How to colour hair – using plants!

About 65% of women alter their natural hair colour, which is about a 7% increase from the 1950s. Unfortunately the process calls for using chemicals, some of which are carcinogenic. Over bleaching your hair can lead to brittle strands, split ends, and hair breakage, stripping hair of its natural oils and pigment.

If you don’t want to risk the effects of bleach but still want funky vibrant locks or just simply cover your grey hairs then turn to plants – but don’t be put off if you don’t get salon results the first time that you attempt it just keep on experimenting. Beauty expert Angela Lopez of Belle Toi in Bournemouth, says that many plants are full of antioxidants, which are very healthy for your hair and homemade plant-based hair dyes are also suitable for vegans.

Angela says that it is important to test a small amount of natural dye on the sensitive skin of your inner arm first and to prepare your hair for colouring by conditioning it. Make a diary with photos, a few snips of hair taken from the nape of your neck so you don’t ruin your hairstyle and your recipes to refer to in future.

After applying dye with a brush or applicator it is best to cover your hair with a shower cap for up to an hour then rinse with apple cider vinegar – doing this will help the colour last longer

Followers of celebrity fashion are loving, dip dying their hair and although it’s best to bleach the tips of your hair before dipping, it is possible to dip dye light coloured hair without it. Most natural dyes will last up to a month, which should see you through the Christmas and New Year parties!

To dip dye, do not wash and condition your hair beforehand but apply the colour to the blond tips you’d like to colour. Check hair every ten minutes or so, until it’s coloured to a desired level, but don’t leave on for more than 45-60 minutes then shampoo and rinse

Henna colours are made from the plant, Lawsonia inermis, which is an Egyptian plant that was used in the ancient world. Because henna dyes don’t contain bleach or other chemicals, they can’t lighten your hair, but they can make the colour richer. Henna is a great choice if you’re looking to go darker or just want to have some variance in your hair. Henna dye will nourish and condition your hair and scalp too, giving your hair a healthy, glossy sheen.

If you simply want to enrich the natural colour of your hair, make this basic dye. Simply make a paste using herbs and some hot water, adding only a small amount of water at a time until you get the consistency of toothpaste then apply the paste to the roots and cover with a damp towel or shower cap. Leave it on for 30 minutes or so and rinse. For the final rinse use a vinegar/water solution and leave to dry.

To brighten and lighten natural blond hair, regularly rinse with lemon juice, which strips hair of its natural pigments. Lemon juice works slowly, so expect to repeat applications several times before seeing significant results

For darker blonds make a tea with dried chamomile (this is good for hair that’s been over exposed to sun) and calendula flowers and allow it to cool before using it to spritz your dry hair. Oxalic acid serves as a fixative, so a rhubarb rinse will have a more lasting effect than most herbal rinses. Rhubarb root rinse will give blond hair golden honey tones too. To rinse like a pro pour the infusion through towel dried hair at least 15 times then leave a solution on your hair for 15 minutes before rinsing it out with clear water. Repeat this every three weeks.

Cold tea made from nettles, rosemary and also sage, are brilliant for deepening shades of brunette hair and also for covering grey hair. To make a sage rinse steep a handful of the dried herb in a litre of boiling water for 30 minutes (longer, if you want a darker tint). Cool the infusion, strain it and pour it through freshly shampooed hair 15 or more times. Then wait 10 minutes before washing the liquid out with clear water. These herbs are also great for getting rid of dandruff

Tomato juice works with red hair and pureed beetroot will give your hair a reddish purple tone whatever your natural colouring and if you use a vinegar rinse it will make any red tones in your own colour stand out.

Carrot and beetroot juice will give blond locks reddish tones, making your hair warm and vibrant. Prepare as a tea and mix with some olive oil then put into a spray bottle and apply it to your hair. Either sit out in the sun or dry with hair dryer, Then wait for an hour before wash out the excess colourant with mild shampoo and finish with your usual conditioner

You can similarly use strong black coffee and black tea to make brown hair shine or mix equal parts soy sauce to apple cider vinegar to add dark pigments that will glisten in sunlight.

When washing your hair use a mild shampoo and lather up — but only at the scalp. Be gentle! Friction can permanently damage your hair’s cuticle, leading to breakage and frizz

To make your own shampoo mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda with hot water and cider vinegar and if you like, add a few drops of your favourite scented essential oil. Store the shampoo in a bottle ready for use. Don’t expect a luxury lather but it will make your hair shine!

Air drying is the simplest way to dry your summer blooms of calendula and chamomile. In summer, gather the flower stems into small bunches held with a rubber band. The stems will shrink slightly, so make sure the band is tight then hang the bunches, upside down, from a celing hook or string. Keep them upside down so that the stems don’t bend from being top heavy.

Most flowers will take somewhere between 10 to 20 days to dry, although you will know they are dry when they feel stiff and the stems snap easily from the blooms. Drying usually takes around 10-20 days

NOTE: Plant juices can stain so be sure to wear gloves and thoroughly protect any nearby surfaces and wear something to protect your clothes.


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