Think blondes have more fun? Check out these sultry brunettes and think again. According to colorist Marie Robinson, whose clients include Natalie Portman and Anne Hathaway, the best shades of brown and black right now are natural—kicked up a notch. "It's about enhancing, not extremes," she says. "Most of these celebrities are within two shades of their natural color, whether it's a tiny bit lighter or darker."
"This sandy brown color goes well with Emma Watson's short haircut," says Robinson. "It makes her face appear softer." Watson's hair is dyed two to three shades lighter than her natural color and blended with highlights. "It's so finely done that as it grows out, she's not going to get any major demarcations or root lines," says Robinson. She also notes that someone with a layered, wispy cut should avoid going too light. "Otherwise, their ends will appear thin or see-through."
"This is a lot of color," says Robinson. But these golden highlights still flatter—and illuminate—Jennifer Lopez's complexion because her base is brown. The lightest sections are toward the mid-length and the ends. To get Lopez's color, ask for a light brown base, and add highlights around the face out to the ends, gradually getting lighter toward the tips of the layers.
"This sunny, golden brown hair color really brings out the color of Natalie Portman's eyes," says Robinson. Subtle honey and caramel highlights also perk up her complexion. "The highlights are blended, not streaky, to make her hair look barely sun-kissed." Robinson recommends this shade for pale to olive skin tones. "It adds color without overdoing it," she says.
"This is the color anyone could wear," says Robinson. This chestnut brown shade warms up Victoria Beckham's complexion and enhances her brown eyes. Ask for a dark brown base and caramel and light auburn highlights to frame the face, mid-length, and ends. Robinson says that red highlights are the key to this look. "The red golds add dimension, making your hair look richer and more chocolaty."
MEDIUM ASH BROWN
Mila Kunis traded in her extreme ombre look for classic highlights. "These highlights are diffused on the ends and are hitting the points of her layers, which is nice because it shows off the shape of the haircut," says Robinson. This would work best on a medium- to long-layered cut. "You would ask the colorist to work with your natural color, and just highlight the mid-length and ends, following the haircut," says Robinson. The ash brown background is universally flattering, but to add warmth to your complexion, swap the sandy highlights for caramel.
DARK ASH BROWN
"This is a pretty medium ash brown," says Robinson. "It makes [Katie Holmes's] eyes sparkle." When going dark, Robinson suggests that it's important to keep length—and height—in mind. "When you have long, dark hair and are tall in proportion to that, it looks elegant. But if you're petite, make sure it's not one length, because it will look overwhelming." Layering will add movement to your hair and stop it from hiding your face and body shape.
"Because this isn't the darkest brown or black, it could look good on almost anybody," says Robinson of Jennifer Hudson's shade. "It's not going to add color to your skin, but it going to be a nice frame because it's a very natural, soft smoky brown." Robinson suggests this shade for dark, olive, or golden skin tones—it could wash out very pale skin. At the salon, ask for a semipermanent glossing with color a few shades darker than your natural tone and work from there.