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Choosing a Shade of Brown Hair Color

Updated on February 29, 2016
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Your hair is a defining feature and one of the first things other people notice about you when you introduce yourself. As such, it makes sense to choose a color that not only matches your style, but accentuates your natural features. Choosing the right shade of brown hair color will boost your confidence and help you stand out from the crowd for any occasion.

The Different Shades of Brown Hair Color

Brown hair colors are every bit as diverse as blondes and reds. Just like blonde hair can range from ash through to bright strawberry blondes, there are shades of brown hair color representing all sides of the tonal scale. The main shades you will encounter consist of:

  • Ash brown
  • Natural brown
  • Golden brown
  • Caramel
  • Red browns
  • Mahogany
  • Burgundy

Reading Dye Codes

When you choose a shade of hair dye, the codes used by manufacturers are able to tell you a lot about the shade:

  • The first number is the level (how dark a color is), and it is the same with all hair dye brands. A 1.1 in Indola hair dyes is a blue black shade, whereas an 8.1 is a light ash blonde.
  • The second number is the primary tone. This varies by manufacturer. For most brands, the number 1 signifies ash, whilst some will use a different number entirely, or a letter. A hair dye with the code 9.3 is a very light golden blonde when using Indola dye, but the same shade in Igora Royal is a 9.5. The best tool here is a color chart for the brand you want to use so that you know exactly what shade you're getting.
  • The last number is only present in dyes with a secondary tone. If you're using Indola's 9.13, it's a very light ash blonde with some gold tone to soften the ash. The secondary tone gives color extra dimension.

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Ash Brown

Ash brown is the coolest (least warm) shade of brown hair color. These dyes have a heavy green base pigment to give the hair a color that is almost grayish in appearance and tone out excess warmth. The color tends to look boring and dull on the majority of people and is best used to neutralize harsh copper or red tones in hair that has just been lightened from black to brown.

Even though ash brown doesn't suit most people, there are exceptions. If you have a light complexion, pinkish skin, and blue eyes, you will be able to wear the color without looking drab. Anyone with a warm skin tone and eyes should avoid the shade entirely because the cold and warm contrast between your hair and skin will have you looking like an eyesore.

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Natural Brown

Natural shades are a neutral tone where coolness and warmth is fairly balanced. With that said, they are still on the cool side, so if you have warmer features, you won't look your best with a natural shade of brown hair color. These shades suit those with cool features best.

If you do want to get away with a natural shade yet have warm features, the best idea is to use a gold natural shade. This is a natural shade that is on the warmer side and will suit your features better due to the added gold tone. Think of it like a halfway point between natural and gold. You will be able to dye your hair this color and look good even if you have warmer skin.

it is not just natural shades that can be blended either. If you find you can almost pull off a color, a blended shade might tip the scale and give you a color that matches your features more accurately yet still appears true to your desired shade. For those with cooler skin wanting to wear golden browns, be on the look-out for natural gold shades. If golden shades bring out your eyes best but you wanted something redder, compromise by choosing a gold copper shade.

Matching Brown Hair Colors

Hair color
Skin type
Ash brown
Cool
Natural brown
Cool
Golden brown
Warm
Caramel
Warm
Auburn
Warm
Fashion reds
Cool/warm
Mahogany
Cool/warm
Burgundy
Cool/warm

Warm Browns

Warm brown hair colors range from golden brown to red-browns. These shades are built on gold, copper, and red tones to create an abundance of warmth that readily complements people with a warm skin tone and hazel or brown eyes.

When matching warm brown hair colors to your features, it is your eyes that will decide the best shade. A warm skin tone matches any warm shade of brown, but a golden brown will really accentuate hazel eyes and make them appear more vibrant. The idea here is that similar tones enhance each other, and the gold tones in your hair help bring out the gold tones in hazel eyes.

In this same sense, chocolate and caramel browns contain copper tones that will enhance brown eyes by bringing out the copper tones present within. Red browns are an exception because depending on how vibrant the red shade is, you may be able to pull it off even if you have cool skin and green eyes. Nothing makes green eyes stand out more than red hair, just don't go too extreme or the contrast will be overbearing.

Should you wish to dye your hair a bright shade of red brown, you also need to be aware that the level of maintenance is much higher than other brown hair colors. Cherry red and deep scarlet toned brown hair colors will fade rapidly, turning into lackluster shades of auburn. The best way to counter this fading is with color refresher shampoo or temporary rinses. These can be used between dyes to keep vibrant red hair looking its best.

