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Old October 2nd, 2006, 01:56 PM   #1
Nightshade
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Join Date: Feb 2006
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Hair Coloring with Herbs, Plants & Other Natural Ingredients

Hair Coloring with Herbs, Plants & Other Natural Ingredients

Chemical dyes are damaging, no two ways about it. This article is to help those that want to alter their hair color using more gentle natural means. Many boxed dyes and two-step salon processes first strip the natural color from the hair (bleaching) so that the color you get is what is on the box. Because natural dyes do not strip your hair color, the herb or vegetable based dye you apply works WITH your natural hair color. While you can gain the illusion of lighter hair and even add natural highlights, there is no way to naturally go from black to platinum blonde. Be patient. Many of these methods build up color and will take several applications and some time before you see results and will need to be retreated to keep the effect. Also, natural dyes have a window of effectiveness. Most should be mixed when you are ready to use them. Once mixed, most should be used within 24 hours, though there are some exceptions to this, such as henna.

Note: The focus of this article will be on herbs OTHER than henna. For information dealing specifically with henna, please see the article Expressions with Henna- Coloring Hair Naturally. While some recipes here may have small amounts of henna as an enhancer, they will be in the minority.

The Disclaimer

Before using any herb one should research it thoroughly and regularly for updated information from reputable sources just as you would check out the ingredients on any cosmetic label. Some plants are toxic when taken internally, others may have toxic effects when applied topically. When using any natural hair dyes, be sure to check for an allergic reaction. Usually the recommended method is to put a small amount of your concoction on the inside of your arm and cover it for 24 hours. If there’s no reaction, it should be safe to proceed. All these methods are from various sources, and the results are going to depend on the quality of your herbs and other ingredients, your natural hair color, the condition of your hair, and the methods you use. Strand test on shed hair (check the vacuum for a good supply) to gauge the color BEFORE you put stuff on your head. That old saying about an ounce of prevention and a pound of cure holds very true here. Use gloves and consider lining your skin with lotion or Vaseline to prevent straining of the skin. For an excellent site on plants that provide dye and also good information about their toxicity levels, please see this site.


How this Document Works

I’ve divided the recipes and methods into what works best to achieve certain ends. There’s a section for silver, blondes (and lightening), brunettes, redheads, and black (and darkening). In each color category I have tried to go from the most potent dyes to the weakest rinses. At the end of the document is a list of resources for boxed natural dyes if you do not want to mix your own. There is also a list of color-altering ingredients which can be used to personalize any of the recipes listed here.



Different Methods

There are several different methods to go about enhancing your color subtly. Some recipes go more into detail or have variations, but here are some of the main staples and their basic instructions.
It should be noted that heat will always help dye update. Heat helps lift the scales on the hair, allowing the dye to penetrate better giving a better and longer lasting color. Only use gentle heat, such as warm towels wrapped around the head while the dye is sitting on the hair.


Rinses– A rinse is generally the weakest form of hair coloring. Usually this requires making an infusion of an herb or other natural dye and pouring it through the hair multiple times. To make a rinse, place ¼ c of your desired herb in a cup or bowl and add 2 cups of boiling water. Cover and allow to cool. To make a slightly stronger rinse, take ¼ c of herbs and simmer in a quart (4 cups) of water. To aid in dye fixation add up to ¼ salt. This will increase color absorption. (Translation: if you want darker colors, use more salt and increase the quantity of herbs -for pastels, use less salt and less dye). The longer you simmer, the stronger the dye; simmer at least 30 mins. For even stronger color, remove from heat and cover and allow the mix to sit overnight. Regardless of the method of infusion, allow the mixture to cool. Strain out the herbs. You will need 1 large bowl and a cup to apply. Standing in the shower, place the large bowl on the floor and kneel over it. Pour the rinse through your hair, catching the rinse in the bowl. Transfer the rinse to the cup, and then pour back through your hair into the bowl. Repeat at least 15 times. You may delay rinsing until later to help the dye set. Rinses need to be done daily until the desired color is achieved, and then once weekly to maintain. Note: Some people may fine coffee or some tea rinses drying on their hair. Follow up with a deep conditioning treatment as the effect is temporary. Herbal teas (those made from flowers, such as chamomile) tend to be less drying).



Color-Enhancing SMT– This is based on snowymoon’s deep conditioning treatment with a subtle color twist. Take 1 part of your favorite conditioner, ¼ part honey (or molasses for dark hair), and ¼ part alcohol-free clear aloe vera gel. Now add 2 TB of your favorite color-enhancing herb or powder. Place in a cup and warm in microwave for 10 to 15 seconds--just until warm. Add more conditioner until you achieve the right consistency. Wash hair and squeeze out excess, blot dry, leave in under heat cap, warm towels or shower cap, etc, for an hour or so. Rinse well.

Glosses- A gloss is similar to a color enhancing SMT, with the focus on color more than conditioning. To make a gloss take 2-3 TB of your desired herb (powdered seems to work best) and add them to a cup of cone-free conditioner, or plain, unsweetened yogurt. Mix the into a smooth paste and let this stand until you see dye release (or a day or so if you don't). Putting it someplace warm to sit (like on top of your computer tower) will aid in dye release. Note: this works better with conditioner as yogurt tends to go really sour. Apply to dry or damp hair, wrap in plastic wrap, and leave on for as long as you wish. Rinse using only conditioner. As with other methods this may require several times to build up to the desired color.

