5 Products You Can Use to Color Your Hair Naturally

November 20, 2011 54 comments View all articles in General

Highlights, lowlights, frosted tips, root touchups, all over color: it's almost impossible to find a head of hair that hasn't been treated with some kind of dye these days. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, except conventional hair dyes contain numerous chemicals like alkylphenyl ethoxylates (APEs), which are hormone disruptors, acetates, ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, and paraphenylenediamine (PPD), which, with prolonged use, is linked to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and multiple melanomas.  These chemicals not only negatively impact one's health, they also contaminate waterways, water supplies, and soil when they're washed down the drain. Hydrogen peroxide and ammonia are particularly toxic to fish and aquatic life. 

Now that you know the truth about your hair dye, are you going to stop coloring your hair? We didn't think so. That's why we've put together a list of some natural alternatives to conventional, toxic hair dyes that are not only better for you, but better for the Earth too.

NATURAL HAIR COLORING PRODUCTS

  • Herbatint: Herbatint is a vegan, biodegradable, ammonia- and cruelty-free herbal hair color gel that contains only very low concentrations of PPD and peroxide. It's semipermanent line is completely free of PPDs. The Herbatint formula uses as few pharmaceutical chemical ingredients as possible by utilizing vegetal extracts from plants and herbs like rosemary, cinchona, and walnut husk. 
  • EcoColors: EcoColors is free of gluten, sulfites, EDTA, parabens, resorcinol, ethanolamine, and animal cruelty. EcoColors unfortunately uses small amounts of ammonia and peroxide, but in a soy and flax base so the toxins aren't absorbed. Its hair dyes contain high quality, natural ingredients like flax oil, vitamin E, vitamin C, nettles, rosemary, flower essence, and grapefruit seed extract. EcoColors also has a professional line of hair dyes so it makes it easier for color cravers to choose natural options. 
  • Naturcolor: Naturcolor is an ammonia- and cruelty-free, plant-based option that's low in PPD and contains therapeutic herbs like rosemary and lavender. The best part about Naturcolor is that it doesn't come with that nasty, toxic scent that chemically-based dyes emit. And after you show Naturcolor's ingredient list to your physician, you can possibly even use the product on your hair while you're pregnant! 
  • Aubrey Organics: Aubrey Organics makes one of the only permanent hair dyes that's totally natural and PPD-free, though it unfortunately only comes in two shades of brown. Aubrey Organics contains henna and indigo in a botanical-based hair dye that's chemical- and cruelty-free and is safe for its users as well as the environment. 
  • Rainbow Henna: Rainbow Henna is free of additives, chemicals, and pesticides, and comes in a wide range of long-lasting, mixable shades. Rainbow Henna also carries natural shampoo and conditioners too!

Comments:

April Emery on Nov. 20, 2011 at 11:22 p.m.

I have often toyed around with the idea of dying my hair but dismissed it quickly because of all the chemicals used in many store-bought hair coloring kits. Being a newly diagnosed celiac disease patient has nearly obliterated my chances of ever coloring my hair because of how prevalent gluten is in personal care products. How exciting to see EcoColors on your list! I can daydream again (and perhaps even act on those dreams)! Thanks for this post.

Karri on Dec. 21, 2011 at 6:48 a.m.

As a hairstylist, I LOVE the idea of getting away from all the chemicals, for my clients as well as my own health. I've been considering Aubrey Organics, so I'm glad to see them on your list. Do you know of products that lift color. Most clients want highlights and I can't seem to find anything that will lift "naturally". Would love suggestions. Thanks!

Chasing Green on Dec. 22, 2011 at 12:39 a.m.

I wish we had more information on that for you Karri. I would encourage you to contact Aubrey Organics directly to see if they have any suggestions.

Mandy on Jan. 2, 2012 at 9:42 a.m.

Tints of Nature has two types of lightener. I haven't used it yet, I've only used their natural black dye, and it didn't stick. Peroxide, as far as I know, is actually relatively safe.

Charla on April 14, 2013 at 4:30 p.m.

