Articles > Copper > What Is The “Cowboy Copper” Hair Trend? Here’s What It Really Means…
Last updated: June 06, 2024

What Is The “Cowboy Copper” Hair Trend? Here’s What It Really Means…

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Photo credit: Instagram via @danielmbeauty

Like most color trends, cowboy copper—a term forecasted by Evo artist Tom Smith (@tomsmithhd)—is just a tonal shift (in this case, brunette) of a classic copper formula. However, there’s a bit extra color theory involved with this trend! Reformulation will take more than “some extra brown” to avoid a muddy, neutralized outcome.


Photo credit: Instagram via @colorswithchemistry


Before you throw brown toner into your copper bowl, review this list of tips and already-tested formulas for a pro-crash course on this cowboy copper! We gathered formulas, fading tips and mistakes to avoid when taking any client (cowboy or not?) copper for the season. PSA: Your clients are searching THIS—so find out what you need to do below. 



Cowboy Copper Color Theory—What This Trend Really Means

Color theory expert and educator Julie Kleine @colorswithchemistry says, “Cowboy copper looks like a mid-weight copper. A blend between a warm brown and a copper,” she explains. The key difference between this trending copper and a true copper is the amount of warm brown hues added to the formula.


It sounds easy, but don’t be fooled. Your entire formula must stay in a warm or gold family, not analyzing each shade’s undertone can quickly drown out copper tones and leave your client with a neutralized, brassy brunette they did not ask for. 


Here’s an example of a cowboy copper Vs. copper formulas:

  • Cowboy Copper:
    Schwarzkopf Professional® IGORA ROYAL 3g 7-77 + 1g 7-57 + 4g 6-6 +IGORA ROYAL Developer

  • NOT Cowboy Copper:
    IGORA ROYAL 3g 7-77 + 1g 7-57 + IGORA ROYAL Developer


Although there is just ONE shade of a difference in each formula, Schwarzkopf Professional’s swatch book below reveals that the deep, warm undertone of shade 6-6 will accentuate red tones instead of adding an orange hue. This is because of the underlying pigment that each shade in the formula shares. 




Formula For BRIGHT Blonde To Cowboy Copper

If you’re lucky enough to have a high-lift client ready for a fun change, you’ll need a gloss that evenly deposits color without pulling straight orange. 


Pro Tip: Although reds will fade the fastest on blonde clients, don’t over-formulate! Keep Levels at a mid-range to avoid depositing too dark of pigment that will end up fading into a bright orange/peach tone. 


Kristeena Van Cleave (@thatrebelstylist) shares her formula:

Equal parts Redken Shades EQ™ 05CB + 06GG + 07CB + 07CC + Shades EQ™ Processing Solution


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A post shared by Kristeena Van Cleave (@thatrebelstylist)


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How To Create Dimensional Copper Curls

Avoid losing your curly client’s silhouette, you’ll likely need a quick lightening sesh before going cowboy copper. When coloring curls, you must keep in mind that the hair may not have as much natural movement when dry, so creating highs and lows with color is essential. 


Pro Tip: Use hand-painted techniques as opposed to rows of foils for this trend. Over-foiling the hair will create an opportunity for toners to process too orange, leaving your clients with a much brighter result than they anticipated. 


Read Chicago-based colorist Sabrina Bias’s (@sabrinathehairwitch) FULL curly copper transformation here! 


Photo credit: Instagram via @romeufelipe


Save-Worthy Cowboy Copper Inspo

Cowboy copper is suited for any Level as long as the natural-looking brown tones stay opaque! You’ll notice in every example below the orange-based copper tones are primarily not present and if they are, the shades just kiss the ends of porous hair that pull pigment quickly. 



Photo credit: Instagram via @enjoyelaa