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How can I dye my hair at home with household items?

Dyeing your hair at home can seem daunting, but with some simple household ingredients you likely already have on hand, you can easily change up your look without spending a fortune at the salon. While professional hair dye offers predictable, consistent results, DIY hair dye using things like coffee, tea, spices, and fruit juice can provide a fun, low-commitment way to experiment with different hair colors.

What to Consider Before Dyeing Your Hair at Home

Before you get started on your at-home hair dye adventure, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Doing a strand test first. No matter what ingredient you use, test it on a small, inconspicuous section of hair 24-48 hours before doing your whole head. This will give you an idea of how the color turns out.
  • Hair color doesn’t lift hair. If your hair is darker than the color you want, you’ll need to lighten it first with bleach or color remover before applying homemade dye.
  • Results will be more subtle on darker hair. The darker your base color, the more subtle the results will be from natural dyes. Blondes and lighter brunettes will see more vibrant results.
  • Color washes out. Natural hair dyes don’t penetrate the hair shaft like permanent dyes. The color will wash out over several weeks.
  • Color may stain skin. Take care to avoid staining your skin when applying homemade dyes. Wear gloves and apply petroleum jelly to hairlines.

Coffee as Natural Hair Dye

Used coffee grounds provide a rich source of color for brunette dye. Here’s how to use it:

  1. Brew 1-2 cups of strong coffee. Let it cool.
  2. Mix in 2 tablespoons of coffee grounds to thicken it up.
  3. Apply the mixture to damp, unwashed hair. Focus on the mid-lengths and ends.
  4. Wrap your hair in a plastic bag or shower cap. Let sit for 1-2 hours.
  5. Rinse until the water runs clear. Shampoo and condition as normal.

For best results, repeat 1-2 times per week. The color may temporarily stain blond hair but washes out of brunette and black hair easily.

Black Tea as Hair Dye

Black tea is another great at-home hair dye option. Here are two ways to use it:

Basic Black Tea Rinse

  1. Brew 2-3 black tea bags in 2 cups of water. Allow to cool.
  2. After shampooing, pour the tea rinse through your hair. Work it through from roots to ends.
  3. Let sit for 5-60 minutes depending on how dark you want the color.
  4. Rinse out and style as usual.

Intensified Black Tea Dye

  1. Fill a pot with 2 cups of water, 2 black tea bags, and 1 tablespoon of salt. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Allow to cool, then remove the tea bags. Add 2 tablespoons of black tea leaves and let steep until dark.
  3. Shampoo and towel dry your hair. Apply the tea mixture thoroughly from roots to ends.
  4. Wrap your hair in a plastic bag or shower cap. Leave on for 1-2 hours.
  5. Rinse and condition as usual. Repeat 1-2 times per week to build up color.

Beet Juice for Vibrant Red Hair

For a vibrant red tint, look no further than natural beet juice. Here’s the simple process:

  1. Blend 2-3 peeled, chopped beets with 1 cup water. Strain out the pulp.
  2. Apply the beet juice to damp hair, focusing on the ends. For more color, apply to dry hair.
  3. Let sit for 20-60 minutes. Longer times result in darker shades.
  4. Rinse thoroughly with cool water. Shampoo and condition as usual.

Note that the red stain can persist for several washes, especially on light hair. Use a clarifying shampoo to help remove the tint.

Spices for Different Color Effects

You can experiment with spices in your kitchen to create different hair dye colors, including:

  • Cinnamon: Adds red/orange tones
  • Paprika: Boosts red shades
  • Turmeric: Tints hair yellow-orange
  • Cloves: Brings out reds and browns

To use spices, follow this simple process:

  1. Mix 1-2 tablespoons of your chosen spice with enough hot water to make a thick paste.
  2. Allow it to cool completely before application.
  3. Shampoo and towel dry your hair. Apply the spice paste thoroughly.
  4. Wrap your hair in plastic and let sit for 30-60 minutes.
  5. Rinse thoroughly and condition well after.

