30 Mesmerizing Ash Brown Hair Color Ideas to Inspire Your Next Look

30 Mesmerizing Ash Brown Hair Color Ideas to Inspire Your Next Look featured image
Stephane Cardinale / Ian West / Getty Images

Ash brown hair tends to give off that mysterious feel. Is it brunette? Is it dark blonde? Technically, it leans on the brunette side, blending brown tones with cool, grayish undertones. 

“This creates a neutral, smokey appearance that contrasts with warmer shades of brown,” says Rogério Cavalcante, a colorist, hairstylist and owner of The Second Floor Salon in New York.

The dimensional color looks edgy and stands out from traditional brown tones with warmer hues. Another perk: No matter the season, it works as a low-maintenance option if you’re looking to try something new without going too drastic. 

Featured experts

  • Rogério Cavalcante is a colorist, hairstylist and owner of The Second Floor Salon in New York
  • Tiffanie Richards is a master colorist at Louise O’Connor Salon in New York
  • Lauren Mildice is a top colorist at Maxine Salon in Chicago
  • Parvin Klein is a color director at Julien Farel Salon in New York

What is ash brown hair?

Simply put, ash brown hair is a light to medium brown hair color with gray or silver undertones. It’s a cool-toned brunette and the finish looks more matte compared to warmer golden shades.

Who does ash brown hair look best on?

Tiffanie Richards, a master colorist at Louise O’Connor Salon in New York, says, “Typically, ash brown is going to benefit those with pale skin and lighter eyes. It will help the eyes pop against the pale undertones in the skin.” But since this color often blends a variety of shades, ash brown can complement many skin tones, as shown in the photos below.

What color does ash brown fade to?

The color that ash brown fades to depends on your natural hair color. “Ash brown hair tends to fade to mousy grayish tones, especially if not maintained properly,” says Cavalcante. “For those with natural blonde hair, it will fade to an unpolished shineless hair.”

The solution? Using color-protecting shampoos, like Color Wow’s Color Security Shampoo ($24), and avoiding excessive heat. This can help maintain your color longer but also keep in mind how fast your hair grows—this will determine how often you will need touch-ups.

Does ash brown hair color help cover grays?

Yes, ash brown hair can help cover grays thanks to its cool undertones and natural look. This particular shade blends well with gray hair, creating a seamless appearance (especially if done through balayage or highlights instead of a single color). 

Ash brown hair inspo photos

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Jessica Biel

With Jessica Biel’s green eyes, this strategically placed ash brown shade works as a perfect complement. “If the blonde tips were higher, closer to her face, she would look too pale. The blending of the brown roots with warm blonde Californian-style highlights stands out,” says Cavalcante. “It’s a good option for those who want some blonde in their hair but need more contrast around the face for a harmonious look.”

Close view of Jessica Biel posing on the red carpet
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin / Getty Images
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Jessica Alba

These ashy white highlights create dimension to Jessica Alba’s cool brunette color. Another benefit of this shade is that it can easily camouflage grays by weaving in various hues within the ashy color family.

Jessica Alba in a black, semi-sheer corset pantsuit
Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images
3 / 30

Serena Williams

There’s a growing trend toward natural and low-maintenance hair colors, and ash brown like Serena Williams’ shade fits the bill. The color is more muted compared to warm browns, making it easier to maintain while still looking good on a variety of skin tones.

Serena Williams poses on the red carpet in sleeveless dress and diamond jewelry
Steve Granitz/FilmMagic/ Getty Images
4 / 30

Ashley Tisdale

Take this photo of Ashley Tisdale with you to the salon for inspo on ash brown hair with ribbons of highlights throughout. The colors intertwine, creating a unique twist on the shade. To keep your hair healthy, add a hair mask like the Christophe Robin Regenerating Mask With Prickly Pear Oil ($66) to your routine.

Ashley Tisdale in gray blazer with mid-length highlighted brown hair
JC Olivera/Getty Images
5 / 30

Katie Holmes

There’s a reason why ash brown hair suits Katie Holmes so effortlessly. It perfectly complements her hazel eyes and the style of her haircut frames her face features. Look closely and you’ll see the various shades of brown which subtly adds dimension.

