Auburn hair is basically the brunette version of red hair. It has the vivaciousness and warmth of red and ginger hair, but it also has a lot of natural brown tones in that will work really beautifully for most people. If you are considering going redhead but are a little nervous, the auburn hair color might be the perfect way to ease your way in! It is the perfect autumn shade, and it works just as well in balayages, ombres, and sombres as it does in traditional hair coloring styles!
In this article, I’ll break down the characteristics of auburn hair color, and help you figure out what kind of auburn hair dye will work best with your skin tone. I’ll let you know what the step by step process is for using auburn hair dye along with some extra tips for perfect color.
I’ll also explain how to maintain it so that it looks its best for as long as possible. Once you make the switch to auburn hair, you may also want to update your makeup and fashion, so I have some advice on that front as well. To finish things off we’ll get you inspired with photos of the very best auburn hair color ideas out there!
The auburn hair color sits somewhere on the spectrum between red, brown, and blonde hair, perfectly embodying the best traits of each one of these shades. It is a more natural and sophisticated take on red, but it is also more fun and livelier than your average brown.
Auburn hair colors can be darker, to look more like brown hair, or a little lighter, resembling blonde. When auburn hair leans towards warmer it can even be mistaken for ginger or copper hair.
The beautiful thing about the auburn hair color is that it is a subtler take on red, and it is therefore extremely flattering for almost every skin tone. Auburn hair colors work equally well with both warm and cool undertones to the skin, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
• If your skin tone happens to lean towards cooler, with purplish veins and pinkish tones, you will perhaps prefer a more neutral shade of auburn hair that has a bit of red, a lot of brown, and not too much orange or gold to it. Most people with cool skin tones also tend to be on the paler side of things, in which case a lighter auburn hair color will be super flattering, while a darker auburn shade will be intense, striking, and regal.
• Those with warm undertones to their skin, meaning that their veins appear more green while their skin has yellow tones to it, can try almost every shade of auburn hair dye without fear. The more golden tones of auburn hair will be the most flattering, of course, as they will bring out the gold in the skin, but even cooler takes on auburn hair are never so cool as to clash with warm skin.
Lighter takes on auburn hair will make the skin appear more tan, while darker shades of auburn hair color will simply complement.
• The only folks who might want to be a bit more careful with auburn hair colors are those whose skin has olive undertones, meaning that it appears slightly greenish. In this case, only auburn hair colors that are very nearly brown or gold can work, as too much red (especially orange red) will make the skin look sallow and sickly.
While it’s always a good idea to have your hair dyed professionally in a salon, if you still decide to take the DIY route, here is how you can dye your hair auburn at home.
First Things First
• Whenever you set out to dye your hair you need to remember that dyes, including auburn hair dye, will not lighten your natural hair color. If your hair is very dark and you are hoping for a lighter auburn hair color, you will have to first bleach your hair until it reaches the lightness you desire. Only then can you finally follow these instructions and dye your hair auburn.
• The auburn hair dye will damage your hair less and will take a better hold if you avoid washing it the day of and the day before you dye your hair. Don’t be afraid to let your hair get a little greasy before you dye it.
• You can prep your hair for the dyeing by doing a nourishing treatment mask, or even by just soaking your hair in coconut oil a few days before the dyeing session.
• You also want to prepare yourself mentally, but thinking about how you’d like your auburn hair to look. Are you going to just dye your whole head one color, or do you maybe want to leave the roots dark. Will you attempt to do an auburn balayage or ombre at home?
If you’re going to try a more complicated hair dyeing technique, then make sure to think ahead about how you will separate the hair and where you will apply the auburn hair dye in order to achieve it.
As you feel completely ready for the dye job, here is what you need to have:
• Auburn hair dye (or auburn hair dye kit, which will include the color as well as most of the following items)
• Plastic gloves
• Mixing bowl or bottle
• Hair dye applicator brush
• Hair clips
• A plastic bag or shower cap
• Old button-up shirt
• Petroleum jelly (optional)
Step 1: Auburn Hair Dye Process – Applying the Dye
• Now that you have everything ready, begin by mixing your auburn hair dye and developer together in a bowl with a brush, or in a bottle if you’re using a hair dye kit.
