Making Herbal Hair Dyes

I know most of you are aware of herbal hair dyes, mainly because you have heard of henna rinses which have become sort of the commercial standard. Henna is a herbal rinse and has all the qualities of herbs except when it’s manufactured with added chemicals and fragrances that make it toxic and harsh. You can make your own henna rinse at home that costs a lot less and is a lot more safe. In fact, any color of herbal dye you make yourself not only saves you money but puts you in control of your hair in a way you cannot imagine. When you use a commercial product you are stuck with full throttle color all at once that leaves your hair in shock. Frizzy, burned out hair is often the result. Too much color, too little color, spotty color, are all possible problems that can’t be resolved easily. Who wants to color over color over color until they get the right color, when the cumulative effects of all these treatments spells disaster for your hair.

But how about using herb based dyes you can mix up yourself for very little money and rinsing as often and as deeply as you like, gaining hair color as you rinse and only going as far as you want to? The more you rinse, the darker the rinse becomes so that over time you can control your level of hair color as you work with the various dyes. And over time this does not damage, dry out or shock your hair. No more blue frizzies or orange frays. No more streaky hair with gray that didn’t take mixed with hair that took too much. You can just rinse and rinse every night, twice a day, as often as you like, gaining more color as you do so and then stopping when it’s good enough. Washing over time will take it back out. Imagine this kind of control. It’s actually a real pleasure once you try it. So I thought I’d share some of my favorite herbal dye recipes that you can mix up and try. Remember, with herbal dyes, if you make a mistake you won’t need color remover. Just wash and wait. It will lessen in color over a short period of time or you can rinse over rinse until you find what it is you really want. So are you ready to try it?

If, after you read this post, you still have questions or would like to get more recipes for dyeing hair with herbs, then you should check out my newest ebook, “How to Dye Your Hair With Herbs- A Complete Guide”. This book covers every detail of the process and includes tons of new recipes. To read more about it, CLICK HERE.

Here are the recipes. Along with each are instructions and hints to help you with the process.

Herbal Mixes to Lighten Blond Hair

This rinse will slightly lighten blond hair to the next lighter shade or intensify blond highlights already present in the hair. This will not lighten brown shades to blond. The effects are never dramatic but become more and more apparent when used several times.

Simple Blond Rinse

2 tbsp fresh or 1 tbsp dried Chamomile Flowers
2 tbsp fresh or 1 tbsp dried Marigold Flowers
2 tbsp fresh or 1 tbsp dried Mullein Flowers
2 tbsp fresh Lemon Juice

Put the flowers together in a bowl. Boil 2 cups of water and pour over the flowers and cover the bowl. Leave these to infuse for 30 minutes. Srain out the herbs and stir in the Lemon Juice right before using. Pour over the hair and leave as a soak. Using this as a daily rinse when washing the hair will dramatically lighten the blond highlights in your hair, more and more with each use.

Blond Dye Paste

This mix is close to the cream on hair color you are used to using in the commercial products. This will have a stronger, faster effect than the rinse.

2 tbsp fresh or 1 tbsp dried Chamomile Flowers
2 tbsp fresh or 1 tbsp dried Marigold Flowers
2 tbsp fresh or 1 tbsp dried Mullein Flowers
1 tbsp fresh Hollyhock Flowers
Kaolin Powder

Put these flowers into a bowl. Boil 2 cups of water and pour over the flowers. Cover the bowl and allow to steep for 30 minutes. Strain out the herbs from the water and discard. Remove one quarter cup of the liquid and mix it to a paste using the powdered Kaolin. Judge by the eye if there is enough for as much hair as you have. For long hair or very thick hair, you may have to make twice as much. Simply double the ingredients and use 1/2 cup of water instead.

Once it is a manageable paste, take both the paste and the remaining liquid into the shower or over the sink. Make successive partings over your head, applying the paste evenly as you go. Leave this mix on for at least 30 minutes then rinse off with the remaining rinse water. Do this a few times and the change in hair color will be dramatic.

Herbal Mixes For Darker Hair

These mixes can be used either to darken brown hair, to darken light brown or blond hair or to enhance highlights in already dark hair. The effects are progressive, allowing you to control just how dark you wish your hair to be.

Simple Dark Hair Rinse

2 tbsp fresh or 1 tbsp Dried Sage Leaf
2 tbsp fresh or 1 tbsp Dried Rosemary Leaf
2 cups of strong Black Tea

Put the herbs into a bowl. Pour the hot, boiling tea over the herbs and cover the bowl. Allow to sit for 30 minutes. Strain out the herbs and pour over your head after washing. Leave it soak before drying off. This will darken the hair dramatically with a few uses. Blond hair will eventually turn a very light brown.

