Monday, March 22, 2010

I tried it! Coffee as Hair Dye

Before and After

I tried it!  I used coffee as hair dye.  And the results?  Pretty impressive!
My over-bleached hair soaks up dye quickly - and loses it just as fast.  Remember I had my hair dyed brown mid-February?  Well that color faded FAST.  About 5 washes later and it was gone.  I was kind of disappointed, because I was loving the brown.  So I did a little research on natural hair dyes.  I didn't want to pay for another dye job, and I also wanted to avoid using chemicals in my hair so soon after having it dyed.  I found a site that suggested tea, so I gave it a try.  I brewed a very strong cup of black tea and then mixed it with my conditioner.  I worked it through my hair, covered it with a shower cap, and left it on for a few hours.  When it washed out, my hair was slightly darker.  I could just barely tell - but it was there.  

A week later I decided to give coffee a try.  Again, I brewed a very strong few cups, but this time I poured it into a big bowl and began soaking my hair.  I soaked it in sections for about 30 minutes each.  Talk about time consuming.  I graded papers while I did this.  After soaking it all, I dumped the remaining coffee over my hair (over the sink) and then covered it with a shower cap - and then two plastic grocery bags to keep it from leaking through.  Not fashionable.  I worked out (at home), then finished grading papers, so after soaking the mixture sat on my hair an additional 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  I washed it off as usual - shampoo and conditioner - then let it partially air dry and straightened it.  I was very surprised with how much darker this actually made it!  It worked really well.  The biggest downside?  My hair smelled like hazelnut roast - and STRONG.  Even after two more shampoos over the next week, there was still a strong coffee smell, especially when my hair was wet.  By the fourth wash since the coffee application, the smell is barely noticeable - but some of the color has faded as well.  But that is to be expected, especially from hair as over-processed and porous as mine.  Overall, I'm happy with the results.  Coffee worked well as a natural hair dye without damaging my locks.  Plus, it was super cheap!  Another upside?  I found that my hair was significantly softer after the initial coffee application - very silky and smooth.  The only explanation is the coffee, since my hair routine was otherwise the same as always.

My before and after pictures were taken on the same day.  The before picture was immediately before I soaked my hair in coffee, the after picture is in the evening after washing out the coffee and styling my hair.

I've read the henna works well to darken hair.  I've never worked with henna, although I'd be willing to give it a try.  Has anyone tried it?


Heroba said...

WOW! That is an absolutely gorgeous color! My hair is naturally dark brown, so I don't think the coffee would do much for me!

contests and such said...

This is super cool! I like your hair brown- it's beautiful. How did you soak your hair while it was in the bowl AND grade papers at the same time? I am getting a really wierd picture in my head! :)
I would like to try this because my hair is lighter at the ends from last summer, I think, since I haven't dyed my hair in the past 10 years!

Skulda said...

HA!! Freakin' awesome. I dyed my hair with kool-aid in high school and it turned out pretty good (and smelled good too). You just had to use enough packets in a bowl of warm water to make it almost a paste.
Another thing about coffee that I like: If you keep the moist grounds after making your coffee, you can use them as a cellulite wrap on your skin. After a couple weeks of wrapping moist grounds in cling wrap around my thighs for 30mins-1 hour each day, they were noticably smoother. Yay coffee!

Mighty Lambchop said...

That looks so great! Love the color and it look so lovely on you. But, you are so pretty anyway!

Brooke said...

Thanks Heroba!

contests and such - thanks :) haha, basically leaned the left side of my hair in and held my papers against a clipboard. Kind of worked the obliques! That is GREAT you haven't dyed your hair for 10 years - and it would be so much easier to just darken the ends than to try to do it all.

Skulda - I ALWAYS wanted to dye my hair with Kool Aid when I was younger but my mom would never let me! lol. Great tip about the coffee grounds - I'm really going to have to try that - thanks for sharing!

Thank you so much Mighty Lambchop!! You're always so nice :D
I already need a coffee-touch up because I want to get it back to that same brown again!

jellynat said...

Blonde or brown, you're beautiful!

I must say I'm pretty impressed with the result, coffee gives a great brown, soft and natural. I love that it is all natural. I suppose substances in coffee such as cafeine, potassium and vitamins were beneficital for the hair, that's why they feel more silky. I don't know.

