colour naturally lightens in the summer. This can, of course, work in your favour to creating a Gisele-inspired ombré effect on your brown hair.
While much of your transition to becoming a brunette—or freshly added hair colour to stay one—takes place at the salon, keeping it that way takes extra care at home. Use colour-treated shampoo and condition specifically geared toward brown hair. With each wash, “It will add some of the pigment back in,” says Timleck.
HAIR COLOUR: How to get the right highlights
More ways to update brown hair on the next page…
Cut to your shade
The art of great hair is a delicate balance between
the perfect colour—again, for you—and the right cut to show it off (kind of a science, really). With a rich, allover brown, Timleck suggests trying out a one-length hairstyle and styling it to a
sleek, straight finish. This will beautifully illuminate the hair colour in all its facets. “It’s brown with a hint of something to it—a multi-tonal hair colour,” he says.
Whereas the multi-tones of an ombré hair colour works best with multiple long layers, he explains.
Sombré—the new ombre hair colour
Sombré—the new industry portmanteau of “subtle ombré”—has taken the place of the drastic dark to sun-bleached tips hairstyle. “A subtle ombré is happening closer to the root,” says Timleck, citing Allison Williams’s gradual balayage (a hair-colouring technique for a natural effect) taking place. As opposed to the backcombing used when applying colour in the traditional ombré, hair colourists gently paint on colour starting closer to the crown, fading softly toward the ends. “Kim Kardashian is the perfect example of the new ombré,” he says.
A timeless brunette never fades
While tonal highlights and ombré hair colour are always on trend for spring,
finding the best hair colour always comes down to what suits you best. And sometimes that can mean a rich allover brown shade in the summer. “People aren’t paying attention to trends—if they love a chocolate brown [shade], then they will keep it,” Timleck says. “Of course, you’ll always have your trendsetters, but it depends on what the client is looking for.”
For the latest in fashion, beauty and culture, sign up to receive ELLE's bi-weekly newsletter