We’re starting to see chestnut hair color everywhere as people ditch washed-out summer color in favor of toasty fall shades. We’re taking a close-up look at chestnut brown to see the unique undertones and shade variations, the best colors to pair it with, and who looks best in chestnut tresses.
Discover gorgeous ways to rock chestnut strands in any season and get our best tips for finding the chestnut hair color shade that’s just right for you!
What Is Chestnut Hair Color?
Chestnut hair color is a warm, medium-to-light reddish brown shade just like the color of the American chestnut. It has pretty gold and red undertones that show up best in the light and give the color a glittery, dimensional effect.
Chestnut brown is an earthy color with lots of depth. It’s richer and more complex than basic brunette shades.
There’s lots of variation in chestnut hair color, so you’ll have to be precise when you ask for this color at a salon (or buy your own box color if you plan to dye your hair at home).
The level of the color can range from a medium (level 5) mahogany-toned chestnut to a light (level 6-7) copper brown, amber brown, or golden brown. You can choose chestnut brown shades that skew a little more red than gold, or feature more golden tones than auburn.
Chestnut brown can be worn alone as an all-over color, but it’s also a popular color for balayage, lowlights, or highlights in warm base shades. Chestnut hair color looks great when paired with other warm colors.
Great color matches for lowlights, highlights, or balayage with chestnut hair color include:
- Warm blondes like strawberry blonde, honey blonde, or caramel blonde
- Warm brunette shades like chocolate brown, golden brown, bronze, or sienna brown
- Warm red shades like copper, cinnamon, auburn, rose gold, or orange tones
Chestnut hair color can even work as a balayage or ombre color when paired with neutral black! Since it’s a warm shade, it won’t go well with cool-toned blue black or cool shades of blonde, brown, or red.
Chestnut Hair Color Undertones
Chestnut hair color has a brown overtone – it’s the obvious color you see the most clearly. The undertones of chestnut hair color that are less apparent on first glance are gold (yellow) and red.
These are the colors that tint the color slightly and give it a unique, robust reddish-brown tone. You’ll see hints of the gold and red undertones in chestnut brown in any lighting, but they become the most apparent when the light hits the color directly (like in direct sunlight).
Depending on how your chestnut hair color is mixed, you can end up with a true chestnut, one that’s a little more auburn-red, or a shade that appears more bronze-y gold.
The gold or yellow undertones in chestnut brown offer warmth and lighten the brown shade to make it a medium or light brown. The red undertones in chestnut brown also add warmth, depth, and dimension to give the color a very slight reddish tint.
Colors Similar to Chestnut Hair Color
There are a few colors that chestnut is very similar to with some important distinctions. The most similar colors are:
- Auburn red
- Caramel brown
- Golden brown
- Mahogany brown
Chestnut hair color is very similar to auburn red, which has coppery red overtones with brown and gold undertones. Unlike auburn, however, chestnut brown leans more brunette and has more gold (yellow) undertones than red.
Chestnut brown is also similar to caramel brown shades, which can land somewhere between blonde and brunette on the hair color spectrum.
Like caramel, chestnut shares the same toasty warmth and golden undertones. But unlike caramel, chestnut brown features red undertones that give the color a reddish appearance that caramel doesn’t share.
Golden brown and chestnut brown are similar shades, too. Golden brown can take on an almost-coppery or bronze effect as the brunette tones mingle with gold undertones.
Chestnut brown has those same golden undertones, but with the addition of red undertones that give it a more auburn than bronze appearance.
Mahogany brown is also similar to deeper shades of chestnut brown. Like chestnut, mahogany features reddish undertones that give it a slightly auburn tone, especially in sunlight. Mahogany doesn’t feature the same golden tones as chestnut, however.
10 Gorgeous Shades of Chestnut Hair Color
With 3 discernible colors in the mix (brown, gold, and red), chestnut brown has so many color variations and shades to consider. It’s also the perfect shade of brown to pair with other hair colors for multi-toned balayage, ombre, or highlighted looks.
Take a look to see some of our favorite chestnut color possibilities for different tones and levels of depth!
1. Light Copper Chestnut
This warm chestnut shade is a little lighter than true chestnut and heavy on the copper undertones. It really toes the line between red and brown in true chestnut fashion. This is a great shade for light skin tones with warm undertones, but we’d love it on medium and deep skin, too!
2. True Chestnut With Shadow Root
With a little auburn and gold in the mix, this true chestnut brown shade is a classic choice for women with warm undertones who want more dimension in their color.
A dark espresso brown shadow root adds a little shadowy depth to the look and makes maintenance easier. We especially love this shade on medium and deep skin tones.
3. Gradient Golden Copper Chestnut Balayage
Why choose between medium and light shades of chestnut when you can have both? This balayage color transitions from a deeper brown-heavy chestnut with faint reddish tones into a lighter golden-copper chestnut at the ends.
4. Auburn Chestnut With Honey Blonde Highlights
Pairing a few warm tones together can create a unique, dimensional shade of chestnut that perfectly suits your complexion. Here, an auburn-toned chestnut handles the depth.
And warm honey blonde strands weave throughout to lighten the look. With a lot of auburn in the chestnut color, this hue is a good match for natural redheads going brunette!
5. Espresso, Chestnut, and Honey Blonde Balayage
A deep espresso color from the roots to the midshaft anchors this multi-toned look with a little depth. That’s perfect, since the light auburn chestnut balayage from the midshaft down adds rich dimension.
