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What are Some Homemade Hair Dyes?

Nicole Madison
Updated May 21, 2024
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Commercial hair dyes may make coloring your hair easy, but at a price. They can be harsh on the hair, leaving it damaged and brittle. They may even pose a risk to your mental and physical health. If you want to spice up your life with a different hair color, but don’t want to deal with a bunch of chemicals, consider homemade hair dye.

There are many different products that can be used to color your hair. Many of these items are probably in your kitchen right now. For example, you can use food coloring or powdered drink mix to color your hair temporarily. Made from such products, homemade hair dye can be used to produce everything from bright yellow to deep red or blue, without the unpleasant effects of typical hair dye chemicals. Kool-Aid drink mix is a popular favorite for dyeing hair in shocking colors.

Using powdered drink mix or food coloring to make homemade hair dye may require a certain amount of experimenting. Some hair types and colors may see less noticeable effects. Experienced Kool-Aid dye users often suggest bleaching darker hair before you attempt to color it.

If you are hoping to find a color to cover your greys, consider using sage and rosemary. Simply simmer sage and rosemary in water for about half an hour. Next, leave the mixture to steep for several hours. After the allotted time has passed, apply the mixture to your hair and leave it on until it is dry. Finally, rinse and dry your hair as usual. You may need to repeat this process on a weekly basis in order to obtain the shade you want.

Another homemade hair dye can be created using walnut husks and water. To make this dye, simply boil the husks in water for about 15 minutes. After boiling, strain the mixture and use the liquid to color your hair. This is good for making brown hair darker.

There are tons of other recipes for dye on the Internet. A simple search can yield thousands of interesting ideas. Keep in mind that some recipes are meant to enhance your natural hair color or cover grey hair, while others are meant to provide a completely different look. Take the time to perform a bit of research and you’re sure to find a recipe that is right for your hair, giving you freedom from toxic hair chemicals.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a BeautyAnswered writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By anon999438 — On Jan 05, 2018

I have black hair and I'm not allowed to permanently dye it. So I decided to boil vinegar and then add food coloring and left my hair in there for about 10 minutes and it worked! My hair is teal, this works on all types of hair: blond, dark brown, black , strawberry blond etc. have fun!

By anon341399 — On Jul 11, 2013

I want to dye my hair with kool-aid, but I don't know if it will show up. I have dark brown hair. Are there any colors you think can work?

By anon275353 — On Jun 17, 2012

What you can do to dye your hair without buying any products is take three packets of kool-aid, just barely enough water to be damp and mix that together in a bowl and massage through the hair. Leave it in for about 20 minutes. I'm not sure how long it will last, though.

By anon274253 — On Jun 10, 2012

My hair is a darker blond color with natural highlights and I want to dip-dye my tips brown but I'm afraid it will turn out grey. What should I try?

By anon258491 — On Apr 02, 2012

Kool Aid will dye hair! Both of my daughters have a dark blonde/brown hair color. My son put red/cherry Kool Aid in their hair and it took. My oldest daughters washed out of her hair after about a month. My youngest daughter still has the streaks in her hair and it has been 10 months. Be careful because it may be a little more permanent than you want it to be!

By anon257078 — On Mar 25, 2012

You guys should be careful. The ingredient Butylated Hydroxyanisole is in Kool Aid and it is considered carcinogenic (cancer causing)!

BHA is a key ingredient in many processed foods. It acts as a preservative. Like ascorbic acid, BHA has some antioxidant properties, but it is also reportedly a carcinogen. According to the National Toxicology Program's 11th Annual Report on Carcinogens, BHA is "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen."

By anon242286 — On Jan 22, 2012

So I have light brown hair and well I want pink highlights but i want them to be temporary, so I was thinking of a sharpie or a expo marker or maybe even, um, a Mark it Fine point permanent marker. I just want temporary pink highlights. Help please?

By anon227451 — On Nov 04, 2011

I have medium brown hair and have been putting purple Sharpie streaks in it for the past month now. It takes about a half hour to color my bangs and about fifteen minutes or so to do a streak in my hair. I'm really curious about using Kool-Aid and will try it soon. Any tips?

