Along with homemade shampoo and DIY dry shampoo, I’ve spent hours and hours experimenting and formulating natural hair dye recipes. My family is used to my kitchen experiments, but this one came with its fair share of laughs as I walked around with some concoction of herbs on my head for weeks!
I’d experimented with natural hair lightening in the past but hadn’t tried dark or red shades (since I have blonde hair). I found a few willing dark-haired friends to test other formulas. Many wasted herbs and a bunch of randomly colored streaks later, I figured out some good dark and red options as well!
Not sure why you’d want to use herbal hair dyes? Read the ingredients on conventional dyes and then get back to me! 🙂
DIY & Natural Hair Dye From Herbs
These are natural colors made from herbal ingredients 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. The red and dark hues will leave a temporary tint for a few weeks (depending on how often you wash it). Time in the sun will help set all of the hues and bring out natural highlights.
Note: I have not tried all of these natural hair color methods on previously dyed or chemically treated hair. Always test a small swatch of hair (I put a little on my skin too) to test for results and rule out any allergic reactions. Also do not use these hair dye recipes on hair that has been chemically treated in the last 6-8 weeks.
Herbs for Light Hair
I’ve tried several basic herbal variations including:
- Pure, strong chamomile tea 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 recipe below. It has left my hair very blonde, easy to work with, and not yellowy/brassy at all.
Herbs to Dye 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.
- Calendula flowers or fresh marigold petals from your garden (don’t worry, you can buy these if you don’t have any)
- Hibiscus petals
Henna Natural Hair Dye: A Faster Way
If you want faster and more permanent results, you can use henna hair color. I’ve purchased from Morrocco Method with great success. They are excellent natural products, and the results are very dramatic.
They have a lot of color variations with red hues and light to medium to dark brown. The results last for several months (or longer if you wash your hair less often or use a gentle natural shampoo). They won’t completely cover grey hair, but will darken it.
Important Note: Henna can react with the ammonia in conventional hair dye and the results turns hair orange or even green! If you have chemically treated your hair recently, wait until it’s been at least 6-8 weeks before trying henna. Before applying the package, test on a small section of hair before using on the whole head!
Herbs to Dye Brown Hair
It is easiest to darken hair that is already light brown or darker, though these colors will darken blonde tones as well.
Always test on a small part of hair before using on the whole head, especially on chemically treated hair. Used as a rinse, these herbs will also darken grey hair over time. The more they are used, the darker the results.
For a faster, more dramatic effect, use a henna color like black, dark brown, or mahogany. For a slower or more gentle tone, use these herbs:
- Nettle leaf
- Rosemary leaf
- Sage leaf
Herbs to Dye 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:
- Black walnut powder — 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!
Natural Hair Dye Recipes
- Always pre-test on a strand of hair before doing the entire head to check color and rule out allergy.
- Dark Hair Caution: Due to the known mutagenic properties of juglone, some sources caution against prolonged use of black walnut hull when pregnant or nursing. Check with your doctor for medical advice if concerned.
Ever used natural hair dye to color your hair? Please let me know below!