Natural Hair Color Recipes

all natural herbal hair color recipes Natural Hair Color Recipes

Since I posted by recipes for homemade shampoo and DIY dry shampoo I’ve gotten a few emails asking about natural/herbal options for hair color. I’ve experimented with natural hair lightening in the past, but hadn’t tried dark or red shades. Many wasted herbs and a bunch of randomly colored streaks on the underside of my hair later, I figured out some good dark and red options as well!

I started with sandy blonde hair, so I used the lightening herbs on most of my head, and I’m the blondest I’ve been since childhood (with some interesting red/brown streaks underneath). I think the reds and browns would be even more dramatic on hair that was already darker, but they definitely had my hair not-blonde anymore. If any of you with dark hair try the red or dark colors, please let me know how they work on you!

These are natural colors and as such will create natural hues on your hair. They will not create artificial colors like hot pink, completely platinum blonde, or jet black (ok, so that isn’t a fake color, I just haven’t figured out how to do it…) The blonde/light recipes will actually permanently lighten hair since they naturally bleach it but the red and dark hues will leave a temporary tint for a few weeks (depending on how often you wash it). The sun will help set all the hues.

Also, I haven’t tried these on dyed/chemically treated hair, so I don’t know how it reacts with those types of hair! Not sure why you’d want to use herbal hair dyes? Read the ingredients and then get back to me! icon smile Natural Hair Color Recipes

Herbs for Light Hair

I’ve tried several basic herbal variations including:

  • Pure, strong Chamomile Tea (brewed with 1/2 cup herbs per 2 cups water) and sprayed or poured on hair and left on for several hours. Sitting in the sun during this time will enhance the lightening effect.
  • Fresh squeezed lemon juice, sprayed and brushed through hair and left on for several hours (in the sun) will also produce natural highlights.
  • A chamomile tea rinse at the end of each shower (leave in hair!) will produce smooth, silky hair and naturally lighter hair over time.

For a stronger and faster effect, I’ve used the following recipe. It has left my hair very blonde, easy to work with and not yellowy/brassy at all.


  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups of strong chamomile tea
  • 1/2 cup strong calendula tea (optional and will produce more golden tones)

What to do: Mix all ingredients in a spray bottle or other small bottle. Shake well before each use. Spray or pour into hair and brush through to get even. This works best when applied to hair directly before sun exposure and left in for 1-2 hours before being rinsed out. Can be used several times a week until desired color is reached. I suggest putting this in hair and doing a kettlebell workout in the sun for maximum benefit icon smile Natural Hair Color Recipes

You can also use this as a rinse at the end of a shower (and then lightly rinse with water) though it will take longer to have an effect. This will not have an overnight dramatic effect, though when I’ve put it in my hair before gardening in the sun for a few hours I definitely noticed a difference.

Herbs for Red Hair

These will create a red/dark strawberry blonde tint in lighter hair and an auburn tint in darker hair. The effects are cumulative, so extended use over time will create a more vibrant red. The easiest thing is to make it part of your hair care routine if you want continual red hair.


  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of calendula flowers or fresh marigold petals from your garden
  • 2 tablespoons (or more for more red hues) of hibiscus petals (also available from Mountain Rose Herbs)

What to do: Boil the water and simmer with the calendula/marigold and hibiscus for at least half an hour. Strain off the flowers and store in the fridge. Use as a final hair rinse at the end of each shower. Dry hair in the sun if possible. Repeat daily until desired shade is maintained and then every few days to maintain.

Faster Way: If you want faster and more permanent results, you can use Henna Hair Color from Mountain Rose Herbs. This is the only brand I can vouch for the quality of, and the results are very dramatic. They have a lot of color variations with red hues (and darker ones) and the results last for several months (or longer if you wash your hair less often). They won’t completely cover grey hair, but will darken it. Don’t use on chemically treated hair or test on a small section before using on the whole head!

