Natural hair dye is hair dye extracted from plants and vegetables. It is usually used in a pure extract form and does not contain chemicals like Ammonia, Resorcinol and Phenylenediamine which are found in commercial hair dyes. Being non-toxic, natural hair dyes do not pose a health or environmental hazard. They do not harm the hair structure, can even help with conditioning and hair moisturizing, and so are generally good for long-term use.
However, while such dyes are deemed safe, everybody has a different threshold of what they can tolerate. There is no guarantee that what works perfectly well on a number of people may not have an adverse effect on others. People can be allergic to a wide range of natural ingredients, and a store-bought natural hair dye may contain certain levels of metals, leads and mercury that can irritate or inflame sensitive skin. So, before using any natural hair dye, it is advisable to take a patch test to observe the body's reaction to the dye.
A patch test is done by applying a little amount of dye to the inner skin of the elbow or to the skin behind the ear; if there is an allergic reaction, that dye should not be applied on the hair. Allergies can develop despite regular safe use, so, ideally, a skin patch test should be done before every coloring process. A strand test is also recommended and helpful for checking how the dye works on the hair, but this is not always accurate and the final hair color application could look different.
Compared to chemical dyes, the color options in natural hair dyes are limited. Henna and walnut hulls are used for dyeing hair red or brown, castor bean and indigo are used for getting a black color, indigo and woad for bluish tints, and saffron, chamomile and rhubarb for a blond look. Dyes are also made from respectively boiling potatoes, black coffee and black tea. Other effective rinses include those made from various herbs like rosemary, sage, parsley, catnip, lemon, raspberry leaves, hibiscus flowers, calendula, rosehips, betony, ivy berries, black coffee and black tea.
Dyeing with a natural hair dye is not an exact science. The process can be messy, getting the precise required color is often a matter of trial and error, and the color is not as permanent as a chemical dye. The haircare benefits, however, are long-lasting.