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Hair dyes come in all shades, both natural and unnatural. And dye is like food – if you can’t pronounce the ingredients, it might be best to just say no. Sometimes people can have life-altering allergic reactions to dyes, while others simply see the effects of monthly touch-ups every day. The results can be anything from damaged hair to loss of hair, and that’s because the peroxide needed to dye hair literally destroys the existing, natural colour. It’s stripped clean off. You also need to lift the cuticle in order to get to the hair in the first place, which isn’t something hair naturally does at all.

But if you do want to achieve a new colour in a safe and cost effective way, then we’ve got six tips that are going to change your hair forever:

Walnuts

Black walnuts rub off on everything. If you touch a black walnut, it will stain your hands and everything in sight. It might be annoying, but it’ll darken your hair. Either steep a few teaspoons of black walnut powder with boiling water for a few hours, or crush up the hulls yourself and cover with boiling water for three days. The longer you let it soak and steep, the darker the colour. Apply, rinse and voila.

Cost:

$15 for a pound. A pound will last you a very long time, since there are approximately 80 teaspoons in one pound, and you may, at most, need to do this once a week.

Dye for:

Dark brown or black (if you’re a blonde, test on a small segment of hair before going for the full ‘do)

black-walnut-hull

Chamomile Tea

Mmm, a hot cup of chamomile tea can sometimes be the cure to whatever ails you. But it’s also super effective for lightening hair. Using 100 per cent pure chamomile tea bags, steep them for an hour and then let cool. Shampoo your hair, and then rinse with your cooled tea mixture. This will gradually lighten hair, but it will take a few tries if you want to go to a very light blonde. Don’t be thrown if it doesn’t reach a desired hue on the first go! Best results if you let it set overnight.

Cost:

$3 for 20 bags.

Dye for:

Anyone looking to lighten up
chamomile

Beets and Carrots

No, you’re not dunking your head in a bowl of borscht. Although, that would be delicious. Instead, you can use the juices of beets or carrots to make colours more pronounced. The entire process will set you back an hour (that’s how long you should let the dyes sit), but the outcome helps reds stay their reddest, and for people with light hair, it’ll add a nice strawberry tinge to your look.

Cost:

Just save some of the juice you’re already drinking and you won’t even notice.

Dye for:

Reds, oranges or amplifying blondes

juices

Sage

Sage isn’t just for turkey stuffing and Thanksgiving dinner. You can use sage leaves (or sage tea) to dye your hair, too. Steep the leaves or tea bags for at least one hour, and then rinse hair with the solution. The longer you steep, the darker the outcome.

Cost:

$6.50 for sage tea, a few bucks for fresh sage (or maybe you have it in your garden, in which case it’s basically free)

Dye for:

Natural brunettes looking to darken their colour, or those looking to cover up greys

sage-body

Black coffee or tea

For the most dramatic transformation, this technique will really change lighter hair. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t effective for people with darker hues like brown or black. In fact, using strong black coffee or tea is a stain, so it will darken dark and light hair. Brew an extra-strong pot of black coffee, and then let it sit until cooled (you can place in the fridge to speed up the process). If you’re working with black tea, steep 1 or more bags for at least an hour. The more tea bags, the stronger it is. To apply, shampoo hair and then rinse with your new solution. You can rinse this out immediately or leave in overnight. Repeat steps until you’ve reached the darkness you’re after.

Coffee:

If what you have is good enough to drink, it’s good enough for your hair. The beauty of natural dying is that you probably already have the materials at home.

Dye for:

Every kind of hair

black-tea

Lemons

There is a natural way to bleach your hair, but it will take longer than your average day at the salon. That method is lemons and their lovely acid. You should know that this works over several applications, so do not expect a quick fix. But you can help speed up the process by exposing your lemony hair to the sun. (If you’re looking to become an instant Kim K, then your best bet is to try something else.) Either cut a lemon in half and rub the citrus fruit on your head, or, if you don’t want to look silly, paint the juice of lemons onto the areas you want to lighten. Just remember to let it sit and dry before attempting to rinse, or else it won’t really do much of anything.

Costs:

Just wait until lemons go on sale, and you could probably get three or four for about two bucks.

Dye for:

Anyone looking to slowly strip their hair of colour

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