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Colors to Dye Brown Hair

Colors to Dye Brown Hair

Freshening up your look is something that many of us consider every so often, and dyeing your hair is typically the most popular way to add something new to your style.

If you have brown hair or another darker hair shade, you may be wondering what the best colors to dye brown hair are. In most cases, this means not using bleach, as bleaching brown hair is often an intensive process best completed at the salon with professional equipment.

Our guide tells you about the best colors to dye brown hair without bleach, how to choose the best hair color for your skin tone, and answers some important FAQs about brown hair.

Can You Dye Brown Hair Without Bleach?

It is possible to dye brown hair without bleach, but you should keep in mind that you won’t be able to greatly lighten brown hair without some form of bleaching process. If you want your brown hair to be a bright blonde or pastel color, bleach will be a necessary part of the process. However, if you are looking to dye your brown hair without bleach, this is possible.

Dyeing brown hair without bleach is possible, but you need to be realistic about the colors you can achieve without bleach. Depending on your natural brown hair color, colors may show up more strongly on your hair, or they take on more of a highlight quality. In general, darker brown hair won’t show colors as strongly as medium brown and light brown colors.

Should You Dye Brown Hair Darker or Lighter?

Whether or not you dye your brown hair darker or lighter depends on what look you are trying to achieve. If you don’t mind committing to the bleaching process and your hair is fairly healthy, you can try dyeing your hair a bright color or going blonde with the help of bleach.

If you want to avoid using bleach, you can dye your hair darker or change the tone of the brown in your hair with the help of dyes in a different brown color or fashion color dyes.

Keep in mind that if you have a lighter brown hair color, you should only go one or two shades darker at first. This will ensure your dyed hair looks as natural as possible and suits your complexion.

However, if you really want to try a different color that is much darker, don’t be afraid of a new unique style. These recommendations are guidelines, but you don’t have to adhere to them if you are really interested in coloring your brown hair a certain way.

For more information about specific shades of brown you might be able to dye your hair, you can look at this brown hair color chart for inspiration.

Best Colors to Dye Brown Hair

The following colors are some of the best colors to dye brown hair without bleaching, as they easily show up on light brown hair or create a unique tone and highlight on darker brown colors. They are also not too bright, as very bright colors are unlikely to adhere to brown hair without bleaching, making the dyeing process less than effective.


Brown hair colors typically have a lot of red undertones in them, which makes dyeing your hair red an easy option. Depending on how dark your natural hair color is, you may be able to go with a deep wine red or a more subtle chocolate-cherry red.


Auburn is a fun color for brown hair, as it also complements the natural undertones in brown hair. Using an auburn dye may bring out more of the orange and copper colors in your hair, and it can often make brown hair seem brighter with more depth.

Dark Brown

If your natural hair color is light brown, dyeing it a few shades darker could be an easy way to change your style. Utilize a dark brown dye that complements your skin tone and consider one with undertones of red or orange to fully bring out the depth of your brown hair.


Going from brown to black might be a striking change depending on how bright your hair is naturally, but it can be a fun shift for many individuals. When choosing a black hair dye, consider mixing it with red, brown, orange, or even blue dye to create a black color with more depth and variation.


Blue hair dye often shows up on brown hair, especially lighter brown colors. You can use shades of blue such as navy or royal blue to create a striking look. Keep in mind that bright blues and pastel blues will likely be hard to use on brown hair without bleach.


Similar to blue, many green tones also show up on brown hair. You can add green hair dye to light brown hair to make an all-over change or add it to dark brown hair for a subtle highlight and splash of shiny color.


Dark purple colors are a good choice for brown hair, and they tend to show up easily on most brown hair shades. When using purple on brown hair, be sure to choose a dye known for having a lot of color payoff so that it shows up as much as possible on your locks.

How to Choose a Hair Color for Your Skin Tone

woman with long shiny brunette hair

As you consider which hair color to dye your brown hair, you might want to think about which colors work best with your skin tone. There are so many different hair colors and undertones available today, and having a good idea of what complements your skin helps you with the process of narrowing down your options.

