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What two hair colors make caramel?

Caramel hair color is a warm, golden brown shade that has become increasingly popular in recent years. Many people are drawn to the sweet, delicious tones of caramel for their hair. But how exactly is this multi-dimensional hair color achieved? What two hair colors are blended together to create the perfect caramel hair?

Understanding Caramel Hair Color

Caramel hair gets its name from its similarity to the color and richness of caramel candy or sauce. When light reflects off caramel colored hair, different shades of golden blonde, warm brown, and buttery tan are visible. This gives caramel hair color dimension, depth, and visual interest. The result is a color that looks naturally sun-kissed even when the hair has been colored.

Caramel colored hair flatters a wide variety of skin tones. Those with fair or olive complexions can wear the shade beautifully. It adds warmth to pale skin and illuminates olive skin. Caramel hair also pairs well with tan or dark complexions, giving a striking contrast. This versatility makes caramel a popular choice.

The caramel hair color trend began as an evolution of balayage and ombre. Colorists realized that by artfully blending shades of brown and blonde, they could create the gorgeous caramel tones that are in demand. The technique allows for customization to each client’s natural hair color and desired look. Now caramel has become a category of its own in hair color.

Blending Browns and Golds

So what exactly goes into making the rich caramel color? The key is blending brown and gold shades to achieve that sweet, dimensional look. Here’s a breakdown of the two main hair colors that combine to create caramel:

Warm Brown – Caramel hair requires a brown base that has warm, golden undertones. Cool browns will not create the right look. Stylists often choose brown shades with names like chocolate, cinnamon, espresso, or hazelnut to provide that cozy, inviting base for caramel color. Lifting the brown hair to a medium brown or dark blonde intensity is also important in the process.

Gold Blonde – On top of the warm brown base, shades of golden or buttery blonde are woven in to make caramel hair shine. Stylists may use butterscotch, honey, or amber blonde tones. In some cases, very fine highlights of platinum are added for brightness. The blonde shades interspersed throughout the brown create lots of depth and dimension.

How Caramel Color is Achieved

There are a couple techniques colorists use to seamlessly blend the warm brown and gold blonde shades to achieve perfect caramel hair:

Balayage- The balayage technique involves painting the lightener or hair color directly onto the surface of the hair to create soft, blended shades that look natural. The colorist hand-paints diagonal strips of lightener to lift the underlying brown into a caramel blonde. Loose hilights are also brushed on.

Foiling- Thin slices of hair are isolated with foil. Color or lightener is applied just to those strands and allowed to process. This creates targeted areas of lightness to be woven through the hair. It allows for maximum control and nuance in placement of color.

In addition to these freehand highlighting techniques, all-over color can be applied first to warm up the overall base to a brown suited to caramel tones. Glosses or toners may be applied at the end to refine the shades present in the caramel palette.

The result is hair that flows from warm brown to golden blonde in seamless, sexy, dimensional color. The combinations of shade create depth, movement, and sheen that reflect and flatter in beautiful ways. Now let’s look at some caramel color formulas.

Examples of Caramel Hair Color Formulas

There is no single standardized formula for creating caramel hair color since much depends on the client’s natural hair color and desired look. However, here are a couple examples of how colorists may mix a warm brown base with golden blonde:

Formula 1

Warm brown base Level 5-6 natural brown hair colored to 6N
Highlight #1 Hand-painted balayage with lightener to lift hair to level 8
Highlight #2 Foiled slices colored with level 9 pale golden blonde
Toner Cool beige blonde toner applied to refined hue

Formula 2

Warm brown base Level 4 natural brown hair colored to 5NC
Highlight #1 Balayage painted on with 7NC + 7GB blend
Highlight #2 Micro-fine highlights in level 9 pale gold blonde
Toner Warm beige blonde toner to finish

These formulas show how the brown base and blonde highlights are customized to the client’s hair. The placement of the highlights through either balayage or foiling is also an art that creates different effects. The toners at the end help calibrate the overall hue into luscious caramel.

Maintenance of Caramel Color

Caramel hair color looks gorgeous when first done, but also requires continued maintenance. The lighter blonde tones tend to fade more quickly, causing the color to become brassy or muddy.

To keep caramel hair looking perfect, a gloss treatment can be done every 4-6 weeks. The gloss adds back vibrant tone without having to redo all of the highlighting. Color touch-up appointments are needed every 8-12 weeks. The regrowth can be blended by re-painting small balayage pieces around the face and head. An all-over permanent color refresh may be needed every 3-4 months.

Using a color-safe shampoo and conditioner will also help extend the longevity of caramel color between appointments. Additionally, limiting washing to every other day and avoiding chlorine or salt water can prevent fading. With proper maintenance, caramel hair color will stay shiny and luxurious.

Achieving the Perfect Caramel Color

When performed by a skilled colorist, caramel hair color looks exquisitely beautiful and complex. The blending of warm golden browns and buttery blondes creates soft, sweet dimension that flatters and illuminates. Custom formulations are crafted to complement skin tone and base hair color. While the initial color appointment takes time, the result is shiny, healthy hair in a rich, dimensional caramel shade that turns heads. Regular salon maintenance keeps the color looking soft, natural, and vibrant over months of wear. Caramel hair color is the perfect way to add sumptuous golden tones to your look.


In summary, the two hair colors that blend together to create caramel hair are warm brown shades and golden blondes. Colorists mix brown bases with red or gold undertones with fine highlights and lowlights in lighter butterscotch and honey blond. Techniques like balayage and foiling allow for seamless integration of the colors through the hair. Custom formulas are crafted to suit the client’s natural color and desired look. When performed correctly, the resulting caramel hair color looks multi-dimensional, shiny, and beautifully sun-kissed. With regular salon glossing and toning, caramel hair can be maintained for months, keeping its sweet, golden richness. So for gorgeous dimensional color that flatters all complexions, caramel is the perfect choice.