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How to Dye Your Hair With Herbs

October 31, 2010

Before, I wrote about dying your hair with henna, indigo and cassia, and gave you a few recipes to make with henna. But there are also a few other methods of tinting and dying your hair without using chemical dyes.


Lightening hair
Some of you have probably heard that it’s possible to lighten ones hair by soaking it in lemon juice and sunbathe. Please, please do not try this at home! While lemon can be really good for your skin and also hair if used in smaller amounts, it is highly acidic and can damage your hair quite badly if used undiluted and in large quantities. Some people say it’s even worse than traditional chemical bleaching agents. What you can do, if you really feel that lemon is what you want to dye your hair, is try an infusion with lemon peel. The peel is milder than the juice and will not dry your hair in the same way.

But if you want to lighten your hair, there’s a few things you can try:

  • Honey: Ah, what would i do if I didn’t have honey? Good for everything! Even lightening your hair. There’s a whole bunch of facts up on the long hair community, so no point rewriting that really. Check the Honey lightening basics and the main forum thread.
  • Catnip: I have to admit, apart from seeing my friend’s cats get high, I have no relation to catnip. But heaps of people over at LHC seem to think it’s fab and I trust them. Also after having read this article about catnip I am really interested to try.

If I understand correctly (as I am not interested in lightening my hair I haven’t tried), honey and catnip should be kind of permanent dyes. If you want to tint your hair, there are loads of herbs that will give you any shade you wish. Here’s a list, mostly from

Lighter hair tones:

  • Camomile
  • St. John’s Wort
  • Achillea millefolum
  • Cornflower

Dark tones:

  • Tea (green or black)
  • Coffee
  • Rosemary
  • Red sandalwood
  • Nettles darkens and adds red tones
  • Sage darkens and adds a chestnut tone
  • Leek dark close to black

Red tones:

  • Birch
  • Saffron red-blond
  • Calendula red-blonde

To use these herbs for their coloring effect, there are various methods. To start with, the easiest is to make a herbal infusion from them. The stronger, the better.  The infusion will last max 7 days in the fridge, but again you can make a bigger batch and freeze some.

The infusion can be added to a hair mask, to your henna mixture or to your shampoo or conditioner. Or you can just do a hair rinse with the infusion after washing your hair as normal, or comb it through your hair every day. Naturally, the longer the infusion is in your hair the more it will stain your hair. And as I said, these herbs will only tint your hair, not dye it, so it needs to be done quite often for the color to stay.

Also try using many different herbs and see what shade your hair will get. Happy experimenting!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 31, 2010 23:06

    Hey Hilda
    How are you doing?
    I would like to add beetroot and chestnut to this list. Beetroot gives a reddish tint and chestnut gives a brown tint.

    • November 2, 2010 23:37

      Thanks, great tips! I haven’t tried either in hair, though beetroot colors lips and cheeks quite nicely 🙂

  2. November 8, 2010 14:37

    I used coffee for coloring my hair and it worked great, however color washed out right after i washed my hair, so you need to apply it every time you wash your hair.

  3. November 25, 2010 06:31

    This is all very new to me and this article really opened my eyes.Thanks for sharing with us your wisdom.

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