Katie Holmes wearing a black lace cardigan in front of a greenery shrub background
Ammar Rowaid/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images
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Miranda Kerr

What makes Miranda Kerr’s ash brown shade unique is her cool and smoky base color cascading down to a honey brunette tone on the ends. “By incorporating honey tones, her fair complexion is not washed out by the cool root and base color,” says Lauren Mildice, a colorist at Maxine Salon in Chicago.

Rich Fury / Getty Images
7 / 30

Jennifer Lopez

Sometimes, the smallest details make the greatest difference. In this case, it’s Jennifer Lopez’s subtly-blended highlights through her ash brown hair. “JLo’s face has soft angles and shapes, so hair with more soft transition between color, as opposed to marked thick highlights, is ideal,” says Cavalcante.

Jennifer Lopez poses in gold dress
Presley Ann/Stringer/ Getty Images
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Priyanka Chopra-Jonas

Cavalcante notes that people often assume that darker skin tones are warm, which can be a myth. “Priyanka Chopra-Jonas has olive skin that, when paired with warm shades of blonde, tends to look yellowish,” he says. “That is why this shade of ash brown looks good on her; it has a cool undertone that matches her own.”

Priyanka Chopra Jonas outdoors smiling
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
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Halle Berry

Ash brown hair and olive skin tone are a dynamic duo. According to Parvin Klein, color director of Julien Farel Salon in New York City, “The ash tone of Halle Berry’s hair blends with her skin tone to give a very natural look.”

Halle Berry outdoors with brown highlighted hair
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
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Rita Ora

Rita Ora has the best of both worlds here when it comes to hair color. “She has a high contrast blonde to brunette grow-out,” says Mildice. “Having the two shades on opposite sides of the color wheel makes the brunette shade appear deeper and cooler.”

Rita Ora with a flipped up short hairstyle
Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images
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Kelly Clarkson

One look at Kelly Clarkson’s hair and it reminds us why going ash brown is so worth it. The dimensional color is versatile on different hairstyles and pairs well with the singer’s long length and bangs.

Kelly Clarkson on set of The Voice in a white two-piece outfit
Heidi Gutman/NBCUniversal via Getty Images
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Here, Zendaya’s hair color is a mix of caramel tones with dark chocolate. “Caramel is going to have a bit of warmth while dark chocolate will have cooler tones. Having this balance allows her skin to glow,” says Richards.

Zendaya outdoors with a half-up half-down hairstyle
Mondadori Portfolio / Contributor/ Getty Images
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Sydney Sweeney

The cooler tones and warm tones complement, not compete for attention throughout Sydney Sweeney’s hair. “The highlights are in the caramel family while the overall brunette can be considered a dark mushroom brown,” says Richards. “This works on her because, while she appears tan here, she naturally has cooler undertones in her skin.”

Sydney Sweeney with a short bob hairstyle wearing a white silk dress
Karwai Tang / Contributor / Getty Images
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Jamie Chung

It’s all about balance with Jamie Chung’s variation of ash brown, which is a combo of wheat blonde highlights on a deep mushroom brown base. “This works for her skin because essentially the brown in her hair matches her eyes and eyebrows, creating a nice monotone palette for the lightness of the highlights,” says Richards.

Jamie Chung wearing a bright pink blazer and pants set
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images
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Alessandra Ambrosio

Alessandra Ambrosio’s iconic brunette hair has been transformed into an eye-catching ash brown version here. It features thick highlights and a visible contrast between brown and dark blonde, which suit her well, according to Cavalcante.

Alessandra Ambrosio posing in beige dress
Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images
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Hailee Steinfeld

At first glance, Hailee Steinfeld’s hair appears as a pretty warm brunette. “The giveaway is how it’s making the warmth of her eyes pop,” says Richards. “There is, however, a hint of ash brown on the ends of her highlights which creates a nice balance for her skin.”

Hailee Steinfeld posing on the red carpet with black dress and gold necklace
Karwai Tang/WireImage/ Getty Images
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Leighton Meester

These ash brown hues with a hint of lightness on the ends on Leighton Meester is a softer take on the rich brunette hair she had as Blair Waldorf. Styled with baby bangs, this look comes off as playful yet polished.

Leighton Meester with short bangs wearing a gold dress
Amanda Edwards/FilmMagic/ Getty Images
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Taylor Swift

At the 81st Annual Golden Globes Awards, Taylor Swift stunned in her version of ash brown hair. Along with soft bangs and subtle waves, this overall look carries the essence of quiet luxury.

