Natural Herbal Hair Color for Healthy Hair – Hippy Natural Hair Care Series Part 4

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I have spent a lot of years of my life changing my hair color based on my flittering emotions and the change of seasons. I am a big proponent of self-expression and coloring my hair has always been one of my favorite ways to express myself, but over the last few years, I have come to find out that all of those conventional hair dyes I was using is absolutely terrible for me and for the planet. Over time, I was destroying my hair and ingesting nasty toxic chemicals, with every dye job that I performed. Finally, after wanting to grow my hair out, I realized that my hair had never gotten passed my shoulders because all of the damage I was doing to it was causing my hair to break off. I decided I needed to make a change and how I was coloring my hair was the first thing on that list. After trying henna, I don't think I can ever go back to conventional hair dyes. I mean, the toxic chemicals is enough on its own to keep me away for good…but the conditioning that henna provides to your hair is simply divine, all while coloring it. I can not profess enough my love for henna.

Natural Herbal Hair Color

Conventional hair dyes contain dangerous ingredients

Not only does conventional hair dye destroy your hair by turning it into Swiss cheese, but the use of conventional hair dye has been linked to cancer, allergic reactions, and respiratory disorders.  hair dyes that are marked as “natural” can be deceiving too because they can contain hazardous chemicals such as resorcinol, ammonia or peroxide, and PPD. PPD  is widely known to damage the DNA of human cells and often causes allergic reactions in even mildly sensitive individuals. Studies have shown that those who use conventional hair dyes are at an increased risk of developing Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and leukemia. My sister-in-law once had such a bad reaction to dyeing her hair that she had to go to the emergency room because her whole face had swollen up like she had just been in a boxing match!

Henna makes my heart swell

My favorite way to color my hair is with henna. I REALLY love using henna because not only are you coloring your hair, but you are also getting a nice deep conditioning too! Last week I shared my favorite henna based hair conditioning mask Heavenly Hippy Hair. Henna is a shrub that is native to the Middle East, West Asia, and North Africa. After harvest, the leaves are dried and pulverized into a fine powder. Henna has been used since ancient times to dye hair, skin, and nails. There's even been mention of Cleopatra using henna on her hair. Henna penetrates the hair shaft and binds with the keratin in the hair  making your hair stronger. Henna also coats the hair and fills in rough spots on frayed cuticles, adding a second layer of strength without locking out moisture.

Herbs for Natural Hair Color -

Herbs for natural hair color

There are quite a few herbs, vegetable/fruits, and spices that you can use to color your hair. Most of these herbs and spices also have wonderful healing properties for your hair and scalp too. Herbs like rosemary are great for scalp conditions and hair growth. Herbs in bold are my favorite choices to use for that hair color.

Blonde Hair – Chamomile flowers, Calendula flowers, Lemon peel, Sunflower petals, Safron (golden highlights that you can use on brown as well) Marigold, Catnip, Mullein flowers,  Honey

Red Hair – Calendula flowers, Marigold, Henna, Hibiscus flowers, Red Clover flowers, Rosehips, Red Rose petals, Beet root powder, Carrots, Rooibos tea

Brown Hair – Black Walnut Hulls, Black Tea, Nettle leaf, Rosemary leaf, Sage leaf, Comfrey root, Coffee, Cherry tree bark, Cloves, Cinnamon chips,

Black Hair – Black Walnut Hulls, Black Tea, Coffee, Indigo

Helping your hair color stay longer

By prepping your hair before and after hair coloring you can get the most color in your hair and make it last longer. If you use a mordant prior to coloring and a final rinse with a fixative, you can help your hair hold the color longer.

Herbal Mordants – Plants high in tannins used before coloring can help open up the hair shaft to accept more color during the color process. Simply make a strong infusion with one of the two and rinse hair. Leave in for 30 minutes, rinse, and towel dry. Move on to the color phase.

  • black tea – great for darker colors
  • catnip – great for lighter colors

Natural Color Fixatives – When used after hair coloring, fixatives helps the color to last longer. Most fixatives can be drying to your hair but Apple Cider Vinegar, used as a hair rinse, is the perfect natural option that helps to close the cuticles as well as softens the hair. Simply combine 1 Tbsp. ACV with 8 oz. of water (I like to also add 1 Tbsp. aloe vera gel as well) in a spray bottle and spray onto hair after coloring hair. Don't rinse out.