Mud Treatments– These are herbs (such as henna, indigo, and walnut) that are mixed with a liquid to make a mud which is applied to the hair. This method requires the hair to be wrapped in saran wrap or contained under a shower cap as the dye ceases to be effective if it dries out. More effective and potent than other methods, but often must be left on longer.

To rinse mud treatments: Get some cheap cone free conditioner (I use V05 White Tea Therapy). Get in the shower, blast off your hair a little, then keep your hair out of the water and work in handfulls of conditioner. I go through a full bottle if it's a little bottle, and half of one of the 33% MORE FREE! bottles. Just work the conditioner in. You'll need lots. As you work the conditioner in start gently detangling from the ends up, adding more conditioner. Only when you can get your fingers mostly through it should you rinse. This does a few things: 1) you get a CO cleansing treatment as this is going to take you at least 20 mins to work into your hair before rinsing. 2) detangling helps the cassia mud rinse free easier, diminishing rinsing time overall. I cut my rinsing time in half with this method. Just be patient.

Purchased boxed herbs and natural dyes– There are many places where the work of mixing can be done for you. There is a list of these at the end of this document.


Getting the Color to Last

When dying fabric with natural dyes, often mordents are used. Mordents prepare the fibers and help them to absorb the dye better. It is possible to dye without using mordents – a few plants such as indigo and henna do not need mordents, but using mordents will generally give much better, brighter and more permanent colors. This is part of why these herbal rinses often need to be updated rather than becoming permanent. The good news is that it is easier to dye animal fibers than plant fibers, as animal fibers tend to have more sites to which pigment can attach. Many different chemicals can be used as mordents, most of which are very poisonous, which obviously complicates things for hair. Generally, fibers are prepared for dying by soaking them in a mordent. The most common mordents are alum, copper sulfate, potassium dichromate, ferrous sulphate and tannin. Though effective for dying fabric, they are NOT recommended for hair because of potential reactions to previous and later chemical dye treatments. Tannin, however, IS a natural mordent and is found in some plants. Both tea and catnip contain natural tannins, but can become astringent if brewed too strong. Adding a plant with natural tannins to your mix may help your color stay longer. Tannin powder can also be bought, but should be used in very small quantities (2tb in 5 liters of water).

Dye fixatives are used after dying the hair. The instructions for using color fixatives on fabric says to add the dyed fabric to the fixative and let simmer for an hour. Obviously you can’t simmer your hair, but you can make the fixatives and pour them through your hair. These may be drying, and you should follow up with a deep conditioning treatment after you are done dying.

Plant Fixatives- (for plant dyes) 4 parts cold water to 1 part vinegar. After dying consider doing a rinse with more vinegar fixative to keep the dye from bleeding. Consider adding tea or catnip to this for natural tannins.

So for instance if you were doing a color-enhancing rinse you would try to rinse or soak your hair in tea or catnip tea for awhile, rinse, apply the dye, rinse, and follow with a diluted vinegar rinse to help set the color.


Shampoos and Conditioners–
There some products such as Jason Natural's Color Sealing Conditioner that may help natural dyes last longer. It uses cones to accomplish this, but also has many natural ingredients. Their Color Enhancing Shampoo may help extend the time between dying sessions. Note that the ingredients DO contain synthetic dyes as well as natural ones, but there is no ammonia or peroxide.


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Recipes for Nearly Colorless Conditioning

Cassia Obovata- An herbal strengthening treatment. Though cassia has a very pale yellow dye, it is invisible on all but the lightest shades of blonde. Gives conditioning benefits similar to henna, but should be applied more often as its effects are not permanent.

Enough Cassia to cover hair
2-3 bags chamomile tea
Take 2c of water and heat in a coffee cup. Add tea bags and cover, let steep and cool until you can put your fingers in it. Warm, but not scalding. Put cassia powder into a bowl and add enough tea to make a mix that's seems somewhat runny, like thin pancake batter. Apply it to damp hair. After you make your mix, take any leftover chamomile tea and use that to dampen your hair. Applying to dry hair tends to suck the water out of the mix and make it thicker and harder to work with on your head. Pile your hair on top of your head and wrap in saran wrap then put a warm towel or turbie on top of it. Let it sit for an hour or two. Henna for Hair says 30 mins, but I say an hour minimum. See the rinsing instructions for mud treatments at the first part of this article. Afterwards, your hair might feel a little dry at first. Totally normal. The "grit" in the cassia stripped the oil off your hair. Lightly oil your damp hair and bun it. It may still take 2 days or so for your hair to normalize.


