35 Fabulous Ideas for Dark Brown Hair With Highlights

Dark brown hair colors

Dark brown hair with highlights is a great way to affordably and fashionably add color to your hair. Although a dark brunette color has a ton of depth on its own, adding a pop of color with subtle or even bold highlights can turn your one-dimensional brunette hair into a multi-dimensional masterpiece. Check out these fabulous ideas for dark brown hair with highlights and get color inspired!

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Light Brown Highlights

Dark brown hair with light brown highlights
Instagram @joshua_sajtar

Warm highlights on dark brown hair can add a youthful appearance when painted on dark brown hair. That magnificent contrast can instantly transform your whole look without changing your color too much.

Sun-Kissed Highlights

Dark brunette with highlights
Instagram @samanthag_hair

Bring the summer with you wherever you go with these sweet sun-kissed highlights on dark brunette hair. Put in some texture starting from the ear-level smoothly down to the ends for an eye-catching dimension that’s perfect for dark brunettes who are looking for rich shade.

Balayage Dark Brown Highlights

Dark brown hair with brown highlights
Credit: Pinterest

This deep brunette hair with balayage highlights are perfectly polished waves are balayage perfection.

Face-Framing Walnut Brown Highlights

Dark hair with walnut brown highlights that frame
Instagram @hairbymelissapeiffer

With just a few dark brown balayaged pieces, you could have an adorable change in your look. These layers provide a face framing and brightening effect without you needing to cut your hair for traditional layers.

Gold Highlights

Dark brown hair with gold highlights
Instagram @lisasatornhair

If you’re the type who doesn’t like spending too much time on your hair, this effortless style plus the shoulder length cut is perfect for you. These golden highlights on dark brown hair easily add dimension and texture to the hair without needing much work.

Cinnamon Highlights

Dark brown hair with cinnamon highlights
Instagram @pattylowehair

A gorgeous dimensional hair can be achieved by the perfect combination of warm highlights on dark brown hair and lowlights. This light balayage really lifts up the dark chocolate base and gives depth to it.

Honey Blonde Highlights

Add some flair to your brunette hair with these honey highlights that give amazing contrast and brightness to your dark hair.

Q&A with style creator, Morgan Rogers
Hairstylist @ Manes by Morgan in Seattle, WA

This lived-in dark brown hair with highlights hair color and cut that looks natural and will have a natural fade out as well.

The color fades into a rich buttery blonde, and the hair grows evenly into a lob too. If you have time to maintain this cut and color then it is also a fun look to change up every 6-10 weeks.

Dark Chocolate Highlights

Q&A with style creator, Monica Fairall
Master Stylist @ Tangles of Evans in Evans, GA


These dark chocolate highlights on darker brown hair give such contrast to the base hair color.

The highlights are gently blended into the dark hair so that they grow out easily. It does not require much maintenance.

Vivid Red Highlights

Dark brown hair with strawberry highlights
Instagram @nikkipophair

Q&A with style creator, Nikki Popkow
Master Designer & MakeUp Artist @ Nikki Popkow Hair and Makeup Artistry in Sherman Oaks, CA


These vivid red highlights for dark brown hair were created using a foil highlight and balayage the hair that was left out of the foil to really give those ends vibrancy.

With vibrant highlights, it’s always important to keep in mind at-home care. These colors fade, and some fade fast! If you use a sulfate-free shampoo like Redken’s Color Extend Magnetics, you’ll notice your color will have more life because it’s pH is balanced to not harm the color directly. Also, keep in mind to freshen up your color with one of Joico’s Color Butters in between salon visits. It’s great because it’s an easy, in-shower application that rinses out after 5 minutes. It will keep you in good shape until you need to really freshen up the color.

Rose Brown Highlights

Rose brown highlights on dark brown hair
Instagram @amhrytsak

Q&A with style creator, Amanda Routly
Hairstylist @ Angles Hair & Aesthetics in Calgary, AB


Having dark brown hair with highlights is a great way to work with old highlights while maintaining the integrity of the hair.

What I love about doing this color was that we both stepped out of our “safe zone” of cool blonde tones and aimed for a rich, shiny, dimensional rose tone brown. It’s clear that even a more professional business woman can have a little more fun with her hair!

