Natural Herbal Hair Dyes You Can Make At Home

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Homemade Hair Dye

Homemade hair dye is easier than you think. If you want to ditch chemical salon solutions to D.I.Y. naturally, this is the article for you!

I turned 50 in December. Where does the time go?

I wanted to have my hair cut into a new style since I’d been growing it out and pulling it back for years. And along with the new cut I thought about color, especially with all the gray hair I have! I wrote an article a few weeks ago on natural fabric dyes and it got me thinking about natural herbal hair dyes.

Many herbs and natural substances make natural dyes. One of the best known is henna, but there are many others.

Natural Herbal Homemade Hair Dye

To make a basic dye, simply brew herbal material into a strong tea and rinse it through your hair. But if you want the dye to last longer, follow these steps. And for anyone who has dark hair with gray coming through, you know how important that is!

Here’s the basic method:

  • Chop or mash your herbal material. (See the rest of the article for suggestions on what to use for your hair color.) You can use fresh or dried for most applications, though specifics are noted with certain herbs. The smaller the material is, the more surface area can be exposed to hair, and therefore, creates a stronger and darker dye.
  • Make a paste by mixing the herbs with some hot water. Add a small amount of water at a time until you get a thick paste the consistency of toothpaste. Hot water will open the pores of the herbs and allow more color to be released.
  • For colors that require making tea, use a large number of herbs – ½ cup of herbs to 2 cups water. Use hot water and steep as long as it takes to cool off. Strain herbs out and transfer tea to a squirt bottle to make application easier.
  • If using a tea, squirt onto scalp and hair, repeating until the tea is gone. Twist hair, secure on top of your head and cover with a damp towel or shower cap. If using a paste, apply the homemade hair dye paste to the roots and cover with a damp towel or shower cap.
  • For both types of preparation, leave on for a half-hour or so and rinse out. I suggest doing it in the shower or over a bathtub because it can make quite a mess.
  • If possible, dry your hair in the sun. It will give it more natural highlights.
  • Most of these dyes are semi-permanent. They will last a few weeks. Hair usually grows out faster than color fades. To keep the color, reapply a few times per month or more.

For All Different Colors

All hair is different. Some take longer to soak up homemade hair dye or others take no time at all. Some hair grows faster while others just plug along slowly. Finally, some colors of hair react differently to different colors. Here’s a list of herbs that work best for each hair color type.


Blonde hair will usually take up more color than most others. Lemon juice works well for light blonde and some darker blondes. A tea made from chamomile and calendula will work for darker blonde types. (Find dried chamomile flowers here and dried calendula flowers here.)

Rhubarb root makes golden honey tones. Simmer the root in water and cool. Use as you would with other tea methods.

It’s also possible that other berberine-containing roots such as mahonia (Oregon Grape Root), yellowroot, bayberry, or yellow dock could work as a blonde homemade hair dye, but I have found no reports of individuals using them.


For brown hair, use a strong black tea or coffee solution.

You can also make tea from nettle, rosemary, and sage. Sage has long been used to cover gray hair. Use it weekly to get better coverage on gray that keeps coming back. (Find dried nettle leaf, dried rosemary, and dried sage leaf here.)


For red hair, nothing beats tomato juice as a homemade hair dye. Massage a generous amount into hair, lightly squeeze out any excess, then pile on top of your head. Cover with a plastic bag or shower cap, and leave on for at least 30 minutes.

You can also make tea from hibiscus flowers and calendula. By adjusting the amount of each, you can vary the shade of brown. And both are full of antioxidants, which are very healthy for your hair. (Find hibiscus flowers here and dried calendula flowers here.)


Pureed beets make a homemade hair dye that will give your hair a reddish-purple tone. And all red tones of hair will pick up highlights from a vinegar rinse (like this) used after any hair color.


True black hair is difficult to work with. Black walnut powder will give you very dark, almost black hair. Indigo will give you blue-black hair, but most sources say it should be used with or after henna treatments. (Find black walnut powder here.)

Henna for Most Hair Colors

You can achieve almost any color with this all-natural, conditioning dye. Find the one that is right for your hair color here.

Homemade Hair Dye Precautions

There are very few precautions you need to take while using herbs to color your hair, but some should always be followed. The most important ones are to use gloves and protect the surface you’re working on. Remember, you’re working with dye.

Black walnut powder should not be used by those with thyroid problems.

And always be sure your solutions are cool before using. DO NOT use them hot! Injury to the scalp could occur.

Don’t allow any of the dyes to get into your eyes or mouth.

And don’t be afraid to experiment!

Have you ever used a natural homemade hair dye? How did it go?


About Debra Maslowski

Debra is a master gardener, a certified herbalist, a natural living instructor, and more. She taught Matt and Betsy how to make soap so they decided to bring her on as a staff writer! Debra recently started an organic herb farm in the mountains of Western North Carolina. You can even purchase her handmade products on Amazon!

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  1. Lora Cousins says

    What about fun colors like blue, purple or green, something like that? I have silver and dark hair and would like to play with colors that will wash out.

