Looking for the best dark hair colors? You’re not alone. Dark hair is definitely having a moment, and it seems like even the most devout blondes have taken a turn for the dark side, opting for bright reds and coppers, dark browns and brunettes, and even jet-blacks.
As for how to find the best dark hair color shade for you? That’s where the pros come in.
How to find the best dark hair colors for your skin tone
“Pay attention to what other tones you tend to gravitate toward in makeup and wardrobe,” says Madison Reed master colorist Shvonne Perkins. “If you find that you like yourself in neutrals, black, gray, and cooler tones, you’ll likely feel best in [similarly cool] shades. If you like bolder colors, and tend to wear rosier cheeks and a pinker lip, you’ll often find that golden, champagne, and warm tones bring the best out of your skin.”
Another option? Determine your skin tone and undertone. “Identify whether you have a warm, cool, or neutral undertone,” says says Nicole Ann Hardy, a colorist at New York City’s Mahogany Grace Salon. “Warm undertones typically have hints of yellow, peach, or golden tones, while cool undertones have hints of pink, blue, or red tones. Neutral undertones have a balance of warm and cool tones.”
You’ll also want to consider contrast with your skin, Hardy continues. “Look for a hair color that creates a pleasing contrast with your skin tone,” she says. “If you have a warm undertone, rich shades like deep chocolate brown or warm chestnut can complement your complexion. For cool undertones, shades like espresso or blue-black can create a striking contrast. Neutral undertones can generally pull off a wide range of dark hair colors.”
How to maintain dark hair colors
“When considering dark hair colors, it’s important to keep in mind that maintenance may be required to keep the color looking its best,” Hardy points out. “Regular touch-ups and the use of color-safe hair care products can help maintain the vibrancy and longevity of the color.”
Another essential tip? Be sure to deep-condition regularly and schedule regular trims. “Deep-conditioning treatments help nourish and hydrate your hair, keeping it healthy and vibrant,” Hardy says. “Look for products that are specifically formulated for color-treated hair to provide extra protection and moisture.”
Perkins concurs, pointing to products like Madison Reed Color Reviving Gloss and Madison Reed Color Therapy Masks as easy at-home fixes for fading hair. “They not only put tone back into the hair when it starts to fade or lose shine from coloring, but prevent that fading from happening in the first place,” she says.
Now all you need is inspiration. Ahead, see experts’ top 21 dark hair colors, and get ready to screenshot.
Dark Chocolate Brunette
Dark chocolate brunette is a classic, according to Perkins, who asserts that it looks good on everyone too. “It delivers an instant sophistication and edge, and welcomes in cooler brown tones for an allover rich brunette shade that adds depth and dimension to your look,” Perkins continues. “It’s a complex combination of tones. So to bring this out, a simple gloss or toner will do the trick, while a few accent highlights in a medium brunette will help bring this shade to life.” Perkins’s go-to reference for the shade? None other than America Ferrera.
Possibly the most well known of all the dark hair colors, “jet-black is a deep, intense black shade that can create a striking and dramatic appearance,” says Hardy. “It can be a bold choice that adds a touch of sophistication to your overall look. However, it’s important to note that jet-black hair can require regular maintenance to keep the color looking vibrant and to prevent any potential fading.”
While striking, hair color and extension specialist Kevin Kelly rarely dyes clients’ hair jet-black and other one-tone colors, noting that they can have “absolutely no dimension.” His solution? “I have most of my clients go more toward a deep brunette, or as I like to call ‘expensive brunette,’ where you’re still overall dark with very subtle brown dimension,” he says.
“A smoky, natural brunette is a great option for brunettes looking to cool down their tone,” says Perkins, pointing to Jenna Ortega’s color as a prime example of the shade. “It’s a brunette that’s warmed up past the stage of a little bit golden and has hints of copper and mahogany; a mix of violet and red.” Because this shade keeps redness to a minimum, be sure to ask your colorist for a brunette that leans “as ash as possible” for your brunette level, according to the colorist.
Hardy points to deep brunette as another less severe alternative to jet-black, as it offers a dark brown shade that adds depth and richness to your hair. “It provides a more subtle and natural look compared to jet black, while still offering a dark and alluring appearance,” she says. “Deep brunette shades can be versatile and complement a variety of skin tones.”
If your hair is naturally dark but you want to dabble in red hair color, chocolate cherry is the perfect way to combine the two. “It’s an alternative to auburn but still in the warm, reddish family,” says Jason Lee, hairstylist, colorist, and founder of hair care maker Mela & Kera, defining the shade as adding a red wine undertone throughout brunette, which can also be accomplished through red highlights or balayage. “For those of us who aren’t ready to take the full plunge into red, chocolate cherry seems to be a great way to update your look and make it modern but still live in the brunette world,” he says.
Cool, smoky shades of espresso browns are having a moment, and with good reason. “This smoky, natural brunette is a great option for brunettes looking to cool down their tone and is reminiscent of the mushroom brunette trend but with a fresh splash of sandy tones,” Perkins says.
