Conventional hair dyes contain ammonia, hydrogen peroxide and coal tar (PPD) that can cause irritation, hair loss or (in a few cases) medical emergencies (the reason why hair salons need a patch test, to avoid being sued). All hair dye is best avoided for pregnancy/chemo. Always do a patch test (just inside elbow, watch for reaction for 48 hours – itching, redness, flaky skin). Avoid henna for G6PD deficiency.
It’s Pure Organics offers 9 beautiful shades of truly natural hair colours, from blonde to black. Herbal hair colours are based on red henna cassis (wheat), indigo (dark) or amla (black). Made with fair trade herbs from India, just mix the powder with water to create a ‘yoghurt’ then leave it to work (takes longer than chemical dyes, so take a book to the bathroom!)
The colour develops over a couple of days (one pack is enough for shoulder-length hair). To avoid unpredictable shades, wait 6 weeks before applying on chemically-dyed hair and do a strand test (especially on bleached hair). The red shades last longest, but all these dyes can cover some grey hair.
Other good brands of natural hair colours are:
- Saach Organics (organic semi-permanent dyes that darken hair over 24 hours – stubborn grey hairs may need a 2nd application – also offer beard dyes)
- Logona Colour Creams (sold in a tube, leftovers keep up to 3 months – their powders use organic henna, walnut shells and buckthorn bark.
- Radico (takes an hour, lasts weeks). For grey hair, apply indigo paste to tone down orange, or henna to tone town purple!
The good thing about natural dye is that if you get it wrong, you won’t damage your hair. Read Natural Hair Coloring, a beautiful book by an organic hair colour specialist. It shows how to transition over to natural pigment dyes, and includes before and after photos.
Can You Be a ‘Natural’ Blonde?
Not really, no! Many people say that as over the years we have become more multi-cultural, in a few decades it’s unlikely anyone will have pure blonde hair! But if you feel you’re really a Marilyn Monroe (when you’re realistically a ‘mousey hair’ person), then try Aveda and organic salons, who use more natural ingredients (hi-lites are better to avoid toasting your hair to pieces!) Most salons now require a patch test before applying to the scalp, though some will do hi-lites without one).
Hello Glow offers tips on how to lighten your naturally, without bleach. Remedies range from lemon juice to apple cider vinegar, but avoid near skin or on damaged hair. These methods only lighten a shade or two, so are only suitable for blonde or very light brown hair. If you want to go really blonde, you’ll have to use hydrogen peroxide. The best option is to visit an organic hair salon for non-bleach hi-lights, to avoid hydrogen peroxide touching your scalp.
Natural Hair Dyes from Abroad
We have very few brands of truly natural hair dyes in England. So if henna’s not your bag, it may be worth ordering these in bulk from abroad, though you’ll likely have to pay customs fees, until wholesalers start importing them (or producing something of the same quality).
- Earth Dye (US) is so natural you can use it on eyebrows, body hair and beards (one pack can dye 30 goatees – half their buyers are men!) Safe to use over chemical dyes, the herbs also help dry hair and speed up hair growth. It can cover grey/white hair with 60 colour options.
- Desert Shadow Organic (US/AU) offers rich semi-permanent colours based on plants and berries that last 4 to 6 weeks (lighter shades fade quicker). The colour gradually deepens to permanent shades after a few months, then just apply to the roots (do a full application every 4th or 5th time for maintenance).
- Hairprint (US) does not yet have a UK wholesaler, but you can order with international shipping, it needs to be used every few weeks. Created by an environmental chemist who turned his own grey hair back to its original colour, it’s made with a simple blend of 8 food-grade botanicals, and replenishes pigment back into black and brown hair (it won’t work for blonde or red hair). It takes up to 90 minutes to work. For best results, use a simple clarifying shampoo for 7 days before, avoiding conditioners and styling products.