Herbal Hair Coloring Mud -

Herbal Hair Coloring “Mud”


  • 3 parts henna, cassia, or indigo (depending on the color you are trying to achieve henna for red and browns, indigo for browns and blacks, and cassia for blondes. To make it easiest you can simply pick out which hair color you are looking for at Mountain Rose Herbs! They have the best hair coloring henna I have tried; not all hennas are created equal.)
  • 1 part finely ground hair coloring herbs (see above for herbs to use. Combining herbs can create varying desired shades)


  • 1/2 cup dry coloring mix
  • 3/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar (Coconut milk, hydrosol, or water can be replaced here if needed, but the ACV helps to further condition hair and also helps your hair to absorb more of the color from the henna)
  • 1 Tbsp. carrier oil (optional – for dry hair, you can use coconut, almond, hemp, olive, etc.)


  1. Combine all of the powdered ingredients for the Dry Mix, in a glass bowl. Store powdered mix in a mason jar with a plastic lid or a plastic container. Will keep for a year or two, as long as no moisture is introduced.
  2. In a small pan, combine apple cider vinegar (or coconut milk/water/hydrosol) and 1/2 cup of dry mix. Stir over medium heat for 5 minutes. Don’t let it boil!
  3. Let mixture cool for 5 minutes and then mix in the carrier oil.
  4. Henna may be applied to wet or dry hair that is clean. Apply a cream or oil around your hairline, ears, and neck to avoid staining your skin. This applies to your hands, so wear gloves! Apply to hair working from root to tips. Wrap head in plastic wrap or cover with a shower cap and then wrap with a warm damp towel around your head. You are trying to keep as much heat in as possible!
  5. Leave on hair for a minimum of 45 minutes up to 2 hours depending on the amount of color you want to impart onto your hair. It will never be so bold as chemical hair dye treatments, so leaving it on even for 2 hours still will look natural and beautiful.
  6. Rinse from hair with warm/cool water in the shower. It may take a few minutes to fully get the herbs out of your hair. There is no need to shampoo (or no-poo) your hair after this. If you have herbs stuck in your hair, it is easiest to let your hair dry then they will easily fall out of your hair. Follow with a diluted apple cider vinegar rinse (I use a 32 oz spray bottle and combine 1/4 cup ACV, 1/4 cup aloe vera gel, water to fill, and essential oils. I spray my hair until it’s soaked with the ACV rinse and then comb my hair through. You can either rinse clean or leave in to dry in your hair. It won’t smell of ACV when your hair dries.)

Herbal Hair Coloring Tea Rinse -

Herbal Color Tea Rinse

This herbal color tea will impart a very light natural color into your hair. It has a stacking effect, though, so frequent use can help you to attain the darker shades that you may be desiring. For both light and dark hair, you can achieve slightly more dramatic results by sitting for the 1 hour out in the sun. Heat is what you are trying to attain, so a blow dryer can be used in place of the sun, but to conserve energy I suggest spraying your hair until wet with color tea, blow drying until dry, and then repeating several times before rinsing, rather than drying your hair for an entire hour…who wants to hold the dryer up that long anyway?


  • 1/2 cup hair coloring herbs (see above)
  • 2 cups boiling hot filtered water
  • 1/4 cup aloe vera gel – optional,  I love to add this for the extra healing boost it gives to my hair as well as for its capabilities of balancing your hair's ph.
  • 1 Tbsp. raw unfiltered honey/molasses – optional,  both are conditioning to the hair. Use honey for light hair and molasses for dark hair.


  1. Steep herbs in water for 1+ hours. Some herbs that provide lighter hair colors, such as chamomile, benefit from boiling for 30 minutes rather than steeping in boiling water. I like to steep until the water is cool enough to use. Strain herbs using tea strainer/cheesecloth/etc., making sure to squeeze out all the extra juice from the herbs.
  2. Combine with aloe vera gel and honey/molasses, if using, and put into a spray bottle. You can use this rinse by just pouring it over your hair from a bowl, but I find using a spray bottle helps to control the mess and waste. If using a bowl, I suggest using a second bowl to hold your head over so that you can reuse the tea over your hair several times.
  3. Leave on your hair for one hour, then rinse the tea out and follow with apple cider vinegar rinse. For even more “dramatic” results, spend the hour out in the sun.