    • Debra Maslowski says

      Hi Lora,
      I’ve heard that Kool Aid works well. It’s non toxic and will wash out after a few washings. Not sure how natural it is, but it’s got to be better than chemicals.

  2. Mercedes Gatti says

    What type of coffee do you use for brown dark hair ??
    Instant coffee like Folgers ? Like use the instant grounds or mix w water and brew it
    Coffee brewed in a Keurig machine ?
    It’s just not explained as yo which type of coffe to use … help 🙂
    Thank you

  3. Carol says

    I have done tea dye many times. Different teas give different results. When my daughter was in school (20 years ago) she wanted to dye her hair the school color of green. We used Kool-aid. It worked very well. It took quite some time to get it out. Mainly because she had blonde hair.

  4. Mary Messenger says

    I’ve brewed teabags with sage and applied to my light brown hair with good results. Have always had blonde highlights… would I lighten the brown to blonde? Hate chemicals!!!

    • Debra Maslowski says

      You can use anything mentioned above, Mary, for lighter hair. Lemon juice or vinegar, chamomile tea or just plain old sun. I use to have brown hair and I’d put highlights in it by pulling a few strands and coating them in lemon juice. Then I’d go outside to hang clothes or do gardening. When I washed it out-I got sun tinted highlights!

    • Debra Maslowski says

      Honestly, Jane, I haven’t tried it. African hair is different in structure than Caucasian hair. Some things that work for one won’t work at all for the other. I know you can use henna, but you need to use a conditioner afterwards. So it’s possible to use henna with indigo for a dark shade. There are some nice videos on YouTube on how to do it. Just make sure you’re not allergic to anything you’d use.

    • Abs says

      Jane – you can use henna, wait for a couple of days and then use a 50/50 henna/indigo mix. You might need to repeat the indigo mix. Over time, the colour builds but it takes more time than a single application.

  5. Teresa says

    after using the home made dye, how long do you wait to “shampoo” or in my case just condition? Should the tea be rinsed out with a vinigar rise? Thanks in advance! 🙂

  6. Christina says

    My hair is naturally blonde and I’v been dying it a reddish brown, kina like old Velma from Scooby Doo. What would I have to use to keep my hair dyed that color. Also I’m a toe head, not sure if that makes a difference.

  7. Haley says

    What would give me the color of the hair that is in the picture for this article? I have medium brown hair. I have never colored my hair before and I wanted to start doing it naturally and not with chemicals. 🙂

  8. Amanda says

    I must have done somethin wrong. U tried makin the paste and it didn’t come out like a paste. So I made a tea and applied it to my hair. Still have the greys. It did make my hair nice once I rnsed it out! lol

  9. Nicolette says

    Hi, I am 21 years old and i am allergic to permanent dyes and demi permanent dyes. My hair is a medium brown and i was looking to go darker with my color. (I used to dye my hair every 6 months til i had a severe allergic reaction, and continually get patch tests from different salons to see if i have out grown the allergy.) I used henna before, but it left my hair green. (Yuck!) So, are there any other alternative methods besides henna that will darken my hair (almosy to black) it doesnt bother me repeating a method multiole times a month as long as my hair is darker. Thank you!

    • Debra Maslowski says

      Try the henna with indigo. I’ve had a lot of people say it works. Otherwise, I would try coffee or tea, very strong. I use coffee and it turns my gray hair pretty dark.

    • Debra Maslowski says

      For my hair, it says a week or so. My problem isn’t fading so much as the fact that my hair grows so fast. I need to keep reapplying it to keep up with the gray as it comes in.

  10. Tammy says

    What if ur natural is dark brown & I have gray coming through at the roots & ur dyed color Is a reddish brown. What would i use for the dye to do a reddish brown all over. I would like someone to email me plz. & would love some pics of the hair that was gone by these homemade hair dyes. Thnx

  11. Becky says

    My natural hair color is Brown with lots of gray. I color my hair red. Would any of dyes work on my hair? Need to cover up the gray.

  12. Zendelle says

    I haven’t made my own, but have used powdered henna and indigo together with beautiful results. It doesn’t stain your skin as much as the chemical stuff, and your hair feels so wonderful after. I stopped doing it to save money, but have been thinking about going back to it. The only drawback, and it’s a minor one, is the smell of the henna, but it goes away.

    • Korina says

      I use henna for a beautiful red tone to my brunette hair. Yes, it does smell a bit like hay when wet for a few days, but you can use some essential oils to minimize the smell. Also, to cut down on cost, you can visit a local Indian grocery store. They often have henna for less than $5. They have what is called “Black Henna”, which I believe is henna and indigo, but I haven’t tried it, so I would recommend trying it on a hair swatch first to be sure.

      • Khushboo says

        I have been using henna for ages with amla powder. I make a very strong brewed coffe, tea and black lemon powder, simmer it for as long as I can and make henna paste with that water. It gives a beautiful brown shade with shine. Beware of black henna, always read ingredients as I was looking for my hubby and found many black henna contains chemical. Check the label first. I dyed his hair with henna+indigo (same tea, coffe, black lemon water) and it turned very soft black.
        Thanks for sharing. I have tried many of your recipes and they are always wonderful