Switch Up Your Look: Brown Hair With Caramel Highlights

Need a kick to your brunette strands? Adding shades of caramel highlights is just the thing for you! They add definition to layers and curls, lighten your overall color, and add soft warmth to your look. You can go bold, soft and subtle, or ombre‘ to add that “special something” to your color. Color a new you by wearing brown hair with caramel highlights!

Mocha Mix

Q&A with style creator, Michelle Lambert
Hair Designer @ The Salon at Ulta in Levittown, NY

How would you describe this look and what is your favorite thing about it?

This hairstyle is perfect for the fall season. The hair color includes multiple warm tones.

My favorite thing about this hair color is that it matches the colors seen throughout nature during the changing of the seasons. Mocha is the base color, then copper and caramel tones as highlights.

What products do you recommend to create and maintain this look?

The soft waves from this look make it easy to recreate using the right products and styling tools. The haircut was created so that it could be styled with a natural wave, straight, or styled with a curling iron.

Here I utilized the natural wave by spraying Redken Fashion Waves on damp hair before blow drying. After the hair was dry, I loosely curled the front and top layers with 1-inch curling iron, finishing with a spray of Redken Wax Blast.

For the color I recommend Redken Chromatics hair color and Shades eq gloss. At home, the client should maintain the color using a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner such as Redken Color Extend Magnetics.

What type of client would you recommend this look for?

Any client that wants low maintenance hair color and style is the perfect candidate for this look. I made her base color match the same level as her natural color and added mocha to warm up her natural color. We utilized her existing highlights by adding copper lowlights and toning the rest with a caramel shade.

These tones work great for clients that have a neutral or cool undertone in their skin. As the color grows out, there won’t be much contrast with the hair color and regrowth. That makes this the perfect color for someone with a busy lifestyle. The style will work great for anyone with wavy to straight hair.

Natural Blend

Natural Blend hairstyle Instagram @deeply_rootd

Q&A with style creator, Kellie Hatch
Salon Owner @ Deeply ROOT’d in Show Low, AZ


How would you describe this look and what is your favorite thing about it?

I️ would describe this look as low maintenance, warm and natural. I️ love that this look has contrast and depth, but is still such a natural blend. Too much dark or too much light can sometimes wash out a person’s skin tone. Staying close to their natural base color with some pops of a lighter tone that is two to three shades lighter can balance very nicely.

What products do you recommend to create and maintain this look?

When styling this look, I️ love to use a styling cream or a light root booster to hold the styling and create volume. I️ round brush the hair and add some soft curls to help define the color even more. Finish with your favorite texture spray for separation and hold.

I️ am absolutely obsessed with Living Proof Prime Prime Style Extender, as well as the Dry Volume Blast.

What type of client would you recommend this look for?

This look works best and would be a great idea for someone that wants something low maintenance. I️ can touch up regrowth/grey coverage for several months before touching the highlights. It could honestly work on any hair type. The warm tones in this color work best on someone with medium colored skin.

Warm Foilayage

Warm Foilayage hairstyle Instagram @leannaslovelylocks

Q&A with style creator, Leanna Matthews
Hairstylist @ Elixir Hair Studio in St Albert, AB, Canada


How would you describe this look and what is your favorite thing about it?

This is a foilayage that I created on a client with virgin hair. It’s a soft look that I blended with a hand painting technique rather than straight up highlights in foil.

My favorite part of this look is the warmth! Nowadays clients tend to fear warmth because they believe their hair will appear brassy. This is not true. If it’s done right with the correct use of product and technique from start to finish, it will look amazing!

What products do you recommend to create and maintain this look?

There are many ways to achieve this style. Depending on how much body you desire (who doesn’t love some volume!?!?), I would definitely go in with a thickening product before blow drying. I used bumble and bumble thickening spray, but whatever your prefer is will work just fine. After I finished round brushing, I went in with my 1 1/4-inch Babyliss curling iron and created a soft curl. I then finished off with a light hold spray to keep the curl.

