Skip to Content
This is main content
Hair Color Techniques

Embracing the Soft Brown Brunette
By Connie Puckett, Product Club Educator (@conniep_denverstylist)

As stylists, we've seen a fun shift in the perception of hair color over the years. No longer does the realm of fun and experimentation lie solely on the shoulders of blondes. Brunettes and soft brown shades offer a wealth of exciting options for those seeking a change.

I’ve always been a sucker for blondes, but lately I’ve fallen more in love with soft browns and brunettes. Perhaps the days of chasing after the blonde dream at the expense of hair health could be best left in the past. Lately, what feels right to me, is celebrating the natural beauty of every individual, and that includes enhancing brunette tones with depth and dimension; embracing that soft brown brunette!

A portrait of a woman with luxurious soft brown curls, showcasing subtle brunette highlights and a natural, healthy shine.

When a guest sits in my chair and wants to enhance their brown hair, I always begin by assessing their existing level. This is the foundation that I will be working with and it's an essential step to understanding what can be accomplished. Starting at the root, with a level that matches or is slightly darker than the natural base (maybe just a shade or two), sets the groundwork for dimension.


Generally, I use a demi or semi-permanent hair color if no grey hair is present. Demi and semi colors will help to prevent any harsh lines of demarcation as the color grows out. For precise application of the root color, I like to use Ergo Brushes. The ergo brush is great because it has stiff bristles that help me apply just the right amount of saturation to the root.

If the hair has been pre-lightened, for the midshaft to the end, I follow with shades that are one to two levels lighter than my root color, strategically placed to create soft tones and dimension. Soft brown and brunette hair should always have a few different tones present in the color. This is the key to creating a more natural look. It will give you all the depth and dimension you need to create those great multi-dimensional soft browns. I use 5" x 11" Pop-up Foils with thick ribbon slices to separate the hair.

Don’t forget to always wear gloves when applying darker colors. The Jet Black Disposable Gloves are my go-to favorites because the dark color hides stains and I love the extended cuff for extra protection.


Just like with any shade of hair color, using a variation of tones on a brunette adds complexity and richness to the color, and ensures a bespoke result that will be tailored to each client's unique features. Take a good look at those features, particularly skin tone and eye color. This is a crucial detail in determining if warmer or cooler tones will compliment them best. Mixing up these tones will create even more complex color variations!


Something I always take into consideration with my clients is maintaining the integrity of their hair. It is constantly on my mind throughout the coloring process. For clients with dry or porous hair, I recommend pre-wetting the hair from the midshaft to the ends. I do this with either a spray bottle or at the shampoo bowl before towel drying. This helps to even-out porosity and ensures an even application of the color. Once the color has developed, I use the Applicator Bottles to easily seal it with a clear gloss.

Flowing brunette hair with soft waves, highlighting the rich blend of brown tones, exemplifying the depth and dimension discussed in the blog.

Popular Tones and Colors

There are so many tones and colors to explore on the soft brown and brunette spectrum. When it comes to hair, stick with what works. For those with lighter eyes, warm tones such as caramel and honey can enhance their natural radiance. Combining warm and cool tones creates rich, espresso and dark chocolate hues. Adding a touch of red can elevate brunettes, bringing out the inherent warmth in their natural tone.

Ombre is Making a Comeback

We thought we had moved on from ombre hair colors … but they are making a comeback! This time, with a lived-in, softer approach. Cinnamon brown is best for the updated ombre look.

Earthy Mushroom Tones

Mushroom tones, with their cool, earthy undertones, are also gaining popularity. Achieving these tones requires babylights and hand painting on a few pieces to get it just right. You will need to lift the hair one level past your desired tone before adding the right amount of ash for that mushroom hue. I love the Feather Bristle Brush for lifting the hair! These brushes are the best to use with any kind of lightener. They help you to provide an even amount of saturation whether you are using a clay or powder lightener. Embracing the soft brown brunette opened up a world of creative possibilities for me. It helped unlock the full depth and dimension of my clients' hair, while celebrating their individuality and natural beauty. I hope it does for you too!

Connie Puckett, Product Club Educator

Follow Connie (@conniep_denverstylist) and Product Club (@productclub) for more expert tips on social media, salon ownership, and hair color education!

Back to Top
Rewards balance: Sign In or Create an Account to become a Rewards Member and earn points on this purchase!