Natural Living

The Basics of Natural Hair Dyes

Basics of Natural Hair Dyes

Chemical hair dyes are the norm nowadays. Unfortunately they come with many side effects.

Whether it is a cheap color from the drugstore or a high-end treatment from the stylist; permanent or non-permanent, it will always leave your hair in a worse condition than it was before. Additionally, the harsh chemicals can cause troubling skin issues such as dandruff, eczema or allergies.

If you want to improve your hair quality and protect yourself from harmful and questionable chemicals, you  have the option to use all natural plant based hair colors.

You can get such a variety of colors naturally from plants, spices or herbs. The only thing that is not very much possible this way is to bleach or lighten hair.

I say not “very” much, because there is a good chance for naturally blond or light brown hair to become one shade lighter. It just takes some patience.

I haven’t tried out all of these but read about them numerous times while doing my own research on particularly blonde and red shades. This list provides you with some basic info on which natural coloring products are out there.

Blonde hair:

To go one shade lighter or bring warmth into your hair color, you can use the following:


Chamomile tea can lighten the hair or give it a nice yellowish tint. Several applications will be necessary. Simply make a strong 500ml chamomile tea with 5-10 bags, let it cool and pour it (or spray) onto your clean hair. Sit out in the sun until it dries. Wash it out and follow up with a conditioner. It can easily be used together with the other ingredients for a boosted effect.


Cassia is more of a conditioner than a color. It gives a nice yellow tint on very light hair, but it doesn’t make much of a difference on darker hair. Cassia is used the same way as Henna and can be very messy. Adding it to a homemade shampoo is a great and easy way to integrate it regularly.

Olive Oil/ Cinnamon/ Cardamom:

It is said that all these ingredients contain a natural amount of peroxide, which can be increased and used to lighten the hair. This way you won’t damage your hair, because you condition it at the same time. Cinnamon may feel uncomfortable for some people and burn on the scalp. Generally it always takes many applications to see a difference, somewhere between 5 and 15.

Dried Marigold:

Marigold works very similar to chamomile. You can use dried marigold flowers and make a strong tea, being careful not to burn the flowers, pour it over your hair and let it dry.


This is for you, if you need quick results. Lemon can get you good results in hair lightening in a very short amount of time. On the downside, it is the most drying and damaging. So definitely use a high quality hair mask or conditioner afterwards. To increase the effect of lemon, sit in the sun for 30 minutes and let the mixture dry in your hair.

Brown/Black hair:


This plant dye is used to give the hair a dark color. Due to its naturally blue tint, it should be mixed with a little bit of henna to attain either a brown or black color. Mind that if you start out with very light hair, you may need several layers to get to a darker shade. It is very difficult to remove indigo, so start out with a short application time and repeat the process if needed.


Very useful if ashy tones are desired. It is naturally greenish and can be used together with henna to color light blonde hair into a dark ash blonde/light ash brown. Mind that this easily fades out and needs to be repeated regularly.

Red hair:


Can be used to color your hair red. Depending on which color you have to begin with, it can turn out anything from light orange if used on light blonde hair to a dark red tint if used on black hair. There are many mixtures available in stores, either containing pure henna or a mix of it with cassia and many other ingredients. I have only used the mixed version (Santé, fiery red) and applied it two times on my bleach blonde hair. The color was an amazing natural red like Christina Hendricks, but it faded very quickly into a rather dull light red. Henna generally fades and needs regular applications. It does not wash out completely and is very hard to get rid off!

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