To maintain this fabulous color, I recommend coming in about every two months to refresh the caramel with a toning service. This is a great way to renew your look without paying the cost of an entire foilayage. Another option is to bring the caramel tones up higher with a partial foilayage/balayage after the new growth becomes too long.

What type of client would you recommend this look for?

This type of creation is perfect for those who can’t commit to coming into the salon every six weeks for a color retouch. Another great candidate for this color is one who is transitioning from a darker brown and wants to slowly go lighter. This is a beautiful “in between” shade with tons of dimension.

Whether you have skinny or thick hair, this look would be gorgeous on anyone with golden undertones in their skin. It’s all about placement and how light or dark you choose for those caramel accents.

#1 Vanilla Mocha Swirl

Written by Sarah Nitz

Ribbons of vanilla caramel highlights through a dark mocha base gives lots of texture and interest to long and short hair alike.

Brown Hair Color with Vanilla Caramel HighlightsStyle by Candy Pena, Makeup by Amber Beck, Yellow Strawberry Salon, Sarasota, FL

Best Skin Tone and Hair Type:

Medium skin tones that look great in pops of blues, violets and magenta wear this color well.  Hair that is medium to dark brown naturally is a great starting point to achieve this look.

Tip:

If you have colored or very dark brown hair, getting this soft vanilla caramel highlight may take more than one visit. Be patient! Your stylist is interested in keeping your hair healthy and looking great, and sometimes that takes a few visits.

#2 Creamy Caramel

Written by Sarah Nitz

Adding caramel highlights under a chocolate base gives texture and definition and makes this amazing cut pop even more!

Chocolate Hair Color with Caramel HighlightsStyle by Katie Kacere, Makeup by Kristian Bailey, Sheer Professionals, Wooster, OH
Chocolate Hair Color with Caramel Highlights SideStyle by Katie Kacere, Makeup by Kristian Bailey, Sheer Professionals, Wooster, OH

Best Skin Tone and Hair Type:

Light to medium skin tones that look great in plum, navy and emerald greens look amazing wearing this color too. Hair that is straight in texture and naturally medium to dark brown is the best base for this color and cut.

Tip:

Keeping a small amount of brown to over lay your new highlights makes upkeep a breeze. Ask your stylist if this will work with your next color!

#3 Caramel Glow

Written by Sarah Nitz

Soft caramel highlights throughout your hair, with some extras framing your face, creates a soft and beautiful golden glow.

Soft Caramel Highlights on Brown HairStyle by Sandra Bello, Makeup by Caroline Lease, Yellow Strawberry Salon, Sarasota, FL
Soft Caramel Highlights on Brown Hair FrontStyle by Sandra Bello, Makeup by Caroline Lease, Yellow Strawberry Salon, Sarasota, FL

Best Skin Tone and Hair Type:

Light to medium skin tones that have a warmer tone look great in this glowing caramel color. Hair that is medium to light brown (naturally or colored) is the best starting point to achieve this color combo.

Tip:

Make sure you talk with your stylist about the end result you want to achieve with your highlights.  Bringing pictures in (on your phone or printed) gives them a better idea of the color your looking for.

#4 Caramel Ombre’

Written by Sarah Nitz

Softening up an ombre’ with fine highlights closer to the scalp is a great way to switch up your old color and make it a little more modern.

Caramel Ombre Hair ColorStyle by Emily Konke, Makeup by Amber Beck, Yellow Strawberry Salon, Sarasota, FL
Caramel Ombre Hair Color SideStyle by Emily Konke, Makeup by Amber Beck, Yellow Strawberry Salon, Sarasota, FL

Best Skin Tone and Hair Type:

Ladies who tend to look better in warmer colors (think yellow, brown and orange) tend to look fabulous in this caramel shade! Hair that has some length to it makes for a more dramatic effect when it comes to ombre’, but anything past your chin has the possibility to achieve this color.