I have been using Naturcolor for years and it covers the gray well and leaves the hair well conditioned. However the last time I used it I had a headache for two days. There are several chemicals in it and now I am second guessing how toxic free it is. I have not had luck with henna covering the gray.

Peg Russo on May 8, 2013 at 12:19 p.m.

I use Naturcolor. The color looks so natural. My only complaint is that the color at the roots fades quickly.

Nic on June 1, 2013 at 7:28 p.m.

Rainbow henna was the one that just about killed me from anaphylactic shock. It contains PPD that I'm allergic to, it's how I realized I am allergic to PPD. I have friends who have used it for years with no problem. Me.. I should have done a patch test but broke out in major hives and had to have mineral oil treatments to remove it. I'm looking for alternatives and reading these comments only to see someone recommending something I have a strong reaction to.. so I think I'll keep trying hibiscus tea rinses and eating sunflower seeds for now to boost my naturally red going grey hair for now. Shikai's products I can say have worked pretty well to boost my natural reds with no allergic reaction. A big tip off for me with my allergy was reading that those allergic to PPD are also usually allergic to PABA (was in old sunscreens especially) and I was always allergic to PABA.

Michele M. on July 4, 2013 at 5:27 a.m.

You can also just use any packet of KOOL-AID.

Ella on Oct. 1, 2014 at 8:21 p.m.

A doctor I know said for gray, to eat an avocado a day..he said its a copper difficiency. Just passing along..

Jo Ann on Oct. 1, 2014 at 9:46 p.m.

Wilton icing coloring will last for many washes

lin on Oct. 2, 2014 at 3:57 a.m.

Use coffee for gray hair Take concentrated coffee and leave on for half an hour then rinse.

Natalia on Nov. 6, 2014 at 5:50 a.m.

Where do you buy Naturcolor?
Their webiste only has the color palette and a phone number (which is kind of sketchy).
Google search only came up with vitaminshop.com, but that doesn't have all the colors.

Thanks.

Chasing Green on Nov. 6, 2014 at 7:21 a.m.

Amazon seems to have quite a few Naturcolor products available.

Debby on Dec. 1, 2014 at 2:13 p.m.

To Natalia: I believe the number you see on the contact tab of the color page leads you to a home based business in Napa, CA. I have ordered from them several times with no problem. Their computerized records are good but you always have to talk to a person. You can get all the colors you see on their page.

Leanne on Feb. 10, 2015 at 8 a.m.

A hair colorist myself many years ago but recently have become allergic to something now myself. Still figuring it out what I am allergic to. I really want to know because I want to stay away from it as it my be in other items or medicine. By process of elimination for me either I am allergic to PPD or agents that replaced ammonia. Though strangely my symptoms are very different than others. I get cold/needle piercing feeling in trunk and arms. Even picking up a container to read ingredients gives me this reaction in arms. Am I the only one with these types of symptoms? My answer from my Dr was to just not dye my hair. ( Surely I can find something. I'm starting to look dull medium ash blonde. I just need a little something to sparkle. Tea and coffee rinses does a little but not sure if it is damaging on daily basis. I have considered lemonade kool-aid. I may brave to use Eco color . I'll start by just touching box then if good. At most will do a foil of 1 or 2 highlights then wipe off agent with towel not getting on skin at all with gloves. This can be scary stuff. Sensation I had I immediately rinsed any body part exposed, got fresh air and took liquid Benedryl .For me this did take away my allergic sensation but an allergy effecting 2 body systems.(Skin, Nerves, Lungs) does mean you have anaphylaxis which is deadly. Repeated allergy exposure can lead to anaphylaxis. Others have ended up in hospital with swollen head/face, near death and a few rare cases died . Patch Test should be taken seriously but even that can not always predict a reaction. Good luck but be cautious

Joyce Rescigno on March 3, 2015 at 11:26 a.m.