Highlighting Rinse For Dark Hair

5-10 Unripe Walnuts in Shells or crushed Walnut Shell
Sea Salt

Crush the Walnut Shells in a mortar with a pestle or buy crushed shells from the link above. If yu do crush them yourself, be sure to crush them to dust. Add a pinch of the Sea Salt and soak this way for 3 days. After 3 days, put the walnut shells and salt into a pot and cover with 3 cups of water. Simmer on low heat for 5 hours, adding more water as necessary to maintain at least 1 cup of liquid. After 5 hours, strain out the walnut shells. If there is more than 1 cup liquid remaining, reduce the amount by boiling until it is exactly one cup. Rinse hair with this cup of liquid. This is rich and dark and will have a dramatic effect after several applications. But once you have the color you want, it is slow to wash out or fade.

Dark Hair Paste

This is close to the commercial hair color mixes you may have used. It will make the hair very dark, gradually more and more so with each application. It’s a deep, rich color you will like.

Fresh or dried Rhubarb Root
2c Water
Kaolin Powder

If you have fresh root, mash and pulverize it to a pulp. If you have dried root, crush it to a powder. Use 3 tbsp of either pulp or powdered root. Mix it with the 2 cups of water in a pot. Simmer this over medium heat, leaving the lid off. When the liquid has reduced by half, thicken it by adding Kaolin powder until it has the consistency of paste.

Shampoo the hair first and then part it all over the head in rows. Apply the paste along each row until the entire head is covered, to the end of the hair. Leave it on for about 15 minutes. Rinse off a little to check the color. If it is not dark enough, leave on another 15 minutes and check again. After one hour, it will not color any longer, so if it’s not dark enough you will just have to repeat the process. When it is the color you wish it to be, rinse it out.

If you wish to repeat the process to achieve even darker hair, wait two days before doing it again. It won’t damage your hair but you should check to see how much washes out before going through the process again. You can always double the strength by doubling the rhubarb that you use in making the mix.

Herbal Mixes for Red Hair

Everyone is familiar with Henna hair dyes. They are sold commercially in every drugstore in the country. Here I have a homemade recipe so you can make your own.

Henna Hair Dye

4 tbsp ground or powdered Henna
Hot water

You can get powdered Henna at most health food stores or herbalists. Some pharmacies carry it as well. The best kind of the fresh organic powder found in bulk. It’s cheaper, too.

Make a paste with the powder and the hot water. Once it is a manageable consistency, leave it to mature for 30 minutes. The water will bring out the red in the Henna. Test it slowly and carefully, starting with only a few strands of hair. This can be intensely red so use it with care. If it’s not red enough, just add more Henna to it until it’s as red as you would like.

For those of you who would like a more strawberry blond color or are looking to just highlight red hair and not add more red to it, you can water down the Henna with Chamomile. Make a strong Chamomile tea and strain out the flowers. Mix the Chamomile in with the Henna until it’s a lighter, blonder shade.

When the color is satisfactory, part the hair into rows. Spread the paste along the rows, making sure to cover every length of your hair. Once the paste is all over your hair, cover your head with a plastic bag. A leftover plastic grocery bag is perfect. Use the handles to tie it under your chin. Then moisten a towel and heat it to steaming in the microwave. Wrap your head with the hot towel and leave until it’s cooled back down.

You can check the hair at this point to see how dark red it actually is. If you wish it to be darker, you can wrap it back up and leave this on overnight. It will continue to color your hair for as long as you leave it on and it won’t destroy your hair. When you are ready to wash it out, shampoo as usual and then towel the hair to moist. Rub oil into the moist hair and leave it to dry. Use cosmetic quality oils like Avocado, Olive, Coconut or Grapeseed Oil. In a pinch, Mineral Oil is just fine. The oil will leave your hair rich and glossy. Really shiny. This color is so intense it will last for as long as 6 months.

Red Hair Rinse

This is a rinse that will add reddish highlights to blond or brown hair. It will also enhance red hair but it won’t change the color of red hair.

2 tbsp fresh or 1 tbsp dried Alkanet Root
2 tbsp fresh or 1 tbsp dried Calendula Flowers
2 fresh Red Hibiscus Flowers
1 tbsp Dried Saffron

Put all of the flowers into a bowl. Boil 2 cups of water and pour it over the flowers. Cover the bowl and let sit for 30 minutes. Once the water has cooled, use it to rinse the hair. Leave it on a few minutes to soak. This is a light reddish tint that is not orange or brassy. It will deepen with every use and can be washed out over time.

Gray Hair Fixes:

Rinse to Remove Yellowing

Some gray hair gets a yellow tint that some folk find unattractive. It happens to people with blond or light brown hair. To get rid of yellow in gray hair, use this rinse every night until the yellow has gone.

1 handful of purple blue Hollyhock Flowers
Sea Salt

Soak the flowers in 2 cups of water, tossing in a pinch of salt. Let sit for a half hour and then put flowers and water into a pot. Heat the pot over low heat, simmering this way for an hour. Strain the flowers out and replace the water in the pot. Heat to boiling and reduce the water to one half. Once the water has been reduced to one cup, rinse the hair with it.

