How Do I Dye My Hair Naturally Without Chemicals?

Written by: Denice Arthurton

Humans have been dying their hair for thousands of years using naturally available materials. The advent of hair dyes has brought in much needed convenience but you cannot forgo the fact that these dyes come with a fair share of harmful chemicals that can cause hair damage in the long run.

There are ways to dye hair naturally and these are not only much gentler to the hair but are also a greener alternative.

The only drawback is that natural hair dyes work far mote subtly than chemical dyes and often require many applications before real results can be seen. Users report varying results from no effect whatsoever to vibrant results. Here are some of the options to dye your hair naturally without chemicals.

1.) Using Lemons – To Lighten Hair

A method that has been around for a long while to lighten and highlight hair has been one that uses lemons.

The acid in lemons works as a natural bleach that is intensified and accelerated by exposing the treated hair to UV rays from sunlight. So after application, expose your hair to natural sunlight for around 30 to 45 minutes (preferably longer) before taking a shower.

As lemon juice acts as a bleach be aware that using it on dark hair may turn it red or lighter brown rather than blond depending on your natural hair color.

Some people find it easier to put the lemon juice into a spray bottle for application.

Longer hair will require the juice of more lemons.

The lemon juice can work quite slowly over several applications, so highlighting specific areas can be tricky. Unless you can remember exactly where you applied the ‘dye’ you may end up with patchy results.

Note that using lemon juice could make your hair very dry. So try this at your own risk.

2.) Using Tea to Dye Hair – To Darken hair

Here’s how you can use tea to dye hair.

  • Black tea – this can act as an effective stain or dye for darkening hair. Brew a very strong mix of loose tea or tea bags with boiling water. Strain and allow to cool completely before applying to hair ensuring complete saturation.
  • Chamomile tea – works for highlighting fair high or for subtly lightening blond/fair hair. Prepare as for black tea.

3.) Marigold Flowers – Can Be Used For Highlighting Hair

Marigold flowers can be used as a highlighter for fair hair and will also produce red highlights in red hair and gold highlights in brown hair. Using Marigold has the added advantage that it has highly beneficial properties for the hair.

Brew crushed marigold flowers as if you were making a tea, strain and cool and then apply the concoction to your hair.

Beware of leaving it on too long for the first application as yellowy/brassy tinges can result.

4.) Using Coffee As A Dye – To Darken Hair

Does coffee dye hair? Yes it does. Strongly brewed black coffee can darken hair. Saturate the hair with the prepared liquid. Leave it on for a few hours before showering.

5.) Using Paprika as a Dye – To Redden Hair

The naturally occurring dye in the spice paprika can be used to redden hair or add red highlights. This seems to produce particularly good results when combined with rose hip tea (you can make your own rose hip tea by brewing rose hips in boiling water).

Paprika can be made into a paste for easy application by combining it with one of the other liquid suggestions here or alternatively just mix it with water.

6.) Beet Juice and Carrot Juice – For Red Tints

Two more useful natural hair dyes for red tints. They can be used on their own or combined together.

7.) Walnut Shells – To Darken Hair

Boil the shells in water, strain and allow to cool. Apply the resulting liquid to your hair. Naturally occurring dyes within the shells will work to darken hair.

8.) Other Spices and Flowers

Many of the spices that are colored such as turmeric and saffron will work as hair dyes. Mix them into pastes with water for application. Equally many flowers, particularly yellow flowers, once crushed and boiled will produce a liquid that can be used to add highlights to your hair.

All of the above methods will need to be thoroughly rinsed from your hair after the appropriate amount of time. Apple cider vinegar, either on its own or combined with your normal shampoo, will help to remove residual traces of natural hair dye substances.

Be prepared for slow acting and subtle results. Many applications and re-applications will be necessary in most cases. This is often why people who only use them once report they don’t work.

Some people recommend applying heat, such as a hair-dryer, to accelerate and intensify results.

As some of the naturally occurring hair dyes have more intense or dramatic results than others it is always safest to go slowly to start with. As a general rule the longer a substance is left on the hair the more intense will be the results. The health and structure of your own hair will also contribute to the intensity of the results.

