Skip to Content

Is chocolate hair color warm or cool?

Chocolate hair color has become an immensely popular shade in recent years. But one question that often comes up is whether chocolate brown hair is considered a warm or cool hair color. The answer isn’t quite as straightforward as you may think.

What Makes a Hair Color Warm or Cool

When determining if a hair color is warm or cool, there are a few key factors to consider:

  • Pigment – Does the color contain warm reddish/golden pigments or cool ashy pigments?
  • Tone – Does it have a rich, warmer tone or a cooler muted tone?
  • Skin undertone – Does the color complement and enhance warm or cool skin tones?
  • Highlight/lowlight color – Do the highlights and lowlights lean warm or cool?

Hair color isn’t just one dimensional. There’s a lot of nuance based on the specific shade and how it interacts with your complexion. So chocolate brown can take on warm or cool properties depending on the formula and application technique.

The Warm Undertones of Chocolate Hair

At its core, chocolate hair color contains warm reddish-brown pigments. The color is derived from cocoa powder, which has a rich warm brown color. When you think of a chocolate bar, it likely evokes the feeling of a delicious, cozy, and warm treat. Chocolate gets its brown color from compounds like melanoidins that produce reddish hues.

So in its natural state, chocolate brown hair color has warm reddish-brown tones. Here are some of the warm properties of chocolate hair:

  • Contains golden/red undertones
  • Flatters warm complexions with yellow/olive undertones
  • Makes skin appear more vibrant and eyes pop
  • Goes well with other warm shades like caramel and honey
  • Looks stunning with warm highlights

Chocolate brown with warm golden highlights is a gorgeous combo on those with medium to tan complexions. The warm tones bring out the skin’s natural glow. Think of chocolate hair color like a rich mocha latte – warm, inviting, and deliciously radiant.

How Chocolate Hair Can Take on Cooler Properties

While chocolate hair leans warm, there are ways stylists can tweak the color to take on cooler properties. Here are some of the techniques that can make chocolate hair lean more neutral to cool:

  • Adding ashy/beige toner – This cancels out brassiness and warmth
  • Using a demi-permanent gloss – Cooler temporary gloss adds shine and neutralizes warmth
  • Blending with cooler lowlights – Adding in ash brown or neutral brown lowlights around the face and ends helps cool it down
  • Using a violet rinse or toner – Violet pigment neutralizes yellow/orange tones
  • Avoiding warm highlights – Opt for icy blonde or ash brown highlights instead of golden

These adjustments result in a chocolate hair color that is not as overtly warm. It takes on more neutral undertones. This can be gorgeous on those with pink or neutral skin tones who would be washed out and overpowered by extremely warm shades.

Celebrity Examples of Warm & Cool Chocolate Hair

Looking at celebrity chocolate hair color examples can help illustrate the difference between warm and cool undertones.

Warm Chocolate Hair Colors

  • Jessica Alba – Rich chocolate with warm caramel highlights
  • Meghan Markle – Milk chocolate with warm honey tones
  • Jennifer Lopez – Dark chocolate with golden bronze highlights
  • Kim Kardashian – Cool chocolate base with warm copper highlights

Cooler Chocolate Hair Colors

  • Anne Hathaway – Neutral milk chocolate with ash brown highlights
  • Kate Middleton – Milk chocolate base with subtle ash brown and platinum highlights
  • Mindy Kaling – Dark neutral chocolate with a demi-permanent cool brown gloss
  • Khloe Kardashian – Cooler mocha chocolate with platinum money piece

As you can see, chocolate hair color is extremely versatile. Even when the base is the same shade, highlights, lowlights, and toners can alter the overall tone.

Best Skin Tones for Warm & Cool Chocolate Hair

The most flattering chocolate hair color for you depends on your skin’s undertones. Here are some guidelines:

Warm Chocolate – Best for:

  • Warm skin tones – Yellow, peachy, golden, olive undertones
  • Medium to tan complexions
  • Those who can wear gold jewelry well
  • Brown or hazel eyes
  • Black, brown, auburn natural hair colors

Cooler Chocolate – Best for:

  • Cool skin tones – Pink, red, blue undertones
  • Fair to medium complexions
  • Those who look better in silver jewelry
  • Blue, green, gray eyes
  • Blonde, ash brown natural hair colors

The most foolproof way to find your ideal chocolate shade is to do a strand test. Most colorists will first try a warmer chocolate brown, then alter it with cool toners and lowlights if needed.

Warm Chocolate Hair Color Formulas

Here are some examples of popular warm chocolate hair dye formulas from brands like Wella, Redken, Matrix, and L’Oreal:

Brand Shade Name Formula
Wella Chocolate Mousse 5R Dark copper brown
Redken Hot Cocoa 5CB Intense copper brown
Matrix Sizzling Chocolate 6RC Bright copper red brown
L’Oreal Light Chocolate Brown 4WR Golden brown

These shades use warm golden, copper, and reddish pigments to create rich chocolate browns that lean on the warmer side. They have lots of depth and work beautifully on medium to darker complexions.

Cool Chocolate Hair Color Formulas

Here are some popular cool chocolate hair color formulas from brands like Schwarzkopf, Joico, Pulp Riot, and Davines:

Brand Shade Name Formula
Schwarzkopf Cool Cover 5.3 Ash violet brown
Joico Neutral Chocolate 5N Beige brown
Pulp Riot Chocolate Milkshake 5.35 Neutral milk chocolate brown
Davines Ash Chocolate 5.6 Cool ash brown

These cooler chocolate shades incorporate ash, beige, and violet pigments to neutralize warmth and brassiness. They create softer, more muted chocolate browns ideal for fair to medium complexions.

Caring for Chocolate Brown Hair

Chocolate hair color requires some special care and maintenance. Here are some tips to keep it looking salon-fresh:

  • Use sulfate-free shampoo – Limit washing to 2-3 times per week to prevent drying and fading
  • Deep condition weekly – Use a hydrating mask to keep hair soft and shiny
  • Use purple shampoo – 1-2 times a week to neutralize brassiness and keep cool tones intact
  • Limit heat styling – Allow hair to air dry when possible and always use a heat protectant
  • Use demi-permanent gloss treatments – Every 4-6 weeks to keep color vibrant and refreshed
  • Get regular trims – Prevent dry ends and keep hair healthy

Taking good care of your hair between salon visits helps chocolate hair color stay rich, shiny, and luminous.


While chocolate hair color naturally contains warm reddish-brown pigments, stylists can customize the tone to create warmer or cooler versions. Warm chocolate brown flatters those with yellow/olive complexions, while cooler chocolate brown suits fair complexions with pink undertones best. With the right formula and maintenance regimen, chocolate hair color looks absolutely luscious.