Miss part of this hair care series?

The Dirty Hippy Truth About No-Poo & Why I Won’t Use Baking Soda on My Hair – Hippy Natural Hair Care Series Part 1

Natural No-Poo Cleansers For Healthy Hair – Hippy Natural Hair Care Series Part 2

Natural Hair Conditioners & Herbal Detangling Spray – Hippy Natural Hair Care Series Part 3

Herbal Academy Affordable Courses Online

All information on The Hippy Homemaker is meant for educational and informational purposes only. The statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products and/or information are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease. Readers are advised to do their own research and make decisions in partnership with their health care provider. If you are pregnant, nursing, have a medical condition or are taking any medication, please consult your physician.

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  • honestly acv is a fantastic mordant and will help to hold the color better! I never skip out on it when I am using henna! I am so happy my website is helping you out!

  • Keri Hat

    I had great success with the henna, my husband applied it to my roots first, he used a coloring brush to section my hair and get good coverage. He then worked it through the rest of the hair. The coconut oil and the apple cider vinegar deep conditioned my hair. It took about 30 minutes to do the job. I left it on for two hours after he finished. It did a great job of covering my grays. I have him do a full application every three months and root touch up at the six week point. I feel silly wearing the plastic cap with the mud on my head, but I can do things around the house while I let it set. I love the color, shine and how it leaves my hair soft and silky. My husband trims my splits and evens up my ends before each henna treatment. It leaves my hair manageable as I have very few tangles and the comb glides through my hair nicely.

  • I am so pleased to hear that this was helpful! I am happy that you love your color!!!! Happy Hennaing 🙂

  • I like to combine mine with henna to get a better result! I know that henna does in fact cover greys, I do not know the effectiveness of the walnut hulls by themselves on greys though!

    • disqus_user

      Thanks for replying. Heena isnt supposed to be good for the hair a lot of people say. hair turns red after long. I dislike that tinge. I dont want to use it. Is there any other way please?

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  • suzi

    hello! love your site. I’m so excited to pick your brain as you are one of the few people I can find on-line who have tried MRH henna. I have died my hair black for over 10 years and have decided to stop. I’m hoping to use the premixed black henna that contains indigo from MRH in an attempt to keep my hair black. I know you probably don’t use the color yourself, but do you have any insight as to how effective these colors are?

    Also, if I want to use henna as a conditioning treatment, what type of henna should I use so as not to disrupt the color of my hair?

    Thanks so much! Love what you do.

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  • brigette

    Does using henna work on covering gray hair?

    • It sure does! You may have to keep it on for up to 4 hours to cover the gray, depending on how gray your hair is really.

  • If you choose the henna from Mountain Rose Herbs that I have linked here, you can choose a medium brown henna from them as well as use chamomile as your herb! The medium brown is not a red (they have separate ones that are reds) and I use it on my hair currently during the winter! I love it!

  • Welcome to my page! I am so glad to have you here! I actually have plans to make YouTube videos this year! I am moving in June to Tuscon, so I am planning on starting after the move is done!

  • Hello! For the rose petals/hibiscus flowers are you meant to grind fresh petals? Or dry them and then grind them? In which case, how exactly does one dry them? Thanks! 🙂

    • Christina

      I use dried because it’s easier to powder them and put them into a hair mask! To dry rose petals and hibiscus petals you can lay them out on a screen outside in the sunshine to air dry or you can put them in your dehydrator (or oven at very low temps) for a few hours!

  • Juliane

    Hello Christina,
    My hair is dark brown (Dark Chestnut) and would like to leave you Chestnut light golden with products to natural base and Indian powders . What process do I have to do?

    Note . I want to use the least amount of artificial chemistry possible.

  • avilene

    Hi. I tried to get red hair but I don’t liked becuase turn to hot pink So my question is is posible to get light brown ?