Burgundy hair
Burgundy hair | Source

Mahogany and Burgundy Hair

Mahogany and burgundy are fashion shades and a little different to the rest of the brown hair colors you'll encounter. These shades are combinations of cool and warm that lead to a very vibrant and striking result. Mahogany is a combination of red and violet that sits closer to the red side of the fence, whilst burgundy tends to be more violet.

The violet tones of these colors mean that even though a mahogany shade of brown is mostly red, it can often suit someone regardless of whether they have warm or cool toned features. The easiest way to avoid making a mistake is to choose mahogany shades that are less red if you have cool skin, or less violet if you have warm skin. Burgundy shades lie further into the cool tone category and will look best on those with a cool skin tone and green or blue eyes.

If you apply a mahogany or burgundy dye that turns out too red or too violet for your skin tone, it's easy to correct that by applying more complimentary tone. You can do this with a semi-permanent color, temporary rinse, or color refresher shampoo. If the color looks too warm for your features, add soft violet tones to cool it down. Vice versa, if it's too cool, you can add red tones to heat it up a little.

As with other fashion shades, mahogany and burgundy hair require a higher level of maintenance to continue looking good and prevent color fading. You will need to use color refresher shampoo or temporary rinses to keep your hair vibrant. If you prefer brown hair colors that don't carry an intensive toning regime, it may be better to give that tube of burgundy hair dye a miss and swap it for a natural shade instead.

Brown Hair Dye Brands

The brand you choose when you dye your hair is paramount to your success, and the best brown hair colors are achieved through the use of quality dyes. To ensure that your color turns out great, every time you dye it, use salon dyes. These dyes are leagues ahead of the inferior box dyes you find in supermarkets and pharmacies.

There is no real secret to applying a salon dye. The only difference is that the color has to be mixed with developer in a tinting bowl instead of in a bottle. The quality of these dyes is much higher, the colors are more vibrant, and they won't fade rapidly like box dyes do. If you want salon results, you need to use salon dyes. Brands like Indola, De Lorenzo, and Matrix will give you shades of brown hair color that really turn heads your way.

Do you have a question about brown hair colors? Struggling to choose a color that will suit your features? Leave a comment for tailored advice and share your insight with other readers

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      Mariza 5 weeks ago

      Hi,I'm having issues with my hair...I have red pigment and tired of seeing my hair orangie-copper-red when i lighten my hair...I used Hi-lift blonde cuz my natural hair color is dark brown..so i'm trying to get it like a med.or light brown with blonde highlights..I don't know if its my hormones or just getting older,but i cant get the color that I want...I'm thinking maybe mixing two different colors to avoid the red/orangie color with 30 vol. but not sure...Please help,my hair is looking scary

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      Christine 2 months ago

      I use 6.00 permanent hair colour & find it too dark. What can I add to colour to make it a little lighter

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      Michelle F. 3 months ago

      I recently lost my job and I'm going to try to dye my hair myself. I understand using a professional/salon dye is better and that's fine. My question is I want a warm brown color but my hair tends to pull red how do I know what color to get

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      Hannah 4 months ago

      Hi my natural hair color is auburn chestnut hair and my eyes are the same color as my hair. What highlights would look good in my hair

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      moo72 4 months ago

      My natural color is light brown. I had blonde highlights and when there was 10 weeks of growth I it colored to match my roots with light balayage highlights. So I have dark brown roots with a very cooper tone and ash brown ends. I love the ash brown but hate the cooper. What do you think would be the best way to get rid of the cooper? I've tried purple shampoo as well as the Frieda cool burnette color glaze.

      Thanks so much for any suggestions!!

      -Michelle

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      Susan 5 months ago

      Hello,

      Using Matrix Socolor can I mix 1/4 4A and 3/4 5N? Is this a safe combination?

      Thanks!

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      Shirley 5 months ago

      My hair is light golden brown,

      I have a cool skin tone,

      can i use medium ash brown.