To maintain this look, visit the salon every 5-6 weeks for a retouch and glaze for the lengths.

While at home, preserves the color with color-safe shampoo and conditioner and uses color depositing shampoo once a week to maximize the rose pigment. This look is for a lifestyle conducive to anyone dedicated to incredible hair!

Champagne Highlights

Q&A with style creator, Ebony Hammond
Hairdresser @ Hair by EbonyEliza in Sydney, NSW


These champagne highlights are a low-maintenance color. The cut is is slightly concave bob with heavy texturizing throughout the layers to create a messy feathered look. The colors are great as they complement each other by both being on the warmer side. The base color gives a nice depth, and the foils create enough lightness throughout without overpowering the base.

To style, it is as simple as scrunching your hair and letting it be natural, which was the main reason why my client loves this style!

To create a smooth look, apply a root lift spray to the roots prior to blow drying, tucked it under with the brush, and finished off with a light hairspray to hold in place.

Rose Gold Highlights

Long dark brown hair with rose gold highlights
Instagram @beautybybrandz

Q&A with style creator, Brandie Rivas
Future Cosmetologist in Largo / Clearwater, FL


Adding rose gold highlights to dark brown hair creates a dimensional look that’s perfect for fall.

If you have naturally curly and extremely thick hair, considering doing a blow dry and flat iron since the cool fall weather would not make it frizz up like the typical humid Florida weather.

There is a shade of red highlights work for every tone of skin! Cool or warm, olive or peachy, there is a fall color for your hair. Personally, I think deep red tones are more aesthetically pleasing with darker hair, but there are endless options for you to personalize your own shade of red for the fall.

Chestnut Highlights

Chestnut highlights for dark brown hair
Instagram @karllkyl

Q&A with style creator, Karl
Senior Stylist @ Mi the Salon in Singapore


These chestnut highlights help naturally dark-haired women achieve a low maintenance look. You can leave your roots at your natural hair color, and this is a mixture of warm and cool highlighted tones that create more dimension and movement!

I recommend a balayage technique with Loreal Professional Blond Studio Multi Techniques Lightener for lifting and Loreal Professional DIA Richesse 5,13 (diluting it with clear) to achieve this look! During the coloring process, I also recommend putting in smart bond to minimize any damage of the hair.

For maintenance, I definitely recommend a purple shampoo to neutralize any unwanted brassy tones.

Bright Pink Ombre Highlights

Q&A with style creator, Heather Harroun
Level 5 Hairstylist @ The Head Shoppe Halifax Shopping Centre in Halifax, Canada


These bright pink highlights in dark brown hair are a wearable bold color. It’s a fun color that softly blend with a natural dark brown shade. Pink is a very trendy hair color this year, and I love how having multiple tones in her hair gave her a sunset appearance!

Having the right products is huge when it comes to maintaining fashion colors. I recommend a gentle sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner. Some of my favorites are Pureology Hydrate and Redken Color Extend Magnetics. Try to wash your hair as little as possible, and when you do, wash it in cold water to keep it from fading a lot.

These highlights are perfect for any woman who is willing to try something bright and trendy. Hair that is already highlighted blonde is going to give the best result as opposed to very dark-colored hair.

Ash Blonde Highlights

Q&A with style creator, Ashley Moehring
Hairstylist @ Mad Styles Salon in Mason City, IL


These are ash blonde highlights on dark chocolate brown hair that is not your traditional foil highlight but instead is balayaged to look sunkissed.

To maintain the richness of the highlights, I would recommend a color-safe shampoo and conditioner. My current favorite is AMIKA’s ‘Keep Your Color’ shampoo and conditioner.

I recommend this type of color for those who don’t like the upkeep of traditional foil highlights. The warm tones tend to work best on those with warm (think olive) skin tones, or those whose natural color is a level 4 or darker.

Mocha Highlights

Q&A with style creator, Natalie Carmichael
Salon Owner / Master Stylist @ My Salon in Chico, CA


Add mocha highlights to your dark brunette hair is a great way to have the “I woke up like this” look.