This mix may take a few applications to work but once it’s affected the hair, stop using it until the yellowing returns. If you use this day after day, there can be a bluing effect. Like all yellow removers, this can turn the hair blue over long term use. Use with care and only use it until the yellow is gone. And only use it if the yellowing returns.

Rinse to Highlight Yellow

And then there are those of you who like the yellow highlights in your blond hair. There is a certain honey skin tone that makes this sort of gray hair look lovely. To highlight the golden or blond tones in your gray hair, here is the rinse to use.

2 tbsp fresh or 1 tbsp dried Betony Flowers, Leaves and Root

Make this up as you would a strong tea. Use about 2 cups of water and simmer it until the liquid is darker and reduced in quantity. The stronger you make it, the more yellow it will add to your hair. Go lightly at first and add strength in future mixes until it’s what you like. Too much and it might look brassy.

Simply rinse your hair with the liquid after shampooing. On nights you don’t shampoo, it’s ok to just rinse your hair with this. If you can, leave it in as a soak for as long as you can before toweling your hair.

This rinse can be used indefinitely and will not harm your hair. It will simply keep brightening and lightening the yellow in gray hair. If it gets brassy, stop use for awhile and allow it to tone down. If it’s not bright enough, add more Betony in each tea you make until it’s effective.

Rinse to Darken Gray Hair

And then there are those of us who like our gray hair darker rather than lighter. Some people don’t look so good with silver locks. Steel gray can be flattering on women with porcelain or blue based complexions. For those of you who want to darken the gray in your hair, this is the rinse for you.

Fresh or Dried Sage Leaf
Hot Water

Use a handful of fresh Sage or a few tbsp of dried Sage. Add it to water and make a really strong tea. Boil it until the water is very dark and strain out the sage. Pour it over your hair anytime, either after shampooing or just to rinse. This will make gray hair very dark and however often you use it the darker it will get. It will not leave streaky patches or fade out in areas like some colors do. If you want to, you can take it all the way back to dark brown. It’s up to you. Just remember to use it as often as you like and stop using it when your hair is where you want it. You can always freshen up, at any time, when the color fades or isn’t rich enough. This will not harm or dry out your hair. In fact, it’s good for it!

Now that you have read my post on dyeing your hair with herbs and maybe even tried a few of the recipes, you might be interested in learning more.   Here are my books on this subject:



57 Responses so far

  1. 1

    cam said,

    I have ground rhubarb that’s a powder is that okay to mix with the kaolin to lighten Brown to blond

  2. 2

    cam said,

    I am also interested in the e book where can I get it

  3. 3

    cam said,

    Hello I am trying to get my hair to a golden blond using kaolin clay. I have a sandy blond hair with some darker brownish highlights. I am African American my hair is light at some points but darker brown in others. I also have some reddish tones some places I would also like to do a strawberry blonde color later. What herbs can I mix with the kaolin to get these two colors and has your exotic color section come out yet.

  4. 4

    AINY said,

    good recipies.
    can anyone tell me the ARABIC NAME OF THE HERB SAGE

    • 5

      spacecoaststargirl said,

      As I understand it, Sage in the Arabic language is the same word as Wise. It is written like this حكيم. Hope this helps

  5. 6

    Tim said,

    Any chance that you know of more ‘extreme'(think punk rocker) recipes. as in green, blue etc. I would think some plant could dye hair green, as most plants are green. If you do not I understand as my question is a bit out of place here. Just trying to find a more sustainable alternative to chemical dyes

    • 7

      spacecoaststargirl said,

      That’s a great question! I just finished an ebook on herbal hairdyeing which I will make available on this site in the near future. It is pretty traditional with recipes for getting the green or blue OUT of your hair or how mixing indigo with henna will give purple hair.. etc.. I think I will add a section on exotic colors and add it to the book later. You are right. You can color your hair some crazy shades with herbs. BUt mostly people are trying to fix that rather than obtain it so this was addressed in the book. However, when I was younger I had purple hair at one time and blue hair at another. Punk rock was huge in the 1980s. Thanks for the idea!

  6. 8

    karen said,

    i have mixed 1/2 cup sage, 1/2 cup nettle, 1/2 cup rosemary and 1/3 cup black walnut powder boiled in 3 cups of water….. simmer for 25 mins….. then mix with henna to form a paste…… have you any idea what colour i’m going to end up with??

    • 9

      spacecoaststargirl said,

      You will get a very dark brown with ash overtones. More black than ash but if you want to just black, drop the sage. If you want it more ashen, drop the walnuts. Otherwise, this is a very dark shade with ash overtones. Hope that helps.

  7. 10

    arlene said,

    I couldn’t find dried sage leaves, instead I found powdered sage. How much powdered sage I can use to mix with dried rosemary leaves to cover my gray hair. I have a very dark brown (almost black) hair. Thanks…

    • 11

      spacecoaststargirl said,

      Thanks for asking! First of all, you should grind up the rosemary leaves so that they are fine. They should mix well with the dried Sage when blended. If you have really dark hair with gray and want to cover the gray, you should also add black tea leaves. Grind the Tea and the Rosemary down to a texture similar to the dried Sage. The more powdered the better, actually. Use an equal amount of each herb in the mix.

