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20 *Super Pretty* Ash Brown Hair Color Ideas To Try This Year

Meet the color that's gonna be all over your IG feed this year.
PHOTO: (LEFT TO RIGHT) Instagram/colormesue, Instagram/hellorae_hair

Scroll through your Instagram right now, and I guarantee you'll see it filled with ash-brown hair. Defined by its brunette base with green, blue, and/or violet undertones, ash-brown hair is on its way to becoming one of the biggest colors of 2021, and for good reason: It's basically the antithesis to the warm shades you see all the time—in, like, the best way possible. "Whereas warm brunette shades look lighter and richer, ash-brown colors are usually deeper with a smoky, matte-like finish," says Nina Rubel, colorist at Rob Peetoom in NYC.

And if you're anything like me, you've probably already convinced yourself three times this week that it's time to try ash-brown hair yourself. But before you book that appointment—because, yes, ash-brown hair requires the help of a professional coloristkeep reading for a few things you gotta know. Plus, 20 super-pretty ideas to kickstart your inspo.

Before you try ash brown hair:

  1. Think about skin tone

    "When choosing any hair color, it's always important to take your skin tone into account," says Rubel. A good rule of thumb? Cooler colors (like ash brown) generally work best on cooler skin tones, while warmer colors are best for, you guessed it, warmer skin tones. But that doesn't mean ash brown is totally off the table if you have a warmer skin tone, says Rubel—you'll just need to work with your colorist to find the best placement and technique to complement your look (i.e. adding in a few golden highlights around your face and throughout your lengths to create balance, says Rubel).

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  2. Do your research

    Another important thing to keep in mind: Make sure you take your starting color into consideration before going ash brown. "If you're starting with very dark hair and your goal is ash brown, you'll likely need to lighten your hair first before depositing the ash-brown shade," she explains. "Always consult with your colorist before your appointment and make sure you bring reference photos of what you like and dislike."

So, to help you out with some of that color research, I went ahead and found the 20 prettiest ash-brown hair color ideas straight from Instagram. Keep scrolling to find your favorites—and don't forget to DM them to your colorist.

  1. This Classic Ash-Brown Hair

    Fact: Dark, brown-black roots are a great way to complement some of the lighter tones in your ash-brown hair color. I love how the highlights are kinda piece-y in this look—it's such a pretty contrast.

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  2. This Subtle Ash-Brown Hair

    The perfect middle ground between warm and cool tones, this ash-brown hair color has a touch of brightness around the face. BTW: When it comes to preserving your new color, make sure you invest in a color-safe (and/or color-depositing) shampoo and conditioner to avoid brass.

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  3. This Creamy Ash-Brown Hair

    If you aren't really into the highlighted look, you'll love this all-over ash-brown hair color. The end result is soft, creamy, and super subtle (like, subtle enough that you can go lighter come spring or summer).

  4. This Face-Framing Ash Brown Hair

    A couple of face-framing pieces really take this ash-brown hair color to the next level. Don't you love how they brighten up the entire face?

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  5. This Ash-Brown Balayage

    Balayage—i.e. hand-painted highlights—is great way to get in on the ash-brown hair color trend if you're looking for something a bit more subtle. The roots remain nice and dark, but the lengths have some ashy—but blended!—highlights for contrast.

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  6. This Ash-Brown Bob

    The best thing about ash-brown hair? It looks great on any length, as evidenced by this cute bob haircut. I love how this style has a touch of blonde in it too. 

  7. This Long Ash-Brown Hair

    The longer length of this ash-brown hair is a great way to show off the dimension of your color. Look closely and you'll see the prettiest combo of cool undertones.

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  8. This Light Ash-Brown Hair

    Just because you want to try ash-brown hair doesn't mean you have to go super dark. This style looks great with a medium-brown base and silver-toned highlights. 

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  9. This Ash-Brown Hair With Dark Roots

    This ash-brown hair color is all about shine. Hot tip: One of the easiest ways to keep your color looking fresh is to (A) load up on protectant before heat styling and (B) avoid prolonged sun exposure, says Rubel.

  10. These Ash-Brown Highlights

    Here's another cute idea: Keep your ash-brown highlights contained to the lower half of your hair for a pretty contrast between your roots and ends.

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  11. This Blended Ash-Brown Hair

    My favorite thing about this ash-brown hair idea is how freaking blended the highlights look. If you're trying to go the natural-looking route, show your colorist this pic.

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  12. This Smoky Ash-Brown Hair

    Trying to amp up the smoke factor of your ash-brown hair? Go for a base that's a little lighter, and ask your colorist for a smoky, matte-like finish.

  13. This Dimensional Ash-Brown Hair

    There's so much dimension and shine going on in this ash-brown hair color, which really brings out the deep-brown base. (Psst: Swipe through for this colorist's pretty epic before-and-after shot).

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  14. This Ash-Brown Money Piece

    Not sure you want to try all-over ash-brown hair? Have your stylist place a few "money pieces"—aka those cute face-framing highlights you keep seeing all over your IG feed.

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  15. This Gray Ash-Brown Hair

    I love how this ash-brown hair color leans a bit more gray than some of the other options. Go for this look if you want something extra cool-toned and ashy.

  16. This Mauve Ash-Brown Hair

    A teensy bit of mauve gives this ash-brown hair color a slightly purple tone when you look closely. And, like, can we just talk about how good this color looks when styled in loose beach waves?

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  17. This Lilac Ash-Brown Hair

    For even more of a purple undertone, ask your stylist to create your ashy base with shades of lilac and silver. The end result will look so pretty against a neutral-brown color.

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  18. This Ashy "Bronde" Hair

    It's definitely on the warmer side, but this ash "bronde" hair is a great option for folks who want something in between blonde and brown. TBH, this is a great color for transitioning out of winter.

  19. This Delicate Ash-Brown Hair

    A few soft-brown highlights against the face make this ash-brown hair color super approachable for anyone on the fence. I mean, what's not to love?

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  20. This Ash-Brown Hair With Silver

    The silver ends on this ash-brown hair color make it a super-pretty option for long bobs or asymmetrical cuts. Just run a flat iron through your ends to recreate this sleek-AF texture.

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This article originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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