    • Maffew James profile image
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      Maffew James 6 months ago

      Hi Maria,

      I'd recommend using light natural brown (5N) if you're unsure how dark you want it. This is the lightest shade of brown, so it's less likely to turn those highlights too dark if they are porous and start to grab onto the pigment. As the highlights are close to grey, and thus very light though, you'll get a better result if you apply a copper or red protein filler to those areas prior to dyeing. Just like how hair that is lightened starts to look red, then orange, yellow, and then close to white, you need to add that base pigment back in when going darker for the new dye to take properly.

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      maria 6 months ago

      i have high lights in my hair that look close to gray and i want to get rid of it and go to my natural brown but not dark that it looks black what color should i get in the brown family?

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      Nayab rehman 9 months ago

      Hi.

      I have dark brown hairs with warm skin type. I want highlights. Can i get what is actually caramel color? Or will it be ok with my dark brown hairs??

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      anna 12 months ago

      I like my hair chocolate Brown. Would 5n 6n mixed with a20 volume achieved that?

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      Jane 12 months ago

      Hi i ad been dying my hair for fewyears brown but turned out more black so i went to a salon who bleach bathed it to go lighter To natursl brown they applied mixing a 6.1 & 7.1 ash but i am noticing lots red undertones especislly in light & in sun which i dont like what can i do by myself now to get rid of the red and for it to look a natural brown. As i dont want to go back to salon . Thankyou

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      Zoke Mellor 13 months ago

      I love the natural hair dye from The Henna Guys. It gave me a dramatic fabulous changed look with my hair so sleek and shiny. Though the color was dark than expected but I liked that too. After a couple of weeks, the color lightened but doesn’t appear as it is faded away and it felt like I have a new look with the lighter shade of the same color. I have recommended this hair dye from http://www.thehennaguys.com/ to so many people as it is very safe to use. I had left it for six hours even and my scalp was safe and easy. Waiting for your more colors!

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      Lil 13 months ago

      I was a natural brunette with a few red lights, now I'm 43 I have to get my roots re done every 3 weeks at a salon. After my holiday my brown hair has lighter ends from the sun, the grey is getting two obvious so I am thinking its time to go blonde. How am I best achieving this?

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      Paula 14 months ago

      I am wanting to lift my medium brown hair about 2 shades to a light golden brown can you tell me what should use? I have not colored my hair in the last 3 years.

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      Steph G 16 months ago

      Dear Maffew

      I have bleached yellow orange highlights in my hair and 1 cm of grey roots.

      I would like to have a nice light brown or a nice shade of medium blonde.

      I don't want a dark hair colour as I look too gaunt.

      How can I achieve this and what do I do .

      I would appreciate your help.

      Thank you so much.

      Steph.

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      Precious 17 months ago

      I have pale skin in the winter and in the summer, I get a slight tan. I have hazel eyes and they tend to change colors at times. My natural hair color is dark brown with bits of red. I was born a red head, as I got older, my hair color changed. I have colored my hair with bronze and blonde box color and the results are orange hair with blonde in it. I want to go with a brown color. I bought a medium copper brown by one n only argan oil hair color line. I want to make sure this will work on my hair color that I currently have.

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      Lorena 17 months ago

      Thanks for an awsome hair helping article.

      I have dark hair that has had brazilian done. I normally use 6n with 5n matrix demi with 10 activator. I would like a lighter maybe more cinnamon to brownish color. Any recommendations? And what color activator would i need? TIA

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      Brenda 19 months ago

      I have had my hair black for the last 10 years and decided that I wanted to go lighter. My natural complexion is more on the cool side but I use a an all over bronzer daily as I dont like looking like a vampire. I have very dark brown eyes almost look black. I am having alot of difficulty picking out which shade of brown would suit me best? So far every one I have tried makes me look washed out and just doesnt suit me....help please!!

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      Christal 20 months ago

      My hair is a dark red mahagany brown I love the color . I have olive skin and hazel eyes . I just want to go to a caramel brown would that be to hard? I just want something with less maintenance. I am a natural brunette.

    • Maffew James profile image
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      Maffew James 21 months ago

      Hi Beewee,

      Apologies for the late reply. A natural or golden tone should be fine. You don't want to go for anything to cool or too red in this circumstance. Very ashy shades are a problem because your hair is such a cool tone that any warmth in your skin tone becomes more prominent, whereas red shades can be a problem because red in your hair will bring out red in your skin.

