Just as there’s a lure to lighten hair in sunnier months, embracing the dark side in winter is a recurring theme many are familiar with. But this year, the draw of brunette colour feels especially strong.
As London’s reigning blonde expert, A-list colourist Nicola Clarke told me: “I find that people are steering away from the Californian, tousled, beachy hair,” and if they’re not committing to an all-over “lightbulb blonde”, they’re going brunette. Rich, gooey, chocolatey brunette. Meanwhile, those already in camp dark “are returning to more of a real brunette,” she’s observed. “Not a solid colour, but tones that are much darker as opposed to lightened.”
Clarke and fellow influential colourist Zoe Irwin have coined the look ‘liquid brunette’, which is now a professional colour service available at John Frieda salons. “This is the 70 per cent dark chocolate bar of hair – it’s that colour,” Irwin says of its richness. And the ‘liquid’? It’s all about a high-gloss quality that’s “so shiny it almost looks wet”.
Poster girls for the look include Hailey Bieber (a celebrity of monumental influence in the beauty world this year), fellow supermodels Irina Shayk and Karlie Kloss, as well as actresses Priyanka Chopra and Zendaya. But, as with many trends capturing the zeitgeist now, it speaks to the return of a big ‘90s moment – and Winona Ryder in that decade is a huge reference for the hair colour.
In line, Winona’s energy in that era reflects pop culture’s sartorial ‘soft goth’ preoccupation this season, amplified by the success of the new Addams family-based Netflix hit, Wednesday. Like the hairstyle equivalent of a Vampire’s Wife dress, Clarke says, this hue gives glamorous goth vibes. “It’s glossy, not dusty!”
Inspired, I took my own moodboard (featuring influencer Pernille Teisbæk and actress Sydney Sweeney who just swapped blonde for her natural brown) to my colourist Luci Green at Larry King Hair. In place of the sun-kissed bronde I’ve had my whole adult life, Green gave me sleek, liquid chocolate locks that I adore.
Given my base colour, which was always achieved with bleach, Green used a coloured gloss by Redken on my hair to darken it. This, she explained, boosts its condition, as well as making the transformation less of a serious commitment. The colour will gradually fade, avoiding any regrowth which would require root touch-ups. Plus, it leaves the hair effortlessly shiny.
While I was previously assumptive that dark hair might ‘wash me out’, the opposite is proving true. Given my tones beneath the brunette, the colour is multidimensional – an important factor for brunettes, Clarke had told me. As with natural dark hair, coloured brunette shouldn’t be just one colour – and a professional colourist will ensure that “even though other tones might not be obvious, they are there”. It’s this that helps flatter the skin tone, she said.
I also think (and friends have said!) that the hair colour enhances my dark brown eyes. This would be the case for others embracing 'liquid' chocolate brunette, too. “This hair has the ability to make blue and green eyes really pop,” Irwin adds. Frankly, it’s as satisfying as it sounds.
Here, get more brunette hair colour ideas, as well as tips from Green on how to treat freshly coloured hair.
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