By anon177270 — On May 17, 2011

When I was younger I dyed my hair with Kool-Aid and it worked. I used the Black Cherry kind on my dark brown hair. Not as bold as chemical dyes but all right. More subtle. I just mixed the Kool-Aid and hot water in a large bowl then rested my hair in it. Took about 15 minutes. Pretty relaxing, really.

Outrageously changing your hair color shouldn't hold the social stigma that it does. I never understood those who got offended by a color on someone else's head. It's the same as a stranger telling you that your haircut is ugly. Incredibly rude.

By anon172943 — On May 05, 2011

So I was curious about the food dye and conditioner method?

I have very light brown-blonde hair, and want it black.

Will it do this with black food dye? Or since it's mixed with white conditioner, will it go grey?

By anon168323 — On Apr 16, 2011

I am a senior citizen using sage and rosemary to color my white gray hair a beautiful blonde and gold looking darker shade. I make a thick tea from the two herbs I purchase and I receive many compliments. Try playing around with the tea to find the prefect recipe for you.

By anon166376 — On Apr 08, 2011

my hair is a darkish brown, light brown in the sun. I want my hair to turn light brown with highlights (preferably red/dark brown) naturally. Any ideas? Thanks.

By anon165121 — On Apr 03, 2011

i want to dip dye the ends of my hair red, though i live in australia so there is nowhere you can get kool aid. could i use staminade or some powedred drink i could concentrate that would work strongly. and also how do you apply it? please help.

By anon164432 — On Mar 31, 2011

I'm 15 and have brown hair i want to have purple tips for the school play since we are doing alice in wonderland. Will Kool-aid really work? if so, what flavor should i use to get purple?

By anon164206 — On Mar 30, 2011

#34 my mother puts funky streaks in her hair, to this day, she cuts her hair in "punky" cuts puts blonde, purple, red, blue, etc. streaks in it. She still has all her hair, and I still have all mine, because, of course, i take after my mother, and she's not one of those "young mums" either. The worst that could ever happen is that your hair will fall out, and even at that all you have to do is grow it back out.

By anon158176 — On Mar 06, 2011

i want to make green and blonde coon tails. how do i do it?

By anon157988 — On Mar 05, 2011

i have really dark brown hair with natural highlights and i tried using all the kool-aid recipes and they don't work. Don't waste a packet just to throw it away. i wasted 3 dollars on something useless.

By anon155151 — On Feb 22, 2011

What if you want your hair red and you have dark brown hair, will it still work?

By anon146598 — On Jan 26, 2011

Okay, so we're doing the Wedding Singer at my school. I'd like to give a couple of people bright colored hair, like a pink stripe or something, but I'm sure they won't want it forever. I don't want to use hair clips or buy the spray dye, because the spray smells bad and hair clips are hard to poof with the rest of the hair without ruining them. So, suggestions?

By anon146210 — On Jan 25, 2011

I'm 14. Well, my hair is colored is black and I wanted to get brown highlights, but I can't get real highlights but I was allowed to highlight my hair with homemade products.

You can use lemon juice. It lightens the pigment in your hair and here is how it turns out: blonde to lighter blonde, brown to light brown and black to brown, or it might not show much for black hair.

Warning: don't go swimming in a pool if you use lemon juice because chlorine and citrus doesn't go well together. it will change the color of the dye.

you can use kool-aid but what really works for my dark hair is food coloring mixed with conditioner.

It is possible for the results to come out different on different people, because we all have different kinds of hair.

By zoemw7 — On Jan 15, 2011

I'm 13 and my mom is totally against me dyeing my hair. my hair is darkish brown and i want it black. how do i do it without purchasing hair dye?

By anon139156 — On Jan 03, 2011

i have light brown hair. will it work? i want bright red streaks.

By anon136668 — On Dec 23, 2010

If you boil down any spice and leave in for 25 minutes, then rinse, your hair turns that color.

