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Natural Hair Dyes Review »

Created by HairPlans staff writer. Last updated on Monday, April 29, 2024.
Quick Summary
Navigating the world of natural hair dyes opens up a realm of possibilities for those seeking a more organic approach to hair color transformation. Whether you're looking to achieve a subtle color enhancement or a bold new look, these natural alternatives provide a healthier route to achieving your desired shade without the harsh chemicals.
Score Information
Easy score:
Natural score:
Painless score:
View or Buy (Price: $7 - $25)

You can embrace the power of nature with a carefully selected range of natural hair dyes. Here are two popular natural hair dyes:


Henna is a natural alternative that dyes hair in shades of red, brown, and black, depending on the formulation. Henna, derived from the leaves of the Lawsonia inermis plant, has a rich history that spans thousands of years and crosses many cultures, making it one of the oldest cosmetics ever used by humans. Its origins can be traced back to ancient Egypt, where it was used for its cooling properties to soothe the skin in the harsh desert climate and for the dying of hair and fabrics. Over time, the use of henna spread across Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, becoming a staple in various cultural traditions for not just hair coloring, but also in body art, particularly in wedding ceremonies and festivals. The distinctive reddish-brown tint that henna imparts has been revered and utilized for its natural beauty enhancement properties, providing a chemical-free option for coloring hair.

Henna works by coating the hair shaft, which not only imparts color but also adds shine and volume, improving the hair's overall appearance. Unlike chemical dyes, henna binds with the keratin in the hair, resulting in a semi-permanent color that fades naturally over time without the harsh growth line of traditional dyes. Its natural components also minimize the risk of allergic reactions, making it a safer alternative for many. In addition to its coloring capabilities, henna is celebrated for its conditioning properties, often leaving the hair feeling thicker, softer, and healthier. As awareness and preference for natural beauty products continue to grow, henna remains a popular choice for those seeking a natural way to enhance their hair color while nurturing their hair's health.


Indigo is a natural dye that provides blue-black tones.Indigo is known scientifically as Indigofera tinctoria. It boasts a storied past that intertwines with the fabric of various ancient civilizations. Indigo is is often used in combination with henna to achieve darker shades. This vibrant blue dye was once as valuable as currency, owing to its intense color and the complexity of its extraction process. Originating in the Indus Valley (present-day Pakistan and India) over 6,000 years ago, indigo's rich blue hues captivated cultures across the world, from Africa to Japan, where it was used not only for dyeing textiles but also for artistic and cosmetic purposes. In hair dyeing, indigo has been used for centuries, often in conjunction with henna, to achieve a range of colors from deep black to rich brown, showcasing its versatility in natural hair care.

When used as a hair dye, indigo offers a natural, chemical-free alternative for those looking to darken their hair. Unlike synthetic dyes, indigo treats hair without altering its structure, providing a healthier approach to color treatment. When applied after using henna, indigo can create a variety of shades, making it an invaluable tool in the natural hair dye palette. This process, known as "henna-indigo" or "two-step henndigo," allows for customized color results that can cater to individual preferences while minimizing potential damage. Indigo's conditioning properties also contribute to hair health, leaving strands smoother and more manageable. As consumers become increasingly interested in sustainable and organic beauty solutions, the appeal of indigo as a natural dye continues to grow, offering a blend of historical tradition and modern hair care.

Tips for Dyeing Hair or Beard
  • Patch Test: Always do a patch test to check for allergic reactions before applying the dye all over.
  • Follow Instructions: Carefully read and follow the product's instructions for the best results and to avoid skin irritation.
  • Condition Well: Dyeing can dry out hair and beards, so use a good conditioner or beard oil afterward to maintain softness and health.

Choosing the right product depends on the desired result, how long you want the color to last, and how much maintenance you're willing to do. It's also important to consider the health of your hair and skin, as some products may be more drying or irritating than others.

Natural or Chemical Information

Natural score: 9

Pure natural dyes like henna and indigo typically do not contain synthetic chemicals. These dyes are derived from plants: henna from the leaves of the Lawsonia inermis plant, which provides a range of red, orange, and copper tones, and indigo from the leaves of the Indigofera tinctoria plant, which gives blue hues. When used in their pure forms, both henna and indigo are considered natural and chemical-free options for coloring hair.

However, it's crucial to be cautious when purchasing these products, as some products marketed as "henna" or "indigo" might be mixed with synthetic dyes or other chemicals to alter the color outcome, enhance the dye's properties, or reduce application time. These additives can sometimes cause allergic reactions or other unwanted effects, especially for those seeking purely natural alternatives due to sensitive skin or a preference to avoid synthetic chemicals.

