Coloring Hair Naturally
Chemical dyes and hair colors can cause undue harm to the texture and strength of your hair. Natural hair dyes and colors, though not as permanent as the chemical ones, can produce great results without harming your hair. Most natural hair dyes, in fact, tend to improve hair texture making them softer and silkier to touch.
The effect that any herbal hair colour concoction would have on your hair would vary greatly depending on the original colour of your hair, the texture, any past treatments, coloring or otherwise etc. It is always advisable to do a strand test first before trying to colour all your hair. You can use a small section of your hair near the nape of your neck, or you could collect fallen hair from your hair brush and experiment with those.
Many herbs and plants have natural coloring properties. Tea, coffee, henna, sage, hibiscus, walnuts, indigo and many others are known to be used to color hair. Each of them brings out a different color. They can be used individually, or in combination, depending on the shade you desire. It would also depend on your present hair color and your desired hair color. Some of these are longer lasting while others wear off sooner and need more frequent application.
Following are recipes that you can use as guides while creating the right natural hair dye for yourself. The proportions can be varied depending on the desired hair color effect:
Natural Black Hair Color Dye
Sage leaves are commonly used to get a dark hair color, or to enhance the color of already black hair, or even to cover grey. A sage leaves rinse can effectively deepen any brunette head.
Boil water, and add about a cup of dried sage leaves and let it steep for half an hour. The darker the shade you desire, the longer you should boil/steep it. Cool and strain the water. Bend over a blocked sink/container and let you hair fall. Pour the sage water through your hair and catch the dripping water in a cup again and repeat. Do this about 15 times and let your hair soak it in well. Clip up your hair and let the sage infusion remain in your hair for 15-30 minutes before rinsing off. A single application may not produce enough difference. Use it every week or 10 weeks till you get the desired black hair color following which you can apply it once a month as a maintenance procedure.
A two step process using henna and indigo powder can be used effectively to obtain a dark brown-black color. Apply a paste of henna as explained below under natural red hair colors. After washing off the henna, apply a paste of indigo powder as described below under natural blue hair colors. Optionally, add a teaspoon of salt to the indigo paste to get a darker shade. Leave the indigo in for 1-2 hours. Wash it off thoroughly. The red color from henna, topped with a dark blue-black from indigo gives a rich shade of dark brown/black. The henna provides a base to the indigo to stick to. You will see the real color effect only after a couple of days. This leaves your hair thicker and softer apart from the rich color.
Natural Blonde Hair Color Dye
A number of plants can be used to add yellow-golden highlights to your hair including chamomile, rhubarb, marigold and even lemon.
Chamomile is the most popular of the lot. Steep half a cup of chamomile flowers in boiling water for 30 minutes. Cool and strain. Pour this liquid through damp hair while catching the excess dripping mixture in a cup and pouring it through the hair again. Clip up your hair and leave it in for 15-45 minutes before rinsing. This leaves a bright golden hue on the hair and also helps to cover the brown streaks occurring due to sun exposure.
Rhubarb root can be used to turn your hair a honey golden brown color. Take 4 tablespoons of chopped rhubarb root in a container and add 3 cups of water. Boil over a low flame for 15 minutes. Strain it and let it cool. Just like the chamomile mixture, pour this through the hair and leave it in for half an hour. Rinse it off and if possible, let your hair dry in the sun for better coloring. For a warmer tone of golden, use red wine instead of water.
Just like chamomile, marigold, safflower or saffron flowers can also be used to similar effect. Almost all yellow flowers can be used to improve the color of blonde hair.
Lemon, though not traditionally a hair colorant, is more of a hair lightener. So if you are looking to lighten your shade of brown to a blonde or similar, you can mix lemon juice in water and pour through your hair. Leave it in for a while before rinsing off. To intensify the bleaching action of the lemon juice, expose your hair to some sunlight. Lemon not only lightens hair, but also helps get rid of dandruff.
Natural Brown Hair Color Dye
Coffee, walnuts and cloves can be used to make natural brown hair colors. They can be used to deepen the color of your brown hair, or to darken lighter shades of hair into deep brown shades.
Boil ground coffee beans in water. Strain and cool. Bend over and let your hair fall ahead. Pour the liquid through your hair while catching the excess into a cup and repeating the process. Let the coffee mixture cover every part of your hair. Clip up your hair for an hour or so and let the color seep in. Rinse it with water. Coffee leaves hair feeling soft and nourished. Brown hair becomes a richer shade, and lighter blonde hair can be turned into a rich deep brown. The shade of brown can be varied by the quantity of coffee beans used and the amount of time the mixture is left in the hair.
