natural hair dye with black walnuts!

IT’S FINALLY HERE! a natural hair dye for those that want to be any shade of brunette (literally…from light brown to almost black) because, let’s face it, brunettes are better ;)
i tease, i tease!

and if you saw the sneak peek picture i gave y’all a couple posts ago, you’re right if you guessed i was holding Black Walnuts! i’ve always wanted to try this dye, but never wanted to shell out the money for black walnut hull powder when i knew i could pick them up in huge quantities from around my parents’ home. sooo i waited….and waited… BUT now i have 10 extras to take back with me! woohoo!

black walnut hair dye - all natural & completely non-damaging way to be any shade of brunette you wanna be!

i know you’ll probably jump right to the pictures and “how to,” but please try to bear with me for this first part so i can tell you about black walnuts, some precautions, and a health warning. please!

HOW BLACK WALNUTS WORK AS DYE -
black walnut drupes (the outer part of the walnut; the hull) contain juglone, plumbagin, and tannin (like in teas). this allows it to dye pretty much anything it touches. it can be used as a wood stain, ink, hair dye, clothing dye, etc.

HEALTH WARNING -
black walnut are poisonous for dogs & horses, so please plan to keep your critters far from this stuff while you dye your hair! one of my dogs thought he had been blessed with 15 tennis balls haha. needless to say, he ended up locked in the house while i was outside!

PRECAUTIONS -
whether you picked up some black walnuts off the ground or bought black walnut hull powder, be very aware that it WILL STAIN EVERYTHING. wear clothes you don’t care about, wear 2 latex gloves on each hand (in case you get a pin prick somewhere), use a stainless steel or enamelware pot, slather whatever natural oil you have on hand all over your ears, forehead, neck, etc., to protect it from the dye, and do NOT stand up in the shower to rinse it out (unless you want dye blotches all over your body lol). i would also suggest you do this outside in the grass or on concrete/etc, so you don’t accidentally dye your floors and bathtub.  (side note- you can dye clothes in brown shades with this same dye if you’d like!)

i don’t think i can stress enough on how careful you need to be with this stuff. i rent an apartment, so i don’t feel like having to pay to replace things when i move out. hence the whole dying my hair outside in the grass fiasco. haha.

ok, enough talking… let’s goooo!

WHAT YOU NEED

  • black walnuts OR black walnut hull powder (the more you use, the darker the dye)
  • water
  • old clothes you can throw away
  • old towel you can throw away (or a black one that won’t show the stains)
  • plastic bag/shower cap
  • stainless steel pot/enamelware pot
  • metal sifter (used to strain without staining)
  • metal spoon/black plastic spoon (won’t show stains)
  • an old cup you can throw out, or lots of cotton balls
  • oil to coat your face/neck where you don’t want the dye to stain your skin
  • a couple pairs of latex gloves
  • a grassy area, or an area outside/inside that won’t be ruined by some walnut dye stains
  • a friend that will help you “dye” your hair (don’t say i didn’t warn ya!)

how many black walnuts / how much black walnut powder?
for a VERY dark brown, use a cup of water for every walnut you use (3/4 of a cup of water for every tablespoon of hull powder you use). i used 5 walnuts and 10 cups of water, and while the quantity of dye was good, the concentration of dye wasn’t as dark as i originally wanted. next time i’ll add maybe 3 more walnuts. i LOVE and miss having deep dark brown hair!
for a medium brown, try 5 walnuts in 10 cups of water (use ratios above for powder).
for a light brown, try 2-3 walnuts in 8-10 cups of water (use ratios above for powder).
*these are just a rough idea of where to start for your desired color of brown. please play around with the ratios/amounts to get the exact color you want. remember, you can do this back to back to deepen the color without risking damage!