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Recipes for Enhancing White Hair & Silver Tones

Hollyhock Yellow Remover- A gentle rinse to remove the yellow cast from white hair.
¼ c hollyhock flowers or betony
2 c water
Simmer flowers in water for 30 minutes and allow to cool. Strain. Pour through hair, catching the rinse in a bowl and pouring back through hair at least 15 times. Produces effects over time and should be used daily until the desired color is achieved, and then weekly thereafter.
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Recipes for Natural Highlights

Dilute Honey Lightener- Gradually lightens hair with a natural hydrogen peroxide solution.
1 part honey
2 Parts conditioner (V05 SKR reportedly works well)

Mix the honey and conditioner and apply to hair. Wrap head with saran wrap and a warm hat. Let sit for 8 hours and rinse. (Thanks to SimplyLonghair for the recipe! See her post here) The science: The major antibacterial activity in honey has been found to be due to hydrogen peroxide produced enzymically in the honey. The glucose oxidase enzyme is secreted from the hypopharyngeal gland of the bee into the nectar to assist in the formation of honey from the nectar. The hydrogen peroxide and acidity produced by the reaction: glucose + H2O+ O2 --> gluconic acid + H2O2 serve to preserve the honey. The hydrogen peroxide produced would be of effect as a sterilizing agent only during the ripening of honey. Full-strength honey has a negligible level of hydrogen peroxide because this substance is short-lived in the presence of the transition metal ions and ascorbic acid in honey which catalyses its decomposition to oxygen and water. The enzyme has been found to be practically inactive in full-strength honey, it giving rise to hydrogen peroxide only when the honey is diluted. This is because the acidity produced in the action of the enzyme drops the pH to a point which is too low for the enzyme to work any more. On dilution of honey the activity increases by a factor of 2,500 - 50,000, thus giving a "slow-release" antiseptic at a level which is antibacterial but not tissue-damaging. Source





Before Honey After Honey

WARNING: Although honey contains less hydrogen peroxide than commercial bleaching solutions, it IS hydrogen peroxide and if overdone it will damage your hair. This method, when done as described above, will help to lighten your hair a little and bring out natural highlights without damage. You cannot do any drastic lightening with this method, or any other, and not expect some damage. All things in moderation.

Lemon Rinse- Lemon is also a time-honored hair lightener. Will lighten hair, but may be very drying as the lightening agent is an acid.
2 lemons
1 quart boiling water

Lemon is also a time-honored hair lightener. The juice of two of the citrus fruits, strained into a quart of water, makes an excellent rinse that can be used in the same way as the chamomile preparation. Try to dry your hair in the sun after using a lemon rinse, in order to get the most from the treatment's lightening effect. The science: Roger Clemens, professor of molecular pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Southern California, said the acid in lemons, combined with oxygen and the sun’s UV rays, causes acid oxidation, which highlights or lightens hair. “It’s not an old wives’ tale or myth. It’s scientific fact,” he said. Of course, going out in the sun without lemon juice can lighten your hair, too. But the acid in the lemon juice serves as an accelerant, he said. The active ingredient is the limonene in lemons, which is most concentrated in the rind, said Dr. Francesca J. Fusco of Mount Sinai Medical Center. “It acts as a weak bleaching agent when exposed to sunlight,” the dermatologist said. - New York Times Source

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Recipes for Enhancing Blonde Hair, Gold Tones, & Natural Highlights

*NOTE* These methods are more likely to add gold tones to your hair than lighten it. If you are working with pale blonde hair, these methods may actually cause darkening.- Special thanks to Elyce for the tip!

Natural Blonde Dye
Be sure and get all the ingredients at the store and lay everything out before you start the recipe. Everything will need to be added at once.

2 whole uncut fresh lemons (squeezed & strained for juice)
2/3 ounces or 20 grams of marigold flowers (you can buy at health food store)
2/3 ounces or 20 grams of chamomile flowers (buy at health food store)
1 - 1 ¼ ounces or 30 grams of finely chopped or powdered rhubarb root (grocery store or heath food store)
2 ounces or 50 grams of acacia honey (health food store)
1 pint or ½ liter cider vinegar
2 ounces or 50 grams of 95% proof alcohol (liquor store).

Put the vinegar and rhubarb into a stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer very gently for 10 minutes. Be sure to make it exactly 10 minutes. Less or more may cause problems. Add the chamomile and marigold flowers and juice of the two lemons. Cover the pan and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove completely from the heat. Let the mixture stand covered with the lid until the liquid is tepid. Filter the concoction through a fine sieve into a bottle. Make sure you squeeze out any liquid in the herbs left in the sieve. Remember to be careful since the liquid may still be warm or even a tiny bit hot. Add the honey, alcohol and squeezed and strained lemon juice from the 2 lemons. Put a tight cap on the bottle and store for your next shampoo.

How To Use Dye
There are a couple of ways that you can make use of the natural dyes. You can use a dilution of the mixture by adding 1 tablespoon of the dye mixture for each quart or liter of final rinse water. If you really want to punch up the highlights, apply the mixture directly to your hair and leave on for at least 30 minutes. Be sure to cover your head with a shower cap or the drippage can stain. To get less drips, you can also mix some undiluted dye with a thick rinse out or deep conditioner and glop that on your head to get a thicker mixture.

Rinse & Shine
Use the mixture as a quick rinse or as a longer leave on dye, and then rinse your hair with cold water to seal the color. Let you hair air dry if possible. While there is no guarantee of the level of color you will have achieved, changes are good that you will definitely see some blonde highlights. The lighter the color your natural hair, the more intense the blonde color from the mixture. Remember that this is a type of all natural vegetable dye. The dye will only last from shampoo to shampoo. If you want to maintain the highlights or added blonde colors you will need to apply the mixture after each shampoo.