Herbs for Brown Hair

It is easiest to darken hair that is already light brown or darker, though these colors will even darken blonde tones. Always test on a small part of hair before using on the whole head, especially on chemically treated hair. Used as a rinse, these will also darken grey hair over time. The more they are used, the darker the results. For faster, dramatic effect, use a Henna Color Like Black, Dark Brown or Mahogany. For a slower or more gentle tone, use these herbs:


What to do: Simmer the herbs with water in a small pan for at least 30 minutes or until water is very dark. Remove from heat and when cool, strain herbs out, making sure all small pieces are removed (I use cheesecloth). Store mix in the fridge. Spray or brush into hair about an hour before showering each day, then shampoo as normal. Can also use as a rinse and leave on at the end of each shower. Repeat until desired color is reached. It has a cumulative effect and you probably won’t notice much difference the first few days. The herbs in this mix are also great for getting rid of dandruff and for increasing hair growth…

Herbs for Dark Brown Hair or Black Hair

If you have very light hair, it will be difficult to get really dark hues with just herbs, though with enough patience, it can be done. I’ve listed herbs that work, and you can use any combination. As always, test on a small section of hair before using. Henna hair colors will provide really dark results that last longer, but if you want to go dark gradually, these are the recipes I’ve tried:

  • For very dark hair, put 1/4 cup of Black Walnut Powder in a tea bag or cheesecloth bag and steep in 3 cups of water in a quart mason jar for at least 6 hours or overnight. Use as a rinse in the shower for hair and dry in the sun if possible. This will create VERY DARK hair, especially if you have dry or color treated hair. It will also provide the darkest coverage for grey hair. Repeat daily or as needed to darken and maintain dark shade.
  • Use strong brewed black tea as a final rinse to darken any color hair. This is also nourishing for the hair and will provide a temporary darkening effect on most hair types. Repeat as necessary to get desired shade and sun-dry if possible.

With any of these herbal hair colors, make sure to test on a small part of your hair first, especially with color treated hair and especially with the henna colors as they have more lasting effects. Experiment with any of the above and mixtures of them to get the right mix for your hair! Ever used natural hair colors or rinses? Please let me know below!

Reader Comments

  1. Geri Charles says

    I’m surprised Indigo wasn’t included. Indigo turns hair jet black and keeps hair niche and shiny.

  2. Kristen says

    If purchasing the supplies from Mountain Rose Herbs, does it matter if I use the powder or the leaf?

      • Madeline says

        Thanks for the very helpful post. I bought the black walnut powder and after steeping it realized that I didn’t have anything to strain it with. I tried putting in in spray bottles but they got clogged up right away. Turned into a huge brown mess all over my bathroom. ai am looking to cover grays. How would I make the paste? Just boil down until it’s thick? And then leave on overnight?

        • says

          You could just strain through a coffee filter, cheesecloth or even strong paper town and then just pour through hair in the shower before a final rinse. It will make a mess if you leave it on overnight!

      • Amy Reimers says

        how would you go about making a paste like that? Do you just boil it down a bit more until it becomes pasty?

  3. says

    I haven’t tried coloring my hair but it did come across my mind to do it. I was a bit hesitant when it comes to using the commercial ones because of the harsh chemicals that are surely present in their formulations. It’s great that natural methods are becoming more popular again because I’m sure these were used a long, long time ago.

  4. Rachel says

    Indigo should only be used with or after applying henna or it will turn your hair blue! Also, henna can only add red to your hair, with shades ranging from orange through to dark auburn depending on your natural hair colour. Any henna product that claims to turn your hair any other colour is not pure henna, but a compound containing metallic salts and other nasties which are very bad for your hair. It should also be noted that henna is permanent and no amount of washing will get it out, so be very sure before you proceed! I have been using henna on my hair for the past year and have to say the colour is fantastic and the condition great :D

    • Pamela Thomas says

      I have bought some henna when I was in the USA for my hair but I did not know of the indigo. I am now back home in Jamaica; where can I get indigo? Ideas anyone?

      • MichelleAuz says

        Yes! It’s a two step process that works beautifully to produce various shades of brown (even to black if that’s what you want).

  5. Clare_schmare says

    You should also mention that even though these products are natural, that may still have adverse side effects. For example, black walnut powder is harmful to those with thyroid problems. Natural may be preferable but not always better. :)

    • Just-a-Herbalist says

      For black walnut to have an effect on thyroid function you’d have to actually consume it and in therapeutic amounts – applying it to your hair and washing it out, as WellnessMama suggests, won’t allow you to absorb that amount – in this case, IMO, the natural way is actually better & less toxic than the chemicals found in commercial hair dye ;) Is it as effective? Probably not! But I’d rather use this than the other :)

        • Just-a-Herbalist says

          Personally, I wouldn’t use it – indigo is not a therapeutic herb (it’s usually cosmetic or industrial grade) and therefore is not controlled as well as something like black walnut (which is usually food or therapeutic grade).

