Do natural dyes work?

When it comes to beauty upkeep, I have two annoying traits, I'm lazy and I'm cheap.

Being a student doesn’t help of course.

I've cut my own hair for years and when I stumbled across a YouTube video of a girl successfully dyeing her hair with coffee my frugal heart jumped for joy. I embarked on a challenge to determine if natural hair dyes work and this is what I found:

This seemed simple enough; you take large amounts of coffee and brew a jug. Once it’s cooled you apply it to your hair for an hour plus and once it’s done your hair should be darker.

The result:

I excitedly ran to my boyfriend asking his least favourite question, “Do you notice anything different about me?” to which he replied with a resounding, “Nope."

Regardless of the fact that I thought my colour looked more vibrant, what’s the point if no one else notices? It did however leave my hair soft, shiny and it stayed clean for longer. Don’t try this if you don’t like coffee, your hair smells like a tub of Frisco for days.

Black Tea
The various teas are meant to bring out the different shades in your hair. Rooibos for red tones, black tea darkens and so on. I wanted a darker blonde for winter so I tried black tea. Again, threw eight tea bags in a jug and brewed it till cool. Put it on my hair, wrapped it in a plastic packet and left for an hour and a half.

The result:
This time, I even knew there was nothing. I even tried it twice thinking I had made a mistake in the process. Nope. Nadda.

I was the moron with a plastic packet on my head all day and not a single low light to show for it. The biggest results were the stains it made in my bathroom. Don't bother!

So by now I’m feeling rather silly.

I begrudgingly bought my R5 light brown Henna hair dye at the local health shop.

You mix with water, make a paste, apply and leave on for about an hour. I did a test strip on my hair and nothing happened.

Student mindset however, I didn’t want to waste the remainder of the paste, so I threw blobs of Henna into random chunks of my hair. After I washed it off  I walked past my boyfriend who without prompt immediately said, “Did you dye your hair darker?”.

I’ll be damned, it worked. This R5 packet mix made my hair a darker blonde with a copper undertone.

This is my natural hair colour

And this is how it looked after the henna

Vitamin C

So now I have a lovely copper blonde colour to my hair, well on top anyway.

As I mentioned above, I didn’t exactly do a "delicate" job when applying my Henna. When I tied up my hair it was clear to see my dirty blonde colour from before.

As lazy as I am with my hair, I was bashful of this "layer cake" effect.

Researching Henna dyes, (I know, I know, a little late) I suddenly realised how permanent it actually is and how careful one has to be with using regular hair dyes once it’s in your hair.

Right, back to natural products! I came across an article that said Vitamin C is great at stripping, or at least reducing, unwanted colour out of hair.

So I took some of my boyfriends very expensive Vitamin C powder products, worked a few teaspoons into some shampoo and left this mask on for an hour.

The result:

Is inconclusive. I can’t tell whether or not it’s my optimism goggles that are telling me that the colour is less coppery or not. But on one application it seems to have made the colour less harsh, but then again I'm biased.

So what can we take away from this?

- Leave the tea and coffee for drinking, your bathroom tiles will thank you.

- Henna really does work and can come out in a  pretty colour, but do your research beforehand. It’s quite permanent and sensitive to regular dyes which can leave you without too many options if you're not nuts about the result. It is NOT for people who want to know exactly what their hair colour will be afterwards, but for someone who likes experimenting and using inexpensive natural products, sure!

- Vitamin C will probably do more good in your body than on it.

As for me, I'm going to stop being so cheap and lazy. The only tea I want near my hair is the free cup you get at the salon.

Long live hairdressers!

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