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Healthy Hair CareSafe, Natural Ways to Cover Gray Hair

Using Natural Hair Dye to Cover Gray: 3 Things You Need to Know

By August 18, 2015May 7th, 2018117 Comments

During my 5 years as owner of a natural beauty store and spa, I was struck by the number of women I spoke with (read: counseled) who were freaking out about gray hair; in particular, women who had developed an allergy to paraphenylenediamine (commonly referred to as PPD) and could no longer use commercial hair dyes.

Will Natural, Organic Hair Dye Cover Gray?

One conversation in particular stands out in my memory. Still in my 30’s at the time, I didn’t have much gray going on, and couldn’t understand the panic gray hair generated.

A first-time customer, who had recently developed an allergy to PPD, called to ask whether any of our hair color products could guarantee 100% gray coverage.

I gave her my usual spiel, which can be summed up in a word as “no.”

Customer: “You mean it might not cover all the gray?”
Me: “Well, I suppose it might, depending on how much gray you have, hair texture, things like that. But more likely than not, some gray will still show.”
Customer: “But that’s not acceptable!” she replied, audibly distressed.
Me: “OK, well, I’m very sorry to hear that, but I don’t know what to tell you. I can help you get the best possible results from our PPD-