Brown is one of the most common natural hair colors in the world. Given its ubiquity, it’s no surprise that there is a ton of variation where brown hair is concerned—so much so that we could never pick a favorite hue. Chestnut hair, however, is one shade that we’re especially fond of. It’s versatile, wearable, and pretty much universally flattering, regardless of your skin tone or undertones. Plus, chestnut hair plays beautifully with other hues, like blonde, red, and even black.
Interested in trying a chestnut hair color for yourself? Ahead, we’re answering your most pressing questions about this autumnal brunette hair color idea. You’ll also find 45 of our favorite ways to wear chestnut hair—think of it as inspiration for your salon visit.
What is chestnut hair?
Chestnut hair is a rich and dimensional shade of reddish-brown (like that of the delicious edible nut it’s named after). The red undertones can be quite subtle but become extra visible when under the sun. On the spectrum of browns, it’s typically considered a medium shade. But with that said, there are some chestnut hues that skew slightly darker (as you’ll see in the inspiration we’ve gathered below).
Is chestnut hair warm or cool?
What skin tone does chestnut hair look best on?
You’ll likely hear professionals say that chestnut hair best complements those with warm-toned skin due to its reddish undertones. The beauty of chestnut hair, however, is that it’s completely customizable and can be made cool. A professional colorist can work with you to create a custom shade that flatters your skin.
Is chestnut hair rare?
It’s surprisingly difficult to pinpoint how rare or common natural hair colors are: There’s no global hair color census to turn to for answers. Brown, however, is fairly common worldwide, whereas red is far less common. Given that chestnut hair is a mash-up between brown and red, we’d venture to guess that it’s on the rarer side of natural hair colors.
How do you care for your chestnut hair color?
Like any other shade concocted in the salon, chestnut hair requires regular maintenance—both at home and in the salon. However, because this hue is predominantly brown, it tends to be easier to maintain than other red hair colors.
As L'Oréal Professionnel brand ambassador Abbie Addotta explains, “the beauty of this tone is that it fades gracefully as long as you keep up with at-home maintenance with your stylist-recommended shampoo and conditioner.” We suggest opting for a color-protecting system, such as Biolage Professional Color Last Shampoo and Conditioner. The low-pH formulas gently cleanse and condition the hair while protecting against color stripping or fading. The duo has ingredients that strengthen hair and repair damage (like the kind that can occur when you’re frequently changing your color).
If you find your chestnut hair is losing its vibrancy, consider treating your stands with a demi-permanent gloss like Pureology Color Fanatic Top Coat + Tone in the shade Copper. It adds shine and softness while helping to restore the vibrancy of red hair colors for up to six washes.
Remember to also protect your hair against unwanted fading. Whether you flat iron your mane daily or give yourself a bouncy blowout, always use a heat protectant like Pureology Color Fanatic Multi-Benefit Leave-in Spray when using hot tools. This lightweight mist primes, protects, and perfects while delivering 21 essential benefits for color-treated hair.
And when it’s time for a color refresh, we suggest touching up your chestnut hair color with Redken Shades EQ Hair Gloss. The demi-permanent color uses a mixture of direct and oxidative dyes to glaze, refresh, and correct your current color. The salon-only service won’t over-process or dry out your strands, so your chestnut hair color will look good and feel healthy, too.
Now that you’re fully versed on this fall-favorite hue, below find all the inspiration you need to try the shade for yourself at your next salon visit.
The Best Chestnut Hair Color Ideas to Try in 2023
Classic chestnut is the perfect mash-up of red and brown. Neither light nor dark nor overly red, the understated yet stunning shade is an ideal way to infuse brown strands with a hint of warmth.
Warm Golden Chestnut
We like to think of warm golden chestnut as a sort of hybrid between bronde and red. The flattering hue has depth and dimension, without leaning too crimson.
Dark Chocolate Chesnut
There’s something so delicious (pun intended) about chocolate hair. Take yours to the next level by adding a touch of red for added dimension.