    • 12

      spacecoaststargirl said,

      If you use sage on black hair it will lighten it to an ash color. If this is what you want, powdered sage is fine. Just use a tsp for every tbsp of fresh sage. If you wish to lighten your hair to an ash brown, the mix of sage and rosemary will only lighten it if you add some blonding. Add dried rhubarb for a dramatic lightening effect or something like chamomile, mullein flowers or leaves from privet hedge. Any of these will help to lighten the hair; used with the rosemary and sage it will be a lighter brown rather than blond. Experiment. Lightening dark brown and black hair is tricky. If it turns orangey or brassy try hollyhock flowers. Always use 1 tsp dried or 1 tbsp fresh herbs per 1 cup of distilled or softened water.

    • 13

      spacecoaststargirl said,

      If you use sage on black hair it will lighten it to an ash color. If this is what you want, powdered sage is fine. Just use a tsp for every tbsp of fresh sage. If you wish to lighten your hair to an ash brown, the mix of sage and rosemary will only lighten it if you add some blonding. Add dried rhubarb for a dramatic lightening effect or something like chamomile, mullein flowers or leaves from privet hedge. Any of these will help to lighten the hair; used with the rosemary and sage it will be a lighter brown rather than blond. Experiment. Lightening dark brown and black hair is tricky. If it turns orangey or brassy try hollyhock flowers. Always use 1 tsp dried or 1 tbsp fresh herbs per 1 cup of distilled or softened water.

  8. 15

    poppers review…

    […]Making Herbal Hair Dyes « Harmony Green[…]…

  9. 16

    Mimmi Bergman said,

    If you are really blond, and wants to go black, or at least very close to, can you mannage this using only the paste of ruhbarb and kaolin, or maybe you should add walnut too? Or is it at all too much of a leap between colours? Also, does the kaolin do anything but help form a paste? (=could it be replaced by some other thickening-agent)
    Oh, and can you use these dyes on already chemically-dyed hair, or should you wait? (I didn’t see an answer to this before, so my appologies if I simply missed it…) To clearify; the really blond and the already dyed hair is not the same; the blond one is as of yet all natural…

    • 17

      spacecoaststargirl said,

      If you are really blond and want to go black, then use the darkest mix possible, which would be ruhbarb, kaolin, walnut shells and black tea. It will wash out quickly so you will have to reapply a second time to make it dark enough. On chemically colored hair, it’s kind of crap shoot. Some hair roots stay open and swollen after coloring, especially if you’ve colored your hair for many years, so the mix will take quickly and you will end up with DARK BLACK VERY BLACK hair. Or the hair shaft closes up and gets harder to color. If you’ve had trouble with chemical dyes in the recent past then you have will have a hard time getting herbal dyes to fill the strand. With hair that has been not taking chemical dyes but has been colored recently anyways, you should wait a few months, wash you hair frequently in very hot water and use thick conditioners on it for a few weeks first. Then wait until all the products, including the conditioners, have washed out. Rinse your hair in very hot water a few times and then let it dry out before starting. You will have to do it more than once to adapt your hair to it. Some people can never get the hair shaft to take color. If that is the case, at least it washes out quickly and doesn’t leave you with a “shadow”. Good luck.

    • 18

      spacecoaststargirl said,

      If you want to go black, DO NOT USE RHUBARB. Rhubarb gives an extreme blonding effect. If you want to go BLACK, use black tea, indigo leaves or rosemary with black walnut paste. Kaolin is perfect but so is Diatomaceous Earth. But DO NOT USE RHUBARB on blond hair unless you are going lighter!

  10. 19

    Emily said,

    This is so cool. I love henna mostly because of the the tea smell it leaves in my hair. but the color was not good on outgrowing red hairdye with brown roots. it looked like black and red. not good.

    I am going to my kitchen right now to get the ingredients to use tomorrow 🙂

  11. 20


    Hi, I have naturally dark brown hair and I would like to brighten it up or create subtle highlights without chemicals. The article states: “These mixes can be used either to darken brown hair, to darken light brown or blond hair or to enhance highlights in already dark hair.”

    Then it provides a recipe for a highlighting rinse using walnuts but it also says “This is rich and dark and will have a dramatic effect after several applications.” Does this mean it will make dark brown hair even DARKER?

    Is there any way to lighten dark hair? Some say walnut lightens and others say wlanut darkens. Also, I’ve heard that RHUBARB ROOT will lighten all hair colors. Is that correct? And that honey, olive oil, and lemon are also lighteners?