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      Maffew James 21 months ago

      Hi Malissa,

      Apologies for the late reply. The best route here is to fill using a demi-permanent dye 1 - 2 levels lighter than your desired brown colour to pre-pigment your hair so that the brown dye will take properly. Otherwise the colour can end up weird and the dye fades rapidly.

      If you've noticed how your hair goes from brown, to orange, and then to yellow when it was bleached to dye blonde, you're basically doing this in reverse to get it back to brown. All that warm pigment you see lifting out during bleaching is the foundation of your brown colour, without which it wouldn't have the depth and richness it needs to look brown.

      To make things easier, match up the brown you want, with the demi-permanent dye to use as follows:

      Light brown (level 5) - Use demi-permanent medium blonde in a copper tone (7C)

      Medium brown (level 4) - Use demi-permanent dark blonde in a copper-red or red tone (6CR, 6RC, or 6R)

      Dark brown (level 3) - Use red protein filler OR demi-permanent light brown in a red tone (5R)

      To apply the dyes, put the correct demi-permanent through your hair first, process, and then rinse that. You can apply the permanent brown dye after this or wait a few days if you prefer.

      If you're using red protein filler, which works well for a dark brown result, this is applied, left for 20 minutes and then the brown dye is applied right on top of the protein filler and processed as normal. You can use a protein filler like this for lighter brown shades too, but you need to be more careful because some of them can be fairly intense and this red tone can then show through to the brown colour and make it look warmer than desired.

      As for the choice of brown dye for the final colour, this should be permanent, at the level you want (Light brown, medium brown, or dark brown). If you want a fairly neutral brown result, use a natural brown tone. If you want it to be on the ashy side, mix natural and ash brown together (Don't use the ash brown by itself though because it won't cover as effectively). Vice versa, mix a little chocolate or golden brown into the natural for a warmer result.

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      Beewee 21 months ago

      Hi there!

      I am cool skinned, green eyes with pink or red undertones. My hair is naturally dirty blonde or light mousy brown. The pics of me as a kid however are a dark golden blonde or light golden brown. However i hear that golden tones may enhance redness in face? I want to minimise redness in the face as much as possible while still having a hair colour that is brunette and not dull! Any red shade brown will probably bring our more red in my face! Is medium golden brown or medium natural brown good for me?

    • Maffew James profile image
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      Maffew James 21 months ago

      Hi Michele,

      Apologies for the late reply. For a light brown result, you're better using a copper filler as opposed to red. Both will work, but the copper gives a better result for light brown because this is the base tone that's normally present underneath a light brown shade.

      As for the shade used on top of the filler, I'd recommend using light natural brown because that on top of the filler should get you close to what you want. If you use a warmer shade, this won't cover as well and can end up too warm on top of the filler, so the natural by itself is better for the chocolate result. You can mix the natural with an ash or chocolate shade to modify how it turns out if necessary to get the exact colour you want, but for this you're best applying a strand test with the natural shade first and then mixing it once you know how it will react.

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      Malissa 21 months ago

      My hair is bleach blonde and I want to go back to brown due to the fact it's high maintenance and money has became a problem. I want to do it myself at home it still

      Has some pink tint to it. Please help.

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      Michele 21 months ago

      Hi i need to fill with red blond on my colored blond hair i want a light milk chocolate brown what should i use thank you

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      Stellacakes 22 months ago

      Hi! I also have a similar same case as Sharon up there because I have black hair and want to dye it brown. However, do you think you could link me to 2 different images of how hair will turn out using 40 volume developer + socolor6m v.s. 40 volume developer + socolor5m? Thanks.

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      Maffew James 22 months ago

      Hi Sharon,

      If you want it closer to a medium brown, SoColor 5M should be used. If you mix it as 75% 5M and 25% 5A, that will give the best results because that small amount of ash will help cut down excessive warmth without leading to a cool result. This is important when lightening hair because the warm underlying pigment is going to be revealed as it lifts.

      As for the developer, this is responsible for the chemical reaction that makes permanent dye permanent, as well as the lightening of your natural pigment that occurs when you use permanent dye. If you're familiar with box dyes, you'll know the developer as the liquid that's supplied in the shake bottle. This is pre-selected and measured. With the Matrix SoColor, you'll need to measure and add this yourself. Without it the dye won't work properly.