• Let the color sit for as long as it requires in order to develop. This will usually take a few minutes.
• While the auburn hair color develops, get ready by putting on an old button-up shirt that you don’t mind getting dirty.
• Apply petroleum jelly along your hairline and to your ears to avoid the skin getting stained with the auburn hair dye.
• Separate your hair with the help of a hair comb or with the sharp edge of your hair dye applicator brush, and then clip each section. Professional hair colorists will separate the hair into four sections, by splitting the hair from ear to ear along the crown, and again in the center.
• Put on the plastic gloves so you can avoid staining your hands.
• Choose the section of hair you want to start with (normally this would be one of the front sections), and take the hair clip off of it.
• From that section take a piece of hair about 2.5-cm in length, to begin dyeing.
• If you will be dyeing your hair from root to ends, apply the auburn hair dye to the roots of the piece of hair, and then pull it down all the way to the ends with the help of your hair dye applicator brush. If you’re opting for a balayage instead, apply the dye where you want the balayaged strands to go. If you’re doing an ombre, apply the auburn hair dye where you intend the ombre to start.
• Massage the auburn hair dye into the piece of hair you just covered, and then move on to the next 2.5-cm piece of hair from that same section.
• Continue dyeing the hair in pieces the same way, until you’ve covered that whole section of hair in auburn hair dye.
• Clip the dyed section of hair back up, and unclip the next section of hair. Split that section of hair into pieces much the same way you did for the previous section, and clip it all back up once all of the hair is covered in auburn hair dye.
Step 2: Waiting for the Color to Process
• Once you’ve finished dyeing all sections of your hair and clipped them all back up, put a shower cap or a plastic bag over your dyed hair to prevent the dye from coming into contact with anything and making a mess, as well as to trap heat in and speed up the processing time.
• Do not throw out your bottle or bowl of auburn hair dye – you might need it again later for touch-ups.
• Let your hair process for around 20-45 minutes. Your auburn hair dye should come with instructions as for how long processing time will take, so follow those.
• Once the processing time has elapsed, it’s time to enjoy the fact that you chose to wear a button-up shirt – you simply unbutton it without having to worry about pulling it over your head!
• Hop in the shower to wash out the dye with lukewarm water. Rinse as much of the auburn hair dye out without using a shampoo.
• Once the water is running clear load your hair up with conditioner, and let the conditioner sit in your hair for a few minutes.
• Rinse out the conditioner, and when you’re ready, get out of the shower.
• Gently towel-dry your hair or let it air-dry – try to avoid blow-drying it if you can.
• Once you’ve dried up, admire your new auburn hair color! If it’s perfect, then simply go ahead and enjoy it. If you seem some missing spots or areas that need correcting, go back in there with the auburn hair dye and correct the mistakes.
• Every time you shampoo your auburn hair you end up taking off some of the hair dye, so make sure to avoid shampooing your hair too often. After you’ve dyed your hair wait at least 2 or 3 days before using any shampoo. Afterwards, try to only shampoo your auburn hair once or twice a week.
• When you do wash your auburn hair, make sure to use a sulfate-free shampoo, as sulfates like sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate will strip the hair dye from the hair very quickly.
• Avoid washing your hair with hot water, as it will speed up the fading of your auburn hair color. Lukewarm water will be much kinder to your freshly dyed auburn hair.
• Even better, use a color-refreshing shampoo, conditioner, or hair mask every time you wash your hair, so they can deposit a bit more auburn hair color into your locks.
• Heat styling, including straightening, curling, and even blow-drying can damage dyed hair, so try to avoid doing it as much as possible. When going for heat styling, always use a heat protectant.
• Use hair strengthening masks with protein like keratin, silk protein, or soy protein to give your hair extra strength and moisture, since the dyeing process can really take its toll and make the hair brittle.
• You can expect to need a refreshment of your auburn hair dye job after 6-8 weeks, at which point you can also change up your color if you like!
