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What spices can dye hair?

Dyed hair has become increasingly popular in recent years as people look for creative ways to express their style. While traditional hair dyes use harsh chemicals, many people are turning to natural alternatives like spices to achieve beautiful colored locks. Spices like turmeric, cinnamon, and paprika not only add vivid color, but can also condition hair and enhance shine. This article will explore the top spices for dyeing hair and how to use them to get stunning results.

Why Dye Hair with Spices?

There are several benefits to using spices rather than traditional hair dye:

  • Spices are natural so they are generally gentle on hair and scalp.
  • Many spices have conditioning properties to nourish hair as it’s colored.
  • The colors often last a long time with regular use.
  • Spices are inexpensive and easy to find.
  • You can create custom color blends.
  • No harsh fumes like chemical dyes.

Of course, there are some downsides as well. Spice hair dyes create subtler, more gradual color than chemical dyes. The results will not be as vivid or uniform. It may take many treatments to reach the depth of color desired. Those with sensitive skin should still do a patch test before use. However, for many people seeking an organic coloring option, spices present a fun and safe DIY alternative.

Best Spices for Dyeing Hair

Here are some of the top spices to try for coloring hair naturally:


Turmeric is the spice that gives curry its bright golden yellow color. That pigment, curcumin, can also impart a vibrant yellow-orange hue to hair. Turmeric is moisturizing and soothing for the scalp. It adds shine and brings out natural highlights. For the best results, combine turmeric with ingredients like conditioner and lemon juice and leave on for at least an hour before rinsing out. Be aware it can temporarily stain skin and surfaces yellow.


Cinnamon can give hair a deep, warm reddish tone. It contains antioxidants which may support healthier hair over time. Many people mix cinnamon powder with conditioner and let it sit for 30-60 minutes before rinsing for light auburn color. Leave it on longer to achieve more intense color saturation. Cinnamon can dry out hair, so be sure to use a good hydrating conditioner afterwards.


Like turmeric and cinnamon, paprika is another spice derived from the ground dried powder of a plant – in this case, sweet red bell peppers. It provides a mild reddish tint to hair. Blondes may see their hair turn more strawberry blonde, while brunettes and those with darker hair can achieve a subtle coppery glow. Paprika works best with an oil like olive or coconut to help evenly distribute the pigment and condition hair.


Cloves produce a medium brown color on hair as the pigment adheres well to strands. Like cinnamon, clove powder can simply be mixed with conditioner and applied to clean, damp hair. Leave it on for about an hour, up to overnight, then rinse. Using clove oil instead of powder can enhance conditioning and improve color absorption for brunette locks.


The vibrant fuchsia flower calyx of hibiscus plants produces a rich, magenta-toned pigment. When steeped into a tea or infused into oil, it tints hair pinkish-red over time. Hibiscus is high in antioxidants and provides tons of moisture to condition as it colors hair. It’s best for those with blonde or light brown hair as darker shades may just get subtle red highlights. Let hibiscus tea or oil soak into hair for 30-60 minutes before rinsing out.

Choosing Your Spice Hair Color

When deciding which spice is right for your hair coloring needs, consider the following:

  • Your natural hair color – lighter hair will show color more than darker shades
  • The depth of color you wish to achieve – subtle or more intense?
  • Your desired shade – warm tones like ginger and auburn or cool shades like purples
  • Your hair’s texture – curly, thick and dry or fine and oily
  • Your skin tone – does it have warm yellow/peach or cool pink/red undertones
  • How long you want results to last – some spices fade faster than others

Doing a strand test on a small section of hair before committing to all over color can help gauge how the spice will work with your hair. Also mix up a spice blend rather than just one to create a custom color.

How to Dye Hair with Spices

Here is a step-by-step guide to dyeing hair with spices at home:

  1. Pick 1 or more spices based on your desired hair color and mix together.
  2. Make a paste by combining the spices with a hydrating ingredient like conditioner, oil, honey, or plain yogurt. Use enough to fully coat all your hair.
  3. Shampoo and towel dry hair so it is damp but not dripping wet.
  4. Apply the spice blend thoroughly from roots to ends, dividing hair into sections if needed.
  5. Cover hair with a shower cap or plastic wrap and let sit for a minimum of 30 minutes up to 2 hours or overnight.
  6. Rinse out the spice hair dye using cool water and shampoo until the water runs clear.
  7. Follow up with a deep conditioner or hair mask to moisturize hair and lock in color.
  8. Style as usual and allow hair to air dry or blow dry on a cool setting to reveal the vibrant color.

Repeat the process as needed to maintain or enhance the color over time. Use a color-protecting shampoo and limit washing to 2-3 times per week between treatments. Exposure to sun may cause some shades like turmeric to lighten faster.

Spice Blends for Different Hair Colors

Here are some recommended spice blends for achieving various natural hair colors:

Hair Color Goal Spice Mix
Strawberry blonde 2 Tbsp paprika + 1 Tbsp cinnamon
Golden blonde 3 Tbsp turmeric + 1 Tbsp ginger
Light auburn 2 Tbsp cinnamon + 1 Tbsp paprika
Medium auburn 3 Tbsp cinnamon + 1 tsp ginger + 1 tsp nutmeg
Copper 2 Tbsp paprika + 1 Tbsp cayenne powder
Light brown 2 Tbsp cocoa powder + 1 Tbsp cinnamon + 1 tsp nutmeg

Feel free to adjust the amounts as needed to produce your ideal shade. Always do an allergy test before use and discontinue if any irritation occurs.

Maintaining Spice Dyed Hair

Here are some tips for keeping your spice-infused hair color looking vibrant:

  • Use a sulfate-free, color-safe shampoo and lukewarm water when washing hair.
  • Limit washing to 2-3 times per week if possible.
  • Rinse with a vinegar solution (1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar per 1 cup water) weekly to seal cuticles.
  • Use a color-depositing conditioner or mask in between treatments.
  • Reapply the spice blend whenever color starts to fade, usually every 2-4 weeks.
  • Protect hair from sun exposure with hats, scarves or styling products with UV filters
  • Avoid chlorine by wearing a swim cap and rinse hair after swimming.
  • Use a silk pillowcase to prevent friction and color stripping.
  • Get regular trims to clip off dry, porous ends that lose color quickly.


If you’re seeking a natural, inexpensive way to color your hair at home, dyeing with spices is a great option. From sunny turmeric blonde to rich cinnamon ginger browns, spices can produce gorgeous dimensional tones. Their conditioning properties nourish hair at the same time. While the results won’t be as dramatic as chemical dyes, you can create your own custom spice blends to achieve the perfect hue. Just be patient with the process and maintain your color well for beautiful, spice-infused locks that are sure to get attention.