One batch will last from 2-3 weeks if kept refrigerated. It will last a shorter period of time if kept at room temperature. Depending on the length and thickness of your hair, the mixture will provide several after shampoo applications. Remember to take special care because in undiluted form, the final liquid will dye any materials it comes into contact with. This means it can stain your hands, your skin and any clothes or other materials. Apply this mixture in the shower and wash off immediately.

Summary
Will this recipe turn you into a Meg Ryan, Pamela Anderson or Heather Locklear? Probably not. Will it work better than just some lemon juice squirted onto your hair? Definitely. There are some downside to this recipe. It takes time, you have to gather all the flowers and herbs and you have to make the mixture. It can easily stain skin or clothes and is messy. The up side is that it is all natural, it saves you from the expense of a professional salon and it may even be fun to experiment.


Rhubarb Hair Color- In the last years of the 16th century, the Italian artist Titian popularized a red-blond hair color in his paintings. Venetian women who wanted to achieve the color applied mixtures of alum, sulfur, soda, and rhubarb to their hair and sat in the sun to let it dry. Here's a simpler recipe for bright highlights in fair hair. 3/4 ounce rhubarb root
4 cups pure water
Simmer rhubarb root in water in a covered nonmetal pot for one hour. After cooling and filtering out solids, apply to the hair as a final rinse, pouring the liquid through again and again. Effects are permanent warm/bright overtones. Red wine may be used instead of water for a warmer tone.


Blonde Boost & Condition- Adds deep conditioning and warm hues to blonde hair. Please see the chart at the end of this document for what color this may give on your natural hair color.
1 TB body art quality henna
2 TB cassia obovata
2 TB chamomile powder (open up 1 chamomile tea bag)
Mix powdered ingredients into a paste using lemon juice and/or chamomile tea as a liquid. Cover and place somewhere warm until you see dye release. The color of the paste may look darker. Mix the paste with 1C yogurt or conditioner, wrap hair in saran wrap and allow it to sit for 2 hours. Rinse and condition.


Blonde Restorative- To restore hair that was once blonde.
10 grams licorice root
10 grams oat straw
1 pinch saffron
To restore hair that was once blonde, mix 10 grams of licorice root with 10 grams of oat straw, add a pinch of saffron. Cover with water and boil to make an infusion. Strain and use as a rinse after shampooing. It should be allowed to soak into the hair and NOT rinsed out.

Chamomile Tea Rinse- Chamomile is probably the most popular herbal hair colorant among blonds. A weekly rinse with this herb tea will also remedy the brown streaking that results from overexposure to the sun, and brighten "dishwater blond" hair.
½ C chamomile flowers
1 quart boiling water
To prepare a chamomile rinse, steep half a cup of the flowers in a quart of boiling water for half an hour. Then strain the mixture, and let it cool while you shampoo. Now, pour the brew through your towel-dried hair at least 15 times (catching it in a basin each time, in order to use it again). Wring the excess moisture out and leave the solution in your hair for a half an hour before rinsing it out with clear water. Just about any yellow-blossomed flower or herb can be used on blond hair, including calendula (pot marigold), mullein blooms and leaves, yellow broom flowers, saffron, turmeric, and quassia chips.

Rhubarb Rinse- Adds honey gold tones to blonde or light brown hair.
4 TB rhubarb root
3 C hot water
Pour three cups of hot water over four tablespoons of chopped rhubarb root, and simmer the concoction for 20 minutes. Strain and pour it through your freshly shampooed hair 15 or more times, catching the rinse in a bowl and reusing it. Rinse in clear water and again, weather permitting, dry it in the sun to strengthen the effect of the dyeing agent.

ktani’s Gray to Light Blonde Catnip Rinse- Gives a light blonde color to gray or white hair.
1 level tsp organic cut and sifted catnip
250 mL ( ~ little more than 1 C) water
Put catnip into a heat resistant large mug and add boiling water. Cover and steep for 30 mins. Deactivate it by straining it into a second large mug and always tap the condensation from the cover - I use a saucer, into the cup or mug - it contains the volatile oils and cover again. When cooled strain into plastic bottle - if made in advance will keep up to a week or longer in the fridge. Wash your hair then work the catnip through and cover with a plastic bag or shower cap. Leave on 30 minutes then rinse. If you like condition afterwards - I do not - it is not necessary - catnip conditions as well. I do my hair twice sort of - I wash with my hair forward in the shower so I do the back, sides and length, pin it up, cover 30 minutes. Then take down and do the front, top and sides and cover for another 30 min. with the length out of the bag. Then I take the bag off and let it "cool" down and use some more on my extra grey parts for another 10 min or so before rinsing it all out. Result - no grey/white showing at all. Color - light blonde - catnip produces a light yellow dye or stain. Does not stain tub, shower, hands, scalp or fingernails. I do this every time I wash my hair - time consuming but extremely worth it.