I am 70 yrs old and have salt and pepper hair. I only tried rinsing with 'Oreal once and Nice and Easy once when I was in my late thirties when I had much less gray. Both times I had a terrible allergic reaction. My scalp oozed and the fluid drained downward to my face. Upon waking up the fluid would be accumulated on one side of my face. I had to be put on steroids and it took two weeks of itching and burning to clear up. The only reason I tried it the second time was the hairdresser said she would use a cap for highlighting and the dye wouldn't go thru to my scalp.
Now I would really love to find something that works but I don't know which ingredient I am allergic to - the ammonia or the dye. Any ideas or should I just keep my mostly black and white hair. ( I do receive many compliments but who knows if sincere or just polite.)

Paloma on March 26, 2015 at 11:14 a.m.

Logona is very good and fairly non-toxic. I am 63 and 90% gray and color my hair to bring out more color in my face. I tried Logona years ago and may go back to them and use the cream colors. Their powder turned the gray orange, but their newer creams work better with gray. Overall the color was beautiful. Naturcolor also seems good, but has peroxide. Look at ewg.org/skindeep for great information about beauty products and toxicity.

Kim on May 23, 2015 at 11:50 a.m.

@Nic on June 1, 2013 at 7:28 p.m:
Rainbow Henna does not contain PPD. It's possible if you've colored your hair in the past with products that contained PPD, the residue left over could've have interacted with the Henna. Also, red dyes are a known allergen and cancer causing agent. The darker and richer the color, the worse they are. I never got sick until I started using a red hair dye, but then I also found out I had Lyme disease which messes with your immune system among other things.

A McN on June 20, 2015 at 7:10 p.m.

You have to be very careful some of these products do contain ppd or a similar chemical which can be fatal. I have tried dyes that reporting to be safe and they are not. I had a horrible reaction to Eco colors.

Benjamin on June 25, 2015 at 11:39 a.m.

Another similar product is Organically Blonde, it's an herbal rinse made of 100% vegetable skins and flowers. The owners grow many of the ingredients in their organic garden and make the product by hand.

Margie on Aug. 5, 2015 at 8:39 a.m.

At this point I am ready to scream,my head is exploding with the hours of research and I am no closer to finding a soft dark to medium blond not golden or ash hair color that will also cover grey. I have a list of very toxic chemicals given to me by my oncologist that I MUST avoid PPD and PTD. M - Aminophenol ( coal tar ) Toluene 2-5 Diamine Sulfate ( TDS ) Ammonia and parabens these include butylparben, isobutylparben. Methylparben, propylparben. I am in a desperate search before a very important Seot 8. Wedding. So far nothing.

I appreciate all helpful inout. Thank you

Margie

barbara on Aug. 30, 2015 at 5:50 p.m.

For quite a few years I used naturcolor with beautiful results.I recently changed to naturtint because it seemed the color did not fade as quickly.

I did not relate the itchiness and general discomfort to the naturtint until I stumbled upon the information regarding ppd and the like.

About 2 days after the coloring I would experience itchiness everywhere including my face and eyes, headaches and a little bit of an ear ache only in the right ear. I would have a bitter taste in the back of my throat, as well.

This is truly uncomfortable and would last exactly 1 week.
I switched back to naturcolor and experienced the same symptoms.

I am not ready to be a natural grayhead at this point and my hair will need to be colored again no later than 2 weeks, so I need to find something. I cannot tolerate such discomfort and I think it is frightening that symptoms manifest 2 days after the actual application.

The thing about allergies they can at first present with mild to moderate symptoms, but upon the next exposure it can be potentially life threatening.

deb on Oct. 4, 2015 at 9:17 a.m.

I bought madison reed and wondered why an allergy test would need 48 hours if there are no bad chemicals. I read they replaced the 5 worst ones with even worse ones! Im sending it back. So back to square one. I read there are 10 best....some are listed here that say they havr ppd or other problems. Disechanted!

Nancy Leland on Oct. 8, 2015 at 4:40 p.m.