  12. 21

    Gayle said,

    Hi, I have medium to dark brown hair with some gray, it’s been about 6 months since I chemically colored my hair at a salon with a semi permanent color…I don’t want to use chemicals to color anymore. I’m happy with my brown hair color but I do want to color the gray hair. I don’t want black or very very dark brown hair. What do you suggest I use? I wouldn’t mind my gray hair becoming a light brown so it will look more like highlights…my hair was much much lighter when I was younger so I know light brown works for me. I saw walnut hulls and black tea mentioned…and is there a way to make a paste instead of just a dye liquid? I read somewhere that the dye can be mixed with conditioner for application or do you think that will change the effectiveness of the dye? Can you tell I’m a little confused 🙂 Anyway, any advice you can give will be greatly appreciated, thank.

    • 22

      spacecoaststargirl said,

      Thanks for reading my blog. To cover gray hair, which is always tricky, use the darkest combination you can find because even then it will be lighter than it would be on normally pigmented hair. Mix crushed Walnut shells with the black tea. You can make a paste by using any thickener that does not add color. Use agar, flour, cornstarch, any natural starch or cooking thickener will do. Flour is hard to mix into cold water so I suggest you heat the dye mixture before mixing in the flour and then allow to cool completely before using. Something like Simply Thick can also be used. Diatomaceous Earth can be used but it is very drying so use only a very small amount at first and then add very little until it’s right. Just be careful not to make it too thick because it’s harder to make up more dye and add it than it is to simply add more starch. Good luck!

    • 23

      spacecoaststargirl said,

      Thanks for reading my blog. As I’ve said before, to cover gray hair, which is always tricky, use the darkest combination you can find because even then it will be lighter than it would be on normally pigmented hair. Mix crushed walnut shells with the black tea for the darkest color, which will actually be more of an ash brown when finished. For a richer brown, use walnut shells and henna. This will be reddish but a deeper shade of brown than the black tea. You can make a paste by using any thickener that does not add color. Use agar, flour, cornstarch, tragacanth gum, arrowroot, any natural starch or cooking thickener will do. White flour is hard to mix into cold water so I suggest you heat the dye mixture before mixing in the flour and then allow to cool completely before using. Something like Simply Thick can also be used. Diatomaceous Earth can be used but it is very drying so use only a very small amount at first and then add very little until it’s right. Just be careful not to make it too thick because it’s harder to make up more dye and add it than it is to simply add more starch. I hope this helps. Experimentation is the key. Over time, you will get exactly what you want and be able to repeat it whenever you like. It’s getting to that point that can be tricky. Good luck!!

  13. 24

    tatjana said,

    Hello, since I am not sure my previous post is received, I wil repeat it in short. What combination with sage would you recommend for covering grays in honey blond – , somewhat red hair? I would like not to darken the hair, apart for grays, at least not significantly. What do you think of adding kaolin clay or something to gell the rinse, so that you could apply it on the grays first, and after some time on the rest of the hair? Thanks so much.j

  14. 25

    Tatjana said,

    Hello, I need an advice about combining sage with some other herbs. I have honey blond hair with a quarter of grays, the worst white stripe is arrund the ears. What would you advice me to mix with sage to cover grays and not turn them ash color, but warmer nuance? Also, I wouldn t like to darken the rest of my hair. Do you recommend just rinsing the hair, or the herbs can be mixed with kaolin clay or yogurt, or a conditioner, or be gelled with linseed and the like? Thank you for your advices. Tanja

    • 26

      spacecoaststargirl said,

      I do not believe it’s possible to darken gray hair with sage and have it work with overall blonde hair. You would have a dirty gray result. You want to lighten the gray to match the blonde and I would do that with the recipes given for blonde hair. Gray is extremely hard to cover and you may end up needing bleach to make it happen. It is easier to darken gray hair but it requires something other than just sage, you would also need walnut shells and black tea. Do you want black streaks in your hair? If so, then you can cover the gray with the walnut shell and black tea mix and your gray willl be dark. If you wish to match it to the blonde, then you must use a mix of blonding agents such as chamomile, ginger or sunflower petals and tone them with hollyhocks to keep them from getting brassy. If you wish to make the hair blonde, then use a recipe strictly for blonde hair and see what happens. With gray hair, it’s always a gamble. It’s easier to darken it than lighten it naturally so if you choose to have dark brown or black streaks in your hair, which can be quite dramatic and trendy, then do it with walnut shells, black tea and sage. And DO NOT RINSE your hair. Dab it on. You can do this by mixing the herbs with thickeners like agar, guar gum or even flour. You just have to experiment to get the right consistancy. Dab it on or streak it in where you want it and see what happens. It will wash out over time or if you really hate it, you can always try something else… like Henna. Henna is always a good last resort. It will make anything redder and today red is fashionable in any color or shade.

  15. 27

    spacecoaststargirl said,

    Thanks for reading. You can buy whole walnuts in the grocery and save the shells. Dry them out and then break them down and grind them in a coffee grinder. Nettle grows wild but if you do not have a field guide you can buy dried nettle in most herbalists and health food stores. Plain black tea bags are fine (Lipton, Tetley, etc..) And yes, unfortunately, our new hair grows in the natural color, which is gray. You have to do the roots every 6 weeks or so, depending on the rate of your hair growth. Mine takes about a month. And it is very difficult to color those roots when they are short. Walking around with a stripe is a big drag for all of us so try applying your Sage recipe with a small paintbrush or paddle knife to apply it when it first appears. Glad to hear you are using Sage already. Hope this helps.

