As much as we love coloring our locks, the dyes we use often contain super harsh and harmful chemicals. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could change our hair color without worrying about exposure to carcinogens? If Pinterest has taught us anything, it’s that in our DIY world, there’s always an alternative. We scoured the interwebs in search of the best ways to dye your hair naturally. And here it is—your ultimate guide to getting the color of your dreams with ingredients you likely have at home.
(Image Source: Getty / Svetlana Iakusheva)
Though you can progressively lighten locks over time, it’s much easier to go from light to dark when naturally dyeing. This is because there is nothing quite as powerful as bleach in the kitchen. But don’t despair, lemon is the “slow and steady wins the race” of natural hair dye. To get a lighter look, mix a cup of water with two tablespoons of lemon juice, apply it to wet hair, and don’t wash out until your next shower. Also, don’t forget the sun, which will help activate the citric acid in lemon, oxidizing the hair cuticle and leaving you a blond bombshell.
Honey and Vinegar
Seriously, this is the DIY power couple. Not only does this combo work wonders on the skin, but it’s also the ultimate in lightening. This is because honey contains glucose oxidase, which releases hydrogen peroxide. Vinegar works to clear away buildup. To reap the benefits of both, mix a cup of raw honey with two cups of distilled vinegar. You can also add olive oil (virgin is best) and a tablespoon of ground cinnamon. Mix it all together and apply it to wet hair, wrapping your hair up so that it won’t seep onto your pillow at night. You should see a slight difference when you wake. If you don’t, keep at it—natural hair dye takes patience but it’s worth the wait.
We all know baking soda will whiten teeth, so it makes perfect sense that the original does-it-all powder can also be used to make locks lighter. Baking soda actually works by removing chemical buildup that makes hair appear darker. Mix just a dollop into your shampoo and use the mixture once a week—this is a great way to ensure a strand is squeaky clean, regardless of color.
Cinnamon and Honey
Power spice cinnamon is loaded with the good stuff—it’s rich in minerals and along with honey, another natural peroxide producer. A color change with cinnamon is best for those with darker, virgin hair. If you’re blonde or have dyed your hair before, this isn’t for you. Use a special brush to apply the mixture, trying to avoid direct contact with the scalp as cinnamon can have a harsh, warming effect on sensitive skin. Leave the mask on for one to two hours. If you have dry hair, add an egg yolk and/or a natural oil base. This mask can brighten strands by up to two tones, just remember to keep it up for real results. Using the mask once a week is recommended.
If you’re already a blonde but want to be even blonder (story of our lives), simply brew up some chamomile tea. Let it cool, apply it all over, and catch the sunshine. This will really enhance the golden blonde of tresses that chamomile helps bring out. Skip the conditioner; the calming tea treatment is doing it for you.
It doesn’t surprise us that our morning go-to, which has inspired so many dye colors (hello, latte and macchiato), does the trick itself. For this, no additives-required mask, brew a pot of espresso, and let it cool. Stir one cup with two cups of leave-in-conditioner and two tablespoons of pure coffee grounds. Leave the mix on for one to two hours, and then rinse with apple cider vinegar to make sure you’ve totally removed the dye, rinsing again with warm water. Like all of our natural hair dyes, there is a stronger effect when repeated, so go ahead and incorporate coffee (once again) into your morning routine.
Henna is a centuries-old way to color hair without abrasive dye; henna leaves come from a henna plant. Natural henna is a red-orange color, but there are henna dye shades in a spectrum of colors. Though ingredients such as indigo have been added to get these colors, it is still natural. Henna color options range from deep red to chestnut and blue-black, perfect for experimenting.
Are you looking for your own shade of dark brown? Then get the nutcracker, stat. To get brown naturally, crush walnut shells, boiling them for about 30 minutes. Strain this mixture and let it cool. You can also use walnut powder as a substitute to speed up the process. You can either saturate strands as-is or combine your walnut mix with a sulfate-free shampoo, washing hair daily to ensure color stays fresh.
Beets and Carrots
For a red tint, turn to two of the brightest vegetables on the shelf—beet and carrot. When mixed together, they form a juice that only tastes delicious, but is perfect for adding red to your mane. If you’re looking to go redder, add more beet; for a more orangey tone, carrots are your bestie. You don’t even have to use both; one or the other should be enough depending on the color you’re looking for. We suggest adding coconut oil to your mixture to hydrate as you dye. Leave this on for a minimum of an hour, sealing it with apple cider vinegar. If you don’t notice a change, simply reuse and repeat—tints take time to build.