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Whether you’re feeling a full transformation or just want to touch up your roots, finding the right hair dye is super important. This can be tricky since a lot of products are packed with harsh chemicals. But don’t worry! We found the nine best natural hair dyes that won’t fry your hair.
- Madison Reed Radiant Hair Color Kit
- Christophe Robin Temporary Color Gel
- Lime Crime Unicorn Hair Dye
- Lush Henna Hair Dyes
- Davines Finest Pigments Gloss
- Schwarzkopf Simply Color Permanent Hair Color
- DpHue Color Boosting Gloss + Deep Conditioning Treatment
- Herbatint Permanent Haircolor Gel
- Maria Nila Color Refresh
Just how natural is natural?
Lots of hair dyes have an ugly side. Both semi-permanent and oxidative dyes penetrate the hair shaft. According to the American Cancer Society, this can increase your risk of cancer (especially blood cancer, bladder cancer, and leukemia).
A 2019 review also found a link between hair dye and incidences of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, especially in females. Meanwhile, a 2020 study found a strong link between hair dye and chemical straightener use and breast cancer in Black and white women.
While more research is needed to prove this point, the data doesn’t look great.
Check the ingredient list (twice)
Like a shady Tinder profile, false advertising is fair game in the beauty product world. A product may label itself as “all-natural” without having any of the proof to back it up. So def don’t rely on the label alone to tell you what’s safe.
Here’s some yucky stuff to look out for:
Consider your price range
Natural hair dyes tend to be pricier than their chemical counterparts. If you want to go au naturel, setting a price limit is a good first step. Once you’ve factored in your budget, you can narrow down your options based on the lewk you’re going for.
Consider your values
Lots of peeps opt for vegan or cruelty-free products.
The fastest way to tell whether something is cruelty-free is to look for a bunny logo on the package 🐇. If you want to double-check, you can use the Leaping Bunny search engine to see if they’re legit.
To see if a product is vegan, check the back of the box and make sure it doesn’t have any:
Here are the very best natural hair dyes for 2021.
- $ = under $20
- $$ = $20–$30
- $$$ = over $30
Key ingredients: keratin, argan oil, ginseng root extract
Sensitive scalps, rejoice. This color kit is one of the most natural options on the market. It’s totally free of parabens, PPD, ammonia, resorcinol, phthalates, gluten, SLS, and titanium dioxide.
It comes in 37 natural-looking shades and includes a conditioning color activator, gloves, barrier cream, cleansing wipe, protective shampoo, and conditioner.
Key ingredients: oat flakes, flower extracts
This product is designed to cover up grays. The fine applicator tip makes it easy and allows for max precision.
The formula is of 92 percent natural origin. So, not perfect but still pretty darn good. The formula’s oat flakes are packed with antioxidants to keep strands healthy, and the flower extracts help prolong color.
Key ingredients: Adansonia digita (aka baobab) seed extract
Life’s a little bit brighter with unicorn hair. Whether you want to go “neon peach’”or deep green “sea witch,’” Lime Crime offers practically every dreamy, ‘grammable color imaginable.
The semi-permanent formulas are 100 percent vegan and cruelty-free. You won’t find any sulfates, phthalates, or any other harmful-ates either.
Key ingredients: henna, cocoa butter, clove bud, rosemary
Derived from henna trees (aka the plant Lawsonia inermis), henna is arguably the most natural popular hair dye out there. And compared to other temporary dyes, it lasts longer.
These convenient LUSH bars look like bars of chocolate. But when you mix them with boiling water, they create a spreadable liquid. It comes in red, dark blue-black, chestnut, and glossy brown.
Key ingredients: ginger, saffron, lycopene from tomatoes, Indian walnut
This is perf if you’re new to the coloring game. The unique formula is easy to apply and the effect will fade in about 8 to 10 washes. The ammonia-free formula come in 14 natural-looking shades.
The company claims its ingredients are up to 98 percent natural, which is almost as good as it gets. Although the high-end formula is designed for salon use, anyone can buy it online and safely use it.
