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Five Ways To Naturally Color Natural Hair

natural hair bamboo wall

Have you noticed all the ombré hairstyles and other trendy color effects that ladies have been sporting? Well, it goes without saying that summer is the perfect time to experiment with these and other colorful looks. If you’re like me, you love, love color but want to avoid all the drawbacks of commercial hair dyes.

What drawbacks, you ask? While the leading commercial hair dye companies provide a variety of color options, hair colorants can change hair’s inner structure and dry it out, especially if bleaching is involved. Frequent coloring can lead to damage (say bye bye!) and/or split ends (snip, snip!). Of course, you can always skip the bleach if you are seeking darker shades.

Even if you do, rumor has it that hair dyes may be connected to cancer causing agents. According to the National Cancer Institute, early hair dye formulations (before 1980) contained cancer causing chemicals. They have since been removed from most brands’ ingredients. However, few studies have been published since then on hair dyes’ link to certain cancers.

Not to mention, pregnant women are advised to avoid coloring since small amounts of the dye penetrate the skin upon use. This may or may not harm a developing baby, although research claims that it does not pose a significant threat.

Risky? Hmmmm maybe.

If you want to switch up your look sans chemicals, you’re in luck. I’ve got five ways that you change your natural hair color by dyeing it … naturally!

1. Cassia

Cassia Obovata is a plant that contains a golden-yellow dye molecule. When used, color is safely deposited on hair’s surface layer as it conditions hair.

I’ve always wanted to try this one. I’m adding it to my to-try list!

Pros: Cassia will permanently turn blond or gray hair a golden color. It also makes hair shiny, healthy, and strong, so it is often used as a conditioning treatment for afro textured hair.

Cons (maybe): You most likely will not notice a difference on darker hair tones. Some people have experienced a loosening effect on their curls, which may or may not be desired.

Directions: You can mix cassia with conditioner and honey, and apply this mix to your hair. For all the deets, visit

2. Coffee

A mean brew works wonders for all-nighters … and for hair! Coffee is great for staining natural hair. It applies color on the surface level of strands, so the results tend to be temporary for most people.

(whips out pen; adds coffee to the list)

Pros: Coffee gives dark hair reddish-brown highlights, more akin to a rinse. Some people have found that coffee darkens their henna results (see below) when added to their mix.

Cons: It won’t provide intense color. The results may be subtle on darker colored hair. It requires repeated weekly applications for best results.

Directions: Mix 1/2 cup of your favorite conditioner with 1/4 cup of instant coffee granules. Add 1/4 cup of coffee or espresso into the mix and stir. Apply the mixture and cover your hair with a cap. Let the mix sit on your hair for an hour. Rinse with cool water and condition to counteract coffee’s acidity.

3. Henna

Henna, a natural colorant which is derived from a flowering plant, has been used throughout centuries for dying skin and hair. It is used by many African-American women with natural hair since it can strengthen our fragile hair type. It is also safer than commercial hair dyes, since color is deposited on hair’s surface layer as opposed to the cortex. Henna’s popularity is evident by the numerous natural hair care forums, communities, and Websites centered on the topic.

Why, oh, why did I not know about henna back in my multi hair coloring days??

Pros: This natural colorant typically turns hair a shade of red, depending on the person’s original hair color. It also adds sheen to hair and can reduce frizz and dandruff.

Cons (maybe): Henna can loosen curl patterns and thicken natural hair, and the color results can be unpredictable. The application process can be a bit intense, since henna must be left on hair for several hours in order to permeate the hair shaft. It can also easily stain materials during the application process.

Directions: This can vary. Lots of curlies have come up with their own formulations. Curly Nikki is a fan of henna and has gotten great results. You can also find tips at

4. Honey

Not only does honey work wonders for colds, but it also conditions and bleaches hair naturally. Honey slowly releases hydrogen peroxide, which is used to lighten hair. With honey, you’ll get results that are a shade lighter than your original color. Raw (unprocessed) honey is reported to work best since it has more hydrogen peroxide. Honey is also a humectant, so it pulls moisture into hair.

I have tried this one, and it did make my hair very soft! Color? I only tried in on occasion, not enough to see a difference.