    • Christina

      black walnut hulls and coffee are the best for getting brown colors in your hair!

  • avilene

    Hi. I tried to get red hair but I don’t liked becuase turn to hot pink So my question is is posible to get light brown ?

  • Patty

    My hair is very short and a lot of gray in the hair line, every time I use a rinse my hair comes out and i have bald spots, Please let me know what herb i can use to color the gray without breakage.

  • Elise

    I stumbled upon this post while looking into natural hair dying and it is BY FAR the best and most instructive post out there! I have dirty blonde hair that’s been extremely lightened from the sun and I’m wanting to go dark brown. I noticed that you recommend using henna, but my only concern is that it will turn out with a red tint instead a true dark brown. Also how well do the techniques for dying brown work on naturally blonde hair? Again thanks for all the helpful information!

  • Linda

    Hi. Well I tried my first natural dye with med brown henna and rosemary and sage herbs. I think I left it on too long (2 hours). My hair was very red. The gray in the front was brilliant red with the bottom more brownish. I am tea dying twice a week with rosemary/sage/blk walnut. It has mellowed.
    Now a month later the back of my hair needs to have the gray redyed. Do you think if I left the dye on in the back for 30 mins, then put some on the top for an additional 15 min, it would not be such a dramatic color difference?
    When I tea dye I only spray on the top of the back and not underneath.
    Thank you.

  • christine k

    I have yet another question (sorry!)…. how much henna do you need to do one colour? I know this says 1/2c of the mixture, but what size container do I need to buy, then?

    • christine k

      …and, of course, now I see the amount needed on the mountainroseherbs website. *sigh* I Should stop asking questions in the morning.

      • Christina

        lol you’re fine!

      • christine k

        I found red henna at my local healthfood store, though I couldn’t find beet root powder. It was cheap enough that I bought the red henna thinking that it might work since the beet root power wasn’t available, but it was also the only henna they had. I was going to order the mahogany online until I found this locally. Do you think it will work? I’m a bit nervous, as I don’t know how much of the items I really should mix together. I got hibiscus flower and calendula too. (and I have saffron already)

  • christine k

    i just found saffron hiding amongst my spices. it was best by 2007 *gasp*. Of course I didn’t know it was even in there! While the flavour is likely dull by now, would it still be suitable for colour?

    • Christina

      For hair coloring it should totally still work! I don’t think that age of a dried herb will make it less effective coloring wise! I can’t wait to see what color you do! <3

  • christine k

    If my hair is a medium brown (with natural red highlights), but I’m looking for something to brighten it up (seriously not exactly sure what I’m going for…. more red? more orange? Lighter? no clue), what would you suggest? I know I want something to make a bit more colour to it, don’t really care which direction I go (lighter or darker), just was hoping to have something “pop” a bit more. I was thinking something with hibiscus and saffron (would it work using those two together?). With beets, is it just the juice you are after, or could I just dice/chop beets?

    • Christina

      For a color pop I would use henna and herbs together. The mahogany color that Mountain Rose Herbs sells is great, but even then you will want to continue to do it every 2-3 weeks. After 2 uses you’ll notice a great difference in your color, though I def notice with every one of my hennas that my color is popping! The hibiscus would be great I love using hibiscus in my henna mix! I actually use the beet root powder but you could juice fresh beets and use those!

      • christine k

        Beet root powder seems a bit easier to manage… and I’m sure nobody will be mad that I used that vs. using beets and then nobody gets to eat them! 🙂

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  • Kathleen

    I want to try your henna recipe but Mountain Rose Herbs site says that henna will not work if your hair is more than 10% grey. My roots are about 50-75% grey and the rest of my hair is dark brown. Is it the combination of your herbal hair rinse that makes the difference in coverage?

  • Linda

    I am excited about finding your website.
    Being a beginner, I need to know what to purchase regarding herbs. do I buy the root, leaf, root powder or leaf powder?

