Daily Vanity Logo

If you work in a corporate environment with a strict dress code, you probably won’t get the chance to experiment with shades outside of the brown colour family. Before you sigh and resign to fate, however, there’s a gorgeous new office-appropriate hue we’d like to introduce you to: ash brown.

Defined by its brunette base that’s spiced up with cooler silver or blue undertones, ash brown hair is on its way to becoming one of the biggest hair colour trends of 2021. Next to the usual honey brown shades, ash brown is deeper with a smokey, matte finish that’s flattering and mysterious in equal measure.

You can sport subtle highlights for a hint of cool bronde or full-on balayage for a knockout transformation. Of course, when in doubt, consult with your hairstylist and they should be able to recommend a shade of ash brown that best compliments your skin tone and features.

Ahead, we’ve gathered the best ash brown shades for your consideration.

For natural, dark brown hair

Want to dip your toes into ash brown territory but you’re afraid of a drastic colour transformation? Consider these natural, dark brown looks. Contrary to what you might believe, it’s easy to get in on the ash brown hair trend without going super light.

ash brown hair silver orchid salon

Credit: @silverorchidsalon on Instagram

This beautiful dye job features strong silver undertones despite its dark brown base.

ash brown hair renu hair studio

Credit: @renuhairstudio on Instagram

Add a touch of brightness around your face with this ash brown hair colour. Its perfect balance between warm and cool tones makes it easy to pull off.

ash brown hair annabelladesu

Credit: @annabelladesu on Instagram

Ash brown instantly adds dimension to your tresses, but this mix of babylights (delicate, white-blonde highlights) painted throughout the lengths of the hair really kicks it up a notch.

ash brown hair colourmesue

Credit: @colourmesue on Instagram

If you’re not one for highlights, you’ll love this all-around ash brown hair colour. It’s soft, creamy, and really subtle, yet a cool step-up from the usual warm brown.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Guy Tang® (@guy_tang)

Hints of mauve and silver smoke were layered to achieve this multidimensional mushroom brown hair, and the results are stunning.

ash brown hair herahairbeauty

Credit: @herahairbeauty on Instagram

Give your dark brown base an earthy ash upgrade with fine highlights and lowlights. Pair it with a sleek blunt cut for the trendiest hairdo.

ash brown hair chez vous charcoal

Credit: Chez Vous

Ash brown can still look amazing on dark hair, and here’s proof. These charcoal highlights put an unexpected twist to the ash brown hair trend.

Best of balayage

Balayage, which are hand-painted highlights, is a great way to ease into the ash brown hair colour trend if you’re looking for something a bit more subtle. You can also dial up the drama by going lighter and more cool-toned with your highlights.

ash brown hair wayneli_hair

Credit: @wayneli_hair on Instagram

This ash brown creation features beige blonde streaks that flatter most Asian skin tones.

ash brown hair beyounique

Credit: @_beyou.nique_ on Instagram

For a look that’s easier to maintain, blend some ashy tones to your lengths and keep your roots nice and dark for a pretty contrast.

ash brown hair yaad_doyeon

Credit: @yaad_doyeon on Instagram

This ash brown balayage is perfect for those who want to take on the trend in a subtle, but impactful way. The cool-toned streaks extend from the roots to tips, so there’s no chance anyone will miss them.

ash brown hair glamiris

Credit: @glamiris on Instagram

Take your hair to the icier side with this greige balayage blend. It’s a good option for those who like having a dark base but want something brighter and lighter on the ends.

ash brown hair dvcolour

Credit: @dvcolour on Instagram

Add tons of dimension to long locks with this wispy, ash brown balayage.

ash brown hair ln__hair

Credit: @ln__hair on Instagram

Play with icy cool shades by adding soft purple tones to your balayage. Don’t forget to ask your stylist for some ashy babylights so your hair grows out seamlessly.

If you’re thinking of going blonde

Not quite comfortable going full blonde just yet? Try these borderline-blonde looks with bright silver undertones. They’re just what every brunette needs to up their cool factor.