The change over from blonde or brown hair to auburn hair is not an overly drastic one, so chances are you don’t have to change your way of doing makeup – at least not dramatically. However, I do have some tips for making auburn hair really jive with makeup.
Complexion Makeup for Auburn Hair
Auburn hair should not have an unflattering impact on your skin tone, so you shouldn’t find a need to change the way you do your foundation. Whether you like a matte, high-coverage foundation, a BB cream, a dewey tinted moisturizer, or anything in between, you can keep enjoying that product. The same goes for other complexion products like bronzer, highlighter, and contour powder or cream. Do you, boo!
When it comes to blush, you do need to be a bit more thoughtful, however. Blushes, especially very cool-toned mauve or magenta blushes, do pose the risk of clashing against warmer reddish auburn hair. If you are the daring type, feel free to play around, but for most it is more advisable to opt for a neutral or peachy blush instead.
Eye Makeup For Auburn Hair
Once you make the switch to auburn hair color, the most drastic change to your eye makeup is going to be your eyebrow pomade or pencil. You will definitely want to switch over to a pencil, powder, or cream that will match auburn hair better. You don’t have to switch to something that matches perfectly, but a brown tone with more reddish or golden undertones to it will work better than a cool taupe or yellowish brown.
When it comes to eyeshadows, however, there are fewer rules! Some women with auburn hair love having their eyeshadow clash against their hair, by using green or deep blue tones. Bright neon takes on these colors are likely to clash, but smokier or jewel-like metallic shades will be super classy.
The safe shades to wear for eyeshadow include smoky grays and blacks, metallic bronzes, coppers, and golds, and earthy neutrals like beige, taupe, or chocolate brown.
When it comes to eyeliner, you can skip it altogether. Especially if you went down to a brighter shade of auburn hair than your previous hair color, you can rock the seductive liquid eyeliner look with a sharp wing, or you can wear a pencil in a smoky smudge.
Black is a classic choice, but browns, plums, and even dark blues can work well as long as they match your eyeshadow look. As far as mascara is concerned, sticking to black or dark brown is the way to go.
Lipstick for Auburn Hair
Unlike with bright red hair, most lipsticks will not clash against auburn hair colors. Both blue-based and orange-based red lipsticks can work well with your new hair color, especially if you like the bombshell look.
Cool, purple-based lipsticks are a bit riskier, but they’re style worth trying – just make sure to pair them with very neutral eye makeup. The safe choice, of course, is wearing neutral “my lip but better” shades like rose and raspberry, or lively peach shades. Be careful with nude lipsticks, as too light of a nude shade will wash you out.
The beautiful thing about auburn hair colors is that they’re more neutral, and therefore more versatile than more vibrant takes on red. Colors that might clash with red or ginger hair will not clash with auburn hair, so you don’t need to worry about getting creative.
• For more professional looks, opt for neutral solids. Beige is an especially flattering option, and you can combine it with chocolate browns and taupes as well.
• Other neutrals, like white and black, will allow your auburn hair to take all of the attention.
• If you’d like to draw even more attention to your auburn hair, then make sure to wear its opposite colors on the color wheel: green if it leans more towards red, and blue if it leans more towards orange.
• If you’re a fan of color blocking, you should know that most shades of auburn hair are not red enough to become part of your color pattern. This means that you can combine all the colors you like for a fun color-blocked outift!
• Pastels are not necessarily a bad color option, but they can look a little weak when combined with auburn hair colors. Once you punch them up with some darker colors in the form of a scarf or jacket they should work well!
• Normally we tell redheads to be careful when wearing pinks or reds – however, those with auburn hair colors don’t need to worry. Red will always be a sexy choice, while pinks will give some girlish brightness to your look!
When it comes to auburn hair color inspiration, skim through these 55 looks that are hot, spicy and cool!
1. Fall Leaves Auburn Balayage
The hair in this look is primarily dyed a deep mahogany, but a thread of bright auburn hair dye gives it a vivacious brightness. The color combination really reminds us of the autumn leaves.
