6 ways to ditch chemical hair dyes and use natural hair colours

6 ways to ditch chemical hair dyes and use natural hair colours

Make your own natural hair colour at home to dye those grey strands without the ill-effects of chemical-based hair colours.

Written by Anusuya Suresh |Updated : March 19, 2015 10:26 AM IST

Almost every third person in his or her 20s these days is developing grey hair. Maybe it is a sign of the stressful times we live in. Even though it can't be prevented much, it can be concealed with hair colours. Now, there are many artificial colours available in the market but they do have certain side effects.

Hair dyes may contain certain chemicals that go by the name of secondary amines and these can react with exhaust from vehicles as well as tobacco smoke, to form other compounds called N-nitrosamines that have been implicated in cancer. Although you may think that a hair dye that is applied to the hair will not enter inside the body, it is difficult to ensure this because the dye comes in contact with skin on the scalp. This skin is very likely to absorb the chemicals in the hair dye and pass them into the blood and this is what makes such chemical-based dyes dangerous. Natural hair colours obtained from plant sources are therefore much safer than commercial hair dyes that may contain unhealthy compounds. Here are a few hair colouring ideas to try at home.


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Henna contains compounds that stain the hair or skin a dark red or brown colour and this makes it a wonderful natural hair dye.

For black hair that has gone grey, use henna in combination with sesame (gingelly or til) oil and curry leaves. Boil some sesame oil, add a few curry leaves and keep this liquid in a tightly closed container. Anytime you want to colour your hair, add some henna into this extract and boil for a few minutes. Cool and apply to hair, wait for three to four hours and then wash your hair using shikakai.

Some people also use castor oil with henna instead of sesame oil and leave out the curry leaves. Just boil henna with castor oil in an iron pan and set aside until the oil takes on a black colour. Then apply it to your hair and leave on for three to four hours and wash with shikakai. Read here to know more on other uses of henna.

If you are looking for a burgundy shade, cut and grind a beetroot and mix this juice into henna to make a paste.

Those who like a more reddish-brown colour, can mix henna with some lemon juice and curd along with some tea decoction.

Henna alone gives a copper red colour and only indigo (neel) gives a blue colour; by combining henna with indigo in different proportions, you can get varying shades of brown. If you want a redder colour, keep henna levels high and if you like more brown, include more of indigo. Apart from colouring your hair, henna has other properties to make your hair strong and beautiful.

Tea and Coffee

Both tea and coffee have the ability to dye hair a dark brown, but the liquid you use has to be sufficiently concentrated. Use tea powder or tea bags to brew a strong tea, strain and use the liquid when it is warm. Strong black coffee decoction obtained by mixing coffee powder with boiling water and then straining can also help to stain hair a dark brown. You need to soak your hair in the tea or coffee decoction for quite a few hours to see the results. An easier way to make the coffee dye is to mix in some instant coffee granules with some hair conditioner and mix well before applying to hair. Here are some hidden beauty benefits of coffee you should know.


By itself, amla does not have the ability to dye hair; however, it can help to tone down the red or brown colour of a henna-indigo hair colour. Along with this, amla also helps to give a natural shine to the hair after you have washed off the dye. When mixing in amla powder, it is important to add it last into the paste, just before you apply the paste to your hair. Amla also adds shine, rids dandruff and also reduces hair fall.

Walnut shells

The outer hard shell covering of walnuts gives a very strong colour that can dye your hair a dark brown. Crush the walnut shells and immerse them in boiling water, and boil well for about half an hour. Then cool the liquid, strain it and using a cotton ball, apply the liquid over the part of hair you want to dye. Allow to stay on hair for at least one hour and then rinse out using a mild shampoo and water; avoid using hot water which may cause a loss of the dye effect. This liquid is a very strong dye and will stain everything it comes into contact with a dark brown skin, cloth, utensils and even the tiles. Therefore, make sure you avoid contact with such surfaces during the preparation, applying and washing off.

Agreed, you may not see a dramatic result overnight, and you would possibly need repeated treatments with the natural hair colour to see a change but you can be assured that these are much safer options than you chemical dyes as they are natural. Know more on the latest hair colour trends for the season.

Image source: Getty Images

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