Tip:

When lighting the ends of your hair, you want to make sure that you give it them little extra TLC.  A weekly conditioning treatment is a must! Try Pravana’s 60 Sec Treatment. One minute in the shower and your hair feel fabulous and you’ve added the extra moisture and nutrients it needs!

#5 Soft Gold

Written by Sarah Nitz

Accent your eyes and cheekbones with these gorgeous face framing highlights and fun haircut.

Brown Hair with Face Framing HighlightsMake up by Susie Hearn, Style by Sean Rocco Salon, Charlotte, NC
Brown Hair with Face Framing Highlights SideMake up by Susie Hearn, Style by Sean Rocco Salon, Charlotte, NC

Best Skin Tone and Hair Type:

Light to medium skin tones look fabulous in these face framing highlights. Hair that is medium to fine in amount and straight to wavy will achieve this cut best.  f your natural color is light to medium brown, you have the perfect base!

Tip:

Ask your stylist for styling tips. We sometimes forget to give you different ways to wear your new cut and color! You’ll be surprised at the ideas we can give you, as well as product recommendations.

#6 Caramel Dream

Written by Sarah Nitz

Soft, medium-toned caramel highlights look amazing ribboning through rich chocolate brown hair. Keeping them separated gives curls lots of fun and interest too.

Soft Medium Caramel Highlights on Chocolate Brown HairStyle by The Brown Aveda Institute, Rocky River, OH

Best Skin Tone and Hair Type:

Medium skin tones that look great in warmer colors wear this rich shade best. Hair that is already a rich chocolate color is a great starting point to achieve this color.

Tip:

Caramel is one of those colors that everyone has a different idea of exactly what it is. Make sure to bring a picture to your color appointment to ensure you and your stylist are on the same page!

#7 Caramel Accent

Written by Sarah Nitz

Soft brown hair color with added caramel accent highlights brightens the face and is a perfect year round color!

Soft Brown Haircolor with Caramel Accent HighlightsStyle by The Brown Aveda Institute, Mentor, OH

Best Skin Tone and Hair Type:

Lighter skin tones look best in this softer color, while hair that is starting a blonde to light brown is a good starting point to achieving this color.

Tip:

If you are going darker with blonde hair to this rich caramel hue, it is important to ask your stylist for the right shampoo and conditioner to keep your color. A lot of shampoos will quickly pull fresh color out of previously blonde hair. Sulfate-free, color safe shampoos are a must!

#8 Caramel Ribbons

Written by Sarah Nitz

Soft ribbons of caramel highlights that are heavier around the face look amazing paired with a rich dark brown.

Brown Hair With Caramel HighlightsStyle by Connie Masullo, Unique Hair Design, Lincoln Park, NJ

Best Skin Tone and Hair Type:

Medium to dark skin tones that look great in warmer colors are perfect for this hue, while hair that is naturally dark brown provides a perfect canvas for these face framing highlights.

Tip:

Keeping long hair shiny and healthy can make your color go from nice to fabulous! Adding a deep conditioning treatment weekly or bi-weekly to your hair maintenance schedule makes a huge difference. My favorite is Pravana’s NEVO 60 Sec Deep Treat. In only one minute, hair is super soft and shiny!

#9 Multi-Faceted Caramel

Written by Sarah Nitz

Adding multi-tonal caramel highlights to brown hair adds richness and dimension that commands attention!  It looks great curled, straight or pulled up as seen in this formal style.

Multi Tonal Caramel Highlights on Brown HairStyle by London Hair Salon, Mt. Pleasant, SC

Best Skin Tone and Hair Type:

Light to medium skin tones look best in this mutli-dimensional hue. Hair that is starting at a light to medium brown make it easiest to achieve this color.

Tip:

Bringing a picture in to your stylist is one of the best ways to get exactly what you’re looking for. Make sure you discuss what your idea of caramel is. It varies sometimes person to person of exactly how light, dark, or warm caramel should be.