          My main concern is that indigo would not be quality tested for heavy metals & other chemical contaminants in the way that food &/or therapeutic grade black walnut is – they have lower expectations of it & more contaminants are allowed in non-food raw materials.

          So while I WOULD use food grade black walnut for my hair, I would NOT use indigo – better to be safe than sorry when pregnancy & contaminants are concerned.

          (This is also why I would NOT use henna unless I could see the genuine spec sheet or CofA for that particular batch – so many henna dyes are contaminated these days) :-/

  6. Carol says

    I have used commercial hair color for my hair & have never been impressed with them. They have left my hair rough & dry. I colored my hair about 4 months ago & was wondering if I could still use this natural way to color my hair? Or better yet to change my haircolor? Any help will be appreciated.

  7. Jenn says

    I don’t know if I would trust henna from that website… When using henna to dye hair, you should always use body art quality (BAQ) henna which is pure henna and contains no additives. BAQ henna is safe to use on chemically treated hair. It is a misconception that henna causes damage to chemically treated hair that comes from a time when henna used to dye hair contained many additives, including metallic salts which are what cause damage. You should be very cautious using ANY henna which is not labeled as BAQ. That website does not contain information about how to use their henna, but good quality henna is never ready to use-it requires ‘developing’ overnight before use.

    Henna is not a ‘fast’ solution; it takes 4-8 hours once the henna is on your hair, in addition to the development time, and takes me about 30 min to wash out of my hair, so it is definitely time consuming. Using BAQ henna is worth it, though; good quality henna does completely cover grays (and leaves them as striking gold hi-lights) and the color will never wash out, although the smoothing quality will fade over time.

    I have been dyeing my hair with henna for about 6 months; previously I used boxed hair dye. I’m in love with the color it gives me, which does not fade unlike boxed dye. I even have to dye my hair less; unlike using boxed dye, my roots grow in gradually and without a sharp line so I can go longer without dyeing without it being super obvious (I have medium brown hair naturally; a deep red dyeing with henna). Henna is time consuming but totally worth it.

    The website hennaforhair (dot) com has a ton of great information about dyeing with henna and other natural hair dyes (the woman wrote her graduate dissertation on it) and their connecting store mehandi (dot) com sells BAQ henna and other dyes (like indigo and cassia) as well as natural shampoo bars (which I use as well). I encourage you to check it out to learn more about dyeing hair naturally.

    • says

      I have been using BAQ henna on my hair for years now and love it. Real henna only makes red dye – no other color, particularly black, can come from pure henna. Black henna may be a mix of henna and indigo, but it is not “pure henna”

      • MsCurlyKat says

        I would do some research on using indigo and henna to achieve the coverage you need, because henna alone is always going to be in the red-orange family, so on white hair it will truly look orange or red. try going to tapdancinglizard dot com, then look for the henna guide link there. They have an entire pdf booklet you can check to see what to do about the intensity of the color. They also have several different hennas which provide slightly different results; all are body are quality. Even with box or salon color, the original base color has to be added on white hair to make a color behave with the desired results; for instance when I was a cosmetologist I started coloring my mom’s white hair auburn, but in order for it to look auburn and not bright orange I had to use 50% dark brown (her natural color before it turned) and 50% auburn color.

    • allyt says

      Thank you so much! I’m desperate for a natural color that will cover greys…I’ve never even heard of BAQ henna…Can’t wait to try it…

  8. charity says

    So did you make your chamomile tea from the chamomile flowers? I am about to make an order for this recipe and for the baby recipes so do I purchase the flowers for these recipes you have listed? I ask this because they have a powder and I want to be sure I am ordering the correct item. Thanks!

  9. Yolanda Dobler says

    I’m gong to to try the Black walnut powder. Have a couple of questions though. You say “steep” does that mean to little sit in Hot water?? Also, if I let my hair dry in the sun I would not be able to go out anywhere, my hair would be a tangled mess. Can you help please?

  10. Holli says

    I just made the recipe for brown hair. I am hoping to cover gray hair so you say to do a rinse. Does this mean shampoo and condition as usual and then spray on my hair after and leave it on? Or do I spray it on and rinse it out before I get out of the shower? Should I go outside and let it set the first time? I am apprehensive because the liquid is very, very dark! Any advice would be great.

