Glamour November 2, 2023



23 Natural Hair Colors That Will Instantly Elevate Your Look


Natural doesn't have to mean boring.

Natural hair colors might be subtle, but that doesn’t mean they’re boring. In fact, some look so authentic, you might not realize they’re touched up in the first place.

From dark blondes and brunettes to color-depositing techniques like balayage and babylights, there are so many ways to elevate your original look, it’s hard to keep track. All you have to do is find the shades and styles that work best for you, whether that’s highlights, lowlights, or somewhere in between.

As for what experts suggests? “To keep your hair color looking natural and low-maintenance, I recommend adding some babylights or soft balayage to achieve the natural look,” says celebrity hairstylist Jennifer Korab. Hair colorist and extensions specialist Kevin Kelly agrees: “For something low-maintenance and very natural, I would go for a sun-kissed balayage.”

How to find the best natural hair color

Finding the best shade for your skin tone and features isn’t as hard as it seems, as Korab actually suggests basing it off of your eye color. “Some colors can enhance your natural eye color and overall complexion,” she says. “I also like to look at the natural flecks of color within the eye to help determine.”

Another easy way to determine your match? Stay as close to your actual, natural-born shade as possible, says Lorena M. Valdes, a colorist at Chicago’s Maxine Salon. “The more natural [it looks], the closer it is to your natural [color],” she says. “If you have dark brunette tones, for example, staying within that range is going to be best.”

If you’ve been dyeing your hair for years and aren’t sure what your natural shade is, you can also seek guidance from childhood photos. “Matching the color you had growing up will be a great first step, but always take into account the colors you wear in your clothes and makeup," Valdes continues.

And when in doubt, talk to your stylist or colorist. “Consult with your stylist see which tones look best next to your skin tone,” says Kelly.

Caring for natural hair color

Dyeing your hair a natural-looking shade might look seamless, but hair dye always requires (some) maintenance. “Use color-safe products, and choose shampoos, conditioners, and styling products specifically formulated for color-treated hair,” says Nicole Ann Hardy, colorist at Mahogany Grace Salon in NYC. “These products are designed to be gentle and help preserve the vibrancy of your natural hair 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. Look for products that are specifically formulated for color-treated hair to provide extra protection and moisture,” Hardy says.

Madison Reed master colorist Shvonne Perkins concurs, pointing to products like Madison Reed Color Reviving Gloss and Madison Reed Color Therapy Masks as easy 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, while Korab suggests Pureology’s Hydrating and Color Protecting Hair Kit for Dry, Color-Treated Hair and Kerastase Chroma Absolu Hair Masque.

Now all you need is inspiration. Ahead, see experts’ top 21 natural hair colors, and get ready to screenshot.

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Soft Balayage

As noted above, Korab suggests a “soft balayage” look to maintain a natural-looking aesthetic, and Hardy agrees. “Balayage is a technique where highlights are hand-painted onto the hair, creating a sun-kissed effect,” Hardy says. “This method allows for a softer and more natural regrowth line, reducing the need for frequent touch-ups. It also provides versatility in terms of color placement and can be customized to suit different hair lengths and textures.”

Cool Brunette

According to Perkins, a deep brunette close to your natural shade (if you have brown hair) is especially low-maintenance. “All you’d be doing at home would mostly be utilizing color-depositing conditioners and blue shampoos, just to keep your tone balanced,” she says. “Otherwise, a little bit of fade actually works with these natural shades because they appear as subtle highlights.”

Subtle Babylights

Another natural-looking option? Subtle babylights. Not familiar? “Babylights involve finely woven highlights that mimic the natural highlights seen in children’s hair,” Kelly says. “This technique creates a subtle and delicate look, blending seamlessly with your base color.” Babylights also require less maintenance as they grow out gracefully without a stark contrast between the roots and highlights.

Chestnut Brunette

Perkins points to chestnut brunette as one of her favorite natural-looking shades. “This luminous and reflective shade is a natural brown color with hints of caramel and golden undertones and loads of rich shine,” she says. To get the look, Perkins advises being specific about wanting a burnished, golden chestnut brunette without it becoming red. “The tones you want to add to your brunette are mahogany, golden, and copper mixes—not literal red tones,” says the colorist.

Dark Blonde

If your hair is naturally light, Valdes suggests a deep shade of dark blonde. “Natural blondes will look great with dark blonde lowlights and blonde highlights, as it will mimic their natural with more dimension,” she says. “Regardless of the choice, it will be similar or close to your natural so the grow-out doesn’t feel drastic.”

Midnight Onyx

Any dark color on the deeper side will look rich, shiny, and shockingly natural, says Valdes. One of her favorites? A jet-black-inspired midnight onyx.

