Chocolate. Even just the word seems luscious doesn’t it? This rich, unctuous and utterly indulgent creation seems to hover delicately between liquid and solid, melting at the slightest touch of heat. Chocolate is truly sensuous, it’s elegant balance of bitter to sweet seems to awaken you to your very soul.
Chocolate conjures up images of luscious, flowing, decadence.Which is why it is probably the most common word used to describe brown hair. Brown, however, seems somewhat… utilitarian. It evokes images of barren earth, ugly couches and hideously old fashioned school shoes. It is the colour of useful things and dirt, with a few unfortunate forays into bridesmaid couture in the 1970’s. Brown hair is the colour hair you were born with. Chocolate is the colour hair of glamorous starlets and powerful go-getters. So when colouring your hair dark you must always say “ I want my hair to be chocolate, thank you!”
The only problem with asking for chocolate hair is that, much like the culinary treat, there are many varieties of chocolate. And they might not all be to your taste. There is nothing worse than expecting a 70% Guanaja chocolate and getting a mouthful of Red Tulip instead. It’s not that Red Tulip is bad – it’s just ridiculously sweet compared to the bitter intensity of the specialty Guanaja blend. With the multitude of possibilities out there for chocolate, the best results will always be achieved if you know what you like and know how to ask for it.
When it comes to chocolate hair we tend to use similar terminology to describe it as we do the food stuff. Rich, dark, warm – all lovely words but essentially useless when trying to decipher the tone of a colour. Richness is the most popular term used to describe brunette tone and is usually code for ‘intense colour without looking too coloured’. Which usually means you want your hair to look fancier than bog standard brown. Which is a totally fair request!
To achieve ‘richness’ you need to have a base undertone that comes through. In my experience there are three choices when it comes to chocolate coloured hair; cool which has a violet undertone, warm with a gold/red undertone or true chocolate which has a mahogany undertone. Of course, we can personalise your colour so it’s uniquely yours, but these three options are the best ways to achieve the elusive richness most chocolate lovers desire.
Let’s start with cool chocolate. This is your darkest option – the bitter, 80% cocoa, fair trade chocolate that only the very committed chocolate lovers would enjoy. The reason for that is, cooler colours, like violet, ash and pearl, absorb more light than they reflect, which in turn makes them appear darker, even on the same level of depth, as a corresponding warm tone like a red or yellow. Cool chocolate like this has an almost royal purple hint in it’s undertone. This is not the vibrant purple tone of a Wiggle, but the subtle purple sheen of a velvet robe at a coronation. Coolly regal, this kind of tone commands attention without shouting. It’s not obvious, but it adds complexity to an otherwise dull brown.
Now warm chocolate, this is the Cadbury milk version of hair colour. Not too dark, but still firmly in the chocolate family. A warm chocolate has a golden undertone with a tiny touch of red, and is apparently the official undertone of chocolate brown – according to Wikipedia at least. This is the crowd pleaser option, as light loves to reflect off gold and red tones which really gives sparkle and vitality to colour. The real beauty of a warm chocolate is that it works with the natural undertones of hair. The artificial pigments combine harmoniously with the natural pigments so your boring brown can transform into a superstar chocolate brown without any issues.
Which leaves us with true chocolate. Think 40-55% cocoa, dark but not too dark, intense but not too bitter, perfectly balanced. My personal favourite, this chocolate tone utilises mahogany as its undertone, with just a drop of blue to really hold the warmth in check. Mahogany is a mix of violet and red and while technically a cool tone, it has just enough warmth in it to really shimmer. The violet gives subtle complexity, the red vibrancy and sparkle and the addition of ash-blue adds a hazy smokiness to round out the colour and soften the tone. Deliciously shiny, this is anything but bland brown!
So next time you get a chocolate craving, indulge in your favourite knowing exactly what chocolate takes your fancy. Knowing your chocolate preference will save you from a disappointing experience and leave you pleasantly satisfied with your gorgeous new colour. .I’ll be over here with my own version of chocolate hair – the very rare ruby chocolate. Otherwise known as pink 😉