I am allergic to PPDA and probably all "amines." I buy a level one (temporary) hair color at Sally's. It doesn't last a long time, but Clairol discontinued their consumer level one product.

balasubramanian shanmugam on Dec. 13, 2015 at 11:33 p.m.

all are advertising theirs is without ammonia , but why it is allergetic

MBS on Dec. 24, 2015 at 9:13 a.m.

clairol's loving care was a great semi-permament color! they discontinued it a few years back. i called the company and they really had no good reason for not making the product anymore. i am allergic to PPD's (found out after ending up in the hospital!!) and have been in search of a new natural hair dye for dark brown/black hair that will cover grays. i found Surya Brazil Henna Cream. it's really quite nice, but it rinses out very very quickly. i've been continuing my search and am looking at Tints of Nature (available at vitaminshoppe.com). it seems to be PPD free, but i've not tried it yet. I'm also considering Naturcolor (also from vitaminshoppe.com), but it doesn't say anything about whether or not the ingredients include any PPD's etc. can anybody speak to either of these products? thanks very much!

Michelle on Dec. 27, 2015 at 10:36 a.m.

I also use Surya Henna and I love it but yes it doesn't last long, two weeks for me. Im about to try Herbatint Semi. Im reading that there is no PPD in it.

Monica on Jan. 3, 2016 at 10:52 a.m.

I used rainbow henna hair color Dec 1st (chestnut) & Jan 2nd sable. Grey hair at the roots came back quickly hence the reason for the 2nd use. Followed directions per pkg both times using brewed coffee, apple cider vinegar and 1 lg egg which is recommended for grey's on the pkg. After the 1st use my scalp was slightly tender and occasionally itched. I'm confused because I read that henna was also used for relief of dandruff and itchy scalp. I used rainbow henna because I researched natural hair dye and rainbow isn't suppose to contain PPD's. After dying my hair yesterday evening I starting experiencing a very uncomfortable itching sensation which lasted the entire night and this morning I couldn't get to Walgreen's fast enough to buy Allegra which has helped with the itching but the tenderness remains on the scalp, my neck line and the top of my ears.
I have dyed my hair with over the counter boxed colors for 20-years, then I started using AGEbeautiful from Sally's beauty supply. This was really nice because it allowed me to go almost 9-weeks between colors instead of 4. My hair seemed instantly thicker, softer and the color was rich and shiny for weeks.

Upon using Rainbow Henna I hadn't colored my hair in almost 12-weeks just to make sure my hair was safe to color with henna.
With that said, I am disappointed in the results of my henna experience and I'm not sure that I want to continue using it or that I should continue to use it because of the side effects. I'm sure that I will have to use it again on my grey's because even know I choose a darker color my grey's are still lighter than desired. Because of my lack of experience with Henna I'm not sure what to do. I have emailed Rainbow Research for expert advise on my situation but it's Sunday so I have to wait for their response.
Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated....

Laura on Feb. 4, 2016 at 10:19 a.m.

Has anyone tried HairPrint? No PPD's or chemicals. Supposed to restore gray hair back to original color. I developed a terrible rash, itch all over scalp, ears and neck. I already have celiac so I know I can't use any coloring with chemicals.

Henna sounds like a day long process. I'm 69 and my long beautiful hair is all I have left for vanity

bella1347 on Feb. 24, 2016 at 6:14 a.m.

I have been using Naturcolor for many years (69 years old) and have been happy with my color and condition of hair. I use 7R, Turmeric Blonde, which Whole Foods no longer carries. I can have Whole Foods order it for me or order it directly from Naturcolor. My natural color is a light reddish brown and the 7R duplicates it for me, but only lasts 4 weeks. I get 2 applications from one box of color because my hair is short.
I was thinking of trying the Herbatint because it is easier to buy, but after reading of all the side effects others are having from any of the products, I will stick with what has been working.

ej on Feb. 24, 2016 at 8:16 a.m.

My hairdresser uses a product from Italy that is supposed to be 100% organic, however I never read the ingredient label. I have been using it since September and haven't had any allergic reaction as I do to regular dyes....and after using it now for several months I don't get the dry scalp I would get from other "natural" products. The name of it is Tocco Magico and is for professional use so you cannot find it at a local store unfortunately, but I love it...the color is beautiful and non irritating. I had been using henna for many years and stopped only because my grays were no longer taking the color and my hair was becoming brittle from it...had to have the henna stripped and then began using Tocco Magico and haven't looked back!

Monroe on April 2, 2016 at 6:25 a.m.