Considering your hair is a little porous, I wonder what kind of effect it would had on natural hair and if that'd be visible... But anyway, thanks for posting! :D

Brooke said...

Jellynat, I was wondering the same thing. It would be interesting to see how much color naturally blonde hair would soak up from coffee vs porous hair like mine. Good call about the nutrient goodies in coffee - I bet that is why my hair felt so much more fabulous after the coffee soak! Thanks for the comments :)

Carine said...

Really nice, it makes your eyes stand out more :D

PowerLifterChick said...

You were beautiful before, but I must say, with dark hair, your GORGEOUS!
the contrast between your hair and eyes is amazing!

As a person who has dyed her hair on a regular basis for the last 15 years (yes, I'm terrible) May I recommend using a Protein filler? It will help the porosity, and help keep the color in longer. And your hair will feel like silk!

Here's the brand I have tried:,default,pd.html
You can use a tinted one or a clear one. The tinted ones do not damage hair, it helps it. I used the red one last time I dyes my hair, and cant get over that the red has held so much. Red usually washes out FAST!

I LOVE that the coffee worked so well! So nice to have a chemical free option!

Y said...

Veryy nice! Unfortunately, I have the opposite problem! My hair is black so its a pain to dye it lighter

Stephanie said...

Girl, you are gorgeous! And brave for trying this. I'm a natural blonde--my hair is super light--so I'm afraid to put anything in it. One time my friend decided that she wanted to dye the bottom layer of my hair pink and promised it would wash out. Guess what? It never did. It faded, of course. To ORANGE which is WORSE than pink. It's gone now, but only because my hair grew out. I love the color it ended up turning out. Maybe I should try it. I smell like coffee anyway from working at a cafe.

Miss Vintage Vogue said...

Wow, this is gorgeous, girl! You are so pretty!

Jackie S. said...

Very cool, great posts!

Rebecca said...

wow, your hair looks stunning! I can't believe you used coffee to get it like that. I've never dyed my hair, it's too thick to bother.

Jean said...

Wow, that turned out great!

I was considering doing this a while back, but instead I have ordered some henna from Lush. I plan on experimenting in May, once I'm out of school for the semester.

kelsealaurel said...

WOW! I'm super impressed with this! Not only did it work, but it looks fantastic! =) I love your hair darker, really makes your blue eyes pop! Way to be creative

Niki* said...

Your hair looks great! I never have any kind of luck with natural dyes. its like my hair goes: "wait..wait is that natural stuff you're trying to use? HAHAH that's not gonna work I needs me some peroxide."

jo.frougal said...

Brooke you look lovely! I agree with the others -- blonde or brown, you're lovely either way. But I salute your tenacity. I can't imagine grading papers while working my obliques, lol!

Brooke said...

Thanks Carine

Power Lifter Chick - THANK YOU for the great advice!! I looked it up through your link and I like that it is a) cheap, and b) easy! I REALLY have to try that. It is great to know it has worked for you. I'll let you know how I like it once I find the time to trek out to Sally's (although it will be a nice excuse to buy a new polish or two...). I just might try a tinted one too... we'll see how risky I get! haha. Thanks for the great suggestion :)

Y, thanks! When I was trying to go blonde, it was awful dying it blonde from brown. Once I ended up orange with greenish streak -UGH!

Stephanie - oh no!! please see story above - OMG how horrible was it? because I wore a bandana to hide my hair it was so bad. Oh goodness. Glad that is over for both of us :) haha. I love how you said you work at a coffee shop so you already smell like coffee :) you crack me up! I actually just washed my hair and it is still wet and I noticed I was smelling coffee... yup, coffee smell is STILL there. That stuff is strong!

Brooke said...

Thank you Miss Vintage Vogue and Jackie!!

Rebecca, that's great! I started dying it when I was 15 and my hair is so damaged now :( It is so much healthier to be your natural color :)

Jean, please let me know how the henna works out - I'd love to try that sometime. I hope you like it!!