2. Chocolate Auburn Curls
Deep brown pairs well with the deep orange auburn streaks running through it. The effect is delicious, especially with the romantic curls at the end. It’s one of the most wearable auburn hair color ideas to embrace!
3. Deep Auburn Hair
This deep auburn hair color is super rich, with a ton of depth to it thanks to a great mixture of red and brown. A little airy touch comes from brightened up ginger ends. Pair with a neutral makeup look to make your hair pop.
4. Fire-Touched Auburn Hair
These deep auburn waves have a lot of romantic red to them, with a thread of fiery orange balayage giving a touch of brightness. The auburn hair color seems to dance when you add such subtle beachy waves.
5. Chocolate, Auburn and Copper Balayage
Different red and brown tones come together in this auburn hair color to give a deep, sophisticated, and healthy-looking balayage that has a lot of gleam. The roots start dark and let a brighter copper-tinted auburn take the lead towards the ends.
6. Auburn Bob
Auburn hair color works just as well with shorter hairstyles as it does with long ones, as you can see from this lovely and richly colored wavey bob. The hair is dyed a uniform auburn color that is rich, moody and just effortless.
7. Shiny Penny Auburn Hair
This long bob is sleek and straight, which allows the auburn hair color to really shine and look extra metallic. This is a brighter take on auburn hair that is very close to ginger or copper.
8. Caramel Espresso Auburn Hair
Long, wavey hair looks best when it is dyed a combination of lighter and darker tones, like in this balayage. The base of the auburn hair is espresso brown, but caramel and auburn tones brighten it up and add some life.
9. Chocolate to Auburn Sombre
This subtle ombre is as wearable as they come, and is a perfect take on auburn hair for brunettes. Keep your roots a natural chocolate, and progressively dye the ends a brighter auburn.
10. Auburn Raccoon Hair
Have you ever seen those adorable red raccoons? This auburn hair balayage is raccoon-inspired, with horizontal stripes of bright auburn decorating a deeper base and giving extra volume to the waves.
11. Subtle Auburn Brunette
At first glance they see a brunette, and only at the second one will they realize that all that gleam comes from a hint of metallic auburn balayaged through. This auburn hair is a fantastic fall hair color idea that you can also wear all year round.
12. Hand-Painted Autumn Balayage
An abundance of reddish auburn hair color in this balayage makes for super warm, autumn-ready hair that keeps its brown base for easy maintenance. This is the kind of auburn hair color that is perfect for those first experimenting with red shades.
13. Auburn Princess Hair
The secret to having magical princess hair is the perfect combination of impossible length, lush waves, and gleaming shine. The truth is that the actual auburn hair color doesn’t matter seeing, as this blend of chocolate brown and bright auburn does the trick.
14. Metallic Auburn Mermaid
This ultra shiny auburn hair has a lot of orange to it, which gives us gorgeous mermaid vibes, especially when waved so beautifully. It’s a rich and bright take on the auburn hair trend, which will especially appeal to those that want to hit the spotlight wherever they go.
15. Auburn and Copper Balayage
Now this is how you combine natural-look hair colors! This balayage embraces brunette roots, which are perfectly complemented by an auburn hair color applied in the center, and copper ends.
16. Warm Auburn and Red Waves
The intensity of the auburn hair color in this look is courtesy of a lot of reddish tones. A touch of warm golden dye on the ends gives a fiery effect to these long waves. This auburn hair shade just pops on the background of yellow outfits.
17. Solid Auburn Brown Waves
The dimension that auburn hair colors have means that they look great even without balayage or streaking techniques, like in this long bob where the hair was painted with just one shade of auburn hair dye. Pair with every outfit in your wardrobe and be ready to stand out!
18. Warm and Cool Auburn Waves
The mix of coppery and reddish shades of auburn makes for a unique warm and cool hairstyle that attracts attention without being over the top. Add subtle waves to make the hair color dance.
19. Metallic Auburn Marcel Wave
The Marcel wave is one of the best hairstyles for emphasizing metallic hair colors like this deep and gleaming take on auburn hair. It’s a perfect party and festive hair look you’ll never get bored with.