If you want to dye your hair naturally without chemicals you will need to have patience and be prepared to experiment with substances, times and color results.

Related posts

Author Info
For many years of my life my major passions were all types of sport but particularly gymnastics. After finishing my own competitive career I became a coach, eventually converting an old industrial unit into a training facility to accommodate my 200 gymnasts. It was while coaching that I developed my interest in nutrition and how certain foods and herbs both fuel and heal the body. It was also during this time that I discovered surfing and became somewhat addicted even though I began in the handicapped position of some-one with a severe phobia of water. ...  visit author page.


  1. One little specified question, are the lemons supposed to be yellow lemons or green lemons or would both of them work? I’m trying to secretly put some in my hair before I go to school and let it bleach and then when my mom says my hair looks red or brown, I’ll say it’s the sun. πŸ˜€ Please answer my question up above, it would really help.

  2. I have medium brown hair and I want medium blond but I can’t buy any lemons yet but I want my hair dyed before school starts. Any suggestions?

  3. I did the paprika on my medium brown hair. I boiled it in water until it was kind of thickened and soupy and let it cool and let some more water evaporate. Then I washed my hair and mixed the plate with some conditioner and applied it in the shower, combed through, put a shower cap on, and slept in it overnight. It attained my hands bright orange, so I’m using gloves next time. My hair is so bright and orangey red, though. I love it!

  4. Well I have carrot top hair and I want it to come out more vibrate than ever, I think natural is more attractive! It’s a summer thing I guess!

  5. I am looking at mixing the paprika with tea or coffee to darken and pull the red in my med brown hair. I am hoping someone has suggestions as to method of application and length of leaving it on. Excited to try this!

  6. I tried the beet one about a week ago and it sucked. I have dirty blonde hair and it stayed in until I washed it for the 6th time this morning. So now my hair is the natural color again. So the beet one does not work! It is only temporary like a temporary tattoo. So I tried the tea one mixed with the coffee (because I only had Lipton tea that isn’t very dark) right when I got home from middle school and it looks Amazing! If you are looking to darken your hair I totally recommend using Lipton Tea and mixing it with Dark coffee and possibly a little extra water just to lighten it so it isn’t like jet black. I just hope that it stays in long! Like a few months long! I will post again in a few weeks to tell y’all how it worked.

  7. I have medium brown hair so I will try to use the paprika method to put highlights as school is gonna start soon!

  8. I have really dark hair, almost a black color but with hints of brown if you look closely into sunlight. I want it to show more brown, without completely affecting my hair. Any suggestion?

  9. I was born as a red head, but my hair is blackish brown with some red hints. I’m going to try the paprika trick so my hair will look more bolder.

  10. How do I get natural blonde hair in the winter? There’s no sun and I have natural dark hair. I wanna switch to blonde!

  11. Kaitlyn, is your last name Jones? and you probably can’t permanently change it like forever, but try using black coffee to darken it. Research dying with black coffee.

  12. I have natural red hair and I don’t like it! I want it to be dark brown. How do I change it without ever having to put up with red roots again?

  13. I have brown hair with a little bit of red in it. I wanted the red to show more so I tried the paprika thing, and it worked! I’m so happy now! My hair looks beautiful!

  14. I have had bleach on my hair a few times and the bleach grow out and I put the tea bags on my hair and it started going a gingery color, so I had it re-bleached blonde but we had to put a stronger chemical on to cover all the brown. So I have been left with white and strong blonde hair and I hate it. I can’t use any more dye or highlights on my hair though because of the condition. I have used silver shampoo and that didn’t work so I might try the tea bag again but I am worried it might go a gingery color. I just want it darker! Any one know how to help? Also I have whitey/strong blonde hair, thanks. πŸ™‚

  15. I will try to redden my hair with vinegar. Steps below:

    half a cup of apple cider vinegar
    half a cup of water

    Mix all ingredients into a paste and apply to shampooed hair. Make your hair into a bun and leave it for 4 to 8 hours before you rinse it off. That’s it, have fun!

  16. I did the tea one and it worked great. I am all ready for the winter with my dark hair! I had blonde for summer and now its all black, I love it! Thank you!

Comments are closed.