  16. 28

    spacecoaststargirl said,

    There are several recipes in the post. Thanks for reading my blog.

  17. 29

    Harjinder Singh said,

    Hi, Here is what I have tried for covering white hair. I took some castor leaves and boiled in water. I filtered the water and let it cool. I found that the material got very deep green color. I just couldn’t stand the smell which seemed toxic. I had to cover my nose and mouth while i was boiling it. when i found deep green instead of expected black I just left it in a container. First I thought all efforts have eneded up in smoke so I left it as was though didn’t throw it. After two days i however noticed it had turned black. I was aware about henna powder used in dyeing. I thought the castor material alone couldn’t work and would get washed. I mixed henna with some amount of black dye color I had from castor. I applied it and got a dark brown hair color. I acted a bit hasty manner in excitement by not waiting too long for proper drying but i got satisfied with the color. It remained for two days in the start. Then it was washed away. I know if I tried several applications the staying period would prolong. Unfortunately all this needs time and I am busy most time. But others can try. Don’t forget that some herbs do have toxic material and may be sensitive to different skins. All you can do if you like is just apply allovera juice on the face before using this application and wash it later. I believe this prevents moisture loss and acts as protective layer while dyeing. And also during the process of washing hair after dyeing, face skin is safe and alovera application can be washed later. Apart from castor plant, there is another plant, I don’t know the name but it is toxic and bears pink flowers with shape like old model speakers. These plants grow along water bodies and in my place are found in plenty. Its leaves are like peepal leaves common in India. It has similar properties and results as mentioned in case of castor plant Thanks.

    • 30

      Viji Ravi said,

      Hi, can you tell the name of the plant that is similar properties as castor leaves. I also heard castor together with indigo to gives black dye. Has anyone tried it.

      • 31

        spacecoaststargirl said,

        I apologize but I have no experience at all with castor leaves in dyemaking. I do know that castor is a fantastic cure all for many conditions and is often used in herbal medicines but I have no idea what color the leaves will render when used. Indigo is a dark blue so use it with care. I just do not know. Perhaps one of the readers has this knowledge?

    • 32

      spacecoaststargirl said,

      Does anyone know the name of the plant she mentions here? The plant with pink flowers shaped like “old model speakers”? Many of my readers want to try the recipe given here for Castor Leaves to make black dye. They are plentiful in India but we do not have these in the US or, at least, I have no idea of what they are. If you have the name of this plant, leave it in comments. Thansk, Hharjinder, for your wonderful tip!

  18. 33

    Carolyn said,

    Thanks so much!

  19. 34

    Carolyn said,

    I want to cover salt and pepper hair (more pepper than salt) so the gray doesn’t show, and is maybe even highlighted a bit. My orginial color was between a light and medium brown with some red/gold highlights. My skin coloring is medium to medium light, but it’s a cool medium/light, not warm. I’m a senior citizen now and dark dark brown hair has always been too harsh for me. Tried purchasing organic “dried” sage and it’s over $100 a lb. My health food store sells “rubbed” and powdered sage at about $18 a lb. Can I used “rubbed” or “powdered” sage in place of “dried” sage for the hair color recipe? Dried sage contains both the leaves and stems. Rubbed sage contains the leaves only. Don’t kinow the content of powdered (ground?) sage. Any suggestions (for a specific hair coloring recipe for my hair and skin type) would be appreciated. Thank you.

    • 35

      spacecoaststargirl said,

      Yes, you can use rubbed or powdered Sage, it should be fine. As long as it is dried and not fresh. However, for gray hair I would not use Sage because it would be too light and make your gray hair more ash which defeats the purpose. I would suggest Walnut shells for more dark brown in the hair, Calendula petals to add more red/gold, Henna to add a lot more red or Red Hibiscus for a lighter red. All you have to do with these materials is dry them thoroughly before grinding them up and adding them to the water. With the Walnuts, just dry out the shells in a warm window for a few days and then grind up in a pepper grinder. If the hair gets brassy, use some Hollyhock as a rinse. And if you really want the ashy tint of Sage, try mixing it with Rosemary to give it a darker depth. I hope this helps and good luck!

  20. 36

    Jennifer Rose said,

    Hi there. I saw your mention of Hollyhock to tone down yellow in gray hairs. Will this also give a purple or burgundy tint to darker hair? I’ve been looking for a purple herb to use in conjunction with henna to tone down the orange and give more of a burgundy or violet cool toned red. I have experimented with logwood but from my understanding it requires a mordant to work and I can’t seem to get it to stick to my hair at all. Would you have any other suggestions of herbs to try?

