In the world of hair hues, things are heating up. Warm hair colors have been gaining in popularity over the last few years, the redhead renaissance (a trend that began in 2021 and shows no signs of stopping) bringing with it a want of cozy, fun, and flattering shades.
“I’ve truly always been a fan of warmer colors,” says celebrity hairstylist Jenna Perry, the mind behind the menu of iconic dye jobs worn by Emily Ratajkowski, Troye Sivan, Camila Morrone, and more. “Warm colors add a natural, healthy-looking glow to all skin tones.” Perry’s recent work proves her point: The stylist lifted Ratajkowski’s natural brown to an of-the-moment copper over the summer, trading the shade for rich chocolate as the weather began to cool. Both looks embody the current craving for warm, expensive-looking hair, from honeyed blondes to Bordeaux reds.
Meet Our Expert
Jenna Perry is celebrity hairstylist whose clients include Emily Ratajkowski and Troye Sivan.
Phoebe Nathan is a hairstylist in New York City and London.
Warm hair colors fit well within the current aesthetic narrative. “I think choosing a warmer tone this season goes hand in hand with this resurgence of '90s hair trends at the moment,” says hairstylist Phoebe Nathan. “Looking back at many of the iconic actors and models of the decade, you’ll see those warm hues!”
Choosing the Right Shade
“Other than being a seasonal staple, I absolutely love how universally flattering warm tones are,” says Nathan. But with such a broad palette, how can one ever select a shade? Start with your skin. “Find a complementary color to your skin’s undertone, rather than trying to match it directly,” recommends Nathan. “If you have cooler undertones, I would opt for warmer shades with a bit of a neutral undertone to them (beige-golden blondes, browny-coppers, etc). If you have warmer undertones, lean into those rich auburns and honey blondes!”
“I’ve been telling most of my clients to do a color analysis test,” says Perry, referencing a tried-and-true means of identifying skin undertones and, thus, your most flattering shades. “I think it’s a game-changer for how you choose your hair color, makeup, and even the colors you wear sartorially.” Rita Hazan (go-to colorist for the likes of Beyoncé and Sydney Sweeney) also recommends a level of pre-appointment preparedness. “Depending on the color you want, find multiple inspiration pictures,” she advises. “Remember, filters are often being used, so try to find the same color in different lighting. You also want to make sure the reference pictures have similar hair texture and skin color for the most realistic outcome.”
Maintenance is crucial when it comes to warm colors! The better to keep things sumptuous and saturated rather than sapped and drab. “My number one advice, especially for fast-fading coppers and reds, is using a pigmented conditioner or mask,” says Nathan, who favors Christophe Robin’s Shade Variation Mask. “It’s an easy way to keep hair color looking fresh and your hair feeling great between appointments.” In addition, both Perry and Hazan praise glossing treatments for vibrant color and enhanced shine. “Glossing helps eliminate the chance of your hair color getting dull,” says Hazan.
12 Warm Hair Colors to Inspire Your Look
Toasty, caramel-touched blondes are helping to warm up autumn's crisp air. Rihanna recently debuted waist-skimming lengths colored a slightly muted molten gold, similar shades sported by Kim Kardashian and Keke Palmer as of late too. Those looking to lighten up without sacrificing depth would do well to add this brûléed blonde to the menu.
Dreamed up by Jenna Perry for InStyle Beauty Director Lauren Valenti, this burnished shade is a study in warmth and depth. The hue combines the appeal of copper and rust with the season's want of bright gingers, resulting in a covetable, foliage-inspired color that plays well with any texture—as indicated by Valenti and her collective of curls.
Rich Chocolate Brown
The best browns as of late are rich in color, expensive-looking, and cocoa-inspired. While dark chocolates certainly have their place, melty milk chocolate feels like a fresh and sweet take on the trend, and one that makes a flattering complement to a multitude of skin tones. Plus, in a sea of deep chocolates, taking things up a shade transforms a would-be classic brunette color into one worthy of a second look.
Fans of the tawny, muted nature of a baby blonde, meet Bambi. This hue finds the cool and ashy tonal shades warmed up for a timeless, natural-looking color reminiscent of the covetable colors regularly spotted at Copenhagen Fashion Week. The beige blonde can be adjusted to suit your needs, leaning more golden or vanilla while maintaining its fawn-inspired appeal.
Whether you call it burgundy, mulled wine, or Bordeaux, purples and deep reds inspired by your favorite vintages are here to stay. “I’m really feeling a true, deep red,” says Perry. That want shifts depending on undertones, but Bordeaux combines red, black, and brunette for a hue that is easily adjusted to suit your skin.
For a super accessible take on the red trend, spiced cider blends brown, blonde, and burnished red in a multi-dimensional ginger hue. The color melds golden blonde and penny copper in a cinnamon-touched shade that’s primed for autumn and beyond. Spiced cider is an ideal solution for those unwilling to commit to copper in full or who want the option to segue as the season goes on.
Golden Honey Brown
The gold blonde of the moment is soaked in a buttery, honeyed hue that sits somewhere between a sand-strewn beach and golden hour. “Warm tones reflect light, making your hair look brighter and shinier—and if you’re opting for a golden hue, I find that the warmth can cast a nice glow onto your skin as well,” says Nathan, who adds that some iterations are reminiscent of ‘90s stars.
Copper colors are the new guard, and tiny tweaks mean that there are still endless variations on the horizon. Similar to the cowboy copper trend, cayenne copper is marked by a fiery, though subtle, finish. This particular shade is strong enough to stand alone without the need for ribbons of color throughout, but as with all dye jobs, personalization is essential—so don’t be afraid to ask for adjustments as needed. As with all reds, be sure to invest in a color-depositing conditioner to keep your copper looking bold and bright.
Cold Brew Brunette
Those who prefer their brunette woven with ribbons of caramel should consider this coffee-inspired color. Cold brew brunette takes the richness of espresso brown and lightens it up by way of delicately placed and painted highlights, making the deep style practically seasonless.
Dubbed ‘Coco-Cola copper’ by Nathan, this light and bright bronze is made more memorable via its single-toned approach. This copper is nearly strawberry blonde and a great option for those who find heavier iterations of the shade a touch too intense for their natural undertones.
Cinnamon Cookie Butter
Celebrity colorist Matt Rez developed the color "cinnamon cookie butter" for Hailey Bieber, immediately transforming her cool, mushroom bronde into a toasty treat worthy of the moment. This understated copper is a warmed-up brunette that finds its spice in the right light, making it an ideal choice for those looking to transition to red slowly or who want to test the trend in a non-committal way.
Bleached blonde may lean toward the cooler side of things, but this sweet shade takes its cues from buttercream. Hazan recently executed the color for Beyoncé, who wanted to warm up the pop star’s mane for the fall months. Chantilly is the ideal choice for those who tend toward the brightness of blonde but want to get away from yellows and golds without sacrificing warmth.
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