Ditch the blonde, we’re going ’expensive brunette’ for 2022


From social media influencer and Louis Vuitton brand ambassador Emma Chamberlain to Happier Than Ever hitmaker, Billie Eilish – a growing number of celebrities are ditching their classic blonde locks in favour of rich browns hues.

Official Wella SA Ambassador Ghd Pro influencer and certified Wella Master Colour Expert Jadie Herbst has 12 years of experience with hair and owns her own salon.

Specialising in major intricate colour corrections and Blonde and Balayage, her Instagram account @jadieprofessionals has amassed over 7 000 followers and is dotted with stunning pictures of hair transformations.

“Natural lived in colours is what I do every day. There definitely has been a significant rise in clients going more natural and I’m here for it,” she said.

Multi-dimensional hair colour by @jadieprofessionals on Instagram.

The look that has been named “expensive brunette”, is not one solid shade of brown and it boasts the obvious element of having salon-quality hair that boasts dimensional colour.

This is usually achieved through various techniques including highlights, balayage, ombre, sombre, colour melting, and other processes. When hair has this sort of depth, it has that professional stamp that just can’t quite be attained by box dye and a plastic hair net. In South African salons, you can pay anywhere from R850-R1 300 for balayage, but it’s usually more depending on the salon, products used and the length of your hair. Ultimately, Herbst said: “Expensive brunette is about bringing dark – preferably your natural colour – and lighter shades together with a range of multi-tones in between linking them all together softly.”

Out of the slew of celebrities who’ve made the transition to darker hair, the one that has stunned the internet the most came at the end of October when model Hailey Bieber debuted her new look on Instagram. Although her natural hair colour is mousy and dark, her sunny highlights and sleek hair that she’s rocked on several international magazine covers, runways and at her September 2018 wedding to pop star Justin Bieber has practically become part of her trademark Barbie-esque look.

However, this new, deep shade with warm highlights framing her face offers her a sophisticated, timeless look that matches her eye colour and enhances her sharp features. The elegant “do was all thanks to her talented celebrity hairstylist Bryce Scarlett” who gushed about his handiwork on his social media as well.

Most of the transformations we’re seeing came just in time for autumn and the winter holiday season, where, above the equator, seasonal fashion is being inspired by the festive buzz and frosty air.

Herbst said: “These natural, dimensional, multi-tonal lived in colours have been trending for a long time now, but evolve as seasons come and go, I personally think ‘expensive brunette’ is an expansion of this already existing hair trend. For so long these types of colour techniques have widely been associated only with blonde hair, when in fact it’s even more magical on brunette hair.”

Much like “recession roots” which were flaunted throughout 2008 as a result of the financial crisis and people being unable to afford the upkeep of blonde, Covid has also had an impact on our hair. Many salons were forced to close their doors in line with strict lockdown regulations so kitchen scissor hack jobs, bottle dye and grown out roots became the norm for months as people made do with what was available to them.

According to Herbst, people were inspired by the pandemic to go back to basics an elevated twist. “Covid definitely played a big role; we all were forced to face our regrowth and less frequent hair appointments that motivated a lot of people to embrace their natural colour and allow for lower maintenance; people found their hair feeling healthier because of this. It made people fall in love with their original roots again. The ‘expensive brunette’ is embracing your natural regrowth and just building on that with rich, warm glossy tones,” she said.

The benefit of this trending hair colour is that it may give your hair the much-needed break it needs. “Our hair is happiest when it’s healthiest,” said Herbst. Most people do have naturally darker, warmer hair, and all hair has warmth, and warmth is what makes a hair colour shiny, rich and vibrant. “Blonde hair is the absence of pigment, therefore it cannot “shine” – the hair is essentially empty inside, no wonder blondes have been coming over to the dark side as they’ve experienced their hair has new life with growing out the natural roots and darkening up the old blonde while keeping it multi-tonal and vibrant.”

If you’re interested in getting the look for yourself, here’s what Herbst said you should ask for at your next hair appointment. “The keywords you need to use when asking for this look is dimensional, multi-tonal, lived in, natural, rich brown colours, there needs to be depth to your colour. It’s more cost-effective in the long run too, and much healthier.” But, it’s also always a great idea to have inspirational pictures on hand to help your colourist visualise the types of tonality you are aiming for. “This way, you can both discuss what is possible which will ensure you and your stylist are on the same page,” she said.

This article was first published in Sunday Insider, Dec 12, 2021


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