Tiny glimmers of honey blonde bring a little brightness to the color without overpowering the robust brunette and auburn tones.
6. Light Golden Chestnut
Muted auburn tones allow the golden undertones of chestnut hair color to shine, and a lighter level of depth will make those undertones even more apparent! This rich shade shines like a bright coppery brown with golden tones that make it sparkle in the sunlight.
7. Rich Sienna Chestnut
Getting a little lightness from the golden tones, this sienna chestnut color is darker in the bottommost layers for a rich, full-bodied feel. You’re getting lots of sienna brown, reddish chestnut, and subtle gold in this multi-toned shade.
8. Medium Copper Chestnut
Fans of brilliant copper tones will want to incorporate more copper brown into the hue for a sparkling, dimensional shade that looks alive. Golden copper glitters in the sunlight to show you a new version of your color every time sunbeams hit your strands.
9. Robust Auburn Chestnut
Medium and deep skin tones look amazing with robust, warm chestnut shades with less gold and more auburn tones. We love how vibrant the color appears on natural coils! For an even more dimensional look, add caramel or honey blonde highlights for little pops of brightness.
10. Chestnut and Caramel-Honey Balayage
Chestnut makes a great base tone for lighter balayage looks like this caramel-to-honey gradient. As long as you keep the shades warm, you can create tons of unique color duos and trios with chestnut as the base color!
Will Chestnut Hair Color Suit You?
Chestnut hair color is one of those rare hues that can look great on all skin tones, from fair/light to deep. However, you’ll look best in chestnut hair color if you have warm or neutral undertones. Cool undertones can clash with the toasty warm shades of brown, gold, and red in the chestnut color.
It’s easy to determine the warmth or coolness of your undertones if you’re not sure which category you fall under.
- Warm undertones are best flattered by gold jewelry, warm clothing colors like red, yellow, orange, and brown, and typically have greenish veins.
- Neutral undertones look equally good in gold and silver jewelry, can wear all clothing colors well, and may have greenish-blue or no discernible vein color.
- Cool undertones are best flattered by silver jewelry, cool or pastel clothing colors like green, blue, and purple, and usually have bluish or purple veins.
If you fall under the warm or neutral undertones categories, chestnut hair color will be a great fit for you! Any shade of chestnut color can work for different skin tones (fair/light, medium, and deep).
But you might find that it’s most flattering to choose lighter chestnut shades for lighter skin and deeper, richer chestnut shades for medium and deep skin tones.
If you’re cool-toned, skip chestnut and consider more flattering shades of brown or dark blonde without the warmth. Ash brown, mocha brown, ash blonde, bronde (brownish blonde or dirty blonde), and cool beige blonde are all great options that won’t clash with cooler undertones.
Final Things to Consider
Now that you’ve learned all about chestnut hair color and its unique, rich undertones of gold and red, what else should you know before you book a color appointment or start mixing up your dye at home? We’re so glad you asked!
Here are a few final tips to consider before committing to chestnut hair color:
- Not a fan of red tones? Go golden brown. Chestnut is often confused with golden brown, which is a similar but notably different color without the hints of auburn that chestnut is famous for. You’ll get all the warmth and lightness of golden undertones without the reddish hue if that’s more your style.
- Hate the golden undertones? Go auburn. Golden undertones can be gorgeous, and we think they’re a key part of what makes chestnut color so alluring and dimensional. But gold tones can look a little too much like brassiness for some, so if that’s your line of thinking, skip chestnut brown and go straight to auburn. You’ll get that reddish depth with enough brown to balance it out without the glints of gold.
- Shake up your current chestnut color with red or burgundy. If you’re already rocking chestnut hair color, you can mix things up a bit by having your stylist apply some deep auburn or burgundy tones to the color for a totally new look. Auburn is a brownish red, while burgundy features plum-purple hues with red undertones.
- Know how long you want your color to last. If you’re going chestnut for a brief period or just for the season, you may want to consider demi-permanent color instead of permanent color. Demi-permanent dye lasts 20-24 shampoos (about 1-2 months), while permanent color lasts indefinitely and is harder to cover up when you’re ready for a change.
- Try a new cut to show off your fresh color. Haircuts always make a new color look more impressive and transformational, so take the opportunity to try something new with your mane! Whether you end up going shorter, getting layers, or trying bangs, it’ll be a great way to update your look along with the gorgeous chestnut hue. Browse tons of women’s haircuts here.
So, Is Chestnut Colored Hair Right for You?
Wait, did you just become an expert on chestnut hair color? We think so! This toasty warm reddish brown is a beautiful hue for any skin tone and may be just the right color to totally makeover your mane.
If you’ve got warm or neutral undertones, love the reddish gold tones in this rich brown shade, and like the idea of customizing your chestnut hair color to perfectly suit your skin tone, we say go for it.
Chestnut is a classic brunette color that you won’t easily tire of, and while it definitely gives us Fall vibes, it can be a great hue for all seasons. If you’re planning on going chestnut brown, take a sec to virtually try on the color with our awesome hairstyle try-on tool first.
You’ll be able to experiment with chestnut color (or any hue you like) along with cute new haircuts and styles without committing to anything IRL. It’s a great way to see how you’d look with chestnut hair color before you officially take the leap!