    • Christina

      Hi there Linda! I personally suggest always getting the herb/root/leaf not as a powder. That way if you want to make a tea or something else that it’s better not to be ground into a fine powder, then you can multi use the herb. You can easily grind herbs in a cheapo coffee grinder so anything that calls for a powder in my recipe just grind with a coffee grinder! I will usually specify on the herb if you want to purchase the root vs. the leaf (like dandelion for example) otherwise most things that aren’t specified (like marshmallow root…at MRH is only comes as a root). I hope that helps!

  • Jessica

    Hi Christina,

    I recently acquired light blonde to white highlights (I have natural dark brown hair) I hate them! I wanted honey/golden blond highlights 🙁 I would like to try your Herbal color tea rinse to try to fix them. What herbs would you recommend? I was thinking a mix of Safron and Cinnamon?! and should I add this to just the highlighted portion (I only got partial highlights) or all my hair?

    • Christina

      Hi Jessica! It will be easiest to apply it to your entire head rather than just highlights. Fortunately since it’s not like conventional dyes it will appropriately enhance both your highlights and your low lights. for a golden blonde i think a combination of calendula and chamomile or calendula and safron. The cinnamon would work but calendula would be much better!

      • Jessica

        Thank you so much, can’t wait to try it!

  • Jessica

    Hi Christina,

    I recently acquired light blonde to white highlights (I have natural dark brown hair) I hate them! I wanted honey/golden blond highlights 🙁 I would like to try your Herbal color tea rinse to try to fix them. What herbs would you recommend? I was thinking a mix of Safron and Cinnamon?! and you I add this to all my hair (I only have partial highlights) or all my hair?

  • Hi!

    I’d like to dye my hair blond. It’s darkblonde naturally. But I’ve heard using camomille makes the hair yellow. Is this true?! I’d like more of a white blond than yellow. How/what to do?!

    • Christina

      If you are wanting a white blonde, without using bleach your only other option is either peroxide or lemon juice and sunshine. Both can be very harsh to your hair but will effectively help you to brighten your blonde into a more white shade. I would personally suggest trying a mixture of lemon juice, aloe vera (to help protect the hair from damage), and chamomile tea instead of water. The chamomile will only give your hair a natural blonde look, not an actual yellow but it won’t lighten it to white like you are looking for. Spray your head with this mixture and wear it outside in the sun for about an hour. If it’s not as light as you wanted, wait a week and do it again. Depending on how dark your blonde is, it can take a week or two to get it to the right shade. I would try this before you move on to peroxide because the peroxide can damage your hair as much as bleach can, though it is DEFINITELY much safer to use as far as toxic chemicals go, compared to the bleach dyes

      • Maria

        Hi, Christina! About the combination LEMON + SUN… Isn’t it dangerous? I mean, I read another recipe to lighten the hair and it said “chamomile etc etc + LEMON”, and the girl (from Morrocco Method) did go to the sun with the mixture, and she was ok. But I cannot help thinking it can damage my skin, my scalp… What do you think?

  • Savannah

    Just very curious if you sell your natural hair dyes? Thank you.

    • Christina

      I have the plans to do so I just have to decide on the packaging and acquire all of the different henna colors to do so! Keep an eye out because I will eventually have them up in the shoppe!

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  • Kimberlyn

    What about gray hair. I have very long very dark hair. I have been coloring it for many years. I am probably 50% or more gray. My gray hair is very stubborn to color, that is why it is so dark. Will this cover gray? I would love to go all natural. I color my hair at least once a month.

    • Christina

      Hi there Kimberlyn! YES you can totally use henna on gray hair! Many women do all over the world! Because henna‘s color is a stacking effect on your hair, depending on how gray or white your hair is to start, it can take a couple of sessions to achieve the color you are looking for. The great thing though is after the first or second wash it doesn’t fade out of the hair like other hair dyes can do. You can apply it weekly, though also remember that depending on how gray the hair is, it might take the color faster just as with dry hair, curly hair, and hair that has been color treated or relaxed, etc. Always make sure to strand test first just to be sure of the resulting color!

  • Love coloring my hair with herbs! I have used black coffee in the past (it actually gave my brown hair a reddish tint…not sure why, maybe it wasn’t strong enough brew) and I’ve used coffee before too!

  • This is so neat. I had no idea that you could dye your hair naturally. I quit dying mine two years ago to avoid chemicals. Thanks so much!