Tricks to Darken Hair Color Without Dye

Deepen your brunette locks with natural products.

Photo: Ralf Nau/Digital Vision/Getty Images

You want to cover pesky grays or deepen a drab, mousy brown, but just thinking about the noxious fumes of permanent hair dye is enough to make your eyes water. Whether you are allergic to the dyes or simply feel that something that smells so toxic cannot be good for you, you do have natural options for darkening your hair. Although no natural product will match the lasting color of hair dye, you can get subtle changes using materials found in your kitchen or by brightening your face.


Although the results will be subtle, you can use cocoa powder to deepen a brown hue. Mix together a half cup of cocoa powder, a half cup of plain yogurt, one teaspoon of honey and one teaspoon of apple-cider vinegar, recommends Julie Gabriel, author of "The Green Beauty Guide.” After shampooing, squeeze this mask into your hair and let it sit for two to three minutes. Rinse and style your hair as normal. The natural acid in the yogurt and vinegar helps open up the hair shaft to let the cocoa’s color seep in. However, you will smell like a brownie.

Coffee or Tea

When you reach for your morning caffeine fix, consider what your tea or coffee could do for your color. Using strong black tea or black coffee as a rinse after shampooing can temporarily darken brunette hair. Rinse with a generous amount of your morning elixir several times, leaving the last rinse on for 15 minutes or longer. Rinse thoroughly to rid your hair of the smell or just plan to hang out at a coffee shop where the smell will seem natural.

Walnut Husks

Walnut husks have long been used to color hair and you can use them at home. The husks are the outer skin of the fresh nut. Black walnuts offer the darkest husks. Shell a bunch of walnuts, remove the skin and boil those skins in water for approximately 15 minutes. Cool and strain the liquid and use it to color your hair. If you try to shortcut this process and simply boil walnuts you purchase from the store, you’ll be out of luck. These nuts already have the husks removed.


Your makeup can also create the illusion of darker hair and there is no mess required. Try an orange lip, which emphasizes brunette hair tones. Frame your face by taking a pencil to your eyebrows. Choose one similar to your hair color to make both stand out. Add sparkle to your eye lids, too. Your dark hair can handle bolder makeup.

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