#10 Balayage Caramel

Written by Sarah Nitz

These soft and rich caramel highlights are created using a painted on, or balayage, technique. It produces such natural-looking highlights that you’d swear the sun did them!

Soft Balayage Caramel Highlights For Brown HairStyle by Kindsay, Blaze Hair Color Salon, Quad Cities, IA

Best Skin Tone and Hair Type:

Light to medium skin tones look great in this hue, and hair that is starting off at a medium brown is a perfect starting point for these balayage caramel highlights.

Tip:

Not all stylists are up on how to achieve balayage highlights. Check out their online reviews, Facebook pages, and Instagram to see what kind of hair they are putting out. Also, a consultation before your appointment with a new stylist is always a great idea!

#11 Flipping for Caramel

Written by Sarah Nitz

Lots of fun, warm-toned caramel highlights brighten this flipped out look, giving the skin a warm glow!

Warm Caramel Highlights on Hairstyle with FlipsStyle by Bella Capelli Sanctuario, Westlake, OH

Best Skin Tone and Hair Type:

Medium skin tones that look great in warm colors wear this color nicely. Hair that is currently a warm brown is a great starting point for this caramelized look.

Tip:

The caramel pictured is a warm caramel. Talk to your stylist about how golden of a caramel he or she has in mind to make sure you are both on the same page. Pictures are a great way to make sure you both are thinking the same color!

#12 Caramel Bliss

Written by Sarah Nitz

Warm chocolate brown with fine and rich caramel highlights creates a beautiful color that looks fabulous on almost anyone! Be ready to accept all the compliments that come with this color.

Warm Chocolate Brown Hair Color with Rich Caramel HighlightsStyle by Shortino’s Salon & Spa, York, PA

Best Skin Tone and Hair Type:

Light to medium skin tones that can wear a rainbow of colors look amazing in this warm tone. Hair that is beginning at a light to meduim brown is a perfect backdrop for these rich caramel highlights.

Tip:

Love her volume? One of my favorite tricks is to use dry shampoo at the root in the areas you are looking to pump up. Simply style hair, spray a small amount in root area, and give it a slight backcomb with a brush or comb. My favorite dry shampoo is Pravana’s Fresh.

#13 Caramel Ombre’

Written by Sarah Nitz

Dark rich brown flowing into a soft caramel is one of the hottest colors in Hollywood these days. It’s great for stretching color appointments and staying right on trend at the same time!

Caramel Ombre Hair ColorStyle by Lisa Jordan, Elon Salon, Marietta, GA

Best Skin Tone and Hair Type:

Light to medium skin tones with warm undertones look great in this hot ombre‘, while hair that is strong and healthy is a great starting point for any ombre’.  Strong ends can handle the lightening and toning process.

Tip:

To keep the blending line soft, ask your stylist to give you ombre’ highlights. This keeps the transition from being a straight line.

#14 Creamy Caramel

Written by Sarah Nitz

Warm deep caramel woven through chocolate brown gives shine and life to any head of hair!

Deep Caramel Highlights on Chocolate Brown Hair ColorStyle by Don Westbrook, Elon Salon, Marietta, GA

Best Skin Tone and Hair Type:

Light to medium skin tones that look great in warm colors wear this color beautifully. Hair that is starting at a medium to light brown is a perfect setting for these warm caramel highlights.

Tip:

Keeping hair color looking great involves a professional sulfate-free and color safe shampoo, regular appointments, and weekly conditioning treatments. Consult your stylist for their personalized recommendations for you.

#15 Dark Caramelo

Written by Sarah Nitz

If you want to keep it on the dark side, this is the color for you. The overall hue stays dark, but still has the richness of warm caramel.

Dark Haircolor with Warm Caramel HighlightsStyle by The Brown Aveda Institute, Mentor, OH

Best Skin Tone and Hair Type:

Medium to darker skin tones look best in this darker look, while hair that is a medium brown to start with is a great beginning point to achieve this color.