I recommend using a dry texture spray or wax spray such as Unite Texturiza or Sexy Hair Play Dirty. These types of products are a must for creating an effortless, textured look that has just enough of a playful style without looking messy.

Copper Highlights

Copper highlights for dark brown hair
Instagram @louisesb123

Q&A with style creator, Louise
Salon Owner / Hairstylist @ Alla Moda Hair & Beauty in Derbyshire, England


If you’re wanting a casual and textured looking, try adding copper highlights. It creates this effortless but sassy style. This color and style is that it is super easy to wear and maintain.

To maintain the highlights, I recommend Biolage Color Last shampoo. To style the textured cut, I recommend Matrix Style Link Mess Maker and Gloss Booster.

The copper tones and rich mocha color compliments dark brown, hazel or green eyes and a warm skin tone that has yellow and golden tones.

Sun-Kissed Blonde Highlights

Q&A with style creator, Ashley Meyer
Hair Artist @ Cre8 Salon and Spa in Cape Coral, FL


Adding sun-kissed blonde highlights on dark brown hair is best done with the balayage technique, as apposed to the foilyage.

I do not recommend these highlights for women who are currently box-dying their hair and are wanting to be this blonde in one visit. It takes multiple visits to become blonde. Also, if you are someone who is very low maintenance and doesn’t like to style their hair, this is not a look for you. This look was created using my Arrojo Flat Iron and Arrojo Glint texture and shine spray, my all time go-to product!

Caramel Honey Highlights

Caramel honey highlights for dark brown hair
Instagram @hairbytran

Q&A with style creator, Tran Nguyen
Color Specialist @ Fox & Jane Salon in New York, NY


The caramel honey highlights dark brunette hair will look effort and is low maintenance. You don’t have to come in often because there isn’t a line of demarcation as it grows out.

I recommend using R+Co Gemstone shampoo and conditioner. It’s sulfate-free which helps maintains the color and doesn’t strip the hair color or get brassy. After shampooing, I recommend R+Co High Dive for moisture, and a little of the R+Co Motorcycle flexible gel around the hairline to help smooth out her natural curls during the blow-dry.

These caramel honey highlights are for the type of woman that doesn’t want to come every six weeks.

Ash Brown Highlights

Ash brown highlights for dark brown hair
Instagram @gogetpretty

Q&A with style creator, Tammi S. Ramirez
Artistic Educator / Redken Hair Color & Design Certified @ ULTA Beauty in Tempe, AZ


If you want a soft ombre, then considering adding ash brown highlights to your naturally brown hair. The color itself seamlessly transitions softly from a rich brown to kisses of a dark golden blonde. An ombre can be very drastic in its color graduation from dark to light or light to dark, while a sombre is just a few hues lighter from its deepest shade, giving any client’s hair that high fashion feels.

I highly suggest a gloss treatment from Redken’s Shades EQ Gloss line six to eight weeks after color application to keep the color looking fresh. With rice protein and pomegranate oils, it gives your hair tons of shine while maintaining that awesome tone and strength in your hair. It’s like a lip gloss for your hair!

Warm Bronde Highlights

Q&A with style creator, Jacki Spellman
Colorist / Stylist / Make-up Artist @ Lifted Salon in Roseville, CA


This rich chocolate brown hair with warm bronde highlights are done with the balayage technique. The rich warm color with strong contrast. It isn’t a high maintenance color since the contrast is at her mids and ends, blending softly into her base color.

I recommend Eufora’s Beautifying Elixir line to maintain the rich color and health of the hair.

This look is great for brunettes with warm skin tones. The yellow undertones in the skin help to pull of the rich golden shades throughout the hair. If you have a cooler skin tone (with pink undertones), choose beige or cooler ashy tones throughout.

The maintenance is low for highlights (from 12 weeks to 6 months if you want).

Soft Sandy Blonde Highlights

Dark brown hair with sandy blonde highlights
Instagram @tr1zzz

Q&A with style creator, Jordan Truong
Senior Stylist @ James Joseph Salon in Medford, MA


These sandy blonde highlights in darker brown hair are done using the balayage ombre technique that will leave a soft, natural grow out versus highlighted to the root.

