You can dye your hair in a variety of ways, from getting it done at a salon, from a box at home, or through a temporary color spray. Traditional hair dyes, however, can contain potentially toxic and damaging chemicals like ammonia or parabens. One way to avoid these chemicals is through natural hair dyes, which often use ingredients you might already have at home.
Try the following natural hair dyes if you’re looking for alternative ways to color your hair.
Why natural hair dye?
While conventional hair dyes tend to be sticky and messy, some natural dyes are non-toxic, non-streaky, and do not contain harmful chemicals. Some hair dyes are less concentrated than standard hair dyes and therefore easy to apply to smaller areas of your hair. If you have thin, fine hair, you might be able to use a less concentrated hair dye that doesn’t leave a streaky or splotchy effect. If you have medium to thick hair, you’ll want a more intense option that leaves less of a mark.
You’ll have many options when it comes to what you can add to your hair. Most natural dyes have natural ingredients like clay, apple cider vinegar, alum, lye, and crushed eggshells. You can apply these to your hair while it’s wet or when it’s drying.
DIY natural color
Whether you buy the hair dye kit or go it on your own, natural hair dye generally results in a different color. “Any time the human body is dealing with color, whether it’s a chemical dye or a natural one, what you end up getting is an altered color. So just because you do it at home doesn’t mean that it’s going to end up looking exactly like the hair dye that you buy at the store,” says celebrity hair stylist John D. Collett.
Some options, like Dr. Bronner’s, are much cheaper than natural color dyes from brands like Glowing Green or Color Wow. While many people opt for more expensive hair dyes, it’s worth looking at more natural options, too. When it comes to natural dye, much of the concern is how it might damage the hair and how you’ll maintain the color.
In ancient times, carrot juice was thought to dye hair black. However, because carrot juice is acidic, it actually makes your hair turn orange instead of black. But there is one recipe that takes advantage of carrots’ natural bleaching ability by using carrots and sugar. For a natural, yet subtle color, mix equal parts carrot juice and brown sugar. Leave the mixture for one hour to soak. After washing out, you’ll have a new, orangey hue to your hair.
This home-dye recipe comes from Cleopatra and will add a gorgeous orange hue to your hair. For this recipe, you’ll need pomegranate seeds, orange juice, lemon juice, and cornstarch. Make sure to let your mixture soak for at least four hours to ensure that the pomegranate seeds bleach your hair.
An ancient Indian plant, henna is sometimes used in wigs and makeup. It’s a natural deep brown color, and people dye their hair with henna by soaking strands in a few tablespoons of the plant paste for at least a half hour before shampooing it out. Henna also absorbs into the hair and colors it in. To use it, first rinse hair with cold water to wash away the plant paste, and then use a razor or scissors to chop up the pieces. It’s important to first cut the plant material because it’s sharp and won’t damage your hair. Then, you can apply the paste to your hair and shampoo right away, then rinse out the henna.
If you’re unsure about the chemicals in traditional hair dye, this alternative might be a safer bet. Using beet juice as a hair dye has been used for many years, and the color looks much closer to the real deal. In addition, the color is often quite vibrant and fades fast (a good thing!)
A small amount of beet juice. You’ll need a few tablespoons of it.
How to do it:
Wash your hair with the same shampoo and conditioner as usual. Apply the beet juice to your hair, starting from the root to the ends. For best results, wait 20 minutes to let the hair soak it up. After that, rinse with water.
The color of instant tea is reminiscent of henna and will take you several weeks to fade. However, the results are just as brilliant, giving your hair the same dark color.
Lemon juice can be used in place of commercial products. It can act as a conditioner to prevent further damage, but it can also be used in hair dye. Lemons are acidic, which means they neutralize ammonia and allow other natural chemicals in the product to work as well. Lemons can be used to dye hair, as a conditioner, or as a rinse. Look for products that are unscented and don’t contain unnecessary dyes or fragrances.
(Fish oil is one of the richest sources of Vitamin E in the world, and a study in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that the fruit-based oil could prevent hair loss and improve hair growth.)
Natural hair dyes can work for a range of different hair colors and textures, providing a safer, more natural way to achieve an eclectic, adventurous look. Whether you’re looking for something bold and fun to experiment with, or just want to enhance the natural hues your hair has, try one of these dye recipes.