The Real Difference Between Being Blonde And Brunette

It's time to settle the age-old debate and learn more about what sets these two hair colors apart.

Reviewed by Andrea Claire, Hairstylist & Makeup Artist
Written by Anjali Sayee, BTech
Edited by Shatabdi Bhattacharya, BSc
Fact-checked by Anu Pallavi, BA  • 

Blondes and brunettes are often pitched against each other.

Blondes are said to be more airheaded, while brunettes are seen as more intellectual and socially uptight. Well, these are just stereotypes and perceptions prevalent in our society and culture.

Hard facts: There is no truth to this! We are here to end the blonde vs. brunette debate. Your hair color does not define who you are. Brunettes can be a blast to be around, and blondes can be incredibly intelligent.

Discover the science behind your hair color and determine if you are a blonde or brunette.

Eumelanin is a pigment found in hair follicles. The concentration level of eumelanin in your hair decides the darkness of your hair color and it also greatly depends on genetics.There are two types of eumelanin, namely brown and black eumelanin. If you have a high level of brown eumelanin, you have brunette hair. But a low level of this pigment gives you blonde hair. If you have low black eumelanin, there’s more white color in your hair than black.

Pheomelanin is another pigment that gives yellow and orange tints to your hair. It also determines whether you end up with ginger hair.

protip_icon Before You Get Started
  • Licensed hairstylist Andrea Claire says, “Using a purple shampoo or semi gloss can reduce the brassiness of blonde hair in both artificial or natural blondes. Just don’t overuse it or you can end up with purple hair.”
  • Massage your hair with natural oils like coconut or olive oils to improve brunette hair radiance. These nourishing oils are perfect for healthy hair treatment.
  • Use a shower filter while washing your hair to prevent hard water from fading away your blonde hair color.
  • Andrea Claire adds, “Using a blue shampoo and conditioner helps remove brassy orange tones from brunette hair.”

What Is Brunette Hair?

Brunette hair refers to a range of shade in between brown and black hair. Brunette hair is a result of high levels of eumelanin and low levels of pheomelanin.

protip_icon Trivia
The word ‘brunette’ is from the Proto-Indo-European word ‘bher,’ meaning ‘bright brown’ and may be related to bear, beaver, or burnish.

What Is Blonde Hair?

Blonde hair is golden or yellowish. It is a result of low brown eumelanin, high black eumelanin, and high pheomelanin.

Shades Of Blonde And Brunette Hair

There are many shades of brunette and blonde hair. You can find light, medium, dark and mixed shades of both colors.

protip_icon Trivia
Strawberry blonde, a mixture of red and blonde hair, is the rarest blonde hair shade that occurs naturally.

You may think that the only difference between blonde and brunette hair lies in their color. However, your natural hair color also determines a few key characteristics of your hair. Let’s take a look.

Major Differences Between Blonde And Brunette Hair

  • Natural blondes have more hair than natural brunettes.
  • Darker hair contains more melanin than lighter hair. Therefore, it naturally provides a better protective barrier.
  • Blonde hair hides grays easily.
  • With blonde hair, your scalp is not very visible if you have thin, fine textured hair.
  • Brunette hair doesn’t catch color easily.
  • Brunette hair is shinier than blonde hair.

Does this make you want to color your hair brown? Well, we’ve got you covered! Just keep reading.

How To Go From Blonde To Brunette

Since blonde is a light color, coloring it brunette is easy. Depending on the shade of blonde your hair is, you’ll need to pick the right shade of brown hair color.

Licensed celebrity hairstylist, Andrea Claire advises, “Be careful with some brown shades as they may turn green on blonde hair. When in doubt, seek out a professional hairstylist. Another option is using a semi-permanent or gloss color that stains the hair instead of penetrating into the hair shaft. Semis have less mishaps for the DIYer!”

Just a bit of research and following a few precautions can help you achieve a healthy hair color transformation. We have broken down the process into simple steps for you below.

  • To DIY, start by putting on an old shirt that you are ok with staining. Apply a little petroleum jelly to the skin around your hairline to prevent it from getting stained by the hair color.
  • Always follow the directions provided by the brand. Typically color timing is 20-40 minutes depending on whether it is a gloss or a permanent color. Use the shampoo and conditioner provided in the kits to wash off the color from your hair

Isn’t the process pretty straightforward! Unfortunately, going the other way around and coloring your brunette tresses to blonde isn’t as easy. Let us read ahead to understand how it works.