I've used Hairprint, but it is expensive and doesn't cover my gray roots very well. It is also very messy (gets everywhere because the solutions are very loose and drips). I read that there is no such thing as completely natural organic hair dyes, because to get the color to hold the chemicals must open the hair pigment. So, the best that you can do is to find products with low levels of chemicals. I've also heard that if a product claims they don't have PPD or Ammonia, then they have replaced it with another worse chemical such as PTDs. Based on these reviews above, I'm going to try NaturColor and possibly Herbatint.

Sharon Knettell on April 10, 2016 at 10:35 a.m.

I used Hairprint and it was a chore but it did cover my grey. My grey hair is not that prominent, but I have patches that are lighter due to vitiligo and they were covered. I did the baking soda technique and that helped. I am now trying Naturcolor. The Hairprint took all afternoon but it did match my color because it is supposed to restore color not deposit it. I would go grey except for those patches.

bummedaboutallergies on May 10, 2016 at 8:23 p.m.

I went to a salon that claimed their products were PPD free, ammonia free etc. For about 2 years i was okay. I did lose a lot of hair, but i blamed it on hormonal changes or something else. Then, one month, the salon had no stylists...they all quit at the same time. so i went to whole foods and bought Naturtint that claimed to be this free-that free product. just mixing the product made me sick...but i thought it was this work related project that was making me so worried. thank goodness i did a strand test. as soon as i applied just a little color to my hair, i had rapid heart palpitations. i started feeling dizzy. i somehow made it to the shower and rinsed out the color. i felt weak for 2 days. Then my salon stylist came back....so i went back, but even the salon color gave me the same reaction now. i checked out the brand and its ingredients online and found out this - even if there is no PPD, there;s PTD in the product....which i am guessing is the culprit. Hmmm.....i guess i will have to grow old at 42. sigh.

RFL on June 1, 2016 at 7:36 a.m.

Have used Tints of Nature for many years. I love it but now get a very bad headache within 24 hours. It might be the gluten. I really wish they would remove the gluten so I could know for sure.

adriana on June 13, 2016 at 5:42 p.m.

Hi, I am thinking to try "naturcolor". My natural hair color is medium brown but I dyed my hair 2-3 weeks ago to cover some gray with Clairol Natural Instincts semi-permanent and now my hair looks very dark brown and it didn't cover my gray. So, could I use Naturcolor now or do I have to wait for the semi-permanent color to disappear first ? I couldn't decide between "8N yarrow blonde" and "sesame blonde", I would like to get a light brown color with highlighted look, do you think yarrow blonde color would do better than sesame blonde on my hair ? Thank you.

Margaret Grantham on June 21, 2016 at 5:14 p.m.

Hi. I have very sensitive skin and scalp and am allergic to PPD. I am quite grey but I have had good, natural looking results from both Vegetal (made by Herbatint in Italy), although it only lasted through 3 or 4 washes, and, just recently, Hairprint , which takes more time and effort but looks as if it is going to last longer. Hope this helps.
Margueritte

epat on July 20, 2016 at 7:38 a.m.

I know a hairdresser who uses ToccoMagico Colorton professional color that doesn't irritate my scalp...supposed to be not as dangerous, however I don't know all the specific ingredients, some are herbal and it is made in Italy...when I decided professional coloring was getting too expensive I found Herbatint which works fine and no irritation....also made in Italy and had a similar color palette as Tocco Magico

Maureen Heinimann on July 27, 2016 at 9:48 a.m.

I am looking for a hairdresser who uses Tocco Magico in London. No luck so far, but would appreciate if anyone does know .

Nishtha on Aug. 2, 2016 at 12:32 a.m.

I found a natural hair colour without PPD, Peroxide and ammonia with the name of Safecolor. Can anyone tell me is it safe or not ?

Thanks

Betsy on Sept. 12, 2016 at 12:04 p.m.

Thanks for the info Ella, about copper deficiency causing graying. Because my grays have dark roots and it has puzzled me for long.

Eileen on Sept. 15, 2016 at 12:32 p.m.