    • Carla Cogswell says

      I have the same questions. My first time I washed my hair, didn’t condition it, and then basically laid in the bath tub with my head in a bowl of color rinse, rinsing it through over and over and left it on for about a half hour then i rinsed with water and conditioned it. My hair looked amazingly healthy and shiny and maybe highlighted, it was hard to tell first time. But the process was a mess. I am going to try a small spray bottle mister and go out in the sun and see how that works. I love hearing all your experiments and feedback. I’d like to try to make it thick so I can cover my temples and leave it on for a while, The rinse just runs down my body.

  11. says

    Hi! I noticed that my hair has been getting darker….I’ve been using a rinse of nettle leaf and rosemary– a tea– for dandruff. Had this recipe for some time now. I haven’t added sage. Will try that next. My scalp is super sensitive, especially after I’ve gotten sick. Dandruff and dry skin seem to be my tell for not being well. I use it 1-2 times a week. Now it’s also a little darker…and feels MUCH stronger than it used to. Who knew!

  12. Carla Cogswell says

    Will all the color rinses color grey or only the darkest ones? I have chocolate brown hair and a lot of grey around my temples and frame of my face, then peppered here and there in the rest. I like having golden brown or plum/reddish color o the grey cus it works as highlights. Any feed back on this? Thank you so much for sharing your info. I’m done with chemical colors.

  13. Isabel says

    do you use a natural home-made shampoo? if so, please give details of how to make it? thanking you in advance ….

  14. Yolanda says

    Hello, do you rinse the black walnut powder after you put in on? Then go outside to dry? Then come in and rinse it out then put the black tea rinse and leave it on or rinse? Sorry about all these questions.

      • Yolanda says

        This made a horrible mess in my bathroom. I put it in a spray bottle and sprayed it into my scalp so it wouldn’t get all over the place. It dripped down my face, got on the floor. I just couldn’t see myself putting it on in the shower and then going outside to let it dry in the sun then go back into the shower, rinse it out then rinse with black tea. I was thinking of mixing some Great Lakes beef gelatin to make it more thick and easier to apply. Do you think that would work??
        Thanks so much for getting back to me.

  15. Monika von Klitzing says

    Thanks for your great Ideas, as I have a Toxicity problem I am not allowed to use anything with chemicals or preservatives.Love the Coconut Shampoo.
    We used to boil the brown outside peels of onions in a bit of water, let it cool down ,rinse hair with it and leave in hair for about 20 min. It gives a lovely shine and chestnut glow to brown hair. No it does not smell like onions .

  16. Rachel says

    I’d like to try the recipe for red (I’m already a redhead but looking for ways to brighten it a little for a subtle change) but I do the no ‘poo method. Will the baking soda and apple cider vinegar just strip it out?

  17. maham says

    hey !I want to have golden tones in my hairs …plz tell me which is best and fastest way to get them by using chamomile tea and calendula tea….and plz do answer that is sunlight damn important ….plz plz I want then so bad…..

  18. Kate says

    I am extremely intrigued by this. I’ve been dying my hair various shades of red for 6 years now and I would love to stop being dependent on the chemicals!
    I’m currently a very dark auburn red. Do you think it would make for a smooth transition if I start using the red coloring herbs now and let it keep growing? Or should I lighten it a bit first to reduce some of the existing chemical coloring (I also have no idea how lightening works on color treated hair, I’ve never gone lighter…).
    I’ve been shampoo free for nearly three weeks now also (yay!).

  19. Madeformore says

    Would using a Calendula/Chamomile extract be as effective as brewing the
    herbs for the light hair recipe? If so, what amounts would you suggest?

  20. Shannon says

    I know I’m late to the party here… but I have a quick question on the lemon / chamomile / calendula combo… Does it have to be rinsed out? Can I just put a little spritz in and leave it all day?

  21. Amarna Rose says

    Can anyone tell me what can pull black dye from hair (my mom hates my hair black and told me i needed to change it)? Ive already tried a non bleach lightener and….well I’m forced to wear a wig until i get paid and go to the salon unless i can find something less harsh. any help would be greatly appreciated!!!

