Variations of light brown/dark blonde hair dominate our Instagram and Pinterest feeds more than any other shade, from bronde to tortoiseshell to caramel. The way the light catches the subtle variation within the hues makes it one of the most nuanced hair colors, and we're here for all the hues, styles, and cuts that showcase caramel in all its glory.
To inspire your next salon visit, we spoke with three celebrity colorists who specialize in caramel hair color: Michael Canalé, Jennifer Aniston's longtime colorist; Matrix and Bioage celebrity colorist George Papanikolas whose celeb clientele includes Hannah Jeter and Ana de Armas; and Rita Hazan the woman responsible for the tresses of superstars like Beyoncé and J.Lo.
Take a look at their favorite caramel hues and styles below.
"This is one of my most-requested looks in the salon," says Papanikolas. "The placement of the highlights is very strategic, focusing on the face frame, natural part, and ends. It's a great way for brunettes to add lightness and dimension to their hair, and it's universally flattering." We love how relaxed and beachy this look is, yet when you look closely at her strands, you can see how masterfully this balyage was applied. The subtle transition from dark-brown to caramel is truly astonishing.
Pumpkin spice has infiltrated every aspect of our lives, including beauty. Says Papanikolas, "This is a great way for very dark hair to go lighter. To avoid the look from feeling brassy, you should be very strategic with a few highlights." This look includes long layers, offering a textured and tousled feel, and incorporates a blend of warm caramel, strawberry blonde, and honey blonde tones. The blonde hues act as highlights, and you still can still find her natural brunette locks at the top of her head and incorporated as low-lights at the ends.
"These warm tones are a great complement to neutral and golden skin tones," explains Papanikolas. "If your hair tends to bleach out very late, you can ask for a warm golden gloss to give the hair a sheer finish." Ana de Armas positively glows with this raven to honey ombré, created by Papanikolas. Her locks are still prominently dark past the roots, and dramatically shift to auburn, and lastly, a burnt honey. We love how the gorgeous honey hue at the ends of her hair also frame her face, adding some lovely contrast to her deep brown eyes.
"This is an ideal shade for clients who don’t want to see any red or orange undertones," says Papanikolas. "It’s very flattering on fair skin and olive tones. Keeping the highlights very delicate allows them to lighten past the warm tones." These chestnut locks, have a soft and subtle bronde balyage, that's also highlighted lightly at the roots. The tips are painted with a cool honey, but don't overpower the look. This is the perfect tone for someone who wants to spice up their locks, but doesn't want to compromise their rich, brunette shade.
Light Golden Brown or Dark Golden Blonde
"It's important when trying to achieve that perfect caramel shade to decide if you want to go lighter or richer," says Hazan. "You can go one way or the other to achieve that perfect balance of lightness in the hair. Caramel is always a warm shade, so either way you go, it has to have that perfect balance of warmth." While Queen B mainly sticks to light golden brown hues here (which pair well with her dark chestnut roots) you can still see where this darker caramel beautifully melds with lighter honey hones, creating a truly dynamic and rich color. With minimal makeup and a glossy nude lip, Beyoncé allows her long, voluminous tresses to be the star of the show.
Caramel Coffee Balyage
LA-based colorist exoridianre Christine Silverman-Ramirez is responsible for this gorgeous, creamy (we can say that when it applies to caramel, right?) balyage. This rich tawny color is painted through her dark, coffee colored locks, and brings some warmth her long, ample waves. To produce the weightless volume that you see here (and keep it intact throughout the day) keep the travel size bottle of Bumble and bumble Spray de Mode Flexible Hold Hairspray ($16).
This sticky-sweet shade errs more on the side of the rich melted ice cream topping variation than the hard candies. Hazan describes it as "a warm caramel shade, but not orangey." The overall look feels cooler than the brighter, orangey tones, but still finds warmth in tawny highlights around her face and throughout her long, wavy locks. Paired with a muted, peachy-pink lip, this look embodies the cozy fall season.
Christine Silverman-Ramirez is also responsible for this bold ash-caramel ombré. Her feathery waves start with light, barely-there caramel highlights around her face and throught her dark oak-brown hair, and gradually move into cool, reddish-camarel hues. These darker shades perfectly compliment her olive skin and light-brown eyes, and we love that it feels a little edgy, yet beautifully balanced.
If anyone knows sandy blonde color, it's the magical hands behind Jennifer Aniston's beige mane. This particular color is great for someone who wants a more ash hue instead of the warmer spectrum of caramel. Canalé describes it as "medium blonde with a cool tone." This color truly looks like it was done with a sweeping paintbush; a perfect example of balyage done expertly. We love the mix of short and long layers, and how the dark whips of hair under her ear contrast with the ashey blond tones.
Candied Caramel Curls
Apologies for the excessive alliteration, but we couldn't resist when it came to this bright, bouncy look. Janibell's beautiful curls go from dark brunette to a sweet, candied carmel, with her ends painted a light honey blonde. This color is absolutely radient on her, and contrasts nicely with her dark eyebrows and deep brown eyes.