Eileen on Sept 15,2016 at 3:24 p.m. I'm allergic to both PPD and PTD.. Has anyone found a hair color without these chemicals? My color is dark to medium brown with gray roots. I was using Ion Brillance but they redid the product and added chemicals I'm allergic to.

Aayush Shastri on Sept. 19, 2016 at 12:04 a.m.

This generation has had a serious problem of getting grey hair at an early age and it is just increasing. All of this happens because of our lifestyle, eating habits, stress and chemicals in the products we use. Getting your hair dyed is not healthy for your hair and since I am going through the same problem of having grey hair so early I decided to find a safe and healthy solution. I came across Kama Ayurveda's organic henna powder and indigo powder and this combination has saved me! It is the organic way to go and dyes your hair black, I have been using these products for several months now and am so happy. Everyone who is having this same problem, I highly recommend to use such products rather than hair dye.

SK on Oct. 6, 2016 at 8:05 a.m.

Hi Aayush Shastri, what is the ratio of henna to indigo powder you use for coloring?

Janette Johnson on Oct. 28, 2016 at 9:37 p.m.

I bought Naturcolor and I am wondering what the hydrogen peroxide rinse does. Isn't that supposed to bleach your hair? Why would you use it after coloring your hair? Has anyone skipped this step? If so, what were your results?

Sandra Sharp on Nov. 27, 2016 at 2:06 p.m.

I have found a product that should solve your problems, and I have been through the difficulties described above. It is made in Italy, and is called Sanotint Light. I used to buy it from a supplier in England, but now I am able to order it online from a company in California. I have been using the product for over twenty years, and am happy to supply this link:
http://www.vivasanusa.com/cart/SanoTint-Light/
I know that I cannot activate a link inside a text box, so it will be necessary to paste it in yourself, or just search for vivasan usa if you are more comfortable with doing that.

Annie on Dec. 4, 2016 at 4:50 a.m.

I have used Henna and it is great. Messy mixing and takes a long time to do. However, I understand you can't have perms if you use Henna.

Beautiful Brown on Jan. 12, 2017 at 10:59 a.m.

That SanoTint Light contains peroxide. For the woman from December 2015 looking for a Clairol Loving Care replacement, Clairol has a great substitute if you are looking for brown shades. It's in the Professional line and it's called Beautiful Browns..no PPD, no PEROXIDE, no AMMONIA. It's extremely gentle and works extremely well if you do not have a ton of grey. If you do, you would have to use it very often. Do not use the Grey Solution Clairol has because it is very harsh.

Paula T. on Jan. 16, 2017 at 9:58 a.m.

There is an all natural product line by Paltete By Nature. Website is very helpful. Made in USA.

Xiomara on Jan. 19, 2017 at 3:43 p.m.

i really need to find a natural organic product allergies to all chemicals and PPDA nuts etc

BT on Feb. 16, 2017 at 11:46 a.m.

If you are looking at Henna, consider researching Mehandi.com They have a booklet for both the do it yourselfer and for salons. Amazing products, organic, natural, free of metals, pesticides, additives, etc. The woman who started it is getting her PhD in coloring with Henna. Great support team as well. (I'm not related in any way to this company and my comments are not approved by them. I just have been using it for several years and love the products.)

Jaymee on Feb. 28, 2017 at 7:27 a.m.

Folks, I have seen some brands of Hair Color listed on the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Website, a consumer site for personal care products that rate its safety and lists all ingredients. Not all products are listed; however, consumers may add new products to the list. There is an app for this. It does not endorse any product and does not offer recommended products like Consumer Reports. Check it out. http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/
(from the people who brought us the Dirty Dozen list)

Boyce on March 12, 2017 at 1:25 a.m.

Herbatint is toxic. It contains Phenylenediamines which cause cancer. It is written in the small writing on the inside and outside, I am trying to find the cause of my liver disease and I think this is it.

Usha on April 22, 2017 at 1:54 p.m.

I have been using Naturcolor for many years. I am 63. Of late, it lasts only 3 weeks. Also whole foods is the only store I can buy it. Lately I have been ordering thro vitamin shoppe and delivered at home.

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