Highlight Shades for Long Brown Hair

Should you go, as a brunette, with shimmering sand strands, strawberry blonde streaks, golden tones? Should you go cool or warm? Red, blonde, copper, or just a lighter shade of brown? Highlights can make an updo look more sophisticated, inspire your loose waves to seduce that new guy, or fool people into thinking you just spent a week by the ocean. Brown hair’s the most versatile in the highlighting realm due to its endless color possibilities. Blondes get lowlights or highlights a few shades lighter their natural color, redheads can use certain shades of blonde, but long-haired brunettes can truly do anything and be as subtle or daring as they want.

If hair is more on the ash toned side, follow those cues. In possibly a more familiar breakdown: if you’re a cool, use ash; if you’re a warm, use golden. People with pinker tones to their skin are usually cool and therefore need to find colors labeled ash or neutral. Those with yellow undertones in their skin should consider products labeled golden or neutral. Neutrals work well on anyone, especially those who don’t fit neatly into either the cool or warm categories but fall somewhere in the middle. If you’re not experienced in hair color, it’s best to leave it up to a professional. Products labeled golden, warm, or red may pick up the red in your own hair, making you look nostalgic remember Bozo the Clown from the 80s? Wear your nostalgia on your t-shirt not your head. On the opposite end of the spectrum, products labeled ash or cool may give your hair a green cast if you’re not careful. Highlight tone options broaden as your hair gets darker.

If your hair is light brown, you can use anything from a toned down caramel to the brightest blond. Tons of girls walk around with a light brown base and bleached blond chunks, which looks amazing with a sunless tan. For most shades and tones of light brown hair, red streaks aren’t suggested. They don’t tend to blend well unless the base color is more of a coppery or auburn brown. Golden or ash blonds, however, are fantastic.

Medium brunette shades can have a little more oomph and still look natural (or dramatic if you wish). Anything from light brown to light blond ash, golden, or strawberry goes. You can paint on any combination of those shades to add even more depth and movement. Take your medium brown hair and combine light blond with a reddish blond, and you’re suddenly a vixen! And when you sweep that hair up from your neck and into a twist, people have no choice but to turn their heads and look. The swirling of colors is beautiful.

Dark brown or black shades tend to look better with the light browns and copper tones. One of my favorite looks is a warm chestnut with the added pizzazz of bright coppery one-inch pieces hidden under the top layer of dark hair. It peeks out when you move your head (plus it has the added benefit of not being so obvious when it grows out!). White-blonde may be hot on your lighter haired brunette friends but most often when a girl walks by with long dark hair and nearly white highlights, it’s more Addams Family than Meet-My-Family.

Auburn girls should stay away from the ash blonde shades but strawberry and golden blondes complement that base color more than most people could imagine. So many times I’ve heard, Don’t dye that gorgeous red hair and, It’ll turn out pink if you color it! Trust me, a talented hairstylist can do just about anything you want.

All shades of brown look even better with a little bit of interest added to them through the use of varying strand colors. You can go with wide segments of color, subtle face-framing streaks, or panels underneath the top layer. Take your pick. Be as daring or as conservative as you (and your boss, unless you’re self-employed) desire. These are just some guidelines to helping you choose your shade. But if you have black hair and have pale blonde highlight envy, try it out. No harsh rules exist in highlighting. Just suggestions. Find a hairstylist you trust and make like a basket of Easter eggs mix up your colors!

By: Crystal Schwanke

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