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Recipes for Enhancing Red Hair & Copper Tones

Henna
- There is a lot of information on henna and its various mixes at www.hennaforhair.com, or this article by phedre. Because of the extent of that resource we won’t be addressing anything but the most basic color here. . For information dealing specifically with henna, please see the article Expressions with Henna- Coloring Hair Naturally. Henna stains hair red to copper orange depending on the color it is applied to. Please see the chart at the end of this document for what color this may give on your natural hair color. It is strong and permanent, use with caution.
100 grams body art quality henna
1 splash lemon juice
Warm water (not boiling)
Mix together until a yogurt-like consistency and then let it sit until dye release (identifiable by the top of the henna paste turning brown. Place a small dot on the inside of your wrist for 30 seconds. If it leaves a pale orange spot, the dye is ready). Cover hair with the paste and cover with a plastic shower cap or saran wrap. Place a warm hat on to keep it warm. Leave on for a minimum of 2 hours for a lighter stain, or as long as overnight for a deeper color.

Fia’s Henna Gloss- For minimal color change and deep conditioning.
2-3 TB henna powder
Enough lemon/lime juice to mix a smooth paste
Your favorite conditioner or plain, unsweetened yogurt
Mix the henna powder with lemon/lime juice to a smooth paste and let this stand until you see dye release. Mix the henna paste with either your favorite conditioner or plain yogurt. Apply to dry or damp hair, wrap in plastic wrap, and leave on for as long as you wish. Rinse as you'd rinse out a regular conditioner. This one is easy to apply and rinse, as it's basically conditioner or yogurt with just a hint of henna dye in it. It's good as either a color refresher in between regular henna applications or if you only wish to have a very subtle color change. It will give reddish hints on blonde and light brown hair. You may see some reddish highlights on medium brown, but probably not too much. On dark brown/black hair you'll only get the conditioning benefits from the conditioner/henna.

Marigold Hair Color- For red lights in blonde or brown hair.
1/3 C crushed marigold flowers
2 ½ C water
Simmer flowers in water in a nonmetal pot for 20 minutes. Remove from heat; strain when cool, saving the liquid. After washing hair, apply the marigold decoction as a final rinse, pouring it over the hair and catching it in a basin to reapply several times. (Red wine may be added to the liquid to intensify the effect.) Allow hair to dry naturally in the sun, if possible. Repeat the rinsing process with subsequent shampoos until you achieve the desired shade.

Carrot Rinse- Red hair often fades as we age. It loses the bright, rich red tones. This recipe will add bright tones and also camouflage a few gray hairs. It can also be used to warm up brown hair.
2 large carrots
Distilled water
Cut 2 large carrots into pieces. Put them into 2 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Allow the solution to simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove the carrots. (Serve them for dinner with butter and seasoning.) Then use the water to pour over and saturate your dry hair. Wrap your hair in plastic wrap or cover it with a plastic bag and wait about 20 minutes. Rinse well and condition.

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Recipes for Enhancing Brunette Hair & Deepening Tones

Walnut Hull Dye- A very dark, sable-colored dye can be obtained from walnut hulls. Requires substantial preparation.
¼ C Walnut hulls (or preground black walnut hull powder)
20 oz. distilled water
To prepare the dark juice, first crush the hulls in a mortar (or use your preground hulls) and cover them with boiling water and a pinch of salt. Cover and let them "soak" for three days. Then add three cups of boiling water and simmer the hulls in a nonmetal container for five hours (replacing the water as it steams away). Strain off the liquid, place the walnut hulls in a cloth sack, and twist it tightly to wring out all remaining juice. Finally, return the expressed liquid to the pot and reduce it—by boiling to about a quarter of its original volume. The resulting brew can then be used to whip up a rich walnut dye, as follows.

Add a teaspoon of ground cloves or allspice to the prepared extract. Allow the dye mixture to steep in the refrigerator for about a week (shaking it frequently during that time). When it is ready for use, strain the liquid using a piece of cheesecloth and pour it at least 15 times through freshly shampooed hair. Saturate hair and wrap in saran wrap. Let sit for a few hours, and rinse thoroughly.

Henndigo- A mix of henna and indigo. Gives a deep brown with a touch of burgundy. Works best on brunette shades. . For information dealing specifically with henna, please see the article Expressions with Henna- Coloring Hair Naturally. Please see the chart at the end of this document for what color this may give on your natural hair color.
40% Body art quality henna
60% Pure indigo powder
3TB Amla powder
Apple cider vinegar
Mix the henna up, using a splash of ACV and then warm water (or coffee or black tea) until it is the consistency of pancake batter. Allow for dye release (the top layer of the henna will turn dark). In a separate bowl prepare the indigo by mixing the powder with warm water and allow it to sit for 5 minutes as you prepare the amla. In a small dish mix the amla with water and microwave for 25 seconds. Mix the henna paste, indigo paste and amla paste together, blend well. Wrap your hair up on top of your head in saran wrap; let sit for 3-4 hours. Rinse well and condition.

