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two women with long and short caramel hair color with blonde highlights

20 Buttery Caramel Hair Color Ideas That Work for Every Skin Tone

Here’s what to know to achieve and care for caramel-colored hair, plus 20 ideas to bring with you to the salon.

There may be no such thing as the perfect hair color, but we firmly believe that caramel comes close. Adding caramel to your hair is like putting a caramel drizzle on an ice cream sundae—an instant upgrade. This buttery warm-toned hue is the perfect combination of dark and light, has tons of dimension, and flatters every skin tone. We can’t think of a single reason not to try caramel hair color.

If you’re thinking of testing out caramel hair, we’re happy to report that there are so many on-trend ways to do so. Whether you’re into dark brown hair with caramel highlights or an all-over golden caramel hue, keep scrolling for how to score the caramel hair color of your dreams and inspo.

Is caramel blonde or brown?

If you’ve been pondering life’s important questions like, “What shade is caramel hair?” and “How can I make it work for me?” you’ve come to the right place. This brilliant hue perfectly combines brunette and blonde with a golden, sun-kissed finish. The best part about caramel hair color is that it can be customized with the help of asalon pro, spanning shades that are light and beachy to rich and deep-brown (think chestnut!). In addition, caramel accents are a beautiful way to transition your strands from dark to light and vice versa.

Good hair day by @esbeautyco

Is caramel hair warm or cool?

Infusions of golden and tawny tones place caramel hair color squarely into the warm category.

How to Care for Caramel Hair

To ensure your new hue stays rich and flawless as long as possible, switch out your regular shampoo and conditioner for a system specifically formulated to protect it. We recommend L’OPréal Professionnel Vitamino Resveratrol Color Radiance Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner, enriched with antioxidant resveratrol to preserve color-treated hair.

Warm caramel hair color is gorgeous, but it can sometimes creep into orange, brassy territory between salon touch-ups. If that’s the case, you’ll want to swap in a toning system like Matrix Total Results Brass Off Shampoo and Conditioner. They deposit blue-violet pigments when you wash your hair to neutralize brassy tones so you can enjoy your lightened hair longer. On days your strands need extra brightening help, reach for the line’s All-In-One Toning Leave-In Spray, which allows you to build your toning intensity to your desired level.

If you’re starting with dark strands, you might need to sit through a few bleach sessions at the salon before you leave with caramel hair. Although your colorist will do their best to keep strands healthy throughout the process, bleach will always cause damage. Consider investing in an at-home hair treatment like Redken Aciding Bonding Concentrate Intensive Treatment. This highly reparative rinse-off formula works within your hair to strengthen hair bonds weakened by stressors like hair color and lightening.

Plan to return to the salon every six to eight weeks for a touch-up or a gloss treatment to keep your caramel hair color in tip-top shape. Speaking of the salon, here are 20 stunning looks that will make you want to dial up your colorist ASAP.

The 20 Best Caramel Hair Ideas to Try Now

Caramel Highlights on Black Hair

We consider black hair a power color—it’s intensely shiny and undeniably gorgeous. If you want to spruce up your base without venturing too far out of the dark territory, give caramel highlights on black hair a go. Check out the video link above to see how Redken ambassador Philip Foresto nails this look using Redken Shades EQ Hair Gloss.

Good hair day by @mikaatbhc

Black to Caramel Balayage

Are caramel highlights on black hair a bit too subtle for your liking? A black to caramel balayage guarantees a more contrasted transition from dark to light.

Good hair day by @hairbybrenna_

Auburn with Caramel Highlights

Auburn is undoubtedly the most in-demand shade of red. Wary of wading too deeply into reds? Caramel highlights tone down your auburn hue while adding effortless-looking depth.

Red hues are notorious for fading more quickly than other dyes, and the more frequently you wash your hair, the faster it will dull. Dry shampoo can help get you through those extra non-wash days. We love Redken Deep Clean Dry Shampoo Jumbo: the high-performance ingredients work overtime, so you can go shampoo-less for up to four full days. Plus, the same award-winning formula now comes in a jumbo size (three times larger than the original!), so you’ll rarely have to be without it again.

Good hair day by @jessicascotthair

Chocolate to Caramel Balayage

Chocolate brown is strikingly dimensional all on its own. If you want to give your chocolate hue an extra bit of panache, you can’t go wrong with a caramel balayage. The combination of chocolatey roots with cascading notes of buttery caramel is stunning on every skin tone.

