Humans have been dying their hair for thousands of years. Although most of the shelf bought hair dyes have been developed to be less harsh and much safer than previously they are still loaded with chemicals. There are ways to dye hair naturally and these are not only much gentler to the hair but are also a greener alternative.
Users report varying results from no effect whatsoever to vibrant results. Natural hair dyes work far mote subtly than chemical dyes and often require many applications before real results can be seen. Here are some of the options to dye your hair naturally without chemicals.
A method that has been around for a long while to lighten and highlight hair has been one that uses lemons. The acid in lemons works as a natural bleach that is intensified and accelerated by exposing the treated hair to UV rays from sunlight.
As lemon juice acts as a bleach be aware that using it on dark hair may turn it red or lighter brown rather than blond depending on your natural hair color. Some people find it easier to put the lemon juice into a spray bottle for application.
Longer hair will require the juice of more lemons.
The lemon juice can work quite slowly over several applications so highlighting specific areas can be tricky. Unless you can remember exactly where you applied the ‘dye’ you may end up with patchy results.
Here’s how you can use tea to dye hair.
- Black tea – this can act as an effective stain or dye for darkening hair. Brew a very strong mix of loose tea or tea bags with boiling water. Strain and allow to cool completely before applying to hair ensuring complete saturation.
- Chamomile tea – works for highlighting fair high or for subtly lightening blonde/fair hair. Prepare as for black tea.
- Marigold flower tea - Marigold flowers can be used as a highlighter for fair hair and will also produce red highlights in red hair and gold highlights in brown hair. Using Marigold has the added advantage that it has highly beneficial properties for the hair. Brew crushed marigold flowers as if you were making a tea, strain and cool and then apply the concoction to your hair. Beware of leaving it on too long for the first application as yellowy/brassy tinges can result.
- Coffee Hair Dye – Does coffee dye hair? Yes it does! Just as it stains white teeth, strongly brewed black coffee can darken hair. Saturate the hair with the prepared liquid.
- Walnut Shells Hair Dye - Boil the shells in water, strain and allow to cool. Apply the resulting liquid to your hair. Naturally occurring dyes within the shells will work to darken hair.
Adding Reddish Tints and Highlights
- Paprika – The naturally occurring dye in the spice paprika can be used to redden hair or add red highlights. This seems to produce particularly good results when combined with rose hip tea (you can make your own rose hip tea by brewing rose hips in boiling water). Paprika can be made into a paste for easy application by combining it with one of the other liquid suggestions here or alternatively just mix it with water.
- Beet Juice and Carrot Juice - Two more useful natural hair dyes for red tints. They can be used on their own or combined together to dye your hair naturally.
- Other Spices and Flowers -Many of the spices that are colored such as turmeric (pictured at right) and saffron will work as hair dyes. Mix them into pastes with water for application. Equally many flowers, particularly yellow flowers, once crushed and boiled will produce a liquid that can be used to add highlights to your hair.
All of the above methods will need to be thoroughly rinsed from your hair after the appropriate amount of time. Apple cider vinegar, either on its own or combined with your normal shampoo, will help to remove residual traces of natural hair dye substances.
Be prepared for slow acting and subtle results. Many applications and re-applications will be necessary in most cases. This is often why people who only use them once report they don’t work.
Some people recommend applying heat, such as a hairdryer, to accelerate and intensify results.
As some of the naturally occurring hair dyes have more intense or dramatic results than others it is always safest to go slowly to start with. As a general rule the longer a substance is left on the hair the more intense will be the results. The health and structure of your own hair will also contribute to the intensity of the results.
If you want to dye your hair naturally without chemicals you will need to have patience and be prepared to experiment with substances, times and color results.
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By Deneice Arthurton, Outofstress.com expert author
About the Author (Author Profile)Blogger, writer, relationships/dating expert, fitness trainer and natural hair enthusiast since 1997. Sharing information from grandmomma, books and scientific journals, as well as my personal discoveries and experiences with natural hair as we journey from relaxers, flat irons and weaves together.
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