How To Go From Brunette To Blonde

Andrea Claire says, “As brunette hair can vary in darkness. Going blonde can be as easy as applying a one-step process or it can be multiple steps that require bleaching and toning. Boxed dyes usually have a visual on the box. But if your hair does not come out in the desired shade, get a professional stylist’s help to correct the hair color. Also, if you have any hues left over from a previous color treatment, simply applying a box of blonde color or bleach will not give you the result you hope for.”

That being said, let us dive into the process. Begin with the same precautions as above; put on old t-shirts to protect your skin and clothes. Apply a little petroleum jelly to the skin around your hairline to prevent it from getting stained by bleach, color, and toner. Use gloves to apply the bleach.

  • Applying bleach requires the right technique and understanding of how bleach works. Bleach will work faster at the roots due to scalp heat, compared to bleaching the ends of your hair. To thoroughly and evenly lighten your hair, you need to work fast – apply it to your midshaft, then ends, and finally the roots. You need to check your hair every 10 minutes to see if it has lightened to your desired shade.
  • If your scalp is burning and you can’t handle it, wash off the bleach immediately.
  • If your hair is dark, you might need to go for a second round of bleach. Make sure you do a deep condition before the entire process.
  • Wash your hair with shampoo and conditioner for damaged hair.
  • Finally, apply toner as it eliminates the yellow tint and brassy tones from your hair. Wash it off after the prescribed duration. Do not keep the toner in for too long as it can add color to your hair.

Now that you know how to color your hair brown or blonde, let’s check out the best of these hair colors sported by celebrities! The one thing that they have in common is using professional hairstylists. We get that doing the change professionally might not fit the budget, but accidents at home can cost hundreds to fix in a salon.

Blonde Versus Brunette

Actresses constantly have to change their hair color to keep up with the beauty trends or for the roles they play. Let’s see which one worked best for them – blonde or brunette.

1. Gigi Hadid

Gigi Hadid
Image: Shutterstock

Beauty lovers swear by her looks! Gigi Hadid can effortlessly rock anything from golden blonde to brunette. But what fairly remains common is her love for center-parted loose waves and subtle yet edgy makeup.

2. Kendall Jenner

Kendall Jenner
Image: Shutterstock

The supermodel casts a mesmerizing spell in center-parted waves, accentuated with brown shades on her black hair. In my opinion, she slays in both looks.

3. Miranda Kerr

Image: elle.com

Miranda Kerr is a brunette goddess. While she does look great with blonde hair, her brown locks make her eyes pop. While both colors define her jawline, brunette hair shows off her cheekbones as well.

4. Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie has a facial structure that can pull off dirty blonde and brunette hair. Both colors look incredible with her eye color and skin tone.

5. Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence looks incredible with champagne blonde and reddish brunette hair. Both colors showcase her eye color and facial structure very well. But her blonde look is to die for! It also gained more popularity than the brunette one.

6. Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diaz is, hands down, a blonde queen! Her blonde locks work gorgeously with her skin tone, eye color, and that excellent nude peach lip color.

7. Elizabeth Olsen

Image: elle.com

Clearly, blonde hair wins here. The lighter hair shade helps frame her face well as it makes the lower half of her face appear slender.

8. Jessica Alba

Image: elle.com

Bronde (a blend of blonde and brunette shades) looks perfect on Jessica Alba. A dark brown shade can make her face look harsh, but going light blonde could make her look too soft. That is why bronde is the ideal color for showcasing her facial features.

9. Jessica Biel

Jessica Biel’s brown locks are amazing. She is a natural brunette, and that is the hair color that suits her best as it works well with her skin tone.

10. Miley Cyrus

Image: elle.com

Miley Cyrus has been in the blonde versus brunette game ever since she played Miley Stewart and Hannah Montana. And she rocks both looks with confidence and sass. Over the years, she’s switched to blonde hair a few times, and she looks great. This is the perfect example of a win-win situation.

11. Margot Robbie

Margot Robbie sporting blonde and brunette hair looks
Image: Shutterstock

Margot Robbie clearly is a blonde bombshell. This Aussie actress’s light hair color works well with her fair skin tone and lovely grey eyes.

12. Lucy Hale

Lucy Hale’s green eyes give brunette hair a win. It highlights her cheekbones and makes her jawline appear slender. Blonde highlights can also look great on her skin tone.

13.Selena Gomez

Blonde hair with dark roots looks spectacular on Selena Gomez. While we love her natural brunette hair, blonde is the clear winner here.

