The hair world has gone wild for brunette. After several years of focusing on pastels and blonde shades, the time has come to color your hair chocolate and call it a day. Perhaps you can thank advances in hair color technology, but today’s brunette shades blend red, caramel, and plum notes to create multidimensional fantasies. If you’re not booking a hair color appointment yet, just wait!
To get up to speed 2019 brunette hair color trends, we spoke with celebrity colorist Min Kim. The L’Oréal Professionnel artist has five favorite brunette shades for the year and you’re getting the early scoop on them. Kim has made a name for herself at New York City's Butterfly Studio creating balayage—and this isn't just any old hair color. Kim's shades are famously dimensional and luxurious with ultra-soft grow outs that are so good you can almost believe the color is growing straight out of the scalp!
Keep reading to find out which light or dark brown hair color to try now, exactly how to get them, and which products to rely on for at-home care.
What is ultraviolet hair color?
With pastel lavender and lilac shades in the rearview mirror, it’s only natural that colorists like Kim would search for a way to incorporate purple tones into their clients’ hair. Ultraviolet hair is ideal for those seeking for a very dark brown color that covers grays or an allover color application.
Notably, this shade looks best on fair, neutral skin tones. It’s also highly adjustable—Kim notes that a stylist can make the shade more or less plum-hued to meet the client’s needs.
"This can be customized to be more vibrant for those who want to be notices or a smoky version [that's] more subtle," Kim says.
How do you maintain ultraviolet hair color?
To make ultraviolet as low-maintenance as possible, Kim recommends starting with a violet-toned gloss or demi-permanent color.
If you’re a pro at salon schedules, however, it’s entirely possible to go big on this one.
“If maintenance isn't an issue, permanent color is the way to go and schedule monthly appointments to keep it vibrant,” Kim explains.
For extra TLC, ask your stylist about an in-salon Powermix treatment. The formula includes one of five added boosters for personalized, targeted care. At home, use a line like Serie Expert Vitamino Color A-OX Shampoo and Conditioner for color radiance protection.
What is milk chocolate hair color?Like a mug of hot cocoa when you’re thoroughly chilled, milk chocolate hair is all about creating a feeling of warmth. This blend of toasty brown tones is one of Kim’s new favorites because of the way it demolishes the misconception that brunette is one-note.
Ideal for those who want a true brown shade, this color is created with an allover color or by layering highlights that are two to three levels of the base tone. For a softer final feel, ask your stylist about a gloss.
“This color can be adjusted for both cool and warm skin tones with the base and highlights,” Kim explains.
Whether you’re on the hunt for allover color, grey coverage, or just highlights, Kim recommends milk chocolate.
How do you maintain milk chocolate hair color?
Milk chocolate is the perfect low-maintenance choice for women who already have naturally medium brown hair. Instead of creating an entirely new shade, your stylist can create a multidimensional “chocolate” effect with highlights. No color near your roots means fewer touch-ups!
Those who don’t mind maintenance may choose a deeper chocolate base created with demi or permanent color and highlights over the top.
“Schedule your root touch-ups every four to six weeks, and highlights added on at the second or third touch-up appointment,” she says.
What is metallic bronze hair color?Metallic bronze is made for women who don’t want to lose their brunette but can’t stop dreaming of what they’d look like as redheads or blondes. If you have olive or pink skin tones, Kim feels confident in giving you the green light to try this bronzy hue.
“Because this color has red and golden undertones, single-process [color] will pull too warm on natural brunettes,” Kim says, recommending metallic bronze as a hue best used in well-placed highlights.
If you’re tied to your natural base color, your stylist can apply metallic bronze using a foil or balayage technique. Those willing to go lighter will be rewarded with an enhanced metallic tint.
How do you maintain metallic bronze hair?
There’s a reason many stylists recommend trying highlights before committing to a whole head of color: they’re easier to maintain. Low-maintenance customers should ask their stylists for balayage or highlights that start several inches from the root. When your natural base grows out, no one will know the difference.
However, Kim’s quick to note that balayage isn’t your only option.
“Highlights can be placed to the root and touched up every six to eight weeks with foils or ten to twelve weeks—or more—for balayage,” the artist explains.
What is nude brown hair color?There was plenty of buzz about nude blonde (don’t search that) hair color in 2018, so Kim predicts 2019 will see the trend shift to brunettes. The breezy, minimalist color works for gray coverage, allover color, and highlights.
The secret, Kim explains, lies in the way your stylist will lighten your base color. Instead of taking it dramatically light—potentially causing damage—they’ll work to lift your base just a shade or two. Highlights will be only slightly lightly lighter than the new base color.
“[The technique] results in a soft finish with minimal fading and oxidation,” Kim says. “Nude works with all skin tones as it flatters both warm and cool colors—the perfect color palette.”
If you’re choosing nude brown to mask the look of grays, you’re in luck. Kim recommends permanent hair color for anyone who’s over 70 percent gray, while women without gray can opt for a demi-permanent color with subtle highlights throughout their mid-lengths and ends.
How do you maintain nude brown hair color?
Ultimately, nude blonde can be as complicated or straightforward as you make it. To take this look to the next level in both maintenance and looks, explore the idea of bolder highlights with your stylist.
What is ash beige hair color?Kim’s final recommendation for brunette hair colors is a spin on the ash trend that stuck around all last year: ash beige. The good news is that this shade works for everyone, no matter their skin tone, coverage preference, or color needs.
“Warm and cool tones live harmoniously in this color story,” Kim explains. “This can be created with a multi-tonal base color that can be achieved with highlights and lowlights to create the custom blend of ash and gold.”
Here’s the nice thing about a color made up of high and low notes: You can keep playing with them. Kim adds more lowlights for coolness and depth, and more highlights to brighten up the final result. If there’s something you particularly love the first time, ask for more of it when you return to the salon for touch-ups.
How do you maintain ash beige hair?
Ash beige is all about achieving the right balance of gold and grayish ash notes, so your care routine will somewhat depend on which side you like more. For a lower-maintenance routine, your stylist should keep your base color close to your natural shade and consider demi-permanent color.
When it comes to highlights, let your preferences guide the way.
“Placement is key for less maintenance...it can always be customized to suit individual needs and lifestyle requirements,” Kim says.
Armed with Kim’s expert advice, you’re armed to start 2019 with the best brunette shades in the business.
Interested in a customized brunette hair color for 2019? Use our salon locator to book an appointment with a stylist near you or try on the color using the Style My Hair app.