All-natural hair dyes you can make at home using a range of herbs and natural ingredients to help change hair tone, hair colour, and cover up greys.
I have something to admit… I’m going grey.
Well white to be more specific. I’ve been getting the odd white hair since I was 18, but it’s slowly become more and more noticeable over the past few years. In my family, it has a lot to do with genetics. My mum started going grey at 18 too, and my brother and twin sister have grey hairs as well.
Over these past 8 years, I’ve been plucking and pulling any grey hair I could find, but you can only do this up until a certain point… and that point came recently when I started finding patches of greys.
According to Marla Pietruszko HD BSc RHN, excess hydrogen peroxide and glutathione deficiency triggers early greying:
There’s a reason why and it has to do with antioxidant depletion.
When you are stressed, the body produces norepinephrine and dopamine. The body needs to remove them from the system and a by-product of this process is hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). H202 is then removed by glutathione, the body’s most-used detox compound.
When stress continues (hello chronic stress!!), the body keeps eliminating the extra stress neurotransmitters as fast as it can which then leaves you with way too much H2O2. Glutathione tries to keep up but can’t because most of us are greatly deficient in it especially if you have certain genetic SNPs. Once the body runs out of glutathione, the excess H2O2 remains and ends up turning hair grey or white!
Too much H2O2 is very bad not just for the hair but also the brain which leads to mood swings, memory problems, irritability, and can even lead to neurological conditions such as ALS, Alzheimers, Parkinson’s, etc!
Glutathione is SO important and is hard for the body to make, especially with liver issues so supplementing is SO important to ensure good methylation, elimination, and good antioxidant status to prevent free radical damage.
Now, anytime I wear my hair up you can see white hairs spotted throughout. So, because of this, I’ve finally relented and decided it’s time to dye my hair (on a regular basis). I still refuse to dye my hair with chemical dyes (for now, anyway), as I’m still so young, and I don’t want to be loading my hair up with toxic chemicals for the rest of my life. So, I went in search for an alternative.
All-Natural DIY Hair Dyes
I have dyed my hair before. I’ve dyed it red using henna, blonde using turmeric, purple using beets, and achieved some natural highlights using a mix of apple cider vinegar and water. But now I wish to dye my hair brunette. That’s my natural hair colour, and I want a hair dye as close to that as possible.
Below are the natural brown hair dyes I’ve tried and tested on my hair, as well as a few other hair dyes that can be used for any hair colour. I’ll be sharing the hair dye I’ve found most effective and why I’ll be using it on a regular basis to dye my hair brown.
The following herbs will create a range of pigments and tones to give hair a natural hue. They will NOT, however, create artificial colours like platinum blonde, Katy Perry blue, or hot pink (I haven’t figured out how to do that…yet).
Notes before we begin:
- The blonde dye recipes will actually permanently lighten hair, as they work by naturally bleaching it.
- The brown, red and dark hair dyes will leave a temporary tint for a couple of weeks (depending on how often you wash your hair).
- Sitting out in the sun will help bring out natural highlights.
- Do not use these hair dyes on hair that has been chemically treated in the last 6-8 weeks.
- Always test a small patch of hair to see the results before committing (as well as check for any allergic reactions).
Blonde herbal dyes
- 4 cups strong chamomile tea, allow to cool
- 1 cup strong calendula tea (produces more golden tones), allow to cool
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- Mix the ingredients well in a spray bottle and apply liberally to hair.
- Comb through to evenly coat, then immediately sit in the sun to enhance lightening effects (make sure to cover up and protect skin from over-exposure to the sun). Leave in for 1-2 hours before rinsing out. Apply several times a week until hair colour has reached your desired tone.
Other blonde herbal dyes…
- Rhubarb root gives hair golden honey tones. Simmer the root in water to make a strong brew, then allow to cool completely. Pour onto hair then leave on for several hours.
- Apple cider vinegar mixed with water, sprayed onto hair then brushed through and left on for several hours. Sit in the sun during this time to lighten hair even more and give hair natural highlights.
- Combine two tbsp ground turmeric in four cups boiling water (stirring until turmeric completely dissolves). Allow to cool then submerge hair in solution for 15-30 minutes. Rinse hair with water until water runs clear, then wash and dry hair as usual. Repeat as needed until desired hair colour has been achieved.
- Henna colour for golden blonde, honey, or strawberry blonde tones.
Red herbal dyes
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup calendula flowers (or marigold petals)
- 4 tbsp hibiscus petals (or more for deeper red hues)
- In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add the calendula (or marigold) and hibiscus petals to the water and let simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until the brew develops a strong colour. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely before using.
