Chocoholic – why we’re going crazy for beautiful brunettes

With more than half the population naturally brunette, why is there such an obsession with going blonde? We explore the options to entice brunettes to play more with colour

With a trending return to more natural hair and some big starlets switching it up to go dark after years of bleach, there’s more attention than ever on brunette hues. Whether you naturally sport a darker head of hair or are flirting with the idea of diving deeper, we spoke to some colour experts about why they’re excited about this sojourn to the dark side.

“A lot of brunettes have felt like the poor relative in terms of colour choice as of late, especially with bonding protection being launched in bleaches and the choice of tone being so extensive for blondes now,” explains Tim Scott Wright at The Hair Surgery, Schwarzkopf Professional UK and ambassador for tbh – true beautiful honest colour range.

“It’s important for us stylists to get as excited and behind a brunette as they do for blonde hair, to be mindful of offering the same kind of services for brunettes and not think of the technique in a different way,” Tim adds. From glossing to balayage, the same concepts of mixing tones and highlights apply equally for brunettes as much as blondes – so don’t miss out on these trend services just because you don’t want to go full-on beachy blonde.

Sophie Gibson, creative partner at Hooker & Young, explains how darker colour can be better suited to those who can’t face the constant upkeep of bleaching and blonding: “It’s all about your needs and lifestyle. If you want to keep optimum health and shine to your hair, it’s not always about an all over colour. Being creative with colour placement, adding mixtures of tones and different panels to create illusions in the hair without using bleach, can totally change a brunette look,” she says. “By working with different tones, you’re constantly evolving your hair and it keeps you excited about colour.”

At Rainbow Room International’s Uddingston salon, owner and international artistic director Suzie McGill is making sure that brown-haired clients don’t go under-served.

“We recommend balayage and ombré services regularly to brunette clients, especially as we come into summer when they are looking to add a sun-kissed look to their hair. Healthy, glossy hair is what everyone wants, so we love to offer our brunette clients a bespoke glossing service to top up restore brightness and shine between visits.”

“Brunettes should never be one colour,” agrees Carolyn Newman, international colour expert and educator. “They look great with two or three different colours applied in large sections to create light and shade and gloss. Working with the haircut, I like to layer up panels of different brunette shades and tones to create a multidimensional look.”

With so many megawatt and long-standing blonde stars switching things up and going dark in recent months, there’s never been a better time to try it. “We’re predicting the next key trend will be a rich, varied, toned brunette in clean parted bobs – either dressed smooth or with texture,” Carolyn adds. “Think Cate Blanchett, Charlize Theron, Emilia Clarke, Irina Shayk, St. Vincent and Dua Lipa.”

Charlize Theron created ripples across the internet when she unveiled her new hue for the 2019 Oscars.
Irina Shayk updated her look for a shiny milk chocolate bob, mixing two of the season's hottest trends.
The Mother of Dragons herself Emilia Clarke dallied with a brilliant blonde shade while she wrapped up the final series of Game of Thrones, but she's back to brunette now and sporting a short, sleek bob.
Dua Lipa's hair gives us serious hair envy. Paired with those bold brows and lashes, her pin-straight blunt bob is perfection.
Talk about a colour transformation - longtime blonde Cate Blanchett has previously tried brunette looks for films, but her new 'do debut at the 2019 BAFTAs was a revelation.

The fashion-forward guests at Salon64 in London certainly seem to agree. Senior colourist April Pattara has seen a surge in people asking for more multi-dimensional yet darker looks. “Hair craves shadows and highlighting to break it up resulting in maximum texture,” she explains. “For those who prefer to stay dark then I go down the route of creating and enhancing a strong shape, as opposed to something soft and delicate. The Wella Professionals Illumina glossing service is really nice for added shine and tone on a natural brunette and one my massive “go to” products.”

One issue that often crops up is that of greys – when darker hair loses that pigment it is much more starkly obvious; it’s no wonder so many women reach for bleach. Lyndsey Ford, head of education for IdHAIR UK, notes that modern product formulation can make a huge difference here: “At IdHAIR we have Hair Paint and Hair Paint Free ranges, which includes an anti-age system that delivers high pigmentation, reflect and shine, perfect for brunettes.”