Think a cool chestnut variation will look better with your complexion? Opt for a glossy, dark golden brown. The rich brunette shade will look stunning on those with cooler skin.
If you’ve been brunette your whole life, adding red to your mane for the first time can (understandably) be a bit nerve-wracking. But it doesn’t have to be. Instead of going full-force with a scarlet hue, ask your colorist to add a touch of warmth to your mane as a lowkey way to try the red-brown shade.
Inky, sleek, and undeniably chic, rich chestnut hair screams luxury. Style yours with a shine-enhancing spray like Redken Shine Flash to get glossy, multi-dimensional color.
For a shade that’s more red than brown, try bronzed copper hair. This slightly darker take on the vivid red hue is vibrant, eye-catching, and surprisingly wearable for natural blondes and brunettes alike.
Burgundy hair is a warm shade that works equally beautifully on light and dark skin tones. It also pairs beautifully with a smattering of slightly lighter, dimension-boosting highlights.
Opt for a lighter take on chestnut hair by asking your colorist for a deeper strawberry blonde—you’ll get the warmth of chestnut hair, without having to go to the dark side.
Add brightness to deep chestnut hair by asking your colorist for warm caramel highlights placed from your mid-lengths to ends. Not only does it look incredibly chic, but by starting your highlights further down your head, there’s no awkward grow-out phase to contend with. We call that a win-win.
Channel your favorite morning beverage with a coffee chestnut hair color. Slightly cooler than classic chestnut but still with a hint of warmth, this inviting hue flatters a wide range of skin tones and undertones.
If cooler colors are more your speed, skip the red undertones and opt for a deep, ashy brown. This option offers all the depth of chestnut hair without any of the warmth.
Autumn lovers, unite. Embrace the innate warmth of your favorite season by asking your colorist for vivid cinnamon brown hair.
Cherry cola hair has a special place in our hearts (and not just because the name is so nostalgic). With a delicious mix of chocolatey brown and toned-down cherry tones, this color is made to stand out. The OG hair color trend also pairs perfectly with the cherry cola lips sensation happening on social media.
For a low-maintenance take on chestnut hair, opt for rooted chestnut hair—let your dark roots grow naturally and add warm, reddish-brown accents below the crown. If you’re working with natural medium or deep brown roots, this brunette hair color idea is a must-try.
Milk Chocolate Chestnut
This chestnut hair color has soft golden undertones woven throughout a milk chocolate base. It’s a gorgeous combination that flatters all complexions.
Truthfully, we can’t get enough of balayage. This coloring technique produces the most effortlessly dimensional hair—and it grows out beautifully. Request a chestnut base from your colorist and inquire about adding multi-toned highlights in amber, honey, and copper to infuse a warm twist into this enduring trend.
Fiery personality? Show it off by opting for a medium-brown base color with strategically placed ginger and copper highlights. This dimensional hue is stunning—especially for those with fairer complexions.
If you’ve always wanted to try black hair but haven’t worked up the courage to take the plunge, ask your stylist about a look that blends black with chestnut. The alluring hue will ease you into having a very dark mane, while still retaining the softness that natural brown hair has.
Even the smallest tweak can totally transform your hair color—as is the case with amber highlights. Adding warm-toned highlights onto a chestnut base adds brightness and luscious depth to the warm, red-brown shade.
Have your colorist lighten up your look by painting golden highlights onto your chestnut mane. This makes for a slightly lighter, beachier version of the classic color.
Pair medium chestnut roots with bright strawberry blonde highlights for a playful warm-weather twist on wintery chestnut hair.
You don’t have to color all of your hair; one of our favorite ways to experiment with the chestnut hair trend is by adding warm, face-framing highlights to natural brown hair. You’ll get the warmth of chestnut hair—without having to undergo a full-head double process dye job.
Like our favorite cool-weather beverage, cocoa hair satiates our craving for something indulgent. Wear yours with loose waves and tons of shine to show off the color’s gorgeous dimension.