  22. Reverend Mother says

    I have lots of gray hair and used turmeric in a rinse once and it turned my hair a beautiful golden color. Didn’t look natural, but it was awesome and I got lots of compliments. It may look more natural on someone who was blonde to begin with.

  23. iko says

    Hi Admin.

    If for dark brown hair to black, can i use black walnut oil instead of tea or powder? I plan to kinda like pre-treatment leave-on for like 30-40 minutes on the entire hair before washing. Oil makes better spread, i think. Also, tea can be acidic.

    Btw, must it be BLACK walnut? just normal walnut extract ( be it oil / tea / powder) cannot? Just in case can’t get black walnut….

    • 3Crows says

      This is my question, too. I was dying my grey streaks with a
      cornstarch slurry made from a coffee, sage and rosemary decoction. It
      turned the gray a golden blond, but actually bleached the browns a bit
      and dried out my hair. Now I am hoping to find a light oil (with colour) that I can just leave in and brush through or wash out during my normal washing. A
      few minutes ago, I applied some jojoba oil that I mixed powdered coffee
      and cinnamon into. Any advice? Do essential oils have the colour of
      the herbs, ever?

  24. Debra Timm says

    I wonder if I can use any of these rinses with my normal ACV rinse? I know in the past I have put rosemary oil in my hair rinse and just using that my hair seemed to darken a little.

  25. Dru says

    I have been playing with this for a couple of years now! I’ve died my hair with henna numerous times but after my hair getting pretty light over the summer, the henna turned it waaaay too coppery/red. It was embarrassing! I grabbed some walnut powder and used it over the coppery/red color and got the most AMAZING red/dark brown color. It didn’t last long but now I am playing around with clay hair masques. I use bentonite powder, seaweed powder and mixed that with the water I had steeped over the walnut powder. Then I added some rosemary and lavender essential oils for fun :) It made it a nice brown color. Next time I will add the henna as well and see if I can get that deep brown color with the hint of red. My hair has been so healthy since I laid off the salon coloring and started these experiments :)

  26. Suneyna says

    I have a query for black hair colour. After putting black walnut solution on hair and letting it dry in sun am I suppose to wash with water?
    Also after putting tea solution finally on hair should I again wash with water? Please answer both questions as I do not know when to wash hair with water.

  27. beepath says

    I love my gray hair! Is there nothing I can use to “brighten” it? L’Oreal at one time had a nice product, forgetting that we boomers are quite numerous, so they really should bring it back. Silly corporate bosses…..

  28. Aryn Fain says

    Can I add vodka to the lightening cammomille tea mix to preserve it for serval uses? If so, how much should I put in?

  29. claybirdie says

    I just wanted to add that for a beautiful titian hair color, which can be used with mousy blonde hair, is rhubarb root. It will lighten mousy hair to a gorgeous shimmering honey blond with a hint of red. You boil the root, then soak your hair in it. I found the recipe in an old herbal beauty book and did this in high school. It was great! One day I will do it again…It’s only been 20 years!

  30. sandy says

    Dear Welness Mama,
    I read all your blogs, right from healthy eating, home made cleaners. and beauty tips. I am impressed by your natural hair dye receipes because I can not use store bought dyes because it does not suit my skin. I get rash and buring sensation on my scalp. Can you please please please tell me where can I buy black walnuts. Is these trees are easily available in Naperville. I tried to see the pictures online, but i am still confused. Are they hard like stones?Because near my house I have seen some trees having those parrot green colour fruits,hard like rocks, and bigger than big apples. Or please let me know whether I can buy them in any stores.

  31. Julie says

    If I had hisbicus to the lighten hir recipe instead of calendula, will I get slightly red highlights? Thank you!

  32. Ayub Khan says

    I have white hair but would like to have light to medium brown hair. Should i just use black tea with coffee added for the effect i am looking for? Or would you suggest a better way. Waiting for your reply. Thank you.

  33. Anna says

    How long do the hair dye effects last? I need to get my daughter’s hair as black as possible for a play and I want to use tea and/or natural ingredients but don’t want it to last.

  34. Mitali Achalkar says

    Dear wellness mama,

    I have a head of jet black hair and a fair complexion. I am utterly bored with black hairs and want hues of red, Your natural reciepe for red has hibiscus petals, those should be fresh or dried? Its not mentioned in the reciepe.

Join the Conversation...

Your email address will not be published. Please read the comment policy.