Thanks Kelsea and Niki :)

Jo, haha, yeah, these papers take ages to grade (I guess that is something I will grow out of - but I feel like I need to help them with everything!) so it helped to feel like I was killing 2 (or 3 if you count the abs, lol) birds with one stone!

Ice Queen said...

Coffee dye. Who knew? Your hair looks great. :D

Okay... Henna. It is fabulous stuff. Really fabulous. I used to be a henna head. (A looong story for another time...) And, while henna gave me a gorgeous, unmatched red, mad shine and strong, soft, insanely silky hair, it is permanent. Henna, real, pure henna stains one colour. Red. On blonde hair, it starts out orange, then with repeated applications, goes to red.

Henna, real, pure, best for your hair henna is permanent. I am talking no force, including bleach, peroxide or a nuclear explosion will remove it from your hair. You don't flirt with henna. You marry it, so if you decide to use it, be sure that you are ready for a long term commitment. My problem was, as much as I loved the benefits from henna, I missed my blonde hair and the attempt to remove it was a nightmare I still haven't recovered from. I am still growing and cutting destroyed hair. lolol

If you are certain that brown is right for you and don't mind a little red glow, a mix of pure henna and indigo will give a glorious, shiny brown without chemicals. Adjusting the henna/indigo ratio will vary the shade. Again, you have to be sure that you don't want to be a blondie, again. Because a henna/indigo mix is permanent.

There is a forum at The Long Hair Community about henna and natural products that has lots of threads on the subject.

If you like the brown but think that you might want to return to blonde, I would just stick to the coffee. It looks fab and washes away over time. :D

Sorry for the book. I just tend to get wound up on the subject of henna. lolol

Charming Nails: said...

Pretty colour :) you are beautiful :)

Girls, remember my contest:

BunnyMasseuse said...

Great results Brooke, I want to know how well it fades out (fast at tips, slow at roots?) too when you don't mind posting that :)

Thanks Ice Queen, that was super informative!

Lisamarie and Christelle said...

That looks so pretty! I wish there was such a thing as red coffee!

Best, Lisamarie

mrs shortcake said...

What a neat trick! Maybe, if you do it again, choose an even better smelling brew (vanilla something, maybe)? Though, hazelnut does smell pretty great! :)

Isa :) said...

Nice! it looks gorgeous on you! :)
I tried henna the first time i dyed my hair. Mine is naturally black but since i go to the beach EVERY weekiend my hair started to become lighter and lighter! kinda orange!- so i tried using henna since i didn't wanna mess my hai with chemicals! it's pigmentation it's great! but as Ice Queen said: it is totally permanent! You have to wait until your hair growths or at least 6 months i guess to have another color work. There are many tones right now, i guess most of them are darks, like black or dark brown, but you can get great result if want you want is a non-fading color! hope that helps :)

ART OF NAIL said...

Wow, thanks for sharing, great post, you look so pretty! =)

Chris said...

Sorry, didn't read all the comments, but if somebody didn't already tell you, I think it actually works better (and a lot less messy, LOL) if you mix about 3 tsps of coffee with just 1oz of water, then mix all that with a cup of conditioner and put that on your hair - waaaaay less drippy :)

Love your hair brown though. Really brings out your eyes.

Lynea said...

Beautiful! I will be trying this very soon.

I would STRONGLY RECOMMEND NOT USING HENNA!! If you have ever and I mean EVER used a chemical dye on the part of hair you want to henna the results could be disastrous. I know this from personal experience. It will react with the left over chemicals and turn your hair a puke green color, in patches. Henna should only be used on "virgin" hair. If you are lucky enough to have this hair, go for it! It will feel amazing afterwards. Be careful however as Hennas tend to tint red. You will also need to avoid using any chemical dyes on hair that has henna on it.

Abigail ♫ said...

Wow it really worked on you!! I just did it, but I think I did it but only soaked it for 20 min so you can't tell the difference :( I think I'll do it again your way :)

Brooke Elizabeth said...

Thanks so much for the comments, everyone!! It has been almost three years since I tried this, and I am a brunette again (naturally!). I let my hair grow out. I agree - love the brown - and with my damaged hair (from coloring for many years and using a flat iron daily since around 2004), this was an easy (and safe) way to naturally color my hair. Thanks again for the feedback!!!

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