Pros: Natural highlights and soft, shiny hair.

Cons: Honey lightens hair over time. Multiple applications (at least three) are needed to produce results. It is very sticky if used alone, so a mix is recommended.

Directions: Mix 5 tbsp of honey and 1 cup of yogurt together to make a non-sticky paste. This combo also makes a wicked deep conditioner, especially if combined with oil. Apply the paste and leave it on your hair for at least 2 hours.

5. Lemon Juice

Ever tried Sun-in back in the day? I did, and it worked, mostly because it contains lemon juice and hydrogen peroxide. If you want to skip all the additional chemicals, just try this route. Lemon juice will gradually lighten your natural hair due to the citric acid it contains.

Pros: Lemon juice brings out natural highlights, causing black and dark brown hair to take on a reddish hue. Brown hair will become light brown, and blonds will have golden highlights.

Cons: Lemon juice’s acidic properties can make it drying. Condition, condition, condition!

Directions: Combine 3 tbsp. lemon juice with 2 cups water. Add conditioner for extra moisture. Use a spray bottle or hands to apply the mix. You’ll need heat to activate it. Sit in the sun for 2 hours or under a hard hat dryer.

Any of these natural hair dyes can change your hair’s color, and some of these ingredients can even be found easily in your kitchen. Most importantly, you’ll be able to update your look without ruining your curly mane.

50 Shades of Gray Hair … Cured!

Ah-mazing gray, natural hair

Ah-mazing gray, natural hair

I know what you’re thinking. Where have you been??!! Sorry guys. Yes, I have been MIA, but it’s been a hectic month filled with lots of life juggling. You know how it goes. Unfortunately, blogging took a hit … but I’m back! And I’ve got news for you.

Before I break the news, let me take you back to last summer. I was styling my hair, when I noticed … a long, glowing, silvery white strand among the mass of dark tendrils. It was my first gray hair! Gasp! Yes, I had a mini panic attack. I backed up from the mirror, remembered to breathe, and returned to the mirror to double-check. I shook my head in disbelief. There it was!

I don’t know why I was as stunned as I was. You see, I had a heads up a few months prior … when I got my first gray eyebrow hair! Yeeeesss! I-am-transfooorrrming. AH!

Well, recently, I calmed down and made up my mind that I would be that 80-year-old woman with long, curly gray hair. Just as I came to terms with … growing up (gulp!), in came breaking news this week … well, breaking news for us!

There’s new research out that may raise hairs and a few questions. A joint group of researchers at Germany’s Institute for Pigmentary Disorders at E.M. Arndt University of Greifswald and the UK’s Centre for Skin Sciences at the University of Bradford have simultaneously come across a potential cure for gray hair and the skin disease vitiligo, which removes pigment from the skin, according to the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology .

Medical Daily states that gray hair is caused by an accumulation of hydrogen peroxide in the roots of hair follicles, causing oxidative stress. The same condition occurs in vitiligo, causing depigmentation in the skin and eyelashes (and eyebrows??).

“The idea that loss of pigmentation in the hair and skin are related is extremely interesting on a basic science level,” says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Medical Center’s department of dermatology in an interview with Yahoo! Shine. “The traditional treatment of gray hair with hair dye is cosmetic and doesn’t get to the root of the problem. A treatment that prevents or reverses the underlying graying process would revolutionize our approach to hair care.”

Oh, yes it would! No need to schedule time to mix your brew of L’oréal or Féria, apply it to your hair, and wait for the magic to happen. No more hair dye and henna stained sinks and tiles. No need to spend money for that go-to colorist to return your hair to its natural hue. Where hair is concerned, this possible solution apparently turns back the hand of time. Curlies would have the option of forever maintaining their natural hair color, changing their color out of preference (not necessity), or simply going gray. Options. Options. Which one will you choose?

On a side note, for true vitiligo sufferers, I’m sure there are many who will be relieved by the news. I’m also sure this will raise new claims and accusations of skin bleaching … uh, huh. There are many bubbling up on the net, but I digress.

Now that there is possibly a cure for graying, will you run for the solution once it’s available to the masses … perhaps in another decade or so?! Chime in below or vote. 