Sage or Tag Alder Bark Rinse- Helps to deepen the hues of brunette hair, may help blend in grays.
1 handful sage herb
1 quart water
or
1 ounce tag alder bark
1 quart water
A sage rinse can be made by steeping a handful of the dried herb in a quart of boiling water for 30 minutes (longer, if you want a darker tint). Cool the infusion, strain it, and pour it through freshly shampooed hair 15 or more times. Then wait ten minutes before washing the liquid out with clear cool water. Because a sage rinse is a progressive dye, you'll have to apply it weekly until you produce the shade you want and then continue using it once a month to maintain that color.
Tag alder bark is another popular hair darkening botanical, but it generally produces a lighter tone than sage, so it's best when used to darken blond hair or to cover gray in locks that are light to medium brown. To make a tag alder rinse, simmer an ounce of bark chips in a quart of water for about half an hour then cool and use it exactly as you would the sage rinse.

Potato Rinse- Helps to deepen the hues of brown hair
1 unpeeled potato
Cook an unpeeled potato in boiling water. Cool slightly. Dip a pastry brush or cotton ball in the cooking water, cover and saturate hair, being careful not to get any on skin. Leave on hair for 20 minutes then rinse out.

Molasses Treatment- Helps tone down brassiness and highlights in brunettes.
1 TB molasses
20 oz. distilled water
Mix into a spray bottle and shake. Spray hair until damp and comb through hair. Let sit for a few hours, rinse.

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Recipes for Enhancing Black Hair & Raven Tones[font=Garamond]

Henna + Indigo Two Step Process- More effective in getting black than a single-step process. As with the henna portion there is lots of information on www.hennaforhair.com, so we will not go into an exhaustive process, just the basics. . For information dealing specifically with henna, please see the article Expressions with Henna- Coloring Hair Naturally. Please see the chart at the end of this document for what color this may give on your natural hair color.
100g body art quality henna (or as much or as little as it takes to cover your head)

100g indigo (or as much or as little as it takes to cover your head)
Mix up the henna with enough black tea of coffee to make a paste. Allow for dye release (the top layer of henna will turn dark), and apply to head. Allow to sit for 2-3 hours. Then mix up indigo with water and apply to hair immediately. Indigo dye demises very quickly. Wrap hair in saran wrap and leave on for 2 hours. Rinse and condition.
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Other Color Enhancing Ingredients- Special thanks to RedJezebel for getting a great list together the first list of color-altering ingredients.


Gold/Blonde Enhancers- Most effective on blondes and light brown starting colors
  • Annatto Seeds: Full range of yellows from deep golden, golden to pale. Annatoo is used as a food coloring for cheese and butter. (Do not boil. Soak seeds and then crush with a potato masher or food processor.)
  • Ash (innerbark)
  • Barberry (any part of plant): yellow orange
  • Beetroot: yellow
  • Burdock
  • Calendula (Marigold) Flowers: Mid to pale yellows
  • Cameleon plant: golden
  • Catnip: light yellow colors
  • Celery (leaves)
  • Chamomile- pale golden yellow
  • Dandelion flower
  • Fenugreek Powder or Seeds: Range of yellows
  • Fustic: Pale to darker yellows
  • Ginger Powder or Roots: Soft Yellow orange
  • Goldenrod Powder (flowers): Mid Yellows
  • Hickory leaves: yellow if plenty of leaves are boiled and salt added.
  • Honey: May also lighten chemical dyes
  • Irish Moss
  • Lemon
  • Lichen: gold
  • Licorice Root
  • Marsh Marigolds
  • Mullen(leaf and root): pale yellow. *careful, because the little fuzzy hairs can make one itchy!
  • Oat Straw
  • Onion (Skins): Pale yellow to light brown
  • Osage Orange also known as Bois d'arc or hedgeapple (heartwood, inner bark, wood, shavings or sawdust): yellow
  • Queen Anne's Lace
  • Ragweed
  • Red Clover (whole blossom, leaves and stem): Gold.
  • Rhubarb: Permanent warm/bright overtones
  • Rose Hips: pale yellow
  • Safflower Powder: Pale to Golden yellows
  • Sassafras (leaves)
  • St. Johnswort (flowers)
  • Sunflower (flowers)
  • Sunlight
  • Syrian Rue:yellow (glows under black light!)
  • Tansy: Range of yellows (may be toxic, research before use)
  • Tea ( ecru color)
  • Tulip Trees (leaves)
  • Turmeric: Bright golden yellow, use with caution, may appear yellow/green in some cases.
  • Weld: bright yellow
  • Willow (leaves)
  • Yellow Broom: Pale Yellows
  • Yellow cone flower (whole flower head): Brass to Greeney-Brass.

Copper Red Enhancers
- Most effective on blondes through medium brown starting colors
  • Alder Bark: coppery orange
  • Bloodroot: orange to reddish orange color.
  • Brazilwood Dust: Reds to orangish/reds
  • Carrot Juice/ Carrot EO
  • Giant Coreopsis (Coreopsis gigantea): bright orange
  • Hibiscus
  • Paprika Powder: Deep orangish red
  • Red Rooibos Tea
  • Rosehips
  • Saffron
  • Tomato Extract

True Red Enhancers
- Most effective on blonde through brown starting colors.
  • Alkanet root- releases its dye in oil (not in water) so it's a little unusual in that way,
  • Beet Juice
  • Beets Root Powder: True (cool) red
  • Buckeye husks: Reddish Brown
  • Chokecherries
  • Cranberry Juice
  • Henna
  • Madder Root: Red to Red/Browns sometimes oranges (Do not boil. Soak instead)
  • Red Wine (warning-can be drying)
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Rose (hips)
  • Wild Cherry Bark