What really sets brownie-batter brunette from other brown hair colors is its show-stopping dimension, along with how low-maintenance it is despite looking so luxe. “This hair color trend has a soft blonde money piece and a few highlights around the face,” says celebrity hairstylist Jennifer Korab, who coined the shade name. “It can also have some softer blonde pieces throughout the hair while still maintaining mostly the rich brunette look.”
This year’s biggest red-hair color trend? Not pumpkin spice red, but cowboy copper. It’s pretty much the next iteration of last year’s copper craze, now leaning more into golden auburn territory than its highly pigmented predecessors. “This hair color shifts the bold copper shade we’ve been seeing everywhere to a more muted copper,” says Perkins. “Think apple cider. It’s a mix of a warm, light auburn hue with subtle hints of gold and copper.”
“Dark brown is timeless, rich, and work well with various skin tones,” says Korab. “It provides striking, bold contrast, making it a classic too.” Plus, it always looks very natural.
Add some extra to shine to your natural black hair color with a gloss. “Color Me Gloss by Kevin Murphy is an exceptional product that not only repairs and strengthens your hair but also enhances its lustrous appearance,” says Kate Reid, design director at Kevin Murphy. With its thickening and intensified shine properties, it’s one of the best products for black hair color available on the market.
Dark hair colors don’t have to be boring; just look to aubergine black for proof. “This is a deep black shade with violet tones that gives a lot of richness and shine. It veers away from mahogany red and into a blue violet reflection, which adds dimension and drama,” says Perkins. To get the look, she suggests asking for a very dark brunette to black shade, depending on desired level of intensity. “The key is having the violet within the base shade, which is different than an ombré of black to violet,” she says. “In this shade, the deep eggplant violet tones are within the shade itself.”
Love your natural hair color? Perfect timing: “More natural color is still in, meaning people are avoiding overprocessing,” says Jaclyn Curti, hair colorist and extensions specialist at Eva Scrivo Salon in New York. “Think Olivia Rodrigo’s rich chocolate brown with subtle amber brown highlights toward the bottom.” This look also works well for ashy brown colors.
For a more quiet-luxury-inspired take on brownie-batter brunette, Nicole Lucero, a colorist at NYC’s Mahogany Grace Salon recommends dyeing your hair a rich chocolate brown with reddish undertones and opting for lowlights instead of blonde highlights. “This look is achieved by adding lowlights to the hair in shades of caramel or burgundy,” she says. “It is a great way to achieve a natural-looking hair color that is also striking and bold.”
“This rich black with extra shine, as if to look reflective, is trending after Wednesday,” says Lorena M. Valdes, colorist at Chicago’s Maxine Salon. “For this look, ask your colorist for an allover hair dye from roots to ends. Malibu C [hard water] treatments are great to remove any buildup that helps dull and greasy hair.”
Medium-brown hair lovers might want to consider golden chestnut hair. “Chestnut hair is a beautiful shade that ranges from deep reddish brown to light golden brown,” says Lucero. “It’s a very versatile color that suits many skin tones and can be both warm and cool in tone.” The look has become increasingly popular in recent years, with celebrities like Camila Morrone, Emma Watson, and Zoey Deutch sporting the shade. “It is a low-maintenance hair color that requires minimal touch-ups,” she says. That’s always a win.
Another dark take on red hair? Black cherry. “It’s an alternative to auburn but still in the warm, reddish family,” says Lee, who defines the shade as adding a red wine undertone throughout brunette, which can also be accomplished through red highlights or balayage.
One of 2023’s biggest brunette hair trends is candlelit brunette. Korab describes it as a “warm and radiant brown hair color that’s achieved by adding subtle highlights and lowlights to a brown base; the overall effect is meant to mimic the soft, flickering glow of candlelight.” This way, you get the best of both worlds: an overall dark hair color with a few brightening pieces around your face.
Lauren Mildice, hair colorist at Chicago’s Maxine Salon, points to pumpkin spice “bropper,” which is a brown-copper color blend, as a trending dark hair color to watch. “This is a great option for the cozy months when you feel the urge to richen your color but do not want a dramatic change,” she says. “Everyone can embrace hair color warmth, especially when cozying up to a nice warm fire. Since copper and deep brunette color is in high demand during the colder months; combining the two just makes sense.”
“Rich brunette is a hair color trend we are seeing for 2023,” says Korab, pointing to Meghan Markle’s hair as a prime example of the shade. “It’s great to add dimension or depth to richen up brunettes. This hair color trend looks great on most skin tones and will never go out of style. It’s a great color to try if you already have brunette hair and just want to enhance it.”
Chase Kusero, cofounder of IGK Hair and a celebrity stylist, created this effortless shade for Camila Cabello. “It’s a lived-in, effortless black, where the ends wash out to a slightly warmer lighter tone of black,” he says.
Originally published in Glamour.com