Kool-Aid or Jello for Fun Colors

For temporary, semi-permanent color in fun shades, try mixing up some Kool-Aid or Jello. Here’s how:

  1. Choose a Kool-Aid flavor that matches your desired hair color. Or use orange or cherry Jello.
  2. Mix the powder with a small amount of conditioner or coconut oil to form a thick paste.
  3. Apply evenly to dry, unwashed hair. Cover with a shower cap for 1-3 hours.
  4. Rinse thoroughly until the water runs clear.

Kool-Aid and Jello work best on lighter hair. The color washes out over 4-6 weeks.

Making Your Own Hair Bleach

If you want to achieve lighter hair, you’ll need to bleach it first before applying homemade dye. Here are a couple natural bleaching methods:

Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide

  • 1 part baking soda
  • 1 part hydrogen peroxide
  • Optional: Leave-in conditioner for moisture
  1. Mix baking soda and peroxide into a thick, spreadable paste.
  2. Shampoo hair and towel dry. Apply paste quickly from roots to ends.
  3. Cover hair with a shower cap and let sit 30-60 minutes, checking frequently.
  4. Rinse thoroughly. Deep condition after to hydrate hair.

Lemon Juice and Sunshine

  1. Apply fresh lemon juice to damp hair. Massage it in thoroughly.
  2. Sit outside in direct sunlight 30-60 minutes, allowing the sun to naturally lighten your hair.
  3. Rinse well and shampoo as usual.

Repeat this process a few times per week until your hair lightens to the desired shade. The vitamin C in lemon acts as a natural bleaching agent.

Boosting Color with Vinegar Rinses

After dyeing with any natural ingredient, you can mix up an apple cider vinegar rinse to help lock in color. The acetic acid helps seal the hair cuticle to extend the vividness and longevity of the dye. Here’s how:

  1. Mix 1 part apple cider vinegar with 2 parts water.
  2. After shampooing, pour the rinse through your hair and work through evenly.
  3. Leave on for a few minutes, then rinse out thoroughly.
  4. Style as usual. Use a rinse 1-2 times per week.

Best Practices for DIY Hair Dye

Here are some top tips to get the best results from your natural, homemade hair dye:

  • Always do a patch test before dyeing your whole head.
  • Prep hair by shampooing and drying before applying dye. Exceptions are beet, coffee, and tea rinses.
  • Use color-safe bowls, brushes, gloves, and towels to avoid stains.
  • Section clean hair and use clips to keep dye contained.
  • Apply dye evenly from roots to ends. Twist hair into a bun to trap in warmth.
  • Cover with a shower cap or plastic wrap to prevent drips and maximize color absorption.
  • Rinse thoroughly with cool water until the water runs clear.
  • Shampoo and deeply condition hair after rinsing out dye. Avoid regular shampoo for a few days.
  • Repeat dyeing every 1-4 weeks to maintain color.

How Different Hair Types Take to Natural Dye

Homemade hair dye works best on certain hair types and textures. Here’s a breakdown of what results to expect:

Hair Type Dye Ability
Virgin hair Takes to dye easily and vibrantly
Color-treated hair Holds dye well, but lightened hair absorbs more
Relaxed hair More porous, absorbs dye faster. Can get brassy tones.
Damaged/dry hair Overly porous, can become stained. Rinses work better than heavier mixes.
Oily hair Repels some dye. Use clarifying shampoo before dyeing.
Thin hair Gets vivid results but color fades faster.
Thick, coarse hair Needs heavier dye mixes. Color takes well and lasts longer.

How to Care for Hair After Dyeing

Proper aftercare is crucial for keeping your new hair color looking fresh and vibrant. Here are some tips:

  • Use sulfate-free shampoo and cool water when washing dyed hair.
  • Rinse with a vinegar/water solution once a week to seal color.
  • Use a deep conditioner after each shampoo to keep hair hydrated.
  • Let hair air dry instead of heat styling to prevent fading.
  • Rinse after swimming to remove chlorine and saltwater.
  • Use a UV-protectant product before going in the sun.
  • Get regular trims to keep dry ends from soaking up dye.


Dyeing your hair at home with natural ingredients can give you vibrant, beautiful color without using harsh chemicals. From coffee to tea to spices and fruit juices, you likely have plenty of dye options already in your kitchen. With some planning and TLC for your hair after dyeing, you can safely change up your look and get salon-worthy results on your own terms and budget.