hair science

What Colors Can You Put on Brown Hair?

If you have tried coloring your brown hair a vivid color before, only to step out of the shower still brown as ever, we feel you. Don’t reach for the bleach just yet. Here’s how to color brown hair with oVertone.

oVertone works on all kinds of hair, but the darker your starting shade, the less visible color you’re likely to see. To get results similar to most of our inspo pics, you’ll probably need to lighten some or all of your strands.

But first, hair science.

Because brown hair is a darker color, it takes a very pigmented product to show color on it.  Color will deposit on your hair either way but depending on how dark it is will determine whether you can see the color or not.  If it does show, it will not directly reflect the exact color of the product. It will be a darker shade since it is on a dark base (your hair). Really dark brown hair and jet black hair will not show any color so you will have to have your hair lightened if you have either.

If you decide you want a bolder color, go see your stylist to lighten your hair.   The lighter the brown, the brighter the end result.  Even then, the Extreme deep conditioners are going to yield the best results.  Also keep in mind that the way your hair accepts color also depends on the porosity, health, and texture of your hair.

So what colors can you put on brown hair?

Each oVertone color comes in 3 shades, pastel, vibrant, and extreme.  You’ll want to choose an oVertone Extreme Deep Treatment since it has the most pigment and therefore is more likely to show. Once you’ve made your choice, saturate your strands, leave on for 15 or more minutes and rinse out. Our new Rose Gold for Brown Hair and our Extreme Deep Treatments in warm shades such as Pink, Red, or Orange are the best choices to add a hint of color to dark hair without bleaching.  

Here’s an example of how Extreme Pink looks on auburn hair:

Here’s Rose Gold for Brown Hair:

And click here to see an entire Youtube playlist of examples of oVertone on darker strands.

And what colors will never work for dark hair?

Cooler toned shades like Green, Purple or Blue can have a harder time showing up on darker hair, so we recommend strand testing with one of our sample sizes to make sure it will work for you. It’s unlikely that our Pastel shades will show up if your hair is anything darker than platinum blonde.

Check out this video on how oVertone interacts with different hair colors:

Don’t believe us? The proof is in the reviews.

If you have more questions, our Color Consultants at hi@overtone.co have got your back.

Filed Under: hair science

45 comments on “What Colors Can You Put on Brown Hair?”

  • Kelly Bonczek says:

    Thanks so much for posting this! I’ve looked at your site occasionally and was too nervous to make a purchase since I have brown hair. Excellent info!!

  • Megan says:

    I have dark brown hair and the go deep extreme purple is amazing. It’s really subtle. People have even told me it looks natural, and when I’m in the sun you can really see it.

    • Alee says:

      That’s awesome! Purple is definitely a hit or miss shade on brown hair – it works wonders for some people and has mixed results for others. We’re super glad you love your results!

  • Selma says:

    Can I take blue on light Brown Hair ?

  • Natalie says:

    Can you use over tone over hair that has been treated with lush henna previously?

  • Natalie says:

    Can you use this product after using lushes henna?

  • Lorraine says:

    I’ve been using oVertone on never-treated dark brown with gray hair … I love it! Extreme purple shows very well and is vibrant at first deep conditioning application, stays very visible when using only daily conditioner, and shows in sun even when it’s fading. I did extreme teal in an underlayer, too … it showed at first application, but faded after that to be a subtle hint more like blue-black, probably because of my original hair color and the fact that the purple conditioner runs over the blue when I rinse it in the shower. Still, I got the peacock look I was going for and loved it very much! I’m going to try all extreme purple now (for ease of only maintaining one color and since I’m just not done with this lovely purple color yet)! I really like the fact that it absorbs into my hair in a way that looks like a natural blend, not like a blanket of color, so I get a bright color but also some natural highlights still show, just with color now. Also, the smell is amazing!! Thanks, oVertone!

  • Pam says:

    I’m letting my hair go natural (gray), but I hate the 2 tones as it is growing out. The natural color is dark brown and with lots of gray strands. The remaining color is a dark blond or blondish brown. I’ve wanted to do something funky fun to help with the transition. Any idea of how it might turn out if I use extreme on my 2 tones hair?

    • Alee says:

      Our Extreme Deep Treatments in warm tones can add a subtle tint to your darker strands, and a bolder hue to your lightened ends! The overall effect may appear as an ombre or a shadow root look. For more personalized advice, send a pic of your current strands and one of the shades you would like to achieve to our Color Consultants at hi@overtone.co!