Will you use the cure for gray hair?

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Decorative High Bun – First Video Tutorial!

A few weeks ago, I outlined the steps needed to create a high bun. Did you get a chance to practice this? If you have this look down, I challenge you to take it one step further. I’d like for you to try to create a decorative high bun, incorporating braids and faux color.

At first, I planned to write down the detailed instructions for you, as usual. After further thought, I realized that you may be a visual learner. I get it. There is something about watching tutorials that allows everything to just click. So, I mustered up the courage to … film it! Yes, I’d like to introduce to you my very first tutorial. Cue the horns! Da-da-da-daaaa!

When I filmed this, I dove right into creating the look. It wasn’t my best attempt, but it can be yours if you remember to:

  1. Neatly braid your sections. This will enable the cream eyeshadow (used to add color) to neatly smooth onto your hair.
  2. Werk a messy or neat bun. Either will do the trick. *snaps fingers twice in the air.*
  3. Hide bobby pins in the hair, so they’re not visible.
  4. Pin down bangs as needed to frame your face.

As you know, I’m a writer, and this blog will always be the core. If you enjoy the visual explanations (and the nuttiness of it all—you know that was a must!), let me know. Maybe there’ll be more to come!

Watch and enjoy! Remember to leave your questions below.

If you have trouble watching the video above, click here to view it.

Faux Color, Real Appeal

Maybelline Color Tattoo Bold Gold

Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bold Gold

I’ve got color; yes, I do! I’ve got color; how about you?!

I just love hair color. I think it’s a great way to accent our curls, particularly in the form of highlights. Warning! As much as I love coloring my hair, it was one of the evil culprits that caused damage. Sit back and relax for a quick recap!

History Lesson

Years ago, I would embark on weekly adventures with color, changing my hair from red to blond and back again. That was until my curly mane had enough. It drop-kicked my bottles of developer and dyes and played dead on my head … well, hair is naturally dead (ha!), but this was something entirely different. Over processing my hair through bleach and dyes left it in a limp state.

Just when I began to rehab my curls, I once again decided to get color in the form of highlights. I figured this would be less damaging, particularly since I was seeking the help of a professional stylist. Mistake! The hairdresser, who between breaks of nibbling on her lunch, over processed the front, left section of my hair. This area stopped curling as well, not to mention it was completely colored instead of highlighted! Needless to say, these and other experiences made me walk away from hair coloring.

Still, I just can’t help drooling over other curlies’ expert highlights. It makes me pause and briefly consider another bout with dyes. Fortunately, natural hair blogger Curly Nikki recently flagged a sneaky way in which we can get faux hair color by using cream eye shadow. Boing! That’s the sound of your head rattling. I know. I know. You must be thinking that us natural ladies have lost it again. Here comes another crazy concoction or method of styling. No, actually this one is quick and easy. It’s also a fun way to mix up your look.


  • Maybelline 24 Hour Eyeshadow, Bold Gold
  • Your curly mane, of course! – My hair was styled in a wash and go.
  • 10 minutes max
Faux Hair Color with Maybelline Color Tattoo Eye Shadow

Faux Hair Color with Maybelline 24 Hour Eyeshadow, Bold Gold


I literally dug my fingers into this creamy eye shadow (frowning and naysaying along the way), and randomly smoothed it down my strands, twirling it around my finger. I concentrate more of the product on the hairs around my face. I had to use a generous amount since it wasn’t initially apparent on my dark hair. You’ll need to wash and scrub this from your hands and nails. Not too bad, but it can be a little messy.


The eye shadow gave my hair a slight shimmer and gold highlights! I was pleasantly surprised. Although the shadow itself is marketed as lasting 24 hours, hence its name as a tattoo, this faded out of my hair throughout the night.

When I woke up in the morning, it was gone! I had to check my pics to remember that I applied it! The only evidence is slight traces of shimmer. This worked perfectly for styling my hair (and eyes) before I headed out to a reggae concert. I think the rocker look is perfect for heading out on the town, but it may be too much for conservative office environments. The choice is yours.

If you give this look a go, please comment and share pics below! You can also view this post and join the conversation over at Curly Nikki.


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