"California Brunette" Is The Ultimate Summertime Hair Color Trend

It’s blonde but not.

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If you want to add a little something to your hair without making a major change, then the shade “California brunette” is for you. With 54.8 billion views on TikTok, this laidback hair color features a darker root with bright highlights in all the right places so it looks like you live by the beach. As a bonus, it’s incredibly low maintenance.

Think of it as the perfect in-between shade to try when you don’t want to commit to going all light or all dark, says Bradley Leake, a Los Angeles-based celebrity hairstylist and ambassador for Hidden Crown Hair. The hue is the ideal sweet spot between blonde and brunette, and it’s one that offers a lived-in look that grows out in the most gorgeous, natural way.

California, of course, has long been associated with perfectly sun-kissed, beachy blonde hair, says Fae Norris, a hairstylist at Rock Paper Salon in LA. If your hair is dark, this trending shade of brunette is an easy way to capture this vibe — without all the bleach. The darker root complements more skin tones, too, she adds. Read on for everything to know about California brunette so you can achieve the look for yourself.

What Is California Brunette?

California brunette is actually a dark, all-over ash blonde with a deeper root and sunny highlights. “It’s a color that gives you that beachy look without committing to the damage that can come from going full-on blonde,” Norris tells Bustle. “It can also be tailored to look good on almost everyone.”

Norris likes to think of California brunette as “summer camp hair” for the brunettes of the world. It’s the color you’d come home with after spending multiple days outside, as it offers sun-stained highlights and a strong face frame, all while keeping a brunette root, she says. “This will be the perfect pop for brunettes with virgin hair that has never been colored before,” Leake adds. But it also works for blondes who want to change up their look by going a bit darker.

How To Get California Brunette Hair

According to Norris, the best thing you can do is show up to your hair color appointment with an inspiration photo (or TikTok) in hand, especially since there are so many subtle variations of California brunette — and just as many routes to get there.

“One good starting point is to mention that you’re looking for a partial balayage highlight with a root color and a toner,” she says. “I recommend a beige-y blonde for the tone because it’s universally flattering and can be tweaked more towards ashy or golden, depending on the season and your skin tone.”

For that perfect in-between mix of blonde and brunette, Leake suggests saying keywords like “sun-kissed” and “lived-in” so you leave with highlights that look natural. To really nail the look, make sure all of the blonde is softly blended for a subtle finish.

Since this color grows out beautifully, you should be able to extend your time between appointments, though he does recommend popping back in for the occasional gloss to get even more mileage. Other than that, you’re set to bask in that golden glow that didn’t even require a trip to the beach.


Bradley Leake, LA-based celebrity hairstylist, ambassador for Hidden Crown Hair

Fae Norris, hairstylist at Rock Paper Salon in Los Angeles

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