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What color is milk tea hair in Japan?

Milk tea hair has become a hugely popular hair color trend in Japan over the last few years. But what exactly is milk tea hair color, and what shades make up this look that’s taking over Japanese hair salons?

What is Milk Tea Hair?

Milk tea hair refers to hair coloring that mimics the warm, creamy tones found in a cup of milk tea. It creates a soft, natural-looking gradient effect on the hair that can range from dark brown to light caramel blonde.

The milk tea hair trend originated in Asia, with many crediting its rise in popularity to South Korean and Japanese hair salons. However, it has now become a sought-after hair color around the world for its ability to make hair look healthy and shiny.

Common Shades for Milk Tea Hair

There are a few common hair color shades that come together to create the milk tea hair effect:

  • Light to medium brown – This forms the base color and replicates the warm tea tones.
  • Caramel blonde – Buttery caramel and honey hues are weaved through the mid-lengths and ends.
  • Ash brown – This adds cool, ashy tones to add dimension and depth.
  • Golden blonde – Vibrant golden streaks boost shine and brightness.

By artfully blending these shades together, hair colorists can create a soft, nuanced milk tea look. The shades melt into each other seamlessly, creating a multi-tonal, dimensional effect.

Balayage Technique for Milk Tea Hair

Balayage is the hair coloring technique used by most stylists to achieve the milk tea hair look. Balayage involves hand-painting the hair color directly onto sections of the hair to create a graduated, natural-looking effect.

Here are some tips hair colorists follow when doing a milk tea balayage:

  • The base color is applied first fully over the hair. A medium brown is usually used.
  • Lightener is then hand-painted through the mid-lengths and ends. This lifts and lightens those sections.
  • Toner is applied after to enhance the warm, caramel and golden tones.
  • Extra hand-painted accents of lighter shades are added to finish the look.

This layered coloring process with balayage allows the milk tea shades to melt together for a seamless gradient effect from roots to ends.

Best Hair Colors for Milk Tea Hair

Certain natural hair colors work better for achieving a soft, natural-looking milk tea hair result. Here are some of the best hair colors to start with:

Natural Hair Color Why It Works Well
Dark brown Darker bases allow richer, warmer milk tea tones on the mid-lengths and ends.
Medium brown Lighter brown bases will achieve softer, more subtle milk tea effects.
Black Black hair allows very dramatic, bold milk tea results.

These richer, darker bases provide the perfect canvas for milk tea balayage and hand-painted highlights. Lighter shades of blonde and brown hair make achieving those creamy, tea-like tones more challenging.

Maintenance for Milk Tea Hair

Milk tea hair requires some maintenance to keep the balayage looking fresh. Here are some tips:

  • Use a purple shampoo 1-2 times per week to keep brassiness at bay.
  • Get a toner gloss treatment every 4-6 weeks to refresh the color.
  • Use hydrating hair masks and leave-in treatments to boost shine.
  • Get a root touch-up around every 8 weeks as regrowth comes in.
  • Trim every 10-12 weeks to keep ends healthy.

With the proper upkeep between salon appointments, milk tea hair can stay looking gorgeous for months on end.

Best Milk Tea Hair Inspo

Need some milk tea hair inspiration before your salon visit? Here are some stunning examples of this trending hair color from Instagram:

Caramel milk tea hair Brown milk tea hair
Honey milk tea hair Light brown milk tea hair

As you can see, there are so many dimensions and tones to milk tea hair. Ask your colorist to show you some inspiration pics to find the right milk tea look for you.

Ask Your Colorist

Achieving the perfect milk tea hair requires precision coloring techniques. That’s why it’s important to visit an experienced stylist familiar with balayage and hand-painted highlighting.

Be sure to have a consultation ahead of time to discuss:

  • Your natural hair color and history
  • The milk tea shades that will best suit you
  • How much lift and lightening is required
  • The length of time it will take
  • Aftercare requirements

With proper planning and communication, your colorist can create stunning milk tea hair that leaves you looking salon-fresh for months.


From its origins in Asia to salons worldwide, milk tea hair has become the must-try color trend for healthy, shiny locks. With the right balayage techniques and placement of brown, blonde, and ash tones, colorists can craft a flawless milk tea look. Pre-consultation, examples, and maintenance are key for getting this on-trend hair. So grab your favorite milk tea drink for inspiration, and book a salon visit to get this gorgeous hair trend today!