  1. Look at the shade of your skin to see which colors might complement it. More golden skin tones look best with dark browns and ivory blondes, while pale skin looks best with coppery colors.
  2. Look at the color of your veins to determine your skin’s undertone. Purple-blue is cool, green is warm, and a mix of both is neutral. Knowing these help you determine undertones in color that look best on you.
  3. Look at the color of your eyes. This will help you figure out your skin’s undertone and other colors that may complement your appearance.

Once you have figured out your skin shade and undertone, you can consult a color wheel. The color that will look best on your skin is one that sits across from your skin shade on the color wheel. You may also be able to select from related colors to find a unique combination that highlights your skin.

For more information on finding a hair color by skin tone, utilize this instructional article.

FAQs About Dyeing Brown Hair

Dyeing your brown hair is often confusing and raises many questions. Review our answers to frequently asked questions about this process to learn more.

Can I Dye My Brown Hair at Home?

Yes, it is possible to dye your brown hair at home. Make sure that if you are undertaking the effort of dyeing your brown hair at home you understand the steps involved and have all of the necessary products assembled before you start this process. You don’t want to run out of hair dye halfway through and end up with a mess while you run out to the store to grab more.

When dyeing your hair at home, you should also make an effort to wear clothing you don’t mind staining. Remove or cover important items you don’t want to get hair dye on to prevent serious messes from occurring.

Should I Bleach My Brown Hair?

The decision to bleach your brown hair is a personal one. Some individuals may not want to risk damaging their hair, or their hair isn’t healthy enough to consider bleach. However, if you have healthier hair and you want to achieve a blonde color, bright colors, or a pastel color, then bleaching might be a necessary part of the process.

We recommend visiting a salon to get any bleaching completed, as this process is often intensive with darker hair colors and might be difficult to achieve at home.

How Do I Get Dye to Show Up on Dark Hair?

Getting hair dye to show up on dark hair might be a little bit of a challenge, as dark brown hair tends not to show colors as vibrantly as light brown.

If you don’t want to bleach your dark brown hair, choose a hair dye with lots of color payoff, and be sure to leave it on your hair for the full processing time. This will help you get the maximum color saturation possible.

When adding dye to dark brown hair, keep in mind that your results will probably look more like highlights or a change in the tone of your hair, rather than a color transformation.

Can I Get Highlights on Brown Hair Without Bleach?

It might be possible to get highlights in your brown hair without bleach using demi-permanent colors and strategic hair dyeing.

This process can be complex, however. If you aren’t confident in doing it yourself at home, we recommend speaking to a stylist about the best way to achieve bleach-less highlights on your brown hair.

What Is the Best Hair Dye Brand for Brown Hair?

There are many different hair dye brands out there, though some have made a name for themselves for having high color payoffs and being great choices for individuals with brown hair.

The best hair dye brands for brown hair include Manic Panic Hair Color, Punky Hair Color, Unicorn Hair Color, and Arctic Fox.

Are There Any Colors I Should Avoid for Brown Hair?

As you choose a color for your brown hair, we recommend avoiding very bright colors, pastel colors, or attempting to dye your hair blonde with a simple box dye kit.

These colors are unlikely to show up strongly on brown hair as your locks are probably not light enough to hold onto the color deposited.

Additionally, using box blonde dye may lighten your locks a little bit, but it likely won’t be enough to achieve the color you want. Using box blonde dye almost always means additional rounds of bleaching and toning, and the risk of damaging your hair.

Dyeing Your Brown Hair the Perfect Shade

When it comes to finding a new look, dyeing your hair is one of the most popular ways to freshen up your image and show off your unique sense of style. However, dyeing brown hair may be confusing if you want to avoid bleaching your locks or going through lots of expensive processes to get your hair looking great.

We recommend using our article to choose a hair color that matches your skin tone and one that you don’t need to bleach your hair for to avoid damaging your locks. In no time, you’ll have your brown hair dyed the perfect shade and will be rocking your new look.

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