      As for the strength, the 40 vol will maximise lift so that you can more reliably get at least 3 levels of lift. Lightening from black hair is never completely simple though, so unfortunately you can never be fully sure it will lift that far. If your scalp is sensitive, use 30 vol developer instead. Anything weaker won't lift enough. For future reference if you ever need it, the different volumes of developer commonly used are 10, 20, 30, and 40 vol: 10 is for tone-on-tone or darker colour where lift isn't necessary, 20 is for 1 - 2 levels of lift, 30 is for 2 - 3 levels of lift, and 40 vol gives 3, sometimes 4 levels of lift.

      Lastly, in regards to the amount you use, 3 ounces will give you 6 ounces of dye when the developer is mixed in. This is quite a lot of dye and you should be fine, but if you do want to get a second just in case, you can then use that to touch up regrowth once it starts to become noticeable if you don't end up using it.

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      sharonhanny 22 months ago

      Sorry last question! The matrix socolor 6m dye onlh comes in 3oz and i have quite long hair so do you think ill need 2? Thank you

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      sharonhanny 22 months ago

      Hazelnut/medium brown shade* i don't want it to be super light brown

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      sharonhanny 22 months ago

      Ah, what a relief I asked you before I dyed it haha. Thank you so much for your help!! However, what is the difference if I use 40 vol developer or not use developer at all and just the dye? Is it necessary to use developer when dyeing hair? Or are you suggesting it because it will help me get the hazelnut shade that i want?

      Lastly, if that is true, can i get any type of 40 vol developer or should i get it from a specific company?

    • Maffew James profile image
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      Maffew James 22 months ago

      Hi Sharon,

      Matrix SoColor mocha shades turn out a hazelnut sort of colour. Matrix SoColor 6M should look nice.

      Of course, it's going to be difficult to get black hair this light without bleaching first though. You may be able to push it as far as a level 5 using 40 vol as the developer, but the most reliable method is to pre-lighten first with bleach and then dye. Because your hair is so dark, you'll also need to mix ash into the shade you use or else it will end up very warm due to the underlying pigment that is revealed during lightening.

      As for the ash blonde dye, what will happen with that is that your hair will lighten about 2 levels, and then the ash pigment at level 7 isn't strong enough to neutralise the revealed warmth, leaving you with reddish orange hair.

      Let me know if you need any clarification or have any more questions.

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      sharonhanny 23 months ago

      Hello! I have virgin hair that is naturally black and it'd be great if i could get some advice on which color (dye number and product reference) to achieve a hazelnut shade. Not too light but a nice hazelnut brown shade. I don't want to bleach it so should i try the loreal paris 7.5 ash blonde color or will that not give me hazelnut? Please refer me to a product! Thank you so much for your time!

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      Maffew James 23 months ago

      Hi Natalie,

      Copper for medium brown, or red for dark brown. As it's only two levels darker to go from light brown to dark brown though, you should still see good results without filling if you use a natural tone. You can mix the desired tone into this to change the results. Eg, for an ashier result, mix a small amount of ash brown into the natural brown.

      You can also still use a clear protein filler prior to dyeing if you're not filling it with a base colour. It won't pre-pigment your hair, but it will help deal with porosity and give a more even result.

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      Natalie smirizti 23 months ago

      Hi there,

      I plan on going a darker brown to match my roots. At the moment, I've got about an inch of regrowth and my ends are a light brown.

      Do you recommend a red protein filler or a neutral protein filler before I put the hair dye? I was thinking of the protein fillers from the brand Colorful Professional.

      Thanks in advance!!

    • Maffew James profile image
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      Maffew James 23 months ago

      Hi Liz,

      With a light brown, the best idea is to use a copper protein filler when going this route. Demi is better overall though because it is based on level, meaning you can use a demi-permanent dye in a copper gold shade 1 - 2 levels lighter than light brown (Medium to dark blonde), and there is less chance the colour of the demi is going to show through too strongly in the final colour.

      To finish the dye after filling with the demi, apply a half/half mixture of light natural brown and the light brown tone you want; eg, half light natural brown and half light golden brown. This will give a richer result and prevent the gold or caramel tone from grabbing too much on your lighter hair. It just gives a more balanced colour overall.

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      Liz 23 months ago

      Hi my hair is a medium blonde with some brassiness towards the top. I want to go brown thinking light golden brown or caramel I have light skin with brown eyes. I was wondering which protein filler I should use red or warm brown or if I am better off using a Demi instead to fill? Thanks!