By anon133855 — On Dec 12, 2010

How do i make homemade hair dye from fruits and vegetables for colors such as red, blue, purple and pink? Someone told me to try mixing beets with my conditioner for red. Any ideas for the other ones? Thanks!

By anon131987 — On Dec 05, 2010

If your parent won't let you dye your hair, see if they may allow you to use the hairspray that puts color in your hair until you wash it out. Possibly on weekends or when you go out with friends. This may ease them into the idea of you dramatically changing your look without being permanent.

Plus, you can change your hair all the time! Also they sell different colored extensions in small chunks you can clip into your hair. It looks natural but is removable, another parent friendly option.

By anon128873 — On Nov 21, 2010

I'm 12 and my mom says that i can't get highlights but i asked her about temporary and she still said no! how do i convince her to let me get highlights?

I'm a dirty blonde and i want some blonder highlights in my hair so if you have any advice on how to make homemade hair dye for that, that would be great!

By anon126339 — On Nov 12, 2010

# 34: You shouldn't be telling Message # 30 that she is modeling herself after "strange looking girls." I have red streaks in my hair. I think you are stereotyping a lot of people whenever you say things like that.

I do not look "strange." I get told I am pretty quite a lot. Everyone's definition of normal varies and for all we know we could think you look "strange" in our book.

Hair is just to reflect your personality. If you are judging a person by their hair, someone needs a wake-up call! Experimenting is always good! It lets you know what you like and do not like!

By anon125858 — On Nov 10, 2010

I have natural pitch black hair and want red or red-tinted streaks. I'm not allowed to bleach my hair so would koolaid work without bleaching?

By anon113859 — On Sep 26, 2010

To message #30: when you are older you will realize your mother is right. As I got older I realized my mother's advice was always correct. Unfortunately she died before I could tell her how right she had always been. Think of it before you make yourself look silly. Imitating strange-looking girls will not make you look cool, but silly.

By anon108872 — On Sep 04, 2010

I'm a very dark brown headed girl and was just curious as to if the blue kool aid will work? Any advice?

By anon105153 — On Aug 19, 2010

i have dark brown hair and i want to dye it like dark red but it costs too much money to dye it. is there any homemade recipe or food that i could use?

please, please, please let me know.

By anon95518 — On Jul 12, 2010

I have used red kool aid in my dark brown hair and it worked! It showed up as a reddish purple color.

By anon92568 — On Jun 29, 2010

I want to experiment with my hair but my mom says I'm too young. All I want is like red streaks because I think it looks totally cool. How do I get my mom to chill?

By anon91320 — On Jun 21, 2010

i have light brown hair that looks orangey with a blonde tint in the sun, but browner in the dark. i really want red hair, but not spend another 90 bucks like i did last time, or buy any box stuff. does Koolaid really work? if so, which flavor/color should i use?

By anon87783 — On Jun 01, 2010

will a banana colored/bleached hair turn white if I used a blue or violet flavored kool aide (not sugar free. i don't know where to find one). i just thought it would be a better toner than a dye since it's not really dye.

By anon87510 — On May 30, 2010

that's fantastic. especially with my blonde hair. thank you so much

By anon86243 — On May 24, 2010

i have naturally red hair. its pretty light because it naturally gets a bunch of highlights so the highlights kind of make it look orange. i really want to go dark auburn with some highlights on top. but i don't want it getting redder or orange. i don't trust box dyes and can't afford to get it done. any suggestions?

By anon81522 — On May 02, 2010

Unsweetened Kool-Aid, water and conditioner is easy.

For all of your hair:

Put the Kool-Aid in a container and mix in a tiny bit of water. Don't put a lot, you want it to be paste-y. Put in a bit of conditioner and mix well again. If you did it correctly it should be a paste (not watery and no lumps!). The amount depends on how long/thick your hair is.

Work that mixture into your hair (protect your forehead with petroleum jelly or something unless you want to be scrubbing color off of it with toothpaste) then cover it tightly with plastic wrap so it won't dry out. The longer you leave it in, the longer the color will last in your hair.

