woman getting hair dyed at salon

How to Make Natural Hair Dyes Without Chemicals

Rachel Lark - April 16, 2024

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Natural hair dyes without chemicals are derived from plant-based sources, offering an eco-friendly alternative to chemical-based counterparts. Choosing natural options supports green technology and sustainability, promoting healthier choices for you and the planet. 

Understanding Natural Hair Dyes

Natural hair dyes utilize ingredients from plants, fruits and herbs to achieve color. In contrast, many regular hair products have chemical ingredients that are bad for the environment and our hair, like ammonia and parabens, preservatives associated with breast cancer, making it mindful of product ingredients.

The key difference lies in the origin of the coloring agents — natural dyes emphasize botanical components, promoting a more eco-friendly and health-conscious approach to their chemicals. Natural hair dyes without chemicals offer several benefits, including: 

  • Gentler on skin: They reduce the risk of allergic reactions, making them a safer choice for individuals with sensitive skin.
  • Minimized irritation: The botanical composition of natural dyes is gentler on the scalp, minimizing irritation commonly associated with chemical-based products.
  • Environmentally friendly: Natural hair dyes have a lower environmental impact than chemical counterparts. The use of plant-based ingredients aligns with eco-friendly practices. 
  • Sustainability: Choosing natural alternatives supports sustainability goals by avoiding the harsh pollutants in many chemical dyes.
  • Reduced chemical exposure: With no ammonia or parabens, natural hair dyes eliminate exposure to harmful synthetic chemicals, fostering a cleaner and more conscious approach to hair coloring.

Different Types of Natural Ingredients Used 

Usually, natural hair dyes without chemicals often harness the coloring properties of plant extracts like henna, indigo and chamomile. These extracts provide diverse colors, allowing for customization based on individual preferences. 

Herbs such as sage, rosemary and nettle are commonly used in natural hair dyes. Apart from contributing to color, these herbs are believed to promote scalp health and hair growth, adding an extra dimension of care to the dyeing process. 

Fruits like beetroot, blackberries and lemon impart color and fragrance to the natural hair dye. Infusions from teas such as black tea or chamomile tea achieve subtle shades. They provide conditioning benefits, leaving the hair looking healthier. 

Coffee is another natural ingredient used for dyeing, particularly for obtaining darker shades. It adds richness to the color while bringing a natural shine to the hair. 

Exploring Natural Hair Dye Ingredients

Here’s a list of natural ingredients commonly used in hair dyeing: 

1. Henna

It’s known for its semi-permanent nature. The color gradually fades over weeks but remains vibrant for an extended period, making it a popular choice for those looking for lasting results without harsh chemicals. 

The natural reddish-brown hue is the signature of henna. Still, the final color can vary based on original hair color and the specific henna used. Some may experience shades ranging from vibrant red to deep burgundy, adding a touch of uniqueness to each application. 

Preparing and Applying Henna

Pick a good-quality henna powder without additives. Combine the powder with water or tea. Then, let it sit for a few hours until it forms a thick paste. 

  • Start with clean hair: Apply the henna to clean dry hair without styling products.
  • Even application: Section your hair and apply the henna evenly from root to tips, wearing gloves.
  • Wrap and wait: Wrap your hair for 4 or 5 hours, then rinse it with water — no need for immediate shampoo.

2. Indigo

Indigo gives a beautiful-black color, rich and dark. It is a natural dye, safe without harmful chemicals. 

Like henna, indigo offers weeks of colors, transitioning into attractive shades over time. It also conditions hair, leaving it softer and manageable, promoting overall hair health.

You can combine indigo with henna for various shades. Apply henna first for a blue-black color. Mix the indigo powder with water and let it sit for hours to activate the dye. 

3. Chamomile Tea

Chamomile adds natural highlights for a sun-kissed look. Regular use enhances golden tones, adding warmth to lighter hair. 

Chamomile contributes to increased shine and overall vibrancy. It is ideal for blonde or light brown hair, offering noticeable lightening without drastic changes. 

Using Chamomile Tea

Brew two cups of pure chamomile tea, let it cool and rinse hair after shampooing. Mix chamomile tea with one-fourth of a cup of lemon juice, spray on damp hair and expose it to sunlight for natural lightening. 

4. Coffee or Black Tea

Coffee and black tea enhance and maintain the depth of dark brown to black hair. These natural darkening agents can add richness and shine to medium to dark brown hair. While the darkening effect may be subtle, repeated coffee or black tea use can impart a darker tint to light brown or blonde hair. 

Application Process

Pour the cooled coffee over clean, damp hair, ensuring complete saturation. Leave it on for at least 20 – 30 minutes. 

Apply the cooled black tea to clean damp hair, covering all areas. Leave it on for around 30 minutes, then rinse your hair thoroughly with water. Repeat the process regularly for gradual darkening. Results may vary based on your hair’s natural color and texture.

5. Beetroot

Beetroot can intensify and maintain the richness of dark brown to black hair. It adds depth and a subtle red tint, enhancing the natural color of medium to dark brown hair. Beetroot may provide a noticeable reddish tint to light brown or blonde hair, offering a unique and vibrant hue. 

You can grate or blend fresh beetroot to extract its juice. Apply the beetroot juice to your hair, from the roots to the tips. Leave the beetroot juice on your hair for 30 – 60 minutes, then rinse it off.

Tips for Achieving and Maintaining Hair Color

Follow these simplified tips to get the best results from natural hair dyes and maintain your the desired color effectively:

  • Strand test first: Always do a strand test before applying to ensure the color and avoid possible reactions. 
  • Know your hair: Understand that results can differ based on hair type, thickness and existing color.
  • Be patient: Natural dyes take time. Follow recommended waiting periods for the best outcome.
  • Even application: Apply the dye evenly from roots to tips for consistent results. 
  • Mix natural dyes: Combine different natural dyes for subtle color variations, creating a more natural look.
  • Preserve color: Avoid frequent washing and use sulfate-free, color-safe shampoos.
  • Reduce heat: Minimize heat styling to prevent color fading. 
  • Maintain regularly: Refresh color periodically through touch-ups or reapplication.
  • Protect from sun: Use UV protection for hair to shield it from sun exposure, preserving color.

Making Natural Hair Dyes Without Chemicals

Making natural hair dyes without chemicals is a healthier and eco-friendly choice. Choosing natural alternatives benefits personal well-being and aligns with a sustainable and planet-friendly approach to hair care. 

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About the author

Rachel Lark

Rachel serves as the Assistant Editor of Environment.co. A true foodie and activist at heart, she loves covering topics ranging from veganism to off grid living.