For Natural Hair Color, Color Your Hair with Natural Dyes

If your hair color is looking a little tarnished, color your hair with one of these natural dyes, including chamomile, sage, henna shrub and black walnut hulls.

| March/April 1982

Lots of people occasionally have the urge to change or enhance their hair color, but are unwilling to use the harsh and, in some cases, potentially harmful hair dying chemicals found in most commercial dyes and color rinses.

If you’re concerned about the hazards that hair color ingredients present, you’ll be glad to learn that you can achieve results similar to those possible with beauty shop products, quickly, inexpensively and safely. Just as men and women have done for thousands of years, you can change your basic hair color, put new highlights in your locks or naturally darken gray strands using natural hair colors.

How Natural Dyes Work

Although there are a few especially potent exceptions (such as henna and walnut hulls, both of which I’ll discuss later), most herbal dyes act progressively, that is, they should be used repetitively over a period of time until the desired shade is achieved. Furthermore, I don’t know of any herb that'll actually serve as a bleach, but there are plant-based colorants that will highlight, darken, lighten or cover the gray in your hair.

Despite their versatility, however, herbal infusions cannot match the strength of commercial preparations, and, unless you decide to dye your curls black, an organic rinse won't cover your hair’s present shade. The best idea is to simply enrich the natural color of your hair, so avoid trying to make drastic changes (such as turning blond tresses to a very deep shade or dyeing gray hair darker than it was originally). You should also keep in mind that herbal dyes aren’t permanent and will fade unless renewed occasionally.

If you’ve recently used commercial dyes, color rinses or straighteners on your hair, you’d be wise to test any herbaceous dyestuff before applying it to your head, since chemical residues left in your locks may make it impossible to predict the action of the natural treatment.

To perform the evaluation, you'll need to save some snips of hair from your next trim or cut a lock from the nape of your neck and prepare a small amount of whatever dye recipe you want to try. Following the instructions for that mixture, apply it to a sample of hair, then rinse the lock thoroughly and let it dry (in direct sunlight, if possible). Observe the result under strong, natural light, and if you want more or less color, simply adjust the number of rinses and/or the timing accordingly. After a couple of trial runs, you should be able to produce exactly the shade you want.

12/5/2014 12:03:12 PM

Love Your Color by CoSaMo, 85% natural, no PPD, ammonia, or peroxide!

7/24/2014 12:12:58 AM

Thanks for the tips. Quite a few thing to keep in mind.

3/18/2014 7:40:09 AM

Henna/Indigo are the best! It does no damage to the hair. I use Rainbow Henna (available at healthfood stores or online) that is a mix of henna and other herbs such as indigo, chamomile, etc. It makes my hair so soft and shiny. It works just as well as regular hair dyes, but does not kill the hair. I do have some greys, but I mix mine with black coffee, apple cider vinegar, and yogurt. I leave it on for 90 min w/ a plastic bag and then a towel. It's a little messier than dye, but your hair will thank you, plus there are no chemicals like herbatint or naturcolor. I do this every two months and I get tons of compliments. It's only about $6 for a container of this henna. Try it out! If you like it, you can order it in bulk on Amazon!

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