What are plant-based hair dyes?
Are they toxic? Will plant-based dyes cause rashes?
Can you blend them yourself?
Many people are seeking natural alternatives to hair dye.
They’re concerned about the chemicals in most brands of hair dye, and they don’t want to risk damaging their skin or scalp with harsh chemicals.
But there is so much conflicting information on the topic of plant-based dyes.
It can be hard to figure out what works best for your hair type.
The good news is that I have done all the research for you and compiled a list of my top picks in this article here.
I hope it will help you make an informed choice whether these products are right for your needs or not.
Little history lesson.
Hair dyeing goes back a long time. Archaeologists found that people in the Paleolithic period used iron oxide to color their hair.
The Egyptian cut their hair and made it into wigs.
They then dyed them with Henna, Indigo and other plant-based products.
Yes, Egyptians used Henna to cover their greys!
Around 3 AD, prostitutes were required to dye their hair yellow or blonde so they could identify them.
In the 1800s, a chemist named William Henry Perkins was the first to synthesize dye.
Since then, many personal care and cosmetic product manufacturers have used different chemicals and synthetics to make you look healthier and younger.
The industry continues to justify that the chemicals used are of low toxicity and will not harm your body.
If that was the case, why is it that the European Union has banned more than 1,300 ingredients used in the cosmetic and hair industry?
The FDA only banned 11 chemicals in the United States.
There are more than 10 plant-based products like Jatamansi power, Beetroot, Cinnamon powder, Tea, Coffee, Lemon and others, that you can choose from.
The most well-loved plant-based hair dye is Henna.
It comes from dry leaves of the Lawsonia Inermis plant that are pounded into a paste and used as a dye or “Henna” as it is popularly known.
This product was used in India for a long time as a temporary dye for hand tattooing and hair colouring.
Henna is also used today to dye, condition, straighten hair and control oily scalp.
Other non-hair benefits and uses include treating jaundice, smallpox and other skin diseases.
You can buy good quality Henna products from reputable health shops or Amazon.com.
Make sure you check for 100% pure and not mixed with other chemicals.
Is coffee the answer?
People with grey hair are always looking for the best way to cover their greys.
For some people, dyeing their hair is a no-go and they want something that will not damage the health of their hair and scalp.
Some people use natural ingredients like coffee grounds or tea leaves to dye their grey hair back to its original color.
But there’s one problem, it doesn’t last as it fades easily after washing your hair.
Experts believed there are between 25 and 100 species of coffee plants.
Some popular ones are Coffea Arabica, Robusta Coffea, Coffea Liberica, just to name a few.
Coffee is rich in a black compound known as Tannins. Tannins are a bitter compound found in wood, bark, leaves and fruit of plants, such as oak, rhubarb, walnut, tea, cacao, grapes and coffee.
Yes, you can use organic coffee by itself or mixed it with Henna to cover your greys.
Preparation and Application
Brew an organic cup of coffee for 3 minutes. Non-organic coffee may have chemicals in it.
Once cool, mix in 2-3 teaspoons of your favorite conditioner.
Conditioner will make it easy to apply later on.
You will need more or less, depending on how long your hair is. Long hair needs twice as much as short hair.
Put on old clothes and gloves before you start applying the mixture to your head.
Apply the mixture with your hands and comb through to coat all your hair with the conditioner.
Cover with plastic wrap or a shower cap and leave it on for 1 hour.
Once the mixture is dry, the conditioner will harden.
Rinse your hair with lots of water without using a shampoo.
You may need to do this a few times to get your desired color shade.
For darker shade, use tea.
As I mentioned earlier, tea also contains Tannin.
Brew 5 bags of black tea into a cup. If you want a darkening shade, add sage leaves to the mixture and let it cool.
I prefer to mix it with a conditioner and apply it to my hair.
If you do not have a conditioner, you can apply it to your hair by spraying or using an applicator bottle.
Leave it under wraps for 1 hour or so and rinse without using a shampoo.
For redheads or highlights use flowers
Boil a small pot of fresh or dried hibiscus flowers.
The concentration of the colour depends on the number of petals you put into the boiling water.
If you want it darker, you could leave the petals in the water longer.
Once cool down, strain the liquid into a spray bottle.
Before you begin, cover yourself with an old shirt or towel.
Spray the mixture to target areas you want to highlight or the whole area. Comb your hair and spread evenly.
Rise your hair thoroughly and blow dry it to help bring out the highlights. If you wash your hair often, the dye will eventually fade.
Using carrot juice for that reddish or orange tint.
Mix some organic carrot juice with olive oil.
Apply or spray it onto your hair.
Cover your hair with a plastic cover or shower cap.
Leave it on your hair for an hour or so. Rinse with apple cider.
For stronger colour, dye the hair the next day.
Details can be found on Review of Natural Resources.
Use essential oils to bleach your hair.
Use lemon juice to bleach your hair.
This is permanent, compared with the other colours mentioned.
Lemon juice can make your hair lighter.
Preparation and Application.
Put half of a lemon in a spray bottle.
Put 10-15 drops of lemon or tangerine essential oil and 1 tablespoon of fractionated coconut or Argan oil.
Add 10 drops of Roman Chamomile essential oil and top up the bottle with distilled or filtered water.
Spray your hair with the mixture. Comb it to spread it evenly.
Cover your hair with a shower cap and sit out in the sun for 30-60 minutes.
Rinse it thoroughly. You may have to repeat this process a few times to get the desired shade.
Caution: possible sun sensitivity.
Maintenance of naturally dyed hair.
To make your hair color last longer, you can try not to use a hairdryer or curling irons often.
You should also install a water filter that removes all nasty minerals.
You should wash your hair less often and use lighter shampoo.
Stay out of the sun or wear hats instead.
If you swim in pools (chlorine), wash your hair thoroughly after each time you go swimming.
Many sceptics insist that using plant-based products does not work at all.
Others suggest there is no alternative but to use products with fewer chemicals.
Our exposure and usage of cosmetics, including hair dyes increases every year.
According to some scientific studies, an average woman now uses around 12 cosmetics and 25 different products.
They are all exposed to more than hundreds of different toxic chemicals every day!
There is sufficient research to suggest that exposure to these chemicals may cause cancer, hormone disruption, hair loss, genetic mutation, reproductive defects, etc.
Fortunately, there are increasing numbers of manufacturers that offer safer products.
As a consumer, you must do your own due diligence to find safer products, ethically manufactured.
If you found this article helpful, please share it. I would appreciate it, if you could leave comments or questions in the box below.
- National Library of Medicine.
- US Food and Drug Administration.
- European Union Law
- Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
- A Review of the Natural Resouces Used to Hair Color and Hair Care Products
- Food and Chemical Toxicology.
Disclosure: Just a Heads Up: My posts may contain affiliate links! If you buy something through one of those links, you won’t pay a cent more, but I’ll get a small commission, which helps keep the lights on. Mank thanks!
Disclaimer: These statements are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease. They are for information purposes only. They have not been evaluated by the FDA. You should read carefully all product packaging. If you suspect that you have a medical condition, seek help from your doctor.