  • Selena says:

    I have black hair and I want a rose gold color but I don’t know if it would show up in my hair

    • Alee says:

      oVertone works on all kinds of hair, but the darker your starting shade, the less visible color you’re likely to see. To get results similar to most of our inspo pics, you’ll probably need to lighten some or all of your strands. If your hair is a truly black shade, you’d want to see a stylist to lift it to at least a light brown. Once it’s lightened, you can grab our Rose Gold for Brown Hair to add a subtle tint to your light brown strands!

  • Sarah says:

    My daughter wants pink highlights in her hair. She has dirty blonde hair, but we are going to get some blonde highlights. Will this product deposit hair color throughout or just on the bleached strands? I’m nervous about trying this.

    • Alee says:

      Hey Sarah! It really depends on her hair – if she’s younger, keep in mind that most kid’s hair is so healthy that the Extreme Deep Treatments are the only ones tough enough to break through their hair’s stubborn cuticle! The best way to tell if the color will show on her natural hair is to do a test strand!

      That being said, definitely get in touch with our Color Consultants at hi@overtone.co with a picture of her hair and they’ll totally be able to give you a better idea of what you can expect!

  • Hannah says:

    I have dyed red/copper hair, it’s fairly light at the bottom and get darker going up. I’m curious about what other colors besides red or orange that I can try on my hair?

  • Belen says:

    I have really dark brown hair and I’ve always wanted the vibrant teal on the ends. What lightner/bleach should I use to lighten my hair? I really want to avoid damaging my hair as much as possible.

    • Alee says:

      Hi there Belen! We always recommend getting with your stylist to discuss your lightening options and what will work best for your hair!

  • Lee says:

    It would be really helpful if you would post strand tests that demonstrate the colors on light and medium brown hair. My hair is naturally baby shit brown – not blonde, not rich brunette, certainly not auburn – just brown. Nothing exciting. Nothing special. I can’t be the only one who is so ‘blessed’.

    How about indulging us too?

    • Alee says:

      Hi there! We try to provide strands showing as many shades as possible, if you don’t see your starting shade our Color Consultants would love to help you! You can send them an email with a picture of your current hair with lots of natural light and no filters along with an inspo pic over to hi@overtone.co and they’ll get you going!

  • ash says:

    i have medium/darkish brown hair… what would it look like with silver?

    • Alee says:

      Hey there! Since silver is basically a mix of all primary colors, the final result is heavily dependent on the starting hair color. A neutral platinum base is your best bet for a true silver. That being said, for the best advice, send an email with a picture of your current hair with lots of natural light and no filters along with an inspo pic over to our Color Consultants at hi@overtone.co and they will totally help you out!

  • Smith says:

    I have very dark brown and curly hair, I would like to know if the purple or rose gold will show up on my hair without having to lighten it or put chemicals in it.

    • Alee says:

      Hey there! oVertone Color Conditioners work on all kinds of hair, but because they don’t lift or lighten at all, the darker your starting shade, the less visible color you’re likely to see. Clients with black or very dark brown hair may only show a very subtle tint from our Color Conditioners and in some cases might not have visible results, so if you have dark hair, we definitely recommend trying a Deep Treatment sample size (grab one here: https://overtone.co/collections/samples/) and strand testing your hair to see how the color will work for you.

      For the best advice, send an email with a picture of your current hair with lots of natural light and no filters along with an inspo pic over to our Color Consultants at hi@overtone.co and they will totally help you out!

  • Marilyn Jensen says:

    What are the ingredients?

  • Meagan Wells says:

    I have very dark brown hair and have recently taken to dying it black. I’m in the military so unfortunately I can’t have any cool/unnatural colors but could I use the extreme blue to keep up on the black dye so my roots don’t show and the black doesn’t fade? I only had it dyed for a few weeks before it started fading back to brown!

    • Alee says:

      Hey Meagan! Extreme Blue might end up turning your roots blue and adding a blue tint to your black. That being said, for the best advice, send an email with a picture of your current hair with lots of natural light and no filters along with an inspo pic over to our Color Consultants at hi@overtone.co and they will totally help you out!

  • Quincey says:

    I color my hair blue black (from a box) and I have an underlayer that I bleached and dyed blue. The extreme blue keeps my blue fresh (obviously), but it also keeps my blue black looking sharp! It keeps the rusty tones from coming out and it enhances the blue tone. I used it when my hair was just a little lighter shade and it did the same thing. You won’t get bold colors on dark hair, but you’ll get the subtle tone. And it conditions your hair too… so no harm in trying!