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      Maffew James 24 months ago

      Hi Jo,

      Best idea is to stay closer to the lightness of your skin. Depending on how pale your complexion is, a much darker colour increases the contrast between your hair and skin and will cause the redness to be more noticeable. Conversely, you'll get the same sort of effect from a colour that is too light. Anywhere from medium blonde to light brown should work best.

      As for the tone, a golden tone will work well because it still works with your warm skin tone but doesn't emphasise redness like red or auburn colours do. Caramel, honey, and beige shades should also work well.

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      Jo 24 months ago

      Hi there, I have a pale warm skin tone but I am prone to redness in my face and chest. I am struggling to work out which brown is best for me because a lot of the warm colours enhance the redness in my face. I have narrowed it down to a golden brown with caramel highlights. What do you think? When I was younger my hair was medium brown with natural auburn, reddish undertones. For years I have been choosing red and reddish highlights because I thought it was the best matche for my complexion but now I am learning that I may have been enhancing the redness. I would love your advice.

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Shina,

      You can use a demi-permanent dye instead of protein filler. I'd recommend no darker than dark copper blonde (6C) for this.

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      shina 2 years ago

      Hi there thanks for answering my question. But protein fillers are not available in my country, any other suggestions? ??

    • Maffew James profile image
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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Shina,

      Best route is to fill with a copper protein filler and then apply a mix of natural medium brown and golden medium brown on top of the filler. That will prevent any strange colour results.

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      shina 2 years ago

      Hi, I have bleached hair n I want to dye it medium golden brown so do I have to dye it red first in order to dye golden brown? Or I dye directly golden brown

    • Maffew James profile image
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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Marissa,

      Do you have any particular shade you want to reach? Also, by medium do you mean medium red brown, or medium red blonde (Similar in name, but a big difference in level - medium red brown is a level 4 and looks quite dark, whereas medium red blonde is a level 7 and is a bright intense red).

      Green-based ash will neutralise red tones, but you're going to end up at least one level darker in doing this before all the red tone is covered. If the colour you want is lighter, you'll need to lighten it first and then tone in order to get this result. Let me know what sort of colour you want to achieve and I'll give you more specific information.

      Also, in the mean time you may like to read my article on this sort of correction here: https://bellatory.com/hair/How-to-remove-red-hair-...

      Specifically, the comments section contains many similar scenarios to give you an idea of what is involved in reaching different colours and getting rid of the red.

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      Marissa 2 years ago

      I recently dyed my hair a medium red, but I dislike it. How can i remove the red dye? Do ash tones neutralize it? Which brands and what ash color would I buy that has green ?

    • Maffew James profile image
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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Sam, I'm glad you like the articles.

      You'll need to use two different colours to tone the ombre.

      As you know, ash shades add cool tone in to counteract warmth. The trace of orange tone remaining in the brown colour occurs because there wasn't enough cool tone present in the brown dye. You can correct this by using a semi-permanent or demi-permanent ash shade of dye. I'd recommend using a dye that is 2 levels lighter than your brown hair because you're aiming for a warmer shade of brown and only need slight toning. Alternatively, if you take the honey brown dye you used previously and mix about 1/4 of the equivalent ash shade, this could also be used for toning. Whatever you do use, keep it on the ombre only as it can darken the blonde or even turn it grey or blue if the ash is a lot darker than your blonde hair.

      To tone the blonde, there's a few different things you could do. You could tone using a semi-permanent mousse like Igora's Expert Mousse in 9,5-1 or 8-1, or Goldwell Soft Colour 10V; you could use a light ash or pearl shade of blonde dye in semi, demi, or permanent; or you may even get sufficient toning using a violet shampoo like Fudge Violet. A lot of the stronger toning shampoos are all that is needed to eliminate yellow tones these days.

      It all depends on what you prefer. If you use a mousse or shampoo, whilst the colour washes out after a few washes, the product is quick and easy to use. A dye on the other hand will last longer, but you need to take the time to apply it and allow it to process. It will also gradually fade even if permanent.

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      Sam 2 years ago

      Hi

      I love this site! Dilemma here though....

      I had chesnutty brown hair with orange undertones. I used an ash colour restore to try to remove the orange and I then did an ombre. Left the ends on longer so they went a yellowy blonde and higher up went an orangey blonde. Used the ash restorer again and a week later dyed my roots a honey brown and mixed it down the to the orange.