True Brown

You can still nail the dark and deep aesthetic with slightly lighter hair. “Even deep shades as light as a true brown are fantastic,” Valdes says.

Cowboy Copper

Cowboy copper might not sound natural-looking, but its golden auburn hue actually looks cozy and lived in. “This hair color shifts the bold copper shade we’ve been seeing everywhere to a more muted copper. Think apple cider,” says Perkins. “It’s a mix of a warm, light auburn hue with subtle hints of gold and copper.”

Chestnut Brown

Medium-brown hair lovers might want to consider honey chestnut brown. “It’s a beautiful shade that ranges from deep reddish brown to light golden brown, and is very versatile color that suits many skin tones and can be both warm and cool in tone,” says Nicole Lucero, a colorist at Mahogany Grace Salon. “It is a low-maintenance hair color that requires minimal touch-ups.”

Rich Brunette

“Rich brunette is great to add dimension or depth to richen up brunettes," says Korab. “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.”

Bronde Balayage

Perkins suggests “bronde” balayage for those with brown hair. “Brunettes can have beautiful custom, expensive-brunette results by adding in some tonal highlights like caramel or soft ash mushroom brown highlights into a brunette base for a perfect bronde result,” she says, pointing to Mandy Moore’s current look as a prime example of the hybrid shade.

Golden Honey

“Blonde hair always naturally has some warmth to it,” Perkins explains, adding that blonde hair colors are most high-maintenance when trying to keep them overly ash, because it takes constant toning. “Embracing some golden warmth means less constant upkeep,” she says.

Caramel Lowlights

Valdes recommends incorporating warm, reddish, chestnut, and caramel tones throughout your hair for a natural-looking warm aesthetic. “Babylights or balayage would mimic what the sun does to the hair naturally,” she says.

Ombré Balayage

If you want your hair to look a little done-up without the high-maintenance grow-out phase, consider ombré balayage. “Less is more with a subtle ombré look,” Perkins says. “It draws inspiration from ’70s style icons and features a solid root with grown-in, sun-kissed blonde highlights weaved throughout the mid-lengths and ends.” Perkins suggests lightening your ombré hair with Madison Reed’s Light Works Balayage Highlighting Kit.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate brunette is the epitome of expensive luxury hair, so it’s no surprise that it’s predicted to trend this fall. “This classic hair color complements just about everyone, plus delivers an instant sophistication and edge,” says Perkins. “Dark chocolate brunette welcomes in cooler brown tones for an allover rich brunette shade that adds depth and dimension to your look for fall.”

Chantilly Blonde

Celebrity hair colorist Rita Hazan dyed Beyoncé’s hair creamy chantilly blonde for fall. “Chantilly blonde is still blonde and bright, but with contrast and warmer tones for the fall,” Hazan says.

To get the look yourself, Hazan says there is one basic rule of thumb: “Go one to two shades darker than your current shade.” Then, at the salon, be sure to ask your hair colorist for contrast and dimension with highlights; that’s essential. “You can add lowlights to create the contrast one to two shades darker,” Hazan says, suggesting you keep the color tones buttery and golden.

Candlelit Brunette

“Candlelit brunette is 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,” says Korab, who creates the look with a combination of foiling and balayage highlight to add dimension and depth to the hair.

Strawberry Auburn

Strawberry auburn blonde hair color is the perfect way to ease into red, and looks surprisingly natural on anyone with naturally dark blonde or light brown hair. “This shade works for anyone interested in playing with warmer colors without fully committing to a fully saturated look,” says Valdes. “Since it utilizes different techniques that give the illusion of a fully saturated color, it gives a softer grow-out.”

Face-Framing Highlights

While face-framing highlights are a common request, Perkins suggests keeping them golden-toned. “Ask for a mix of tones that has mostly golden tones with just a tinge of violet to act as a balance for the perfect beige effect,” she says. “It’s not golden as in yellow; it’s golden as in sun-kissed and reflective.”

Cool Espresso

If your hair is naturally dark brown, Valdes asserts that keeping it in the color family is your best bet. Still, you can enhance your color with a gloss to give it more vibrance.

Blonde Balayage

For a lighter take on the candlelit look, try traditional blonde balayage. “For something low-maintenance and very natural, I would go for a sun-kissed balayage," says Kelly.

Neutral Balayage

Kelly also suggests asking for subtle neutral tone balayage, as “it’s going to grow out seamlessly.”

Cinnamon Brown

For a low-maintenance reddish brown hair color, Korab suggests adding hints of red to your usual shade of rich brunette. “Try adding a little red to this trend to really spice things up,” she says. “This hair color looks great on most skin tones and will never go out of style. This a great color to try if you already have brunette hair and just want to enhance it.”