Hazelnut hair strikes an exquisite balance between chestnut and light brown hues. Opt for a shade infused with golden-red undertones to fully embrace this warm and inviting trend.
Like high-quality chocolate, this rich hair color has just the faintest hint of red—barely noticeable in low lighting, but undeniable when the sun hits it just right.
Maybe you don’t want to fully commit to pure red or chestnut hair—consider ruddy chestnut your solution. The fiery shade makes for a seriously bold twist on the chestnut hair trend.
Rose Gold Chestnut
Rose gold is the perfect in-between color for those who want it all. Your stylist will create this versatile hue by mixing light brown, gold, red—and perhaps just a touch of pink—for a color that’s as chic as it is wearable.
Maple is the color for autumn. This bright golden chestnut hue will have you dreaming of all the best things fall has to offer: pumpkin pie, fallen leaves, and (of course) maple everything.
Dark, moody, and a little bit dramatic, we like to think of mahogany as chestnut hair’s edgy older sister. If you’re looking for a bit of drama in your life, this sultry shade can’t be beat.
Take your natural dark brown hair to new heights by having your stylist create dimensional auburn highlights that lighten towards the ends of your hair.
We’ll be the first to admit that fire engine red hair can be tricky to pull off. But darker reds can be endlessly flattering. For a shade that’ll turn heads in the best way, try a deep crimson hue with a hint of brown.
While chestnut hair is often associated with the cooler months, adding shimmering golden highlights makes the shade versatile enough to wear throughout the spring and summer.
Marry your love of coffee with your hair obsession. Mocha hair is a deep, dark brown with subtle pops of reddish brown—the perfect color for those looking to try out chestnut hair without committing to a full makeover.
Caramel, with its warm yet bright undertones, is the perfect complement to classic chestnut hair. Ask your stylist for caramel highlights to give your reddish-brown mane an ultra-flattering upgrade.
Cappuccino hair typically features a deep brown base with subtle highlights or undertones in shades of light to medium brown (aka chestnut). The overall effect is a smooth and creamy blend of colors, reminiscent of the espresso, steamed milk, and foam layers in a cappuccino.
Like its namesake, espresso hair is bold, dark, and undeniably rich. Have your colorist dye your hair a deep black-brown, then add subtle mahogany accents for dimension and a touch of warmth.
Yes, you can have chestnut hair without the faintest trace of red. Ombré chestnut brown—a deep golden brunette that lightens to a warm golden-brown shade at the ends—is a perfect example.
If subtlety isn't your preference, rest assured. Your stylist can fashion a bold, on-trend hue by hand-painting vibrant crimson, copper, and cherry highlights throughout your natural brown mane.
Bronde—the lovechild of blonde and brown hair—had its moment. Now, it’s time for a warmer variation. Have your colorist create a custom bronde by mixing strawberry blonde and classic chestnut for a warm yet versatile hue.
There’s a fine line between red and purple—and we say, cross that line and go full violet. This electrifying shade is bright and colorful but still wearable thanks to subtle chestnut brown undertones.
Chestnut With Copper Highlights
Copper hair is seriously on-trend, but it can be tricky to pull off if it’s not your natural hue. Get the visual appeal of a copper mane without overwhelming your complexion by adding bright orangey highlights to deep chestnut hair.
Prep your chestnut mane for a mid-winter beach vacation by having your colorist add sunkissed gold, copper, and honey-toned highlights throughout.
Spiced Chai Chestnut
There’s nothing—nothing!—like a hot, spicy chai latte when the weather starts to dip. Channel your favorite autumn drink by adding spicy ginger and maple highlights to a deep chocolate base.
In competitions, bronze may be third place—but we say this metallic, golden-red hair color is a winner. Ask your colorist to mix auburn, cinnamon, and golden shades to create this one-of-a-kind color.
Interested in trying chestnut hair color for yourself? Discover everything you need to keep the shade looking healthy and lustrous at Hair.com, and then use our salon locator to book an appointment at a salon with a pro near you.