You can leave it on overnight, but make sure the plastic wrap is secure. I suggest putting a swimming cap over the plastic wrap just to be sure.

Anyway, remove the plastic wrap and wash it off with cold water. Wash it again with conditioner if you want to.

For streaks:

Use the same mixture as above. Put foil under the section of hair you want to color and work that in. After that, wrap the foil around the hair. This is easier if you have someone to help you. Easier: use a streaking tool. lol.

Alternate method:

Boil Kool-Aid in water and soak your hair in it (while still hot, but don't burn yourself. Wait for it to cool down enough.) for as long as you can stand it. When that's done, wash it off with cold water. Some people mix vinegar into this, but I don't know if that helps. This works very well for dyeing just the tips/ends of your hair too.

This lasts a couple of days to a couple of months, depending on how well you did it and your hair type. Also, the color might not exactly turn out the way you planned.

For a temporary (like, off in one/two washes temporary) use bingo dauber/marker. It's very easy. Works best on light colors.

By anon78170 — On Apr 17, 2010

A great product to lighten hair is sun in, just spay it in on a sunny day and my hair personally went from medium dark brown to having blonde streaks. it is permanent.

By anon76941 — On Apr 12, 2010

I've dyed my hair more then about 15 times. my natural hair color is dirty blonde, but right now my hair is medium brown. I want my hair very light blonde. how do i do this without using dye?

By anon60436 — On Jan 13, 2010

I've used Kool Aid for years. I have blonde hair. It will tint, not color, so for darker hair it may be more difficult. Be careful: blue Kool Aid will dye blonde hair to a green color. Remember, it will tint, not color, so make sure you know what to expect!

You will need:

- kool aid in preferred colors

- foil

- toothbrush or paint brush

- small bowl

1. Get sugar free Kool Aid in the shade you desire.

2. Pour it into a bowl and add a very small amount of water. This will concentrate the dye. Mix well.

3. Using a toothbrush or similar object, apply dye to hair. Use foil to wrap the wet Kool-Aided hair so it won't get everywhere.

4. Leave it in overnight.

5. Rinse out thoroughly in the morning.

And viola! Delicious smelling Kool Aid bright hair!

By anon58033 — On Dec 29, 2009

Hey I have dark brown hair and I just want a sort of tint or color to my hair. I don't want to bleach it or put any chemicals in it. Can you help me?

By anon57525 — On Dec 23, 2009

What flavor Kool Aid should I use to get pink hair?

Would strawberry or cherry work best? My hair is a dirty-blonde sort of color.

By anon57167 — On Dec 20, 2009

it didn't work at all.

By anon51495 — On Nov 06, 2009

boil kool aid in any color and stick your hair in it for 5 minutes, then rinse with cold water. it's permanent.

For your roots, soak a paper towel in the Kool aid and hold it there.

By anon48591 — On Oct 13, 2009

i'm just dying my bangs but i used food coloring and it came out in less than a day. any advice to make green colored hair?

By anon43836 — On Sep 02, 2009

i have dark mahogany chemically dyed hair. i really want to do like a reddish color, but i want it to be a natural recipe. any help?

By anon30881 — On Apr 26, 2009

I tried the sage & rosemary for several weeks, but it didn't work.

By Iportnoy — On Mar 05, 2009

Has *anybody* tried this sage dye to cover grey? And good question.....did you use fresh sage or dried?

By anon21366 — On Nov 14, 2008

Does the sage need to be in dried powder form (like those that are sold in grocery stores in the "spices" section)? Or are fresh sage leaves supposed to be used?

By xxdorkxx — On Aug 22, 2008

well, I got blonde hair now... never mind. xD

By anon16675 — On Aug 11, 2008

Maybe I'm wrong, but if you're using Kool-Aid, wouldn't it be best to use a packet of the regular kind but not add the sugar? You could probably use more or less water to vary the strength of it, too.

By xxdorkxx — On Aug 08, 2008

I wish I could use that recipe...but I can't buy all that ingredients.. I'm really poor.. so if there's any other way to do it let me know..