HOW TO

  • get your raggedy clothes on, slather on your oil, put your gloves on, etc. aka, Get Ready!
    (crack your walnuts if you’re fortunate enough to be around the trees! they will oxidize and turn dark brown in minutes. literally only minutes. crazy!)
    20130815_131747
    i couldn’t find a rock heavy enough to crack the walnuts, yet small enough for my kitten paw sized hands.. sorry garden turtle statue… 
  • bring your water to a boil
  • add however many cracked walnuts/powder you need to achieve the color you want.
    20130815_132551
  • let boil for at least 30 minutes. you should see it deepen in color pretty quickly.
    • ORRRR you can leave the cracked open walnuts/powder in room temp water for a week. then strain & use! but who has time to wait a week after waiting for the powder or walnuts though? maybe i’m just too impatient ;)
      20130815_144422
  • let dye mix stand until it’s cooled down (you don’t want your hair in hot water!! heat damage is heat damage no matter if it’s a curling iron or hot water), and strain the chunks out.
  • take your pot to wherever you’re going to “dye” your hair, and get to dye-in!  i set mine outside on the ground and dunked my hair into it. you can use a cup to pour the dye onto the roots/forehead/ear areas where the dunking won’t get to it without fear of your skin being dunked, too. you can also dunk cottonballs in the dye and use them to carefully go over your roots and other hard to dye places
    20130815_145057
    this was my first attempt….let’s not talk about it. the struggle was real. 
  • let your hair sit IN THE DYE for 5-20 minutes, depending on how dark you want your hair. you may re-dunk your hair in dye for darker shades if you notice it’s not dark enough.
    20130815_145116
    don’t ask why i decided to sit like this to soak my hair. it wasn’t a good decision. haha. 
  • when your hair looks a couple shades darker than what you want, rinse well, yet gently, with cool water. OR gently wring out your hair and let air dry. that’s what i did! regardless of if you rinse or don’t rinse, place the towel over your shoulders/back, and let your hair rest on the towel to air dry. i sat out in the sun with my best friend and chatted up a storm till my hair dried :)
    20130815_145831
  • you can re-dye your hair as often as necessary to keep your desired shade.
    **during this entire process, you’ll want your friend/SO/etc to monitor the dye & your skin. designate them as the dye-wipe-awayer lol.

if you mess up and go too dark – - don’t worry; it’s not permanent! it WILL fade!

now look at this before & after -
black walnut hair dye! completely natural & non-damaging hair dye for any shade of brunette you'd like to be!

my hair photographed a little light in the before picture… :/  but you guys have seen my hair enough to know the exact shade. too cool for school if ya ask me! so will i do it again? abso-freaking-lutely! i LOVE having dark brown hair!

who else has dyed their hair this way?? want to??

hippie stamp Sig

90 comments

  1. i want to dye my hair, but i am too afraid to try it this way because of it staining stuff, and how long it takes. have you heard anything about getting hair colored at an aveda salon? the hair dye is supposed to be 99% naturally derived. (yeah its not 100% but thats better than other hair dyes!) this is the website to get a peek at the ingredients… please let me know what you think! i value your opinion and know you are very knowledgable about this kind of stuff.

    http://www.aveda.com/discover/index.tmpl#section=ingredients

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    1. hey ashlea! thanks for thinking of me, that means a lot! i couldn’t find a full ingredients list; only a list of key ingredients. i’d be interested in seeing the ingredients list on a box. there’s a lady on my team at work that uses aveda and she’s careful with chemicals, but i don’t know what’s all in the dyes. i’ll try to keep digging, but if you find a full list, lemme know! <3

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    2. Most of the dyes that claim to be “natural” are not. You can check your product on the EWG.org website. They rate the level of toxicity. I grew up using professional hair dyes (mom is a stylist) and one day I decided to go natural. After many attempts, I finally found an awesome company that sells very high quality henna and indigo. I have black hair and it works perfect. It takes a lot of my time but it is 100% natural and worth my time.

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  2. Do you know if this will cover grey hair. I have grey sprinkled through my hair and would like it to be brown like the rest. Also, what about mixing the walnut dye with conditioner to thicken up the consistency for application?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Would this eventually fade back to your original color? I want to darken my hair but I don’t think I’m ready to commit to it and lose my natural highlights forever

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    1. thanks so much nadia! it depends on how often you wash your hair and what you wash it with. if you use regular store shampoo, i have no idea… maybe a week or two? i use water only once a week, and mine lasted 6 to 8 weeks. and organic shampoo should last about a month i’d guess.

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  4. I dye my hair with natural henna, no Lush, since 2′years, once a month. What are your thoughts on this? It makes my hair shinier and looks thicker. I don’t have grey hair, but it says, it covers them too. Also u can change the henna tone with adding natural stuff, like coffee, chamomile or red wine.

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    1. I love henna! I started using it in November and have the same results as you. I would love to go deeper red though, does red wine really work? What about beet juice? Could you elaborate on this or tell me where I can get more information on it please? Thanks!!