- Strain out the herbs and apply generously to hair as a final rinse after each shower. Comb through then dry hair in the sun. Leave on until your next shower. Apply the dye several times a week until hair colour has reached desired tone, then apply every few days to maintain colour.
Other red herbal dyes…
- Henna colour for light auburn, light red, medium copper, or deep red tones.
I’ve used henna in the past to dye my hair red and found great success with it. It lasted for about three months in my hair and maintained its vibrant colour. During this time, I washed my hair 2-3 times per week, and this didn’t seem to make the henna fade too much. I love using henna as you see fast results (after just one use!) and it works in a similar way to dyeing hair at the salon. I highly recommend using henna for a stronger colour. Always look for pure henna, no added ingredients.
Dark brown or Black herbal dyes
- 3-5 tbsp black walnut powder
- 2-3 cups water
- In a saucepan, bring water to boil and then remove from heat. Add the walnut powder and let it steep for 6-8 hours or overnight.
- Apply to hair, comb through, then dry in the sun. Leave in for 30 minutes to one hour, then rinse out. Repeat daily as needed until desired hair colour has been achieved (may need to repeat every few days or weekly to maintain hair colour). This turns hair VERY DARK, and works especially well for grey hair.
According to Wellness Mama:
Due to the known mutagenic properties of juglone, some sources caution against prolonged use of black walnut hull when pregnant or nursing.
Other black herbal dyes…
- Henna for black and dark brown tones.
Brown herbal dyes
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 cup nettle
- 1/2 cup rosemary
- 5 tsp black tea leaves
- 1/2 cup sage
- In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil then reduce to a simmer and add the black tea and herbs.
- Allow to simmer for 30-40 minutes, then remove from heat and allow to cool completely before using.
- Strain out dye mixture and apply generously to hair. Comb through to ensure all hair is coated evenly in the dye, then leave on for 2-4 hours (or longer for a deeper colour). Once finished, shampoo as usual. Apply the dye several times a week until hair has reached your desired tone.
Other brown herbal dyes…
- Brew a strong pot of coffee and let it cool completely. Mix two cups of coffee with two tbsp of coffee grounds and one cup leave-in hair conditioner. Apply this mixture to clean, damp hair, and comb through (leaving in for 1-2 hours). Rinse out and repeat daily until its reached your desired hair colour.
- Henna for light, walnut, chestnut, deep chestnut, or dark chocolate tones.
My personal experience: I found henna to work best for covering grey hair. The other hair dyes work to change the tone of hair overtime, but if you’re looking for a strong, lasting, easy-to-use natural hair dye, I couldn’t recommend henna enough.
It is a little messy when applying to hair (although normal hair dye is too), and leaves an earthy smell on hair for a few days until you’ve washed it a couple of times, but the results speak for themselves. I find these things small sacrifices in the long run, and I feel so good knowing that what I’m applying to my hair is chemical-free and all-natural.
I used the dark brown henna shade for my hair, as it was the closest shade I could find to my natural hair colour. It worked extremely well, and managed to cover all of my greys! I maintain the dye every 3 months, but if you have a lot of grey hair or the shade of henna is different to your natural hair colour, it’s best to re-apply it every 4-6 weeks.
How to Make Natural Hair Dye Colour Last Longer
A few tips to help reduce colour fading:
- Limit use of hot appliances on hair; e.g. hairdryers, straightening irons and curling irons.
- Avoid hot showers, cold is better for both hair and skin, and wash your hair only when needed (the more you wash your hair, the quicker the dye will fade).
As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor before trying or using any new products. I am not a doctor. All opinions expressed are my own personal thoughts and feelings of the products mentioned. Check with your doctor or health practitioner if you are uncertain about trying out any of the products, recipes or tips mentioned in this post.
Have you used a natural homemade hair dye before? What was your experience? Share below.
Lots of love,
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Gotter, Ana. (Updated: May 3, 2017). 7 Natural Hair Dyes: How to Color Your Hair at Home. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/natural-hair-dye
Welsch, Colleen. (March 5, 2020). Can You Dye Hair with Tea?. Viviscal. Retrieved from https://blog.viviscal.com/tea-hair-dye/
Raina, Kanksha. (January 1, 2019). 10 Homemade Hair Dyes to Colour Your Hair at Home. First Cry Parenting. Retrieved from https://parenting.firstcry.com/articles/10-homemade-hair-dyes-to-color-your-hair-at-home/
Pietruszko, Marla, HD BSc RHN. (January 17, 2021). Do you know someone who has premature graying or who’s hair turns grey when they experience a lot of stress?. Instagram. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/CKHFkchLJgY/