Glamour December 22, 2022



Hot Chocolate Brunette Hair Is Trending for Winter 


The weather outside is frightful, but your dye job is so delightful.

As blondes embrace golden honey tones for winter, brunette enthusiasts are doing the opposite, opting for deeper, darker, and even more vivid shades of dark brown for the New Year.

More specifically, beauty experts predict a major uptick in a color they've coined “hot chocolate brunette,” a dark brown shade characterized by warm undertones. (It's not like you drink hot chocolate iced.) “Hot chocolate brunette is a dark, rich brunette with warm tones and dimension,” says Nikki Lee, co-owner and stylist at West Hollywood's celebrity beauty hub Nine Zero One Salon. 

If you're more of a visual learner, Lee points to her client Sarah Hyland's hair as an archetypal take on the shade. Beauty icons Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, Laura Harrier, Anne Hathaway, and Camila Cabello are also known for sporting the signature dark brown color (though yes, we did just technically lose Hadid to the blonde side).

Lee isn't the only beauty expert predicting a rise in hot chocolate brunette in 2023. According to Nick Stenson, artistic director at Matrix, rich shades of brunette, like those of the hot chocolate variety, will be some of most sought-after color stories this winter. “This brunette hair will have healthy shine, and lean toward the warm side without being brassy,” he says.

The secret to hot chocolate brunette, versus more mousy and/or ashy shades of brown, lies in its dynamic undertones. “Hot chocolate brunette is a warm brown with a chestnut, or slightly red, undertone,” Lorena M. Valdes, a hair colorist at Chicago's Maxine Salon, tells Glamour. So don't saunter into the salon and request any old dark brown; be sure to ask for a rich dark brown with subtle dimension and warm tones, says Lee. It's also strongly advised to bring in photo examples—so yes, go ahead and screenshot this story.

If you prefer keeping your brunette on the slightly lighter side, Valdes notes that you can always add highlights to brighten up the hot chocolate look. In that case, however, you might want to consider brownie batter brunette—a highlighted version à la Mindy Kaling. Either way, you can tailor every hair color to your ideal aesthetic.

As for hot chocolate brunette's upkeep? While its glamorous and lustrous finish might seem intimidating, caring for the color is really not that bad. “Hot chocolate brunette hair is low-maintenance because there are no highlights at the root, so the grow-out is very soft and no harsh lines,” Lee explains. That said, if your hair is naturally lighter—and/or you're dedicated to keeping the glossy finish at its prime level of shine—Valdes suggests root touch-ups every six to eight weeks, along with a hair gloss to maintain its shine and richness.

If you are naturally blonde and dyeing your hair hot chocolate brunette, on the other hand, Valdes recommends refreshing your roots and color every four weeks.

Like all chemically treated hair, hot chocolate brunette requires at-home color-care shampoo, conditioner, and weekly masks and treatments. “Color-safe and color-locking shampoos are always the best to prevent fading,” says Valdes. In terms of treatments, Lee suggests using Garnier's Color Reviver once a week. “I recommend using the warm brown color,” she says. “It's great to maintain hot chocolate brunette at home.” 

Finally, be sure to follow the golden rule of heat styling: Always apply heat protectant after washing your hair and before you blow-dry and style—this is essential to maintain the shine, says Valdes. You may also want to wash your hair less than usual, as washing daily could strip the color prematurely, says Lee.

Feeling influenced? Take a sip of hot chocolate (brunette), and shop the essentials below.