To ensure you're getting a natural product, look for "100% pure henna" or "100% pure indigo" on the label, and review the ingredients list for any added chemicals. It's also a good idea to buy from reputable suppliers who provide clear information about their products' composition. Keep in mind that pure henna and indigo have limited color outcomes—henna in shades of red through brown (depending on the original hair color), and indigo for blue to black tones—and they cannot lighten hair.

How does it feel?

Painless score: 9

Natural dyes like henna and indigo are often considered gentler alternatives to chemical hair dyes, mainly because they don't contain ammonia, peroxide, or other harsh chemicals typically found in traditional hair dyes. However, that doesn't mean they're completely free from causing discomfort or allergic reactions. Here’s what to consider:

1. Allergic Reactions
  • Cause: Though rare, it's possible to be allergic to natural ingredients, including henna and indigo. Pure henna is derived from the Lawsonia inermis plant and is generally safe, but some people might be sensitive to it. Complications can arise especially with “black henna,” which may contain paraphenylenediamine (PPD), a chemical known to cause allergic reactions.
  • Symptoms: Similar to chemical dyes, symptoms can include itching, redness, swelling, or a burning sensation on the skin.
  • Prevention: Conducting a patch test at least 48 hours before the full application can help detect an allergic reaction.
2. Skin Irritation
  • Cause: Any product, natural or synthetic, can potentially irritate the skin, especially if you have sensitive skin or existing skin conditions.
  • Prevention: Test the product on a small skin area before a full application, and consider consulting a dermatologist if you have a history of skin reactions.
3. Messiness and Application Difficulty
  • Cause: Natural dyes like henna and indigo can be messier and more difficult to apply than conventional dyes. While not a "discomfort" in the traditional sense, the application process can be lengthy and a bit cumbersome, which might be inconvenient or uncomfortable for some.
  • Prevention: Following clear instructions, using gloves, and applying in an easy-to-clean area can help manage the process.
4. Dryness
  • Cause: Some individuals find that their hair feels dry after using plant-based dyes, particularly if they use them frequently.
  • Prevention: Hydrating hair masks and deep conditioning treatments can help maintain moisture balance in the hair.
5. Unpredictable Color Results
  • Cause: The results of using natural dyes can vary widely depending on your original hair color, hair type, and the specific product used. This isn't a physical discomfort, but it can cause emotional or psychological stress if the outcome isn't what was expected.
  • Prevention: Researching, consulting with professionals experienced in natural dyes, and starting with strand tests can help set realistic expectations.

Overall, natural dyes like henna and indigo offer a safer alternative for many, but like any product applied to the body, it's important to proceed with caution and test for allergic reactions or sensitivities.


  • Low Risk of Allergies: Less likely to cause allergic reactions or scalp irritation, making them suitable for sensitive skin.
  • Conditioning Properties: Henna, in particular, is known for its conditioning and strengthening properties for the hair.
  • Environmentally Friendly: These plant-based dyes are biodegradable and have minimal environmental impact.
  • No Ammonia or Peroxide: Free from harsh chemicals used in synthetic dyes, thus minimizing hair damage.


  • Limited Color Range: Primarily offers shades of red, brown, and black, with limited ability to lighten hair.
  • Unpredictable Results: The final color can vary significantly based on the original hair color and type.
  • Messy Application: Both henna and indigo can be messy and time-consuming to mix and apply.
  • Long Application Time: Requires a longer sitting time for the dye to deposit color, often several hours.
  • Difficulty in Removal: Once applied, henna and indigo are very difficult to remove from hair, and coloring over them with synthetic dyes can be challenging.

Cost Information

Price range: $7 - $25

The price of natural hair dyes typically depends on the packaging, size, and mode of delivery. You can expect to pay between $7 and $25 depending on the quantity purchased.

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Article References  click to expand  click to close

  • Cui, H., Xie, W., Hua, Z., Cao, L., Xiong, Z., Tang, Y., & Yuan, Z. (2022). Recent advancements in natural plant colorants used for hair dye applications: A review. Molecules, 27(22), 8062. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules27228062
  • Popat, R., Zanke, A., Mali, B., Patil, A., & Ghonge, A. (2020). A review on the natural resources use as hair colour and hair dye. World Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, 9, 270-277. https://doi.org/10.20959/wjpps20205-16016
  • Kim, K.-H., Kabir, E., & Jahan, S. A. (2016). The use of personal hair dye and its implications for human health. Environment International, 89-90, 222-227. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2016.01.018
  • Da França, S. A., Dario, M. F., Esteves, V. B., Baby, A. R., & Velasco, M. V. R. (2015). Types of hair dye and their mechanisms of action. Cosmetics, 2(2), 110-126. https://doi.org/10.3390/cosmetics2020110
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes, it does not constitute medical advice. The information contained in this article is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon as professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

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