Taylor Swift posing at the Golden Globes
Kevin Mazur / Getty Images
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Barbara Palvin

When done right, hair color brings out your best features. Point in case: Barbara Palvin’s dusty ash hue which draws attention to her bright blue eyes. The softness of her haircut adds to the ethereal feel of her overall look.

Barbara Palvin on the red carpet in lilac halter dress
Stephane Cardinale Corbis via Getty Images
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Laverne Cox

Laverne Cox’s hair is magically bold yet understated at the same time. “Her olive skin is the perfect match for her ash tones of her highlights and ends,” says Klein. “The ash of her hair tone amplifies her skin and almost gives her a natural glow and shimmer.”

Laverne Cox posing in a multi-colored dress with curly hair
Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images/ Getty Images
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Miley Cyrus

The deep richness of Miley Cyrus’ hair tone brings out her blue eyes and complements her fair skin. “The highlights of her hair are a combination of ash and warm tones which, of course, goes with her unique fashion style,” says Klein. “It gives her an edge and unpredictability.”

Miley Cyrus posing in gold outfit on the Grammy's red carpet
Matt Winkelmeyer / Staff/ Getty Images
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Margot Robbie

Margot Robbie’s hair in this photo is a darker shade from her signature Barbie blonde. “This ash brown gives her overall appearance a softness and almost understated look,” says Klein.

Margot Robbie posing on the red carpet in black strapless dress
Taylor Hill/Getty Images
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Angelina Jolie

Try contrasting babylights to your ash brown color like Angelina Jolie. The subtle brighter strands frame her face while seamlessly blending the rest of her hair color and darker roots.

Angelina Jolie poses at Tony Awards wearing a teal velvet strapless dress
Jamie McCarthy/WireImage/ Getty Images
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Mandy Moore

The cool undertones in Mandy Moore’s hair helps neutralize any brassiness, giving it a more natural and blended look. Remember: to take care of ash brown hair, use a color-safe shampoo—we love the ILES Formula Shampoo Haute Performance ($42)—to help prevent it from fading. To go the extra mile, use a mask for color-treated hair—like the Virtue ColorKick Illuminating Mask ($70)—regularly to keep your hair extra healthy and hydrated.

Mandy Moore posing on the red carpet in red dress
Taylor Hill / Getty Images
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Amanda Seyfried

Amanda Seyfried’s hair is a lighter version of ash brown, but ash brown nonetheless. This versatile color is proof that it can work in dressy occasions like the red carpet to casual settings like work at the office.

Amanda Seyfried posing on red carpet in a purple gown with soft wavy hair
Gilbert Flores/Golden Globes 2024 via Getty Images
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Shailene Woodley

The ombré effect on Shailene Woodley’s hair gives dimension aplenty. Though the brighter parts on the end are borderline blonde, the darkness at the roots tone it down to a unique ash brown. The colors blend seamlessly, creating a cool, effortless look.

Shailene Woodley bare-faced with long hair
Jesse Grant/Getty Images
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Suki Waterhouse

There are so many perks of going ash brown: the cool undertones help neutralize any brassiness, it’s low-maintenance (meaning less trips to the salon), and adds depth. Suki Waterhouse stuns in her ash brown shade paired with side bangs.

Suki Waterhouse in sheer dress
Gilbert Carrasquillo / Getty Images
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Amber Valletta

Model and actress Amber Valletta’s lob and ash brown tones are a match made in hair heaven. The various shades of brown throughout gives it more life and make her hair appear fuller.

Amber Valletta wearing a black blazer
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic/ Getty Images
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Jennifer Aniston

One of the many things Jennifer Aniston is known for is her iconic hair. Here, the LolaVie founder is sporting an ash brown which veers towards the brighter end that’s still toned down with cool tones all around.

jennifer aniston square face
Taylor Hill / Getty Images
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Rachel McAdams

Rachel McAdams’ shade of ash brown gives off a classic “old money” look. “It is much more subtle than all the other examples and gives a more traditional appearance versus the more modern styles,” says Cavalcante. “The maintenance for this look is also easier because the top part of the hair has a homogeneous tone.”

Rachel McAdams in a white and black blouse with brown long hair
Bruce Glikas/WireImage/ Getty Images

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