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  5. I was rather excited when i found this blog and decided to purchase some black hulls powder. I followed the instructions and boiled it for 30mins. The colour was very dark to begin with as the powder whas a choclate brown colour. Although The colour was dark. The stain it left was not. I dipped my hand in it it did not leave a stain. Is there something not right here?

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  6. How do you color your hair in the winter when it’s freezing out? I’m interested in trying it but it’s way to cold outside right now! Lol

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    1. hey kathy! one time i put the pot in the tub with the water running to whisk away any droplets as soon as they touched the tub. i didnt have any stains! but i only risked it once. i havent tried dying my hair since. any readers have any ideas??

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  7. Hey, so I have red hair but would like to try to dye it a bit darker of a red (I’m kind of strawberry-blond, looking to go more auburn). Any ideas on how to pull this off without going brunette?

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  8. Tried this today – I used 1/2c walnut hull powder to 4c boiling water + black tea bag. Steeped 40 minutes and strained. Then I added some aloe vera gel in hopes that it would be easier to apply more like traditional gel color but it was still very runny. I applied with a brush and my golved hands (much to my dismay, both of my spray bottles clogged, even after straining) and let it sit for around 10 minutes. Then I rinsed it out. After my hair dried it looked exactly the same so I did it all over again, and it still looks the same. Is it because I diluted with aloe vera gel? Or rinsed it out (sure looked like all that color just fell right out in the tub), or something else? Not leaving it in long enough? I have a hard time imagining not rinsing the stuff out, but maybe that’s where I’m going wrong.

    I love the idea of a natural dye but this was sure a lot of work for no results. Any tips appreciated!

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  9. Has anyone experimented with the walnut dye liquid by trying to turn it into a gel perhaps using chia or flax seeds? Perhaps this would make the dye application a little easier?

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  10. Have you done any research on dying your hair with henna? I’ve been doing it for about a year and just started he no-poo routine 2 weeks ago. It’s working for me great, by the way, and I have curly hair! I haven’t used henna to dye my hair in about a month or two and wasn’t planning on it because I’m trying all natural, including going back to my natural hair color, which I haven’t been for many years… But out of curiosity, what is your take on using 100% natural henna for hair dye?

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    1. hey heather! some people swear by it :) but you really have to be careful. henna is ONLY naturally a red dye. if you see brown/black/etc henna, other things have been added to it to produce those colors, like metallic salts and other nasty chemicals. just double check all ingredients first!

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      1. Henna is wonderful for dying your hair! I did A LOT of research before I started, not only on what it does for the hair but also how to mix it, what kind of henna to use and even the best way to apply. I spent weeks hunting down information and watching youtube videos. There is a website, if you haven’t already found it, called hennaforhair.com/mixes. It gives you a lot of information, but this specific page shows you samples of other people’s hair colors and gives you the exact recipes to get a similar color. Alex is right, however, there is no such thing as brown henna or any other color. In order to get colors other than red, you have to mix other things (like indigo, amla or cassia). Because these things aren’t an actual dye but rather coats the hair shaft, the color that you get using these herbs actually depends on the color that you start out with. Henna not only isn’t bad for your hair, it is actually very good for your hair. I’m sorry for rambling, I could go on about this topic forever!

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  11. I’ve always been careful to keep my hair as natural as possible and I’m interested in trying this as a dye. I’m a little torn because I have red hair and everyone says I should never dye it but I want to try it out! Are there any down sides or negative effects to this? Like dry or corse hair (like you get after chemical dyes)?

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  12. Hey! Where do you buy black walnuts/black walnut powder? I would love to dye my hair this way, but i don’t know where to find them:/ I already tried my health food store– no luck. Where did you get yours?

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    1. Hey alexandra! love your name! ;)
      I actually gathered whole walnuts from a local park…haha. you can find the powder on the mountain rose herbs website :) how this helps!

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  13. as a gray haired 54 year old, I have used henna for years and the walnut trees are right outside my door, so to save some money and get rid of the red I don’t like, I am off to go give this a good dunk~ thank you for giving me the recipe. I have been trying to figure out how to make it happen. I dye cloth & wool, so I am not new to the idea, just was not sure how to proceed with this idea for the hair..it is a scary thing, and trust me ladies, this is simple compared to a three or more hour henna dye~

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