Bear in mind, if you have dark brown or black hair, you’ll have to bleach your hair before going a light shade of ash brown. If you’re starting with a lighter shade, you can skip that step.

ash brown hair thehavemhbf

Credit: @thehavenhbf on Instagram

What we love about ash brown is that it’s a universally flattering shade that combines both warm brown and silvery grey, making it incredibly wearable. Lighten your brown base with silvery highlights and lowlights – it’ll soften your overall look and frame your face better.

ash brown hair coloredbyphuong

Credit: @coloredbyphuong on Instagram

These warmer, mushroom brown babylights look great with nearly every skin tone and hair length.

ash brown hair xcellentbeautysalon

Credit: @xcellentbeautysalon on Instagram

Can’t give up your honey brown hair colour just yet? Well, you won’t have to with this look. Mixing a hint of grey with honey brown puts a mesmerising spin on the familiar.

ash brown hair liekuang

Credit: @liekuang on Instagram

For fairer skin with cool undertones, try weaving in silver highlights and lowlights throughout. This will add dimension to your hair without washing out your complexion.

ash brown hair herahairbeauty 1

Credit: @herahairbeauty on Instagram

If you’re looking to transition to a softer, sandy blonde, this is the colour for you. It features plenty of cool highlights with hints of warm brown peeking through.

To cover grey hair

There’s no denying that the grey hair trend is going strong. If you’ve been apprehensive to try the look yourself or if you’re not quite comfortable showing your grey strands, ash brown hair is the perfect way to ease yourself in. This way, you won’t strip your natural black or brunette locks of colour too.

ash brown hair elane_lei

Credit: @elane_lei on Instagram

The cool undertones of this light ash brown shade camouflage all traces of grey hair and make upkeep a breeze.

ash brown hair xcellentbeautysalon 1

Credit: @xcellentbeautysalon on Instagram

Under different lighting, this ashy look creates the illusion of light brown or silver hair. It’s great if you want tons of dimension, but it works even better at covering up grey strands.

ash brown hair wayneli_hair 1

Credit: @wayneli_hair on Instagram

Trying to amp up the smokiness of your ash brown hair? Go for a base that’s a little lighter and more cool-toned, and request for a smoky, matte-like finish.

ash brown hair jade__ly

Credit: @jade__ly on Instagram

This ash brown hair colour leans a little more grey next to other options. Go for this shade if you prefer something that’s ashier and cooler in undertones.

ash brown hair herahairbeauty 2

Credit: @herahairbeauty on Instagram

If grey hairs are starting to show along your hairline, consider going lighter at the front and blending those highlights gradually with the rest of your hair. This is a chic mix of warm and cool tones – perfect for an edgy glow-up.

ash brown hair herahairbeauty 3

Credit: @herahairbeauty on Instagram

We’re definitely taking inspiration from this modern ash brown hair. Bump up the contrast with caramel stripes against dark roots, which diffuse softly into an icy, ash blonde. Give your hair even more dimension and body by creating large waves.

Low-maintenance ash brown

If you’re known to skip an appointment or two, embrace your dark roots with these low-maintenance ash brown looks. For those with hair that’s currently lighter at the ends, you can still keep your ombré style while getting in on the ash brown hair colour trend.

ash brown hair xcellentbeautysalon 2

Credit: @xcellentbeautysalon on Instagram

If you already have a light brown base, ask your stylist to cool down the lengths of your hair for an ashy finish.

ash brown hair dvcolour 1

Credit: @dvcolour on Instagram

This ash brown hair colour is all about shine, and you can achieve that with light-reflecting shades of caramel.

ash brown hair whitneyd.hair

Credit: @whitneyd.hair on Instagram

Ashy undertones work well on all shades of brown, which is why a flawless ombré is easy to achieve.

ash brown hair xcellentbeautysalon 3

Credit: @xcellentbeautysalon on Instagram

An ombré technique and cool undertones can give your tresses a major refresh, but incorporating thin ribbons of ash brown towards the ends also causes the least amount of damage to your scalp.

ash brown hair wellahair

Credit: @wellahair on Instagram

This glossy balayage flaunts ribbons of ash brown and delicate streaks of blonde, which add plenty of dimension to your locks.

ash brown hair dvcolour 2

Credit: @dvcolour on Instagram

Want to tone down your ash brown hair? Space out your highlights for a subtle yet impactful look.

How to protect your ash brown hair colour

how to protect ash brown hair

Credit: xFrame.io

When it comes to preserving your ash brown hair colour, make sure you invest in a colour-safe and/or colour-depositing shampoo and conditioner to prevent brassiness.

These products are specially formulated to be gentler, so they won’t wash away your hair colour along with dirt and daily build-up. They should also replenish moisture to your ash brown hair, which could dry out from the dye job.

To help you find the right shampoos, check out our top picks:

Besides investing in a good shampoo-and-conditioner duo, one of the easiest ways to keep your colour looking fresh is to apply a heat protectant before reaching for any styling tools. Avoiding prolonged sun exposure will also help prevent ash brown hair from damage and fading too quickly.