How to Give Straight, Brown Hair a New Look

Play with colour and texture.
Bill Angst
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Play with colour and texture.
How to give straight, brown hair a new look

Welcome to our Ask Beautyeditor column, where our experts answer your hair, skin and makeup questions. To request an online hair consultation from celebrity hairstylist Bill Angst:

  • Email with “Bill Angst Hair Consultation” in the subject line.
  • Include at least TWO well-lit, hi-res photos of you (one close-up, one full-body).
  • Briefly describe your hair texture, colour and main hair challenges.

Please note: All photos will be published.

Q: Hello! I love my long hair because I love being able to wear different braids, but I've considered cutting it like Marilyn Monroe. I just don't know if my hair type could pull it off or if I would miss my long hair too much. I had a pixie cut before, and it was a lot easier to work with.

Hair consultation - Megan

Megan's hair is currently copper brown with deep mahogany ends.

My hair goes to the middle of my back and is of medium texture, but the strands are very fine. It is naturally dark brown with a red tint, but as I grow older it seems to be turning copper. For several years, my hair was dyed black with henna, and while I loved it dark, henna made it difficult to change my hair, making it very boring. 

Hair consultation - Megan

In the past, Megan has dyed her hair black with henna.

Right now, my hair is a copper brown from about my shoulders to my crown, and from my shoulders down it is a deep mahogany.

My hair doesn't respond to curling at all, unless I use no-heat curlers. I have tried to perm it, but it falls after only a few days. I've also tried holding sprays, curling irons, pin curls and hot rollers, and within 10 minutes, my hair is so straight that it looks as if I used a straightening iron. No-heat curlers seem to work well—I don't even need hairspray—but the curls have a bit of a mind of their own. 

I would love a change, but I just don't know what would look good! — Megan

Hair consultation - Megan

Megan with a lighter hair colour.

A: Megan, you certainly have tried a lot of colours.

I almost always like people's natural colour on them best.

The good thing about your colour choices is that you seem to suit them all. The lighter colour is so soft and pretty—I think it's my favourite. Your natural colour makes you look super-cool; the darker way dramatic.

What I would like to point out (that you obviously know) is the colour of lipstick and clothing to wear with each look. When making a hair colour change, it's very important to change up your makeup as well.

If you were to cut it shorter like Marilyn Monroe, I would suggest this modern version:

Edgy blonde bob

Edgy blonde bob.

It will rock worn straight or wavy, if you can get a curl to stay.

This cut would be good with any colours you choose. My preference is the lighter shade for this one—pretty and edgy. Black would be a seriously strong look. 

This longer shag in a light colour would be great for you:

Britney Spears blonde shag

Britney Spears' blonde shag.

In your dark hair picture, I think your hair looks too bottom-heavy. This cut would balance out the weight of your hair. You could still play with braids at this length.

A shorter shag would look amazing with your natural colour.

Natural brown shag haircut

Natural brown shag haircut.

Not darker though—I like how the soft natural highlights show off the movement.

Alexa Chung, Elle Next Spring 2013 show

Alexa Chung at the Elle Next Spring 2013 show.

Instead of black, for a dramatic colour you could go to an extreme copper:

Hayley Williams, pre-Grammy party, 2008

Hayley Williams at a pre-Grammy party in 2008.

This wispy shag would be just right. By adding the layers, you can keep your hair long and get rid of the deep mahogany on the ends.


Bill Angst is one of Canada’s top celebrity hairstylists and the owner of Angst Salon at 240 Queen Street East in Toronto. Call 416-360-5942 to book an appointment.