Brunette Enhancers
- Most effective various brown starting colors.
  • Acorns(boiled)
  • Amla
  • Black Walnut Hull Powder: Dark golden browns
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Coffee grinds
  • Coffee: Deep Golden Brown
  • Cutch: Light to mid range of browns
  • Ivy Berries
  • Juniper Bark: medium brown
  • Juniper berries
  • Juniper Mistletoe: light brown
  • Molasses
  • Oak bark: tan or oak color.
  • Parsley
  • Potato
  • Raspberry
  • Red Sandalwood: Range of browns
  • Rosemary
  • Sage: Deep brown
  • Sagebrush: light brownish orange
  • Wild plum root: reddish or rusty brown.
Ebony Enhancers/ Darkening - Most effective on dark brown to black starting colors.
  • Alder Bark: black
  • Bhringra
  • Black Tea
  • Blackberry Shoots: black
  • Coffee
  • Dock Root: black
  • Elder Bark: black
  • Gipsywort: black
  • Indigo Powder: Deep blue black
  • Juniper
  • Lavender
  • Meadowsweet (whole plant): back
  • Nettle
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Sesame
  • Shikaki
  • Sumac(leaves)
  • Waterlily Root: black
  • Yellow Iris Root: blue/black
Green-
  • Plantain (leaves and roots)
  • Nettle (roots, stalk, leaves)
  • Spinach (leaves)
  • Black-Eyed Susans
  • Grass: yellow green
  • Plantain Roots
  • Barberry root: greenish bronze-gold
  • Red onion (skin): a medium green, lighter than forest green
  • Coltsfoot

Blue
  • Cherry (roots): blue/violet
  • Woad: pale to mid blue color. See Woad Experiments for what color was produced on mohair.
  • Blueberries
  • Japanese indigo: deep blue

Purple
-
  • Blackberry: strong purple
  • Elderberries
  • Black Raspberries
  • Grapes
  • Pokeweed berries: reddish purple
  • Red Cedar Root: purple
  • Red Maple Tree (inner bark): purple
  • Elderberries: lavender
  • Grapes: purple
  • Mulberries: royal purple
  • Red cabbage: bright reddish purple
  • Daylilies (old blooms)
Mohair Strand Tests- Using mohair, which is close to human hair and white, these are some of the color results of various herbs that have been mixed with powdered herbs and left to sit for one hour. Note that many of the staines are light and would need repeated application for color to build up.












__________________________________________________

The Color Chart- This information is sent out when you order henna from
Catherine at www.hennaforhair.com last time I ordered. This should give your what your end hair color will be when using various combinations of henna, cassia and indigo. Again, there's TONs of methods of mixing and dye release and how long you leave the goop on your head, so please use this chart only as a guide.


__________________________________________________

Premixed Natural Dyes

Be wary of some “natural dyes”. Often these are “henna compounds” which means that metallic salts have been added to boost the color in a certain direction. These metallic salts can cause disastrous results if chemical colors are done on the hair later on, or even prior to the application of the natural dye. Always research any product’s ingredients’ thoroughly and strand test. Many natural dyes are not regulated to packaging standards and will not list all of the ingredients.

Morocco Method Henna- Natural colors coming from a blend of henna, cassia, and indigo. http://www.morroccomethod.com/henna.shtml

Lush Henna Haircoloring Products – Blocks of color-enhancing herbs. http://www2.lush.com/cgi-bin/lushdb/catzoom.html?mv_arg=Hair%20Hennas

Logona Herbal Hair Colors– 100% Natural hair coloring (UK Site). http://www.logona.co.uk/herbalcolour.html

Surya Henna Creams – Mild, organic, nonmetallic hair colors are added to ensure desired color. Rinses out after 7 - 10 washings. http://www.naturalhairdye.com/color/surya/index.html

Lustrous Henna - Natural colors available in red, brown, burgundy and light brown. http://www.amaherbal.com/about_lustrous_henna.html

Jason Naturals- Color enhancing shampoos and clear sealing conditioner (has cones). http://www.folica.com/Jason_Color_Enh_d1213.html

__________________________________________________

Sources

Complied from various places all over the net, and edited for consistency and clarity.

Last edited by Nightshade : April 30th, 2007 at 07:41 AM.
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Old October 3rd, 2006, 09:56 AM   #2
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Re: Hair Coloring with Herbs, Plants & Other Natural Ingredients

Nightshade - just wanted to say this is an incredible list. I've been playing with many of these herbs to darken my hair and while not as effective as a dye, much more hair-friendly! Thanks a lot!
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Old October 3rd, 2006, 10:33 AM   #3
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Re: Hair Coloring with Herbs, Plants & Other Natural Ingredients

Thank you!

I spent a bit of time working on it, so I'm glad it's at least somewhat useful
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Old October 3rd, 2006, 10:52 AM   #4
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Re: Hair Coloring with Herbs, Plants & Other Natural Ingredients

Nightshade, Thanks for the information. Great to see all information in one place
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Old October 3rd, 2006, 10:58 AM   #5
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Re: Hair Coloring with Herbs, Plants & Other Natural Ingredients

Nightshade, I can see a lot of effort went into this article, thank you.