    • 37

      spacecoaststargirl said,

      I am not sure about that. Hollyhocks will take the brass out of hair but I am doubtful they will transfer purple. They are good at toning down yellows in gray hair. Use Hollyhocks as a decoction and do not use a mordant. You need to mix red and blue colors to make a purple. If you want a violet or bluish red color in your darker hair, you do not want to use straight purple. You should try mixing in some elderberries. Add them to the mix you already use to see if it doesn’t add some bluing to the red. When making the decocation of elderberries, add a little salt to turn it faster.

      Now, there are ways you can add the color purple to your hair. So for those of you who are serious about adding purple to your hair and are daring enough to experiment, here is what I would do. I would make a really rich indigo dye bath with woad leaves. This is tricky so I would search the net for good recipes to make indigo dye. You might have to use ammonia at some point to get it to turn dark enough indigo. Then I would blend the indigo dye with either alkanet root or henna. Red hibiscus would do in a pinch. Add the actual henna powder or ground up root directly to the mix to thicken it. Blend in enough of the ground herbs until the color is an actual purple and then apply like you would any hair color. Be very careful because this could be dramatic. If it turns out your hair takes it poorly, you may have to do it several times. Yet there is always the danger that you will come out electric! But if this is your desire, then you’re in. I hope these tips help out. Dyeing the hair is a tricky business but well worth it in the long run. Nothing beats controlling the color of your hair without a lot of chemicals and for less expense.

  21. 38

    silentc said,

    Will the hair rinse of sage, chamomile, and tea make red hair more brown? I am trying to tone down the brightness of red hair and achieve a browner hair color. I want the changes to be subtle over time, so should I apply and then rinse or apply only once a week?

    • 39

      spacecoaststargirl said,

      Try a rinse with tea and chamomile first and maybe add sage later. Try walnut shells instead of sage. Sage might bring out some ash in the hair and make it look too orange. Black Walnut shells with darken it considerably so go lightly a little at a time. Tea or walnuts. That’s my best guess. Good luck.

  22. 40

    Gladys Farrugia said,

    Hi have started experimenting with these herbs but am finding it quite difficult to cover the grey in my hair. Have tried sage on its on and have also tried sage, camomile, indian tea, tumeric and cinnamon. Once this mixture is on my hair it looks ok but once I rinse my hair I am ending up with practically no result.

    • 41

      spacecoaststargirl said,

      Gray hair requires repeated colorings with herbs to take effect. It seems, at first, that the hair is not coloring but over time it will. I know this seems like a lot of work but gray hair is hard to cover, even with commercial products and some of those products won’t do it at all. Use black walnut shells and nettle every time for the strongest effect. Black tea brewed up to a strong dark color is also good and permanent in effect. These ingredients will darken the hair more swiftly than just using sage or rosemary. Try this: Boil eight cups of distilled water and remove from heat. Add one ounce sage, two ounces black walnut hulls, one ounce rosemary, one ounce nettle, and two tea bags to the water. Cover and allow the herbs and water to steep for four hours. Once you strain this mix and get ready to use the dark water, add a little bit of oil to the water to help your hair absorb it. When hair is wet, it absorbs oils like a sponge. Wash your hair before doing this so to open the pores completely and massage the mix in thoroughly. Leave on for as long as an hour or so before rinsing out, but DO NOT WASH AGAIN. After rinsing, blow dry your hair to seal the color in. When you do shampoo next the color will begin to fade so you will have to repeat it over and over again in order to maintin the dark color but it’s worth it. It’s cheap, non toxic and totally in your control… so keep trying.

      Also, for all readers: never use turmeric or curry powder alone on your gray hair to make it blond! It will be brassy and ugly if you do, so don’t do it! I realize that this has become a popular suggestion among herbies but it’s not a good one. And if you do use black tea to darken hair, test a section of the gray or white hair just to be sure it won’t turn pink. Some teas have a tendency to create pink as a residual color. But if you add a pinch of cinnamon, you will get a mild reddish tint, sort of copper colored, which is nice. And if you truly want blond hair, use a half cup of Sage, 3 bags of Chamomile tea, a pinch of turmeric and a pinch of cinnamon. Gray hair will turn a dark blond and white hair will turn a light ash blond and this makes a good result for salt and pepper gray where you want to create blond highlights where the gray is. Anyways, the secrets appear to be shampooing first, leaving the mix on for an hour and then not shampooing again but simply rinsing and blow drying. Try this and let me know if it helps.

  23. 42

    Magni said,

    Hi, What is the name of the hollyhock in your recipe?

    • 43

      spacecoaststargirl said,

      There are quite a few variations of Hollyhock and it’s quite possible that almost any would work, but the one I have experience with is Alcea rosea or Common Hollyhock. This is the one I have seen used and it worked well. I cannot recommend the others.

  24. 44

    ellora said,


    I was looking up rhubarb hair color on google, and most of the results say rhubarb LIGHTENS hair –

    You say it produces a dark color?


    • 45

      spacecoaststargirl said,

      If rhubarb is used on already dark hair, it will lighten it somewhat. On lighter hair colors, it will darken it. Sorry for the mixup.