14. Carey Mulligan

Carey Mulligan looks great with both blonde and brown hair. As seen here, her brown hair, paired with red lipstick, can make her face appear quite pale (like a vampire, in this case).

15. Kristen Stewart

Kristen Stewart looks excellent in bleached blonde hair. The dark roots make her face look longer while the blonde locks make her eyes pop. The brunette locks make her skin appear pale or cool while the blonde tresses add a bit of warmth to it.

16. Leighton Meester

Leighton Meester won every young adult heart as Blair Waldorf, so we have to side with her iconic hair color. She is a brunette angel.

17. Anne Hathaway

Anne Hathaway stuns with her thick dark brown hair. Her blond locks make her eyes pop a bit too much, making her look like Vampire Jane from Twilight.

18. Cheryl Cole

There are no losers here. Cheryl Cole looks terrific with both blonde and brunette hair. Both colors look great with her skin tone.

19. Sandra Bullock

Sandra’s naturally dark hair color is the clear winner here. She shocked us all with blonde locks, and they grew on us over time, but her brunette hair is just lovely.

20. Demi Lovato

Brunette hair comes out on top here. Demi Lovato has experimented with many hair colors, blonde hair being the least edgy among them. But her brunette hair is incredible and makes her brown eyes appear lighter.

21. Lauren Conrad

Lauren Conrad rocks blonde and brunette hair looks
Image: Shutterstock

Lauren Conrad is a blonde bombshell. Her blonde locks look great with her eyes and skin tone.

22. Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham is not only known for her amazing fashion choices, but also for her fabulous hairstyles. This dark haired beauty shows us how brown hair can accentuate your chiseled facial structure.

23. Sierra Miller

Sierra Miller is a blonde deity. Her bluish gray eyes are accentuated by her blonde hair color. The color also suits her warm skin tone.

24. Dakota Johnson

Dakota Johnson looks incredible with brunette hair. Her cheekbones look soft, and her gray eyes look lovely with this hair color.

25. Amber Heard

Amber Heard is another beautiful example of how blonde and brunette hair look great on fair warm tones. You can see how light makeup with blonde hair makes her face look soft, but bright makeup and brunette locks give her a warm look.

26. Emilia Clarke

It’s how you style your hair that decides which color is the winner. Emilia Clarke stunned us as Khaleesi with blonde locks but, at the same time, she looks gorgeous with her brown hair.

27.Emily Blunt

Emily Blunt sporting blonde and brunette hair looks
Image: Shutterstock

Emily Blunt has naturally dark hair, but I have to agree with her kids. Blonde hair suits her better. The blonde hair works well with her gray eyes and skin tone.

Infographic: Identifying Blonde And Brunette Hair

People have different hair colors based on the pigments present in the hair. The two common categories of hair colors are blonde and brunette. While it can be difficult to distinguish between the two, don’t worry. We have rounded up a few key differences that will help you identify one color from another. Check out the infographic below to know more!

identifying blonde and brunette hair (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Save the high-quality PDF version on your device now.

Download Infographic in PDF version Download Infographic
Download Infographic in PDF version

We hope this discussion on blonde vs. brunette hair colors has clarified your doubts about these shades. Whether you are blonde or brunette, we believe both are pretty colors and require high hair maintenance. You can dye your hair blonde or brunette as you like but do not forget to invest in good aftercare for your mane. It totally depends on your personal preference, styling, aesthetics and hair care practices. Hair coloring can make your tresses dry, dull, and brittle. You may experience breakage or hair fall if you do not care for your hair regularly. Remember to oil your hair often and drink plenty of water to keep your hair and skin hydrated throughout your day.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do guys prefer blonde or brunette?

According to one survey conducted on 1000 men, nearly 33.1% of men revealed that they were more attracted to brunettes than blondes.

Why do blondes get more attention?

Blondes have been sold to us as the perfect specimen of beauty from the golden era of Hollywood. Commercialism has kept this belief alive.

Does blonde hair make you look younger?

Lighter hair color can make you look younger. Add some golden highlights and try out the honey shade for your hair, which gives your complexion a youthful glow.

Do blondes have higher estrogen?

Anecdotal evidence suggests that Caucasian blondes, especially, have higher estrogen levels than others. They also have finer facial features and less body hair than brunettes.

Are blondes rare?

Yes. Naturally born blondes are very rare. According to surveys, only 2 percent of the American population is naturally blonde.

Transform your blonde hair to brunette at home with this easy tutorial! Learn the correct ways to dye your hair and get the perfect brunette shade, at no extra costs. Watch the video below!

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