Good hair day by @girlnextdoorhairco

Curly Hair with Caramel Highlights

We firmly believe there’s no better way to show off dimensional color than healthy, springy curls. Mizani’s True Textures Curl Enhancing Lotion can help keep them bouncy and defined. Find a salon pro specializing in coloring curly hair if you want to add highlights to your ringlets.

Good hair day by @luxe_blond_stilist

Coffee to Caramel Ombre

Wake up and smell the coffee! This caffeine-inspired ombre with notes of caramel is calling your name as loudly as your favorite java haunt.

Good hair day by @xoxo_balayage

Caramel Ribbon Highlights

Opt for ribbon highlights if you want bolder brown hair with caramel highlights. Your colorist will paint color on thicker sections of hair for a balayage with cascading highlights that add depth and warmth to your look.

Good hair day by @slim_color

Caramel Money Piece

You’ll hit the jackpot with a money piece if you’re looking for the most subtle way to ease into caramel hair. To achieve the perfect money piece, your colorist will paint highlights onto the strands framing your face to create a brightening sun-kissed effect. Whether you want a bold money piece or something a bit more subtle, your colorist can adjust the placement to achieve your desired look.

Good hair day by @mikaatbhc

Face-Framing Shades of Caramel

Why settle for just one or two shades of caramel face-framing highlights when you can try the whole spectrum? This look brings all the drama of a significant hair color change without the touch-ups or commitment.

Good hair day by @suetyrrellstylist

Mahogany with Caramel Highlights

This contrast between the rich mahogany base color and caramel highlights is so stunning that you’ll be itching to try this one out.

Good hair day by @soulfull_brows

Golden Caramel

This gold-toned look is perfect if you want to go a shade or two brighter with your caramel hair. As with all lighter shades, golden caramel can become dry and brittle if not properly moisturized. We advise picking up a deep conditioning mask like Pureology Hydrate Superfood Treatment Mask to nourish dry, color-treated hair and preserve the vibrancy of your salon color in just five minutes.

Good hair day by @mikaatbhc

Lob with Caramel Highlights

Mermaid-length waves are stunning and all, but there’s something special about a fresh hue paired with an on-trend lob.

Good hair day by @pekelariley

Caramel Pixie Cut

Speaking of short haircuts we’re obsessed with, pixie cuts and caramel brown hair are a match made in heaven. Amp up your texture with a spray like Matrix Vavoom Extra Full Freezing Spray to show off all that dimension.

Good hair day by @meganshalisehair

Rooted Caramel Blonde

While you might’ve dreaded showing even the slightest bit of regrowth back in the day, the smoked-out roots trend can ease your worry. Instead of bringing your caramel blonde hue all the way to your scalp, your colorist will leave your roots darker than the rest of your hair.

If you want to ensure that your color will grow out seamlessly, ask your colorist about the root smudging technique.

Good hair day by @brunodviana

Ultra-Fine Caramel Streaks

Who says caramel hair color has to be bold to make an impact? Fine streaks of caramel provide extra warmth and brightness to a brunette mane—ideal for anyone with medium or dark skin tones.

Good hair day by @jessdomyhair

Caramel Bronde

Bronde, a gorgeous yet neutral harmony of brown and blonde, can be taken to the next level with notes of golden caramel for a sweet result.

Good hair day by

Honey Caramel

Is there anything sweeter than caramel and honey? Get your sugar fix by asking your stylist to weave baby strands of honey into your caramel locks for an extra faceted look.

Good hair day by @avhair_

Dark Caramel Brown

What’s stopping you from taking a deep caramel brown for a spin? It’s understated, yet the infusion of warmth is sure to turn heads.

Milk Chocolate Caramel

Milk chocolate hair falls right between dark brown hair and deep caramel blonde, resulting in a shade that incorporates the best of both these delicious hair color families.

Good hair day by @colorbymattrez

Caramel Midlights

Overgrown gals, this one’s for you! If you’ve already tried caramel hair but have been skipping out on touch-ups, caramel midlights are a genius solution to help you grow out your old color. Your stylist will create a shade that falls somewhere between your base color and grown-out caramel ends, seamlessly blending the two.

Interested in trying a caramel hair color? Shop for professional products to get the look.

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