      I now have like a caramel ombre slight hint of orange but the blonde is straw like in colour.

      I want to get my top half a more natural brown and the blonde a softer colour and not yellow. Is there anything you could suggest?

    • Maffew James profile image
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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Tasha,

      A natural tone is a slightly cool neutral and this is usually a safe bet if you have a cool toned and far complexion. It will also work with your eyes. As your skin is lighter, you'll tend to suit a lighter shade of brown better than a darker shade, so perhaps a light natural brown. You can always tone it afterwards to change the look if necessary by using ash to cool it down or gold to warm it up until you find the exact shade that suits you best.

      This is my article on dyeing blonde hair to brown: https://bellatory.com/hair/How-to-dye-blonde-hair-...

      Feel free to read that and let me know if you have any further questions about how to achieve your brown colour.

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      Tasha 2 years ago

      Hi, great article lots of information I was not aware of. Currently I am a bleached blonde have been for about 3 years and wanting a dramatic change to brunette.. I'm unsure what colour would suit me as I have fair complexion blue eyes, would like to go dark? Thankyou for your help

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Maria,

      It'd be better to try a light ash brown then. Otherwise those lighter sections could turn out too ashy.

      Otherwise, mix together medium natural brown and medium ash brown in equal amounts. This will darken the lighter hair without turning it too ashy but will still effectively tone out red.

      As for the developer, use 10 vol as you don't need lightening. Cool toned dyes that are medium or dark brown will normally always contain green tone to cancel red at that level, so you don't need to go to extra effort to find a specific brand.

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      maria 2 years ago

      Thanks for the reply. Majority of my hair looks dark brown, but there are sections that look light/medium brown. Should I color it medium ash brown all around? I should use a green base, correct? What level of developer should I use? Thanks!

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Maria,

      If you use an ash tone, one level lighter than your hair currently is, that will cancel out the red.

      Ie, if your hair is medium brown, use a light ash brown. If your hair is dark brown, use a medium ash brown. Let me know if you can't figure out what level your hair is and I'll help you with that.

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      maria 2 years ago

      I have a lot of red and I want it gone. I don't have enough money to go to the salon and have thid fixed. What can I do to cancel the red? My ideal color would be dark without any red undertones. thanks!

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      maria 2 years ago

      Hi, I really enjoyed your article. I have a problem with my hair. I had a light brown and wanted to color it darker, which is closer to an ash brown with some gold undertones. I colored it chocolate brown thinking it would be close to my ideal color. Wrong!

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      So you'd say most of the colour has grown out and any remaining colour has significantly faded? It should lighten fine then. It's when you try to lighten over a previous dark dye that you run into problems. The dye lightens natural pigment but has almost no effect on artificial colour so any lightening isn't visible because of this.

      Worst case scenario is that it won't lighten enough, but that just means you'll be left slightly darker than what you want. You can always feel free to come back and ask for help if you do run into problems but I think you'll be fine. Good luck with your colour!

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      samantha again 2 years ago

      Its been a few years since i last colored it. I honestly can't tell i want to say that the color is towards the end of my hair because it's a little lighter

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Samantha,

      Is your hair currently dyed or is it natural? Dyed hair won't usually lighten with another dye if darker colours have been applied, so it may not even lighten if this is the case.

      On the matter of whether the colour will suit you though, a warm colour like golden brown generally suits anyone with warmer skin like yourself. As for the lightness, if the light brown you had a few years ago worked well with your complexion, there's a good chance it still will. Even a light brown can often suit those with darker skin; it's when you get into the blonde shades where it can start to look a bit odd. Same sort of scenario in reverse with black hair and paler skin. It's the sharper contrast that makes it look unmatched.

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      samantha 2 years ago

      I need help. My hair is currently dark brown with some hints of natural reddness. I dyed my hair light brown a few years ago and loved it. I have a warm skintone. My skin is olivey but my face is lighter, always has been. I just purchased some box dye revlon golden brown. Do you think it will be too light??

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Kris,

      A natural brown or ash brown is the best if you have a cooler skin tone. If you want a red though, I would suggest shades that have a cool element to them, like mahogany, which also has violet tones to offset some of the warmth of the red.

      Paler skin also generally suits lighter colours better, and you'd probably be best staying closer to a light brown rather than a darker shade, but this also depends on your other features and a dark colour can still look good.