Tip:

Keep your hair looking great with regular trims! A dusting off the ends every eight weeks will do wonders. Ask your stylist if they offer memberships or have any specials if you book ahead.

#16 Light Caramel

Written by Sarah Nitz

Silky caramel highlights laced through light brown strands creates beauty and definition to everyday hair. Whether worn in waves, curls, braids or simply straight, your hair will thank you!

Silky Caramel Highlights on Light Brown HairStyle by Acacia Cronic, Elon Salon, Marietta, GA

Best Skin Tone and Hair Type:

Medium to dark skin tones look wonderful in this rich warm hue, while hair that is starting from a dark blonde to light brown is a perfect starting point to achieve this color.

Tip:

If you are starting at a lighter color and going darker, prepare yourself to be shocked. It always seems darker than what you thought! Give it a few days (and a couple of washes) and you’ll be happy you went for the change.

#17 Dark Chocolate

Written by Sarah Nitz

The darkest richest brown with subtle dark caramel highlights makes this color scream beautiful!

Dark Brown Hair Color with Subtle Caramel HighlightsStyle by The Brown Aveda Institute, Mentor, OH
Brown Hair With Caramel HighlightsStyle by The Brown Aveda Institute, Mentor, OH

Best Skin Tone and Hair Type:

Warm, dark skin tones wear this color wonderfully, and hair that is naturally dark brown is the best starting point to create this look.

Tip:

Don’t forget to use a weekly deep conditioning treatment to keep your darker tresses rich and shiny.

#18 Caramel Overload

Written by Sarah Nitz

Alternating different shades of caramel highlights through warm chocolate brown strands creates so much interest and texture within the hair!

Caramel Highlights on Warm Chocolate Brown HairStyle by The Brown Aveda Institute, Mentor, OH

Best Skin Tone and Hair Type:

Light to medium skin tones that look great in warmer colors wear this shade well. Hair that is healthy and starting at a medium to dark brown is a great base for these rich highlights.

Tip:

When looking to achieve this color, you will only need to ask for a partial highlight. This will bring lightness around your face and through the top of your head, leaving the depth and darkness underneath.

#19 Caramel Concentration

Written by Sarah Nitz

A concentration of beautiful caramel highlights around the face brightens your overall look and is always in style.

Caramel Highlights Around the FaceStyle by Adela Ghafoori, Victoria Station Salon & Spa, Vienna, VA

Best Skin Tone and Hair Type:

Light to medium skin tones that look great in warmer blues, greens, and oranges look great in this bright caramel highlight. Hair that is starting at a dark to medium warm brown is a perfect canvas for these face framing highlights.

Tip:

Love her curls? The best curl-staying tip I have is to use a medium hold gel or mousse before blow drying hair. Let curls cool completely before you manipulate them, and don’t go overboard on the hairspray. Too much hairspray can weigh down curls, causing them to fall out!

#20 Oh So Subtle

Written by Sarah Nitz

Light caramel highlights through the ends that softly work their way up towards the scalp is an easy to maintain yet oh so fabulous look!

Light Subtle Caramel Highlights on Dark HairStyle by Kristen Loprieno, Planet Color Salon, Mokena, IL

Best Skin Tone and Hair Type:

Light to medium skin tones that look fabulous in warmer tones wear this color beautifully, and hair that is rich dark brown to light brown can achieve these gorgeous highlights easily.

Tip:

Don’t overdo these soft highlights! They are meant to be subtle. Talk to your stylist and bring pictures to show how much of the highlights you are looking for.

Brunettes don’t fret, with all of the caramel options you have, your locks will never look the same. Go dark and rich, lighter and creamy, or multi-tonal. Depth and lightness are not your only options either! Concentrate those gorgeous highlights around your face in a soft ombre’, or go all the way through. Just go for it and warm up your look by wearing brown hair with caramel highlights!