I just want to add a note of caution for blondes. I have tried many of the herbs listed above and have NOT had good results.

Turmeric, rhubarb, and chamomile did not lighten my blonde hair, they made it darker.

Apple cider vinegar and marigold/calendula do not lighten my blonde hair, they turn it red.

Henna cannot lighten hair, it can only darken hair; and it is permanent; if you want blonde but get red, your only alternative is to grow the hair out.

Using a test patch of shed hair or "under the canopy" hair may not give realistic results; my blonde hair is many different shades of blonde, and lighter on top. What might lighten the "under" hair could be darkening to the canopy hair.

No doubt other people's experiences will vary, just passing along my own experience. For my blonde hair, I would approach any of these herbs with extreme caution, unless I wanted brown or red coloring in my blonde.
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Old October 3rd, 2006, 11:02 AM   #6
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Re: Hair Coloring with Herbs, Plants & Other Natural Ingredients

Elyce, thank you for the warnings As a redhead/brunette under all that henna, your firsthand experience may well save someone a lot of hassle
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Old October 3rd, 2006, 03:16 PM   #7
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Re: Hair Coloring with Herbs, Plants & Other Natural Ingredients

Wow, thanks for posting this, Nightshade! It's definitely going into my bookmarks.
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Old October 5th, 2006, 01:35 PM   #8
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Re: Hair Coloring with Herbs, Plants & Other Natural Ingredients

Great article, Nightshade! I think I'll have to buy some coffee and sage to try and darken my roots soon.
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Old October 9th, 2006, 08:06 AM   #9
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Re: Hair Coloring with Herbs, Plants & Other Natural Ingredients

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elyce
Nightshade, I can see a lot of effort went into this article, thank you.

I just want to add a note of caution for blondes. I have tried many of the herbs listed above and have NOT had good results.

Turmeric, rhubarb, and chamomile did not lighten my blonde hair, they made it darker.

Apple cider vinegar and marigold/calendula do not lighten my blonde hair, they turn it red.

Henna cannot lighten hair, it can only darken hair; and it is permanent; if you want blonde but get red, your only alternative is to grow the hair out.

Using a test patch of shed hair or "under the canopy" hair may not give realistic results; my blonde hair is many different shades of blonde, and lighter on top. What might lighten the "under" hair could be darkening to the canopy hair.

No doubt other people's experiences will vary, just passing along my own experience. For my blonde hair, I would approach any of these herbs with extreme caution, unless I wanted brown or red coloring in my blonde.

I added this warning in the article Thanks again!
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Old October 16th, 2006, 08:51 PM   #10
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Re: Hair Coloring with Herbs, Plants & Other Natural Ingredients

Just another comment about turmeric: I've used it twice and it can actually go a little green. It fades, but under certain lighting you can see that the yellow heading more towards greenish yellow. I used a mix of turmeric and paprika and did not get any red.

*Goes off to shampoo hair to get rid of the green tint*
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Old October 17th, 2006, 05:36 AM   #11
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Re: Hair Coloring with Herbs, Plants & Other Natural Ingredients

Quote:
Originally Posted by Birchbark
Just another comment about turmeric: I've used it twice and it can actually go a little green. It fades, but under certain lighting you can see that the yellow heading more towards greenish yellow. I used a mix of turmeric and paprika and did not get any red.

*Goes off to shampoo hair to get rid of the green tint*

oh my, I hope everything turns out okay I added the warning in the article
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Old October 17th, 2006, 10:04 AM   #12
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Thumbs up Re: Hair Coloring with Herbs, Plants & Other Natural Ingredients

I just wanted to say that this is a very nice article!

In addition, here is my 2c on chamomile on blonde hair- It darkens (and enhances yellow tones) in my hair at first, but over repeated uses and once it is well washed out it does seem to have an overall lightening effect!

Oh, and I did once use Tumeric to dye a white cotton shirt- results were BRIGHT yellow- I don't think that I would use this EVER on my hair unless I was going for a punky effect... of course, some might be going for that ;-)

Thank you again for your lovely article!
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Old October 17th, 2006, 02:32 PM   #13
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Re: Hair Coloring with Herbs, Plants & Other Natural Ingredients

It's a nice sunflower yellow now, after washing. It takes much more strongly on the dyed parts of my hair, naturally. I caught it in some bad light and was really surprised.
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Old October 17th, 2006, 06:28 PM   #14
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Re: Hair Coloring with Herbs, Plants & Other Natural Ingredients

I'm glad to hear the green tint is gone You could post some pics you know
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Old October 19th, 2006, 02:58 PM   #15
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Re: Hair Coloring with Herbs, Plants & Other Natural Ingredients

As someone who's struggled to understand henna, indigo and other natural hair-coloring I just can't thank you enough for all this information.

I've finally started to "get" henna and indigo (it's amazing what thoroughly reading the directions can do!!) but your information will save me months of time experimenting.

Thanks so much for the hours and hours you must have spent putting this together.
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