By anon16518 — On Aug 08, 2008

Using a packet of Kool-aid, a spoonful of corn starch, and a small amount of water, a paste can be made and applied to the hair. also this recipe works to make actual dye.

Natural Blonde Dye Ingredients:

Be sure and get all the ingredients at the store and lay everything out before you start the recipe. Everything will need to be added at once.

2 whole uncut fresh lemons (squeezed & strained for juice)

2/3 ounces or 20 grams of marigold flowers (you can buy at health food store)

2/3 ounces or 20 grams of chamomile flowers (buy at health food store)

1 - 1 1/4 ounces or 30 grams of finely chopped or powdered rhubarb root ((grocery store or heath food store)

2 ounces or 50 grams of acacia honey (health food store)

1 pint or 1/2 liter cider vinegar

2 ounces or 50 grams of 95% proof liqueur alcohol (liquor store).

Put the vinegar and rhubarb into a stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer very gently for 10 minutes. Be sure to make it exactly 10 minutes. Less or more may cause problems.

Add the chamomile and marigold flowers and juice of the two lemons. Cover the pan and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove completely from the heat.

Let the mixture stand covered with the lid until the liquid is tepid. Filter the concoction through a fine sieve into a bottle.

Make sure you squeeze out any liquid in the herbs left in the sieve. Remember to be careful since the liquid may still be warm or even a tiny bit hot.

Add the honey, alcohol and squeezed and strained lemon juice from the 2 lemons. Put a tight cap on the bottle and store for your next shampoo.

How To Use Dye:

There are a couple of ways that you can make use of the natural dyes. You can use a dilution of the mixture by adding 1 tablespoon of the dye mixture for each quart or liter of final rinse water. If you really want to punch up the highlights, apply the mixture directly to your hair and leave on for at least 30 minutes. Be sure to cover your head with a shower cap or the drippage can stain. To get less drips, you can also mix some undiluted dye with a thick rinse out or deep conditioner and glop that on your head to get a thicker mixture.

Rinse & Shine:

After allowing the mixture as a quick rinse or as a longer leave on dye, rinse your hair with cold water to seal the color. Let your hair air dry if possible. While there is no guarantee of the level of color you will have achieved, changes are good that you will definitely see some blonde highlights. The lighter the color your natural hair, the more intense the blonde color from the mixture. Remember that this is a type of all natural vegetable dye. The dye will only last from shampoo to shampoo. If you want to maintain the highlights or added blonde colors you will need to apply the mixture after each shampoo. One batch will last from 2-3 weeks if kept refrigerated. It will last a shorter period of time if kept at room temperature. Depending on the length and thickness of your hair, the mixture will provide several after shampoo applications. Remember to take special care because in undiluted form, the final liquid will dye any materials it comes into contact with. This means it can stain your hands, your skin and any clothes or other materials. Apply this mixture in the shower and wash off immediately.

By xxdorkxx — On Jun 25, 2008

okay, I'm a 15 year old her who isn't allowed to dye her hair but my mother said I could "experiment" so ... I decided to mix milk and peroxide together and sleep with it in my hair, it worked... and my hair is lighter... but I want blonde...and I am not allowed to use peroxide anymore... because she thinks it will make me bald when I'm older.. so... is there anything besides lemon juice or buying anything that I can use to put in my hair to make me blonde? anything would help me thanks!

By anon14036 — On Jun 09, 2008

OK so if you have dark colored hair then the kool-aid will give you a tint....im doin red....

By aiabee — On Jan 10, 2008

i have really dark, almost black hair and would want to know what homemade hair dye i could use. i haven't tried using kool-aid yet, but i really doubt it would work on my hair.

By anon5242 — On Nov 18, 2007

how do I use chestnut hulls as hair dye?

By anon90 — On Mar 14, 2007

As a blonde, I've successfully used Kool-Aid for pink shades. My advice is to use the unsweetened kind (MUCH less sticky), in a very concentrated form. Now that I'm grown up, though, I'm very curious about the walnut husks--any tips/tricks for getting that to work?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a BeautyAnswered writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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