20. Silken Red Auburn Waves
Silky smooth hair is such a pleasure, especially when it is colored with a warm, reddish auburn hair dye that keeps it healthy and fun. This take on auburn hair is fiery and opulent without being over the top.
21. Rich Auburn and Chocolate Curls
This short curly hairstyle is super cute, and there is something particularly delicious about the way the shiny auburn hair color in it brings out the deepness of the chocolate brown base. Pair with jewel-toned outfits to create a vibrant, show-stopping look.
22. Auburn Balayage with Eggplant Touch
We love a good Marcel wave, because it works perfectly with balayage hairstyles. Chocolate roots give way to an auburn balayage that is made more unique and opulent thanks to just a hint of cool eggplant hair dye.
23. Wave of Auburn Fire
Super long waves in red or auburn hair colors immediately make us think of the Little Mermaid, but this look takes it to the next level with just a hint of bright auburn balayage on a deep brownish red base. Pair it with neutral outfits to put the focus on your Ariel waves.
24. Warm Auburn Wave with Deep Roots
The great thing about auburn hair colors is that they look very natural against darker brown roots. This particular auburn hair idea makes for a warm and fun hairstyle that is easy to maintain.
25. Auburn Cherry Bob
Pairing cherry cola hair with just a hint of auburn hair dye for streaking makes for a curly bob that has a retro feel and a ton of shine. This is the most elegant way of embracing the auburn hair trend.
26. Contrasting Auburn Balayage
The reason why this balayage seems extra unique is because its base is a cooler shade of deep auburn hair, which the ultra-thin streaking of warm orange contrasts against very nicely. This auburn hairstyle will look amazing with carefree beach looks in summer.
27. Auburn Hair Touched by Neon
If you get bored easily but still want hair that looks mostly natural, consider this kind of take on auburn hair colors, with a warm and natural mid-tone auburn that is just lightly balayaged over with a hint of neon orange. A bold lip will take your look to completely new heights!
28. Mexican Hot Chocolate Auburn Hair
Chocolate hair rules here, but a touch of bright auburn balayaing gives some spice, reminding us of the delicious cinnamon and cayenne flavors of a Mexican hot chocolate. This is the brunette kind of auburn hair you can go for to breathe life into your darker hair.
29. Tri-Colored Auburn Hair
We have three gleaming shades blended together uniquely here, with a cool reddish auburn on top, a chocolate brown center, and pumpkin auburn ends. It creates a nice auburn balayage that is too pretty not to try.
30. Vintage Auburn Waves
This is a restrained take on auburn hair colors, with a lot of brown and gold tones and very little red. This means that all the glamour comes from the vintage curling in this hairstyle.
31. Auburn and Cola Wave
Dark brown with just a touch of red will always remind us of coca-cola, and the gradient down towards a brighter auburn here adds some much needed radiance. The vintage waves pair so well with this auburn hair color making for a chic party look to try.
32. Modern Wavey Auburn Bob
This warm orange-leaning auburn hair color gives the perfect mix of fun and wearability to this feathery, wavey bob that is oh-so-modern and youthful. Subtle messy waves give volume and radiance to the look.
33. Auburn Fire Waves
This deep auburn hair dye leans towards orange while still preserving some brunette darkness, making for a fiery, memorable color that isn’t too loud or bright. Chocolate roots add some dimension and balance to the wavey look.
34. Tropical Smoothie Auburn Hair
This thick streaking technique and the sleek, piecey waving lead to an auburn hair look where each hair color shines and looks extra prominent. Because of this, shades of gold, orange, auburn, and red look totally tropical and fruity.
35. Subtle Auburn Brunette
This is the kind of auburn hair color that makes the wearer appear as a brunette, but there is a lot of auburn streaking in it. Because the streaks are thinner, it simply looks like magnificently shiny warm brown hair.
36. Pumpkin Pie Auburn Streaks
Dare to go for true pumpkin auburn hair! This hairstyle is an example of what happens when a brown and blonde balayage gets warmed up with a dose of reddish tones.
37. Chocolate Peach Balayage
This softer take on auburn hair colors is very peachy and lovely – it’s a summery color, but combined with the chocolate brown base it makes for a very autumnal look instead. So you can proudly wear this auburn hair color year round!