  25. 46

    whitehairer said,


    Will the use of sage and rosemary leaves darken WHITE hairs ?

    Thanks for your help to reply.

    • 47

      spacecoaststargirl said,

      Some white and gray hairs are difficult to color even with commercial products. That’s why you will see color packets that say “covers gray hair”, because many of them don’t. If it’s been your experience that commercial products don’t do the job, then herbs won’t either. However, if white hair is your natural color and you have never tried to color it, then an experiment won’t hurt. Just choose a color range that will look good even if it turns out weak. That would be blond tones and gold tones and not the darker shades, which might turn out looking ashen and gray. Try a wash with chamomile or marigolds just to see if this makes it golden. But there is a risk that even these gentle herbs could turn it dingy yellow or brassy. In that case, this is not an easy challenge and is best taken up by color experts. Consider going to a salon and getting them to help you with this. I am just not sure.

  26. 48

    Donna said,

    Due to gray hairs, I decided, for the first time, to have my hair lightened and colored professionally at an Aveda salon. I thought it would look more natural using Aveda products since they are supposedly plant-based. However, it is an unnatural light golden yellow. What would the sage do to this color? Would it darken it a bit and neutralize the yellow without making it too ash toned or green?

    • 49

      spacecoaststargirl said,

      I am afraid sage will turn it green. Yellow based hair is easier to color over than brassy colors, though. But if you don’t want ash, then don’t use sage or other plant materials. Use ground walnut shells if you want it darker brown. Use natural henna if you wish to add red tones. But, with the Henna, use a very thin wash and not too much or you will end up orange. If you wish to be more blond, then use a gold wash with marigolds, chamomile and mullein. This will make your hair bright. If you want to be a darker blond, then use marigold & chamomile with a pinch or two of rosemary. I think rosemary will damp it down. But be careful. After professional lightening, many dyes will turn it green.

  27. 50

    ellora said,

    Found one more website, which lists the Hindi name of sage as kamarkas –

  28. 51

    ellora said,


    First, in response to your Pakistani reader, I am in India, and we do get dried sage in supermarkets in the “spices” section. Here is more info from the Govt. Of India website about Indian spices –

    Is it ok to use dry walnut shells to make dark brown color? Cos, where I live, I don’t think we can get unripe walnuts.

    Loved the info on your website, and I have subscribed to the feed.


    • 52

      spacecoaststargirl said,

      Thanks for reading my blog. Yes, dried walnut shells are fine. I am not sure where anyone would get unripe walnuts. The kind you buy in the store, in a package, are just fine. Unless you have a walnut tree, this is where we would find them. However, if you do have a tree and pick them fresh, then you should dry them first! Moist shells are a NO NO. They should be very dry and ground down as fine as possible, to a powder. Then added to the hair coloring mix. They will darken anything. If you start with walnuts, you will get very dark brown hair.

  29. 53

    jessica said,

    i have just a few questions.

    how permanent is the sage and rosemary colouring? and, my hair is a dark brown and i would like it to be black, how many treatments should i do and should i add walnuts to the mix? (we have an abundance of fresh sage and rosmary in my mother’s gardens, and we have a big crate full of walnuts in the garage.)

    and, do they have to be dried or can they both be fresh?

    the walnuts aren’t fresh…is that okay? how permanent is their colouring?

    and as for the black tea, should i use indian black tea or earl grey?

    sorry there are so many questions!

    • 54

      spacecoaststargirl said,

      All of the herb dyes will wash out over time. The darker you want it, the more walnuts you should add. Don’t forget to use only the shells and to grind them down really fine so they will bleed. Use a coffee mill if you have one. The Walnuts don’t have to be fresh, they can even be stale and soft but the shells should not be too moist. And if you are using tea and want really dark hair then go with indian black. I hope this helps.. and good luck!

  30. 55

    ahmed said,

    hi, great recipes for hair. hanna is really good , tried on and liked it



    • 56

      spacecoaststargirl said,

      Ahmed- I am glad you liked the henna recipe. I am puzzled by your inability to get sage in Pakistan because it is native to the Mediterranean so it should be available somewhere over there. The proper english name for it is Salvia officinalis but I don’t know how useful that is. I checked the Urdu dictionary and could not find a matching name. I know it is grown in the balkans but I am not sure about Pakistan in particular. But it should be available. So I have to leave this to my readers. Anyone out there know how to help Ahmed? Leave a comment if you do!

  31. 57

    tranquiltalk said,


    I found this page. My hair has been chemically-dyed red a few months ago. Instead, of being a reddish brown or auburn, it turned pumpkin orange. I had it re-dyed it to brown. However, the orange is bleeding through.

    Should I wait until I have the chemical color cut out of my hair before trying a henna dye? Then, what type of henna would work best on me? My natural hair color is chestnut brown. The sun will highlight it with streaks of copper, like the color of new pennies, if I stay outside long enough in the summer.

    Happy Holidays,

    Lynda G. at Tranquil Talk

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