Posted on: November 10, 2017 at 5:55 pm

This awesome article was written by Brittany Hambleton, co-founder of The Taste Archives

A head full of grey or silver hair as you age is a beautiful thing. Celebrities like Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep, Anderson Cooper and Steve Martin are all living proof that you can be just as attractive without colour as you can with.

It’s the in-between stage, when you have just slivers of grey roots coming through, that can be frustrating. Of course, the first thing women will turn to is hair dye, however most hair dyes you find on the shelves or that are used at the salon are full of harsh chemicals that can be dangerous to your health.  

The Not-So Pretty Side Effects of Hair Dye

Hair dye is a cocktail of chemicals (sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens, ammonia, etc.), and now more and more research is being done on whether consistent use poses any health risks.

In a study done by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers found there to be a possible link between the use of commercial hair dyes and the risk of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and multiple myeloma.(1) The risk for both of these blood cancers was found to be higher in women who used very dark or black hair dyes on a regular basis.


Another study found that there was a statistically significant increase in risk of bladder cancer with the use of permanent hair dye, however the risk was dependant on the frequency and duration of hair dye use. There was not found to be an increased risk associated with the use of temporary or semi-permanent dye.(2)

Other studies suggest that the only population who may be at higher risk for bladder cancer are hair dressers who are exposed to hair dyes on a daily basis. (3)

The American Cancer Society maintains that it is unclear whether or not the use of hair dye puts you at greater risk of developing cancer, however there may be other reasons some people should avoid hair dye. For some, certain chemicals in hair dye cause severe allergic reactions, and some doctors advise pregnant women to avoid the use of hair dye at least until the third trimester, since not much is known about how hair dye affects the development of the unborn baby. (4)

Clearly the jury is still out on how bad hair dye is for your health, if it is even dangerous at all.  Because of the inconclusivity of the evidence both for and against, it is up to you, the consumer, to decide for yourself if you want to use hair dye or not.  For those of you who are starting to see some untimely greys peak through but don’t relish the idea of slathering your head in chemicals, cancer risk or not, thankfully there are some all-natural solutions.

4 All-Natural Hair Dyes


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Just when you thought coffee couldn’t get any better, turns out it is useful for more than just giving you that extra jolt of energy in the morning. Coffee will turn grey hairs into an earthy brown hue, and will smell pretty good at the same time (coffee smell beats chemical smell any day!).  

All you need to do is mix 1 cup of strong coffee or espresso with half a cup of a vitamin-E rich conditioner, like almond oil or olive oil and 2 more tablespoons of coffee grounds. Apply this mixture to hair that has already been washed and dried.(5)  Allow the mixture to sit for one hour before rinsing it out.(6)  We recommend you wash it out with apple cider vinegar, as this will protect the colour and make it last longer. The process can be repeated once a week to allow more colour to be deposited on the greys.



Although not as strong as coffee, tea is a good option if all you’re looking to do is touch up your roots. The process is similar to coffee: mix 1 cup of strong-brewed tea (using 3-5 tea bags) and half a cup of almond or olive oil. Apply to your hair and allow the mixture to sit for 1 hour before rinsing it out.(5)



There are different herbs you can use to achieve different colours.  Calendula, marigold, rosehips and hibiscus will turn your tresses red. Rosemary, nettle and sage are great for dark hair and calendula, marigold, saffron and sunflower petals will all work for blonde hair.  Adding black tea to the darker colours and catnip to the lighter colours will help the colour last longer. (6)


Henna has been used for centuries to dye hair, and as a bonus it protects the scalp from dandruff. To make henna hair dye you need:

  • 2 cups of powdered henna
  • The juice of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt for conditioning
  • 1 tablespoon of crushed amla powder or crushed hibiscus powder

Mix all of the ingredients in a container made of iron, cover and let it sit for 2 hours.  Apply the mixture all over your hair with a brush (be sure to wear gloves since henna will stain anything it comes in contact with!).  

Cover your head with a shower cap and allow the henna to sit for 6 hours, or until it begins to flake, then wash your hair as you normally would.(6)  Henna usually will turn your hair a copper or vermillion colour.  It is important to note that once you have used Henna on your hair, you can no longer use permanent hair dye, so if you don’t like the way the colour turns out you may not have a whole lot of other options.(7) Henna hair dye will last usually 8-12 weeks, which coincides with natural growth.(8)

If henna is something you think you want to try, Lush cosmetics has a pretty straightforward, easy-to-use line of henna hair dye.(9)

Keep in mind that many of these all-natural hair dying methods will not be as instantaneous as commercial dyes, and may take a few applications (or a few days of waiting after the initial application) before you achieve the colour you desire.  However if the chemicals found in commercial dyes are something that concerns you, or if you have allergic reactions to most commercial dyes, these all-natural methods may be just what you’re looking for.

  1. Thun, M. J., Altekruse, S. F., Namboodiri, M. M., Calle, E. E., Myers, D. G., & Heath, C. W. (1994, February 02). Hair Dye Use and Risk of Fatal Cancers in U.S. Women | JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute | Oxford Academic. Retrieved November 09, 2017, from
  2. Gago‐Dominguez, M., Castelao, J. E., Yuan, J., Yu, M. C., & Ross, R. K. (2000, December 28). Use of permanent hair dyes and bladder‐cancer risk. Retrieved November 09, 2017, from;2-S/full
  3. Czene, K., Tiikkaja, S., & Hemminki, K. (2003, February 25). Cancer risks in hairdressers: Assessment of carcinogenicity of hair dyes and gels. Retrieved November 09, 2017, from
  4. Hair Dyes. (n.d.). Retrieved November 09, 2017, from
  5. Krishna, A. (2017, July 27). 5 Natural Ways To Get Gray Coverage Without Chemicals. Retrieved November 10, 2017, from
  6. Ditch the Chemicals – 7 Ways to Color Your Hair Naturally. (2017, October 12). Retrieved November 10, 2017, from
  7. 6 Things To Know Before Using Henna Hair Dye. (2017, August 30). Retrieved November 10, 2017, from
  8. How long does Henna Hair Dye last? (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2017, from
  9. W. (2017, September 11). How to use henna. Retrieved November 10, 2017, from

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