DIY hair colouring: black, brunette and red

As concerns grow over the safety of harsh chemical hair dyes, substances like henna have enjoyed renewed popularity. Not only are they easy on your hair and scalp, they can provide a great variety of silky, shimmering shades.

DIY hair colouring: black, brunette and red

Women have been using nature's bounty to colour their hair since the Bronze Age, but dealing with natural hair dyes will require a bit of trial and error. It is a good idea to first colour a lock of your hair to check the colour before applying to your entire mane. To ensure that your shade is neither too light nor too intense, stick with the specified exposure time.

Dying your hair brown or black

  • To make a dark brown or black dye that will work on all natural hair colours, mix 45 grams (three tablespoons) of black tea, 125 millilitres (1/2 cup) of black henna powder, 15 millilitres (one tablespoon) of olive oil, and five millilitres (one teaspoon) of cider vinegar. Add enough boiling water to produce a spreadable mixture. Apply with a broad brush, cover your hair with plastic wrap and leave on for about 30–40 minutes before rinsing and washing your hair.
  • Create a rinse that will result in a darker shade with a subtle lustre by steeping 60 grams (four tablespoons) of dried sage, 25 millilitres (two tablespoons) of dried rosemary and 15 millilitres (one tablespoon) of lemon juice in about 400 millilitres (1 2/3 cup) of water over low heat. Strain after 30 minutes, cool, and use as a rinse after washing your hair.

Red hair dye

Henna turns dark brown hair a rich, attractive red. Use the following ingredients to make a beautiful, natural dye.

  • 250 ml (1 c) red henna powder
  • 250 ml (1 c) black tea
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) olive oil

Mix the henna, warm tea and oil and apply immediately. Cover your head with plastic wrap and a large towel and leave on for two hours. Rinse hair with warm water and wash.

Brunette hair dye

  • To make a shimmering brown dye, blend 125 millilitres (1/2 cup) of natural henna with 250 millilitres (one cup) of finely ground walnut shells. Stir in enough boiling water to make a spreadable paste. Add five millilitres (one teaspoon) of lemon juice and 15 millilitres (one tablespoon) of olive oil, stir and apply with a broad brush. Cover your hair with plastic wrap and let sit for 20–30 minutes before thoroughly rinsing and washing your hair.
  • Create a medium brown dye with a light red luster by mixing 100 grams (3 1/2 ounces) of crushed onion peel, 50 grams (1 1/2 ounces) of finely-ground sandalwood and 15 millilitres (one tablespoons) of olive oil. Pour in enough boiling water to create a spreadable paste and apply with a broad brush. Cover your hair with plastic wrap and leave on for 20–30 minutes before rinsing and washing your hair.

Quick colour rinse

You can make a quick colour rinse by using tea, coffee or herbal mixtures before your final rinse. Add 90 millilitres (six tablespoons) of herbs to 500 millilitres (two cups) of water and steep for 30 minutes over low heat, then strain. For light hair, use chamomile or pot marigold flowers, turmeric, rhubarb root and lemon peels. For dark hair, try sage, rosemary, walnut leaves or shells, coffee and black tea. Gray hair will get good results from rinsing with cornflower or holly-hock flowers.

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