These highlights are great for women with very busy lifestyles. The color is painted off the root, therefore whatever color is chosen will not clash against her skin.

Glossy Mahogany Highlights

Q&A with style creator, Jasmine Nicole Miller
Hairstylist @ Salon JLadner and Spa in Dayton, OH


You can get mahogany highlights in a multitude of different ways over many sessions to keep it fresh and budget friendly.

To maintain this look, it’s a must to get color-safe products. Any rich color will fade without proper take-home products. All colors but grey and blonde have red in them, which means they will fade fast and you’ll lose the rich tonal value of the hair.

The only type of hair that I don’t recommend dark colors on are women who have a finer hair texture and or thinning hair issues. Dark colors will make it appear even less dense and no one wants to enhance their hair struggles.

Rooted Pink Highlights

Q&A with style creator, Ashley Joal Hambly
Stylist @ Square Salon in Las Vegas, NV


These pink highlights on rooter dark brown hair is a great way to get in color for the summer without doing your whole head. For these highlights, you’ll need to lighten the hair beforehand.

To maintain the look, I suggest rinsing hair in cold water and a color-safe shampoo and conditioner.

This is best for women that won’t mind day three or four hair (an amazing dry shampoo will be your best friend!) as the color will last longer the less you wash it.

Also, if you spend a lot of time in the sun, that is more likely to fade the color as well. I suggest wearing a hat if you plan on being in the sun for awhile.

Mocha Highlights

Mocha highlights on dark brown medium length hair
Instagram @dashu_lovehair

Q&A with style creator, Dashu
Hairdresser @ Aloha Beauty Studio in Russian Federation, Novosibirsk


If you’re a dark brunette then adding mocha highlights is a great option because this color will appear blended for long.

To style, use Tigi Catwalk Salt Spray and Tigi Bedhead Hard Head. The beach waves can be created with an iron. Beach waves are trendy, easily created, and work in any situation from the office to a party.

Pink Strawberry Highlights

Q&A with style creator, Malisa Weaver
Balayage & Color Specialist / Stylist @ Sola Salon Studios in Columbus, OH


Getting pink strawberry highlights for dark brown hair is great a fall transition when you’re bored with your blonde highlights from summer. It’s rich and trendy, but can still be office appropriate. I love that when it fades it will turn into a beautiful pastel.

I definitely recommend a sulfate-free shampoo. My favorite is Lanza Healing Color Care shampoo and conditioner. It has plant botanicals that keep the color from fading and gives incredible softness and shine. I always recommend a deep conditioning treatment one to two times a month, especially on pre-lightened hair.

These highlights compliments neutral and olive undertones. It is a higher maintenance color that would need refreshed about every four to six weeks to maintain the vibrancy.

Subtle Highlights

Subtle highlights for dark brown hair
Instagram @thegrieveeffect

Q&A with style creator, Abby Grieve
Hairstylist @ Shenanigans Hair Lounge in Riverside, CA


If you want a simple and elegant look, go for subtle highlights. To maintain, wash in cold water with your favorite color-safe product. It’s perfect for easygoing women that don’t need to be flashy, they just want a small enough change to feel beautiful! It’s very natural and easy to manage and, contrary to very drastic blondes, this type of color is fairly easy to transition to.

Soft Caramel Highlights

Q&A with style creator, Katie Overholt
Hairdresser @ Karma Salon & Boutique in Tryon, NC


Adding balayage caramel highlights to your hair will give you a lived-in and soft look and that will have a pretty grow out.

I recommend these highlights to anyone at a brown level 5 or below to add some soft dimension. This is the best low maintenance color as it’s very natural and will look great for months at a time.

Dimensional Bronze Highlights

Dimensional bronze highlights for dark brown hair
Instagram @hairbyamybee

Q&A with style creator, Amy Baugh
Hairstylist / Colorist @ Advanced Techniques in Fruita, CO


These organic bronze highlights allow women with dark brown hair to get beautiful brightness, without the upkeep of traditional highlights that start at the scalp. Adding deep “v” patterns creates a ton of dimension throughout the hair.

