I’m going gray.
Ok, maybe that’s not worthy of a headline. It happens to all of us at some point (if you’re lucky enough to keep your hair!)
Although only in my early 30s, I’ve been coloring my hair to hide these ‘natural highlights’ since my mid-20s. And just recently I stopped.
I can’t say that I’ll never go back to hair color – but I got really tired of the monthly application of toxic chemicals to my head, especially when the rest of my beauty routine is so clean!
Plus my mother has gorgeous silvery hair, and has always gotten lots of compliments – so why not me too?
So, I’m letting it go au naturel for the moment, and just waiting to see if I like the results.
BUT that’s not to say I’m ignoring my hair altogether. Oh no. It turns out there is a natural way to gently darken your hair. I’m hoping it might ease the transition (or at least blend in the difference between my colored hair and my natural color!)
This is one for the natural brunettes – whether you want to darken you hair because of age, or sun-fading – or just to keep your hair looking deep and rich.
What about using a natural hair dye?
When I started feeling uncomfortable using chemical-filled hair color, my first stop was to search for a natural hair dye.
Henna was the first thought that came to mind – although natural henna has a bold reddish-brown color and can give really vibrant results, especially on lighter (ahem, gray) hair!
There are ways to darken henna’s effect – by mixing it with coffee or other additives. But henna is messy and time-consuming. It seemed like a better outdoor summer project than something to attempt in my small shower.
I also read about using Black Walnut Hulls as a natural hair color, although I haven’t tested this one myself. I was put off by the scary warnings that Black Walnut Hulls dye everything, including your skin and hands, so it sounded like a messy (and easily botched) option. With visions of scrubbing wildly at black stains on my scalp and forehead, I put this one aside…
I finally did end up trying this natural hair color (affiliate link) which worked pretty well! Honestly, if I go back to coloring, this brand will be my first stop. But it still took a couple of hours to process, and only gently the lighter bits into my natural color.
There’s just no way I’ve found to get permanent hair color coverage, from a natural product. (If you know one, please do share your experiences in the comments!)
But what about “natural” permanent hair colors?
Oh, and before we move on, let’s just talk about these supposedly natural haircolors with names containing ‘natural’ or ‘herbal’.
Whenever I mention natural hair dye, people say ‘Well what about xyz brand that says it’s all-natural?’ In my opinion, having ‘natural’ in the name and being ammonia-free is not enough. PPD is the chemical ingredient in permanent haircolors which can cause severe allergic reactions – and unfortunately it’s in every single box of ‘natural’ permanent haircolor that I’ve found.
(Please feel free to prove me wrong! I’d love to discover a truly all-natural hair color)
After much research, I have to say I’m really disappointed in the natural hair color options – so I started looking at a different approach.
Darken your hair – naturally
If you’re not looking for 100% coverage, then the natural hair color world becomes much more interesting!
Right now I’m testing an herbal infused hair rinse, which I really like because it’s easy to make and use. No special process, just pour it through your hair after shampooing. Simple!
I’ve previously shared my rosemary and nettle hair rinse, which is traditionally used for for stimulating hair growth.
But to darken your hair naturally, the herb you want to include is sage.
Sage has been used traditionally to darken the hair for centuries. In fact, Culpeper mentions this use in his Complete Herbal from 1653. (Yes, you read that right!) He says sage “causes the hair to become black.”
For extra darkening power, I’ve added black tea. (Black tea stains everything else – so why not your hair?)
I’ve made two versions of this hair rinse, to use depending on my mood: an infused apple cider vinegar rinse, and a regular sage-tea infusion.
The key with these rinses, is that you need to use them regularly, because the hair darkens gradually over time.
I’m only a couple of weeks into trying this rinse, so stay tuned for the results.
In the meantime, here are my 2 very simple recipes:
Naturally Dark Cider Vinegar Rinse
Simply put dried sage and 2 black tea bags in a jar. Cover with apple cider vinegar. Let sit for 3-4 weeks. Strain off the vinegar into a nice bottle and label. Find out how to use apple cider vinegar rinse here.
Will keep indefinitely, at least a year.
Naturally Dark Sage + Tea Hair Rinse
Put 1 Tb dried sage and 1 black tea bag in a heatproof container, pour over 1 cup of water. Cover and let steep for 15 minutes. Strain, and pour this liquid through your hair after shampooing as a final rinse. I applied a little of the infusion directly to my roots, and then poured the rest through my hair.
Rinse off any reside in your shower/bath and from your skin, to avoid tea stains.
You’ll need to use this regularly to see a gradual darkening effect.
Keep any leftover infusion in the fridge, and use within 2-3 days.
Will you try a natural hair rinse? Let me know your results, and share your natural hair coloring advice and adventures in the comments below!