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Natural hair colouring - All you need to know

Indeed, conventional hair dyes contain dangerous ingredients that can harm your scalp, hair, overall health and lungs (yes – we are breathing in all the chemicals whilst reading a newspaper at the hairdresser). That is why, similarly to skincare products, it is better to make a healthier and all-natural choice that is to opt for plant-based hair coloration. Used by more and more women, natural hair dyes are now available in many shades to beautify your hair without harming it. Follow our guide to learn more about these non-toxic hair dyes.

Plant-based hair dye: what is it?

Before digging in to application and different varieties, let’s focus on the basics. What is a natural hair dye? As opposed to chemical colouring which usually contain a very irritating paraphenylenediamine (PPD), plant-based dyes contain powders from leaves, roots, bark, berries, fruits or seeds of plants, amongst other natural ingredients. One of the most popular natural hair dyes include henna, which is a powder obtained from drying of the leaves of the Lawsonia Inermis shrub. Other natural hair colorants include indigo, walnut, rhapontic and amla. The last 2 are also Ayurvedic plants, traditionally used in India. Precisely dosed, each of these natural dyes makes it possible to obtain beautiful natural shades, cover grey hair and to highlight the reflections of the colours.

In addition to changing the colour of the hair, natural hair dyes also nourish and revitalise them. Chemical hair dyes remove the scales of hair fibre because of ammonia and hydrogen peroxide. The dyes then penetrate the hair and change its natural colour permanently. This is called oxidation. In plant dyes, on the other hand, the dyes only cover the surface of the hair and stick to the outer part of hair’s keratin. Therefore, they don’t change the pH of the hair or destroy the melanin. On the contrary, plant-dyes wrap the hair with a protective barrier leaving it shiny and healthy.

Now you know that natural colouring has many advantages, but if you want to get started – it’s important to follow certain steps described below.

How to colour your hair naturally at home?

Plant-based hair dyes come in a wide range of colours, shades, reflections ... They are used on blond hair, light brown, dark brown to brown, red hair and white hair, whether smooth or frizzy.

However, as natural hair dyes do not contain hydrogen peroxide, you have to know that they won’t lighten your hair colour. They will revive, darken and cover grey hair but you can’t change your hair from brown to blonde using all-natural hair dye. They can, however, make your blonde hair shiny and with natural reflections.

To obtain the desired colour, it is important to know how to mix and apply the different natural dyes.

The choice of ingredients

If you decide to make your own blend of natural dyes, you need to use high-quality ingredients. Henna, like all dyeing plants, can have great differences in quality. The most popular hennas are:

- Egyptian henna: the clearest henna, copper-orange highlights

- Rajasthan’s henna: red-brown-red hues

- Yemen's red henna: coppery-red-brown hues

The above hennas are obtained from Lawsonia Inermis. There exist also a transparent henna, which will not colour your hair but rather clean, strengthen and revive it. This type of henna comes from Cassia Obovata.

When selecting the best henna for you, always check if you are buying pure henna. Some products with henna contain metal salts (especially lead) to intensify the colour. Avoid such additives to enjoy an all-natural hair colouring experience! Once you have your plant-based hair dye chosen, get ready to prepare your colouring paste.

How to prepare your natural hair colouring paste?

Similarly to conventional coloring, the plant-based coloring is in the form of a paste that you will have to make by mixing henna powder (and / or other dyeing plants) and water. The first step is to determine how much powder you will need to use, which depends on the length of your hair. In general, count:

- 50 g for the roots

- 100 g for short hair

- 150 g for medium length hair

- 250 g for long hair

Add a little more quantity if you have very thick or frizzy hair.

You will also need hot water (50 ° C – 70 ° C). We recommend using 300ml of water per 100g of hair dye powder. Use wooden or glass utensils (bowl, spoon) and never metal ones. Mix your powder with water in a bowl to obtain a paste. Its consistency shall be not to thick, not to runny and without lumps.

How to choose your ready-made natural hair dye?

Instead of making your own combination of hair dyes, you can use a ready-made hair dye powders which you simply need to mix with water. They are usually composed of several plants to obtain the perfect colour. However, pay attention to so-called “plant colouring” that actually contain metal salts, parabens, PEG ... Always check the INCI list on the packaging to identify any questionable ingredients.

Some brands like La Saponaria, offer only 100% natural hair, vegan hair dyes that are free from ammonia, metal salts and other chemical additives. Composed of just henna and Ayurvedic plants, they are perfect for pregnant and breastfeeding women. In addition, the choice of colours is wide and varied: you should not have trouble finding the colour you need!

- chestnut for a deep, elegant and warm brown colour

- dark brown for an intense dark brown colour

- blond to perfectly cover grey hair and give blond hair magnificent golden highlights

- mahogany for a beautiful dark brown with red highlights that perfectly covers the grey / white hair

- copper for wonderfully warm hair with coppery highlights

- pomegranate for hair with intense red pigment

- hazelnut for a delicate hazel colour of hair and a beautiful deep colour.

Discover the range of La Saponaria natural hair dyes on J'adore bio!

How to apply natural hair dye?

Once your natural paste is ready, you will have to apply it on your hair. Remember to wear clothes/towel that you are not afraid to stain! Wear gloves and place a towel on your shoulders when applying the hair dye at home. Apply your paste on dry and combed hair from roots to ends covering all hair. Once all hair is covered, massage the past into your hair and cover it with a shower cap or a towel. Leave it on for 1 to 3 hours depending on the intensity of the desired colour. After that, rinse your hair for a long time until the water is clear.

The final result of your natural colouring will be visible after 4 to 5 days once the plant-based ingredients set onto your hair. 

Errors to avoid when dying your hair naturally

Have you ever heard the horror stories of someone’s hair turning green after henna? We have listed the most common errors people make when using natural hair dyes. Avoid them and you will enjoy a beautiful colour on your hair for a long time!

Errors to avoid:

1. Do not apply henna to hair that was bleached or chemically coloured in the last 2 months. You have to wait until the chemical components rinse off as otherwise, your plant-based hair dye may create some unwanted reflections.

2. Do not use metal utensils or containers when preparing your natural hair coloration: metal can cause oxidation of the henna and it won’t colour your hair.

3. Do not wash your hair for 3-4 days after the coloration: this is important to make sure that natural pigments have enough time to stick to your hair.

4. Another very common mistake is not to make a preliminary test: even if it is a plant coloration, it is impossible to predict how your skin will react to those ingredients. That is why it’s best to choose a hair lock that is not visible and apply a small dose of the hair dye paste for some time (e.g. 1,5 h) and check if there is no allergic reaction.


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