Walnut shells can be used to make brown hair dye. They need to be made with care as they stain everything including your skin. Grind the walnut hulls and soak them in boiling water and a pinch of salt for 3 days. After that add 3 more cups of water and boil for some time. Strain the mixture tightly wringing out all the juice from the walnut shells. After cooling, apply this to your hair and leave in for an hour. Rinse it off to find a lovely deep shade of brown on your hair.
Tag alder bark can also be used similarly, but this produces a lighter tone of brown, so is more appropriate for darkening blonde hair or covering grey strands in people with light brown hair. The infusion can be made similarly by boiling tag alder bark in water for half an hour, straining and cooling, and then pouring through the hair as described earlier.
Cloves can be added while boiling to other recipes to add to the richness of the brown.
Indigo can be combined with henna to make a great brown hair dye. Start with preparing a henna paste and letting it sit for a few hours. Mix in the indigo powder just 15 minutes before application. Apply this mixture the way henna application has been described alongside. Leave in for a couple of hours before washing off thoroughly. You can control the shade of brown by varying the proportion of indigo and henna. More indigo will give a darker brown color. Also, you can leave it in your hair longer for a deeper shade.
Natural Red Hair Color Dye
Henna is by far the most popular natural colorant to get red hair. When applied to dark hair, it lends a beautiful red tint to the hair. Henna powder is readily available in stores. It is green in color. Apart from its coloring properties, it also makes hair softer, thicker and silkier to touch. It acts as a natural conditioner.
Make a paste of henna powder in water. Let it stand for a few hours. Mix thoroughly to avoid lumps. Alternatively, you can use boiled and strained tea or coffee to make the paste in. The tea will enhance the red, while the coffee will lend a slightly balancing brown hue.
Using gloves and an applicator brush, starting from the crown on the head, apply the paste over small sections of the hair and twist them round to form a bun. Take more sections of hair, apply the paste and wrap them over the bun. In the end, you will end up with all your hair tightly wound up on your head. This will prevent dripping, and staining of clothes or skin. Leave it on for a few hours. Then gently rinse off and shampoo.
You will notice some red color leaking out into the water during some subsequent shampoos too. But most of the color stays in for a long period of time. And the hair are left soft to touch with a brilliant tint that glows in the sun.
To attain a reddish-gold tint in your hair, add chamomile powder to the mixture. Use chamomile-henna in the proportion 1:2. The procedure remains the same. This gives a glowing red-gold hue to the hair that looks brilliant in sunlight.
Hibiscus flowers can be used to get a beautiful burgundy look for your hair. Heat about half a liter of water over a low flame with 20-30 hibiscus flowers for a while. Boil until the water reduces to half and the color turns a dark pink-purple. Cool and strain. Pour this liquid through your hair, catching the dripping water in a cup and pouring it over your hair again. Leave the infusion in your hair for 30-60 minutes before rinsing off well. Besides the color, your hair will also feel soft and moisturized.
You can make a similar concoction by boiling ½ to 1 cup of rosehips in water until the water reduces to half. Let it cool and similarly apply to hair and leave in for an hour before washing off.
Another natural vegetable red hair dye is made by mixing the juice of beetroot, carrot and radish in equal quantities. Pour this mixture over damp hair and leave in the hair for an hour. If possible, expose your wet hair to some sunlight for better coloring. This produces a mild and temporary effect and you might need to repeat it often to maintain the desired shade.
Natural Blue Purple Hair Color Dye
Dried and ground indigo leaves are used to color hair with a deep blue-black tint. Mix the indigo powder with warm water in a non-metallic bowl and let the mixture sit for a while. The paste is initially green in color which slowly turns to a deep purple black on the surface in about 15 minutes. This is now ready to use. Carefully apply it over sections of hair using gloves. Wear old clothes and make sure not to stain anything. Indigo lends a permanent color, and there is no other way to get rid of it than to let your hair grow out. Keep it in for 45 minutes to an hour before shampooing off. Indigo may dry your hair slightly, so use a conditioner after shampooing.
Indigo paste has the consistency of wet sand. Adding other things make it easier to apply. Adding an egg or two make the consistency more manageable while the eggs act as natural conditioners to the hair. It works best for people with darker hair. Blondes may find the results less pleasing.