To maintain this look, I recommend Pureology Hydrate shampoo and conditioner. I also recommend using a purple shampoo once a week to fight away brassy tones, as well as Olaplex #3 to help keep the hair healthy and strong between chemical services.

Caramel Brown Highlights

Q&A with style creator, Renaux Carter
Hairstylist Assistant @ Tricho Salon and Spa in Novi, MI


You can’t go wrong with a classic bob with caramel brown highlights on really dark brown hair because it creates a unique overall style.

To create and maintain this look, I recommend using Oribe Straight Away Smoothing Blowout Cream. This is my new favorite product for medium to course hair! It seals down the hair cuticles, leaving a beautiful sleek finish. It also reduces drying time.

This is a versatile look and would be perfect for fine to medium hair types, neutral or warm skin tones, and suitable for a more professional setting or something more casual.

Rich Copper & Violet Highlights

Q&A with style creator, Nicki Gazlay
Color Specialist / Hair Stylist / Make-up Artist @ Tangerine Salon in Highland Village, TX


I love this look because the root area is more natural and the bold ribbons of color attract the eye’s attention. The rich violet undertones with the dramatic copper highlights create a dynamic combo.

To style this long layered hair, apply a quarter-sized amount of Aveda Daily Color Protect from mid shaft to ends, then apply a quarter-size amount of the Aveda Confixor Gel from roots to ends to add volume and hold.

To create the loose waves, use a 2-inch round brush to blow dry the hair, then use a Babyliss Titanium Pro 1-inch curling iron.

These bold highlights can be worn by any woman with dark brown hair who loves a dynamic and vivacious look.

Beach Golden Highlights

Dark brown hair with golden highlights
Instagram @carliesoule_pmtsgl

Q&A with style creator, Carlie Soule
Future Professional @ Paul Mitchell the School Great Lakes in Port Huron, MI


Adding balayage golden highlights will really showcase the dimension color. It’s a great color and style for women who are seeking a low maintenance look. Beach waves are great for women looking for a quick style that can last from day to night.

The best part about the hand painted balayage is that it’s blended at the top, which allows it to grow out beautifully and extends the time between salon visits. The combination of the two is dynamite.

Dimensional Grey Highlights

Q&A with style creator, Kory Clark
Stylist @ 29ten Salon in Brookfield, WI


These dimensional grey highlights melt from the dark to the light colors perfectly.

I recommend either a purple or silver shampoo to keep the silver color from fading as much as possible. To style the waves, use a 1-inch Marcel curling iron, leaving the ends straight. Texture spray can be your best friend for looks like this!

This color will have a bit more maintenance if you want to keep it silvery, coming in for a gloss once every month generally. Any and all hair types can rock these colors!

Smoky Silver Highlights

Smoky silver highlights for dark brown hair
Instagram @kittycooboo

Q&A with style creator, KC Benson
Hairdresser @ Bedlam Beauty and Barber in San Jose, CA


If you want silver highlights that pop again your dark brown hair, then this is the look for you.

You may need a lightener to help achieve your desired level, but also help with the health of the hair.

As far as the client maintaining their color, I believe good shampoo and conditioner are key! You want to use something color-safe and hydrating, such as Color Minded from Bumble and bumble. It is my go to!

If you’re willing to maintain the color (i.e. toners, special shampoos, etc.), I think this could look great on you.

Lighter Highlights

Light highlights for dark brown hair
Instagram @_douglasjack

Q&A with style creator, Douglas Jack
Color Specialist @ Bomane Salon in Beverly Hills, CA


This is a bohemian, beach-waved look with a natural and subtle color made up of lighter babylight highlights that frame the face.

Use a sulfate and paraben-free shampoo and conditioner. I recommend OI by Davines. This brand is highly moisturizing and will keep your hair healthy while protecting your color.

As for styling, I would recommend using OI Moisturizing Oil and the OI Milk Leave-In Spray from Davines. This will keep your hair from getting dry and brittle as you’re styling.

I recommend this type of highlight for most hair types from thick to thin and curly to straight. It works with many different textures which is great. It’s very subtle, but can be customized for clients who like a little bit more or less of a pop.

Consultation is key to make sure everyone is on the same page and you end up with the best results for a dark brown hair color with highlights!