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      KrisK 2 years ago

      Hi! Thanks for your article. I have cooler toned paler skin with some freckles and light green eyes. My natural hair color is a medium brown. What is the best brown for me? Brown red? I'm looking for low maintenance after having highlights all summer. I would like to go back to my natural and have just now colored my hair a raspberry med. brown. What's best for me? Thank you!

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      No problem. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask. Good luck with the colour!

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      Jewels 2 years ago

      Thank you so much for the fast response! The guidance is greatly appreciated! :)

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Jewels,

      Your roots lightened up because they're virgin hair and there's more warmth closer to the scalp. The natural shade didn't correct this because you need ash to correct red. A natural is slightly cool, but it doesn't have enough cool tone to correct excess warmth. Use natural shades to darken hair, mainly. If your hair is too warm an ash should be used. If it's too cool, that's when you use a gold, copper, or red. Natural shades are also the absolute best for grey coverage.

      To correct it, dye the roots with light ash brown. You don't have to leave it in for the full development time. Remove it when it's ashy enough for your liking.

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      Jewels 2 years ago

      My hair color is naturally a dark ashy blonde to light brown. I have coll undertones. I normally dye it a Demi permanent natural brown. Well I switched it up attempting to Goode of my natural ash light brown this time and it stripped my roots out to this very light color with a red hue. I had some light natural brown at home, so I redyed it with a developer 10. It looks much better, but to dark and still with a red hue especially at the roots. How can I counteract this? Should I cover with a light ash brown or a dark ash blonde? I truly would like a light ash brown, closest to my natural color. I will only be using a developer 10.

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Liz, I'm glad you enjoy my articles, and thanks for the interesting question,

      It sounds like your hairdresser applied a green based ash. The problem with this is that the colour used wasn't a strong enough ash to neutralise the warmth of your non-highlighted hair, but it was far too strong to be used on your blonde highlights. Hence your non-highlighted hair is too warm, and your blonde hair is too cool now. This is a common occurrence when ash brown dyes are applied to blonde hair in fact, and is the reason behind the fear that blonde hair will turn green when dyed brown; because if dyed with an ash, they will. Any other shade, and you're usually fine.

      The best way to approach this is to just remove the excess ash by applying a bleach bath for around 10 minutes or so, primarily to the ash lengths. This will strip out the excess ash and leave you with a warmer colour all over. What you do next is based on how your hair looks once the bleach bath is removed, and there are two possible outcomes:

      1. If your hair is the same darkness all over, finish up by applying a blue based ash to neutralise the excess warmth. I would highly recommend Iso I.Color's soft ash shades. These use a mild blue-violet base, so they won't turn your hair green like stronger green based ash shades. Use 5SA for that nice silvery light brown colour, or 6SA for more of a neutral tone.

      2. If your highlights look lighter, even though they were dyed, you don't want to use the above method. Doing so will lead to the highlights turning grey because the ash is too dark. In this case, apply a 5N, light natural brown shade, only to the highlights, and allow this to develop. Once the highlights have begun to darken, apply 5SA to the non-highlighted hair. When the non-highlighted hair begins to tone and shifts from orange towards a natural tone that is similar to the dye in your highlighted hair, blend the ash through all over and allow it to reach your desired shade.

      I hope this doesn't sound too complicated. It's easier than it sounds, I assure you. If you need any clarification with the process, or have further questions, ask away and I'll answer as soon as possible.

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      Liz 2 years ago

      Hi, love this site! Would appreciate any advice you can share. My hair is naturally light brown but I have had blonde highlighs for ages. My highlights grew out about half a head. I asked my hairdresser to dye my hair close to my natural light brown colour. I ended up with very warm orangey tones in the top and ashy green tones where my highlights were. How can I fix this? I am scared to use a golden brown as this will add warmth to the top which doesn't suit me and if use an ash colour it won't help my greenish ash ends which is about 3/4 of my hair? Any advice? Don't want to go back to my hairdresser after this. Thank You!

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Sima,

      Light brown is one shade darker than dark blonde. Light brown is a 5. Dark blonde is a 6. This scale is called the level, and hair colour levels range from 1, which is black, to 10, which is lightest blonde. A cool toned 10 is a silvery white shade.

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      sima 2 years ago

      Is there any difference between light brown shades and dark blonds?

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