38. Deep Auburn with a Bang
We love bang haircuts, and this asymmetrical take on a fringe is one of our favorites. This look feels warm and comfy thanks to the lushness of the waves, and the warm deep auburn hair color that is just lightly brightened by ginger on the ends.
39. Beachy Auburn Lob
Auburn hair colors are not strictly for autumn, as proven by the way it was combined with beachy waves in this long bob haircut! Keep it sleek straight or wavy, this auburn hair color is meant to dazzle!
40. Auburn Swirl
Sleek chocolate brown locks are great for winter, but when you need to warm them up, a swirl of auburn hair dye is a great way to go. This look inspires us to have hot chocolate by the fireplace.
41. Melted Caramel Hair
Auburn hair can look like melted caramel when it’s this shiny and healthy. The trick to getting these kinds of gleam is to use the same color throughout the hair, but change the amount of developer to lighten things up a little more or a little less.
42. Cool Auburn Balayage Dream
This hair is so dreamy it’s hard to believe it’s real! The secret here is that this is a cooler take on auburn hair color, with a lot of different shades of brown and red but very little gold – the auburn almost seems pink in some places!
43. Upgraded Auburn Ombre
Feeling tired of your ombre? Auburn hair colors are a great way to update it, as you see here. The reddish tones of the auburn complement both the darker roots and lighter ends.
44. Bombshell Auburn Waves
A simple wavey blow-dry is the easiest way to style auburn hair into something magnificent, especially when the hair itself has extra dimension from the blend of lighter and darker tones. A red lip will take the look from day to night flawlessly.
45. Auburn Pixie
The only thing that makes a pixie haircut cuter is having it colored with auburn hair dye! This look is a fantastic hairstyle idea for women over 50, as well as for the younger, bolder ones out there.
46. Long Auburn Sombre
We haven’t seen many looks that combine black with auburn hair color, perhaps because they are too striking for most. In this look, the incredibly long black hair has its ends lightened into a lovely golden auburn sombre.
47. Dimensional Auburn Curls
The blend of lighter and darker shades of auburn hair color in this balayage makes for multi-dimensional curls that almost blind with their shininess. Pair it with dangling earrings and a little black dress for special events.
48. Chocolate Caramel Sombre
This is a subtler take on the dark brown and auburn hair color mix, with a dark golden auburn that is very caramelly sombred over a chocolate brown base. It looks especially chic on long, wavy hair.
49. Subtle Coolness Auburn Hair
This take on auburn hair seems very warm at first glance, but actually, this bright, red-heavy auburn look also has a thread of cooler tones running through it, making it seem more modern and unique. A side part with beautiful waves keeps the look ready for any party.
50. Winter-Ready Auburn Hair
This deep auburn balayage has a deep red undertone to it, without too much gold, making it the perfect take on auburn hair for winter, especially when combined with the dark, nearly black base. Keep it long or short – this hair color is going to dazzle!
51. Tri-Color Auburn Bob
This lovely bob has a real beachy effect because of the loose waves, while different shades of auburn add a touch of autumnal warmth. Complete your look with rock n’ roll outfits for a badass effect.
52. Rose Gold and Auburn Balayage
There are so many different shades blended together in this balayage, and the effect is oh-so-joyful. Rose gold hair tones give a girlish vibe and pair well with caramel, copper, and auburn hair colors.
53. Golden Swirl Auburn Hair
This deep auburn hairstyle is rich and modern, with a swirl of golden that punches it up for some extra liveliness. It’s a great hair color idea both for the young and middle-aged women.
54. Auburn and Lavender Waves
If you want something especially unique, consider combining your auburn hair color with a pastel. This long bob is a great example, with a wavey thread of lavender running through the rich auburn locks.
55. Reverse Auburn Colormelt
An auburn colormelt is always a fabulous choice, but here we see a rare example where the roots start out lighter, and the auburn hair color gets darker as it reaches the ends. Lush curls make the hair ready for the party.
Photos via Instagram