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Milk Tea Hair Color Is Fall’s Hottest Color Trend

Milk tea hair is the warm auburn, roasted chestnut, toffee color concoction that makes our mouth water. Trending in Asia and now spreading everywhere, milk tea hair is a lighter shade of brunette that happens to be universally flattering. It’s almost like bronde, but tends to be a bit warmer. There’s no single milk tea color, and just like your favorite morning beverage, you tailor it to your taste. We sat down with Joseph Fantone, owner of The Color Bar Salon in the Philippines and Marta Baran, a colorist at the Whiteroom Salon in Brooklyn, to find out everything about milk tea hair.

milk tea hair

(via Whiteroom)

The Milk Tea Recipe

Like real milk tea recipes, the color formulations for milk tea hair color vary. “Color formulations always depend on the existing level, but generally the target base color will live between a level 6-7 with a neutral or cool undertone,” says Marta. For Joseph, who has a 90% Asian clientele, he will lift clients to a level 8 undertone, then tone using permanent color. “I gravitate towards beige reflect (Davines Mask Color Conditioning Cream 10,7 10B Lightest Beige Blonde; $11.74) then I mix it with a 12 series ash base to cancel some warmth and make it more balanced, while also giving extra lift to the hair.” PS – if you need a color level refresher, it’s spelled out, here.

To achieve her milky tones, Marta has been experimenting with lifting and toning separately on her clients with darker levels (like a 2-4). “I typically will go for a high lift permanent to get to a level 7-8, then will apply a level 6 neutral demi-permanent gloss to the root area and follow with a level 7 neutral on the mid shaft area. You can also integrate highlighting and low lighting to create softness.”



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A post shared by The Color Bar by @stylingByJOF (@thecolorbarph) on

Order Milk Tea Your Way

Milk tea is pretty much for everyone. Those with lighter hair can try milk tea and go lighter, but for girls with dark brown or black hair, milk tea is the perfect lightening up stepping stone without going blonde. “The nice thing about milk tea color is that it is very versatile, so even clients with very dark natural levels can achieve the look with the right formula. The thing to keep in mind is the target level and shade direction, this way the formulas can be adjusted depending on the underlying pigment that is going to be exposed in the lightening process,” says Marta.

Whether milk tea color requires bleach depends on the original hair color. “If the goal is to lift more than three levels then bleach or high lift may be required. It is important to always identify the starting level, the target level and the underlying pigment you are exposing so you can formulate properly,” Marta explains.


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Because milk tea is as customizable as a latte order, there isn’t necessarily one perfect shade. What makes it so flattering is that it’s very much in the middle—in the best way possible. “Milk tea color is smacked in between cool and warm tones. It has the perfect blend of warmth to compliment Asian skin tones, cool tone to add depth and make the color look creamy, says Joseph, who prefers a beige shade, that’s between light brown and dark blonde. Marta echoes this, “I typically keep a true neutral end result in mind when formulating, and I often utilize a combination of warm and cool tones.”

The right milk tea hue for you, like any other color service, will depend on your skin tone. “For olive skin tones, I add more warmth to my formulation,” explains Joseph.

“Neutral hues are a safe bet for almost any skin tone and eye color,” continues Marta. “The thing to avoid is having the base color be too similar to a client’s skin tone.” This is probably the best advice for color in general — you definitely want to maintain some contrast between your skin and your hair even if you’re lightening up, to make your face pop. After all, no one wants to look like this.


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Overall, we couldn’t be more on board with milk tea hair, which is also a perfect way to transition summer bleach blonde into this happy, sandy shade before going full auburn into the fall. “With the rise of the milk tea trend, my Asian clients have found the ‘perfect blonde’ that suits light or dark skin tones,” says Joseph.

Searching for some bronde inspo? We’ve got every skin tone covered HERE.

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