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.
1. Carrot juice
Try carrot juice if you want to give your hair a reddish-orange tint. Depending on the color of your hair, the tint can last for a few weeks.
To dye your hair with carrot juice:
- Mix carrot juice with a carrier oil like coconut or olive oil.
- Apply the mixture liberally to your hair.
- Wrap your hair in plastic, and let the mixture set at least an hour.
- Rinse with apple cider vinegar. You can repeat this the next day if the color isn’t strong enough.
2. Beet juice
If you want a deeper red tint with cooler undertones, opt for beet juice instead of carrot juice.
The steps for using beet juice as a natural hair dye are similar to those for carrot juice:
- Mix beet juice with a carrier oil.
- Apply the mixture liberally to your hair, and then wrap your hair.
- Let the mixture set for at least an hour before washing it out.
Henna is a natural plant-based dye that’s traditionally used to create temporary tattoos directly on the skin. It can also be used to dye your hair red.
Henna comes in powder form and is probably the longest-lasting, most vibrant natural hair dye option. The color can last as long as four to six weeks.
To use henna to dye your hair:
- Mix about 1/2 cup of henna with 1/4 cup of water.
- Stir the mixture until it’s completely combined and feels like the consistency of mashed potatoes, adding more water if necessary.
- Cover the mixture with plastic wrap, and let it sit for about 12 hours. (You may need to add more water after the 12 hours so that it can be applied to your hair.)
- Wash your hair without conditioning it.
- Wear a headband and apply an oil like coconut oil along your hairline. This is so the henna won’t stain your skin.
- Apply the paste mixture to small sections of your combed, damp hair until all of your hair is covered.
- Wrap your hair in plastic and let the color develop at least two hours (and up to six) before washing it out.
4. Lemon juice
Lemon juice can help strip your hair of its pigment slowly, lightening it over time. It’s best used to achieve sun-kissed highlights naturally.
Unlike the other methods described here, which achieve temporary color changes, the results of using lemon juice are permanent. The pigment on the portion of hair you apply lemon juice to will be gone. You can get rid of this lightened hair by cutting it off.
To use lemon juice to color your hair:
- Pour lemon juice into a spray bottle.
- Spray the juice liberally onto your hair.
- Use a comb to spread and separate the juice evenly through your hair
- Sit outside in the sun for optimal results.
- Leave the lemon juice in for at least an hour, and then wash it out.
You can do this several times to get the desired effect if necessary. It works slowly, and will likely require a few repeat sessions.
A cup of brewed coffee can do more than just give you a caffeine boost. It can also help dye your hair a shade or two darker, and may even cover up some gray hair.
To dye your hair with coffee:
- Brew a strong cup of dark-roast coffee.
- Mix about 1/2 cup of coffee with 2 tbsp. of coffee grounds and 1 cup of leave-in hair conditioner.
- Apply the mixture to clean, damp hair.
- Let the mixture set for at least an hour, and wash it out when you’re done.
- Repeat if necessary.
Coffee won’t provide a drastic change to your hair, and it won’t last for long. But if you need a quick and affordable boost, it’s a good option to try.
How to make the color of natural hair dye last longer
Once you’ve dyed your hair and it looks perfect, the last thing you want to worry about is the color fading. There are a few ways to extend the life of your naturally dyed hair:
- Limit your use of hot tools like hairdryers, straightening irons, and curling irons.
- When you do use hot styling tools, apply a thermal protectant to your hair.
- Avoid taking hot showers, and skip washing your hair when possible.
- Use a water filter in your shower, which can help filter out color-draining chemicals like chlorine and heavy metals.