  • Lauren says:

    I have brown hair that lightens pretty easily in the summer but would love to lighten it overall without bleaching. Do you have anything that turns dark brown hair lighter like a caramel or dirty blonde? I just see red options like the rose gold…

    • Alee says:

      Hi Lauren! oVertone Color Conditioners act like a semi-permanent deposit only color. They don’t bleach or lift, just enhance and re-invigorate. This means we can’t get you any color lighter than your current shade with oVertone alone. We always recommend seeing your stylist to lighten your strands!

  • Samantha says:

    A year ago, I tried Overtone Extreme Red Deep Treatment for the first time after attempting to dye my intensely dark brown from a box color. I have stuck with it since, and have only been using this product to color my hair every few weeks. My hair is super thin and fine (even though I’m only 20), so it breaks easily and ever since I started using Overtone regularly it has stopped breaking and I can go longer between haircuts. This past summer, I decided to start mixing the Extreme Red with Extreme Purple, and I cannot tell you how many complements I have received!! The color is beautiful, and the pigment turns up a perfect mix of strong and subtle. I always tell everyone about Overtone because I can boast that what I’m using to color my hair doesn’t harm it in anyway. There was a period of time where I got lazy and didn’t dye it for almost 2 months, and my ends started to get really bad. My hair drinks up the deep treatment conditioning (and the new “Remedy” hair mask!). I just recently tried to wash out the color as much as I could to start the new Rose Gold for brown hair, and I absolutely love it!! So subtle and natural, just like the purple and red mix I had on for awhile. This is essentially a love letter to this company for making my hair the best it’s ever been. Thank you so much!!

  • Jennifer Stunich says:

    i currently dyed my hair a golden brown that came out way darker. i had alot of gray and couldnt take it anymore. now i would like to put some blue but light more or a teal to it. would this be ok to use since its newly dyed like 2 days ago or should i wait a few weeks? seem this stuff on carly and erin from youtube and want to use it so bad. please let me know any suggestions you have. thanks

    • Alee says:

      Hey Jennifer! Our products can totally be used over other dyes! That being said, the darker your hair, the less visible color you’ll see. For the best advice, send an email with a picture of your current hair with lots of natural light and no filters along with an inspo pic over to our Color Consultants at hi@overtone.co and they will totally help you out!

  • Nancy Wilson says:

    I can only find the Purple for Brown Hair on your website to order and I’d like to see the other Colors for Brown Hair you carry. How can I do that?

  • Carter Bernaquez says:

    How will vibrant real look on dark brown hair?

    • Alee says:

      Hey Carter! oVertone Color Conditioners work on all kinds of hair, but because they don’t lift or lighten at all, the darker your starting shade, the less visible color you’re likely to see. Cooler toned shades like Green, Teal, or Blue can have a harder time showing up on darker hair, and it’s unlikely that our Pastel shades will show up if your hair is anything darker than platinum blonde. Check out this video on how oVertone Color Conditioners interact with different hair colors: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iV6xJj9MZPY

      Clients with black or very dark brown hair may only show a very subtle tint from our Color Conditioners and in some cases might not have visible results, so if you have dark hair, we definitely recommend trying an Extreme Deep Treatment sample size (grab one here: https://overtone.co/collections/samples/) and strand testing your hair to see how the color will work for you.

  • Rachel says:

    I really want to dye my tips dark purple, but my hair is brown (as far as I can tell) and is so thick that it appears practically black. I was wondering if instead of using the Extreme Purple Deep Treatment I could use the Vibrant Purple Deep Treatment and it would come out the dark purple I want because my hair is so dark. This is a really dumb question, but it never hurts to ask. Thanks!

    • Alee says:

      Hey Rachel! oVertone Color Conditioners work on all kinds of hair, but because they don’t lift or lighten at all, the darker your starting shade, the less visible color you’re likely to see. Our new Purple for Brown Hair, Rose Gold for Brown Hair, and our Extreme Deep Treatments in warm shades such as Pink, Red, or Orange are the best choices to add an awesome hint of color to darker strands without bleaching! For more info, get with our Color Consultants at hi@overtone.co and check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iV6xJj9MZPY

  • my Hair is dark brown. If I have a salon dye it purple, will the purple for brown hair hurt it or just keep in vibrant?

    • Alee says:

      Hey Leiloni! oVertone Color Conditioners work in many ways! You can color your untreated hair with our Deep Treatment and maintain your color (whether it’s previously dyed or you only used oVertone) with our Daily Conditioner. You can then use the Deep Treatment again whenever you want to refresh your color and add an extra pop of hydration! Check out our How it Works page for more info: https://overtone.co/pages/how-it-works

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