Key ingredients: argan oil, soy protein, oat milk
This formula is a one-way ticket to subtle, clean, and permanent color. And at under $10 a box, it’s a great bang for your buck. Free of ammonia, silicone, and alcohol, it still offers long-lasting color in a few rich shades.
FYI: It does contain sulfates. If that’s not your thing, you might want to opt for another brand.
Key ingredients: argan oil, soy protein, oat milk
Give your damaged hair some TLC with this nourishing formula. Half color booster, half deep conditioner, this formula’s fab if you just want a hint of color. The 11 shades are super easy to apply (no mixing necessary) and last up to 10 washes.
Free of ammonia and peroxide, the vegan gloss is also paraben-, sulfate-, and phthalate-free.
Key ingredients: aloe vera, meadowfoam, white birch, witch hazel
In the natural hair care world, Herbatint’s permanent hair color is a cult fave. It also contains several botanicals that protect and nourish the hair and is free of carcinogens, toxins, GMOs, and gluten.
P.S. It comes in over a dozen shades, from light ash blonde to dark chestnut.
Key ingredients: argan oil
Sometimes, you just need a refresh. This wash-out formula lasts about 10 washes. It’s vegan, cruelty-free, ammonia-free, and PETA-approved.
There are 15 shades to choose from, from fun ones like dusty pink and vivid violet to more natural hues like cocoa. It also comes in 100 milliliter and 300 milliliter sizes.
You don’t have to hit up the drugstore to switch up your locks. You might have some natural hair dye ingredients sitting in your kitchen cupboard, just waiting to be discovered.
Whether you want to go blonde, brunette, or red, here’s what to do.
You may have already tried to lighten your hair with lemons in middle school with, erm, varying results. While lemons do work to lighten hair, they can also leave your strands brittle, dry, or worse… orange. TBH, a better natural alternative is chamomile tea.
This is how you do it:
- Steep 1/2 cup of chamomile flowers (or use chamomile tea bags) in boiling water.
- Let the mix sit for 30 mins to steep and cool.
- Strain the flowers out.
- Pour the brew through damp, just-washed locks at least 10 times. (Pro tip: keep a bowl of the mixture in the shower.)
- Leave the formula on your hair for at least 15 mins.
- Wash it out.
If you don’t love the lighter look the first time, you can always repeat. Since chamomile is much milder on hair than lemons, it’s fine to do again and again.
Heads up: This formula works best if you’re already blonde. If you have dark hair, the results will prob be slim to none. (Sorry!)
As it turns out, coffee can do a lot more than temporarily turn you into the Energizer bunny. It also works pretty well to darken the hair a few shades. (And yes, it can also cover up those stubborn grays.)
To try this at home:
- Brew a strong cup of joe, yo.
- Mix half a cup of coffee, 2 tablespoons coffee grounds, and 1 cup leave-in hair conditioner.
- Apply the mixture evenly to clean, damp hair.
- Let sit for at least an hour.
- Rinse and voilà! Enjoy your coffee-colored locks.
Though coffee dye won’t last for more than a few washes, it will def lend a little temporary boost. Plus, since coffee’s gentle on your strands, repeat as necessary.
If you’re dreaming of locks like Cheryl from Riverdale, we got your back.
Want a red-orangey color? You’ll need some carrot juice. For a deeper red with cool undertones, go for beet juice. You can also mix the two until you get just the right hue for you.
Here’s what to do:
- Mix carrot or beet juice with a carrier oil like olive oil, argan oil, or jojoba.
- Apply the mixture to your hair and don’t hold back! You’ll want every strand coated.
- Wrap your hair in plastic wrap.
- Chill and let the mix sit for at least an hour.
- Rinse with apple cider vinegar.
Who knew becoming fiery was that easy? The color should last you at least a few weeks.
Forget what the label says. Aside from henna, over-the-counter or salon-grade hair dyes are almost never 100 percent natural. Thankfully, there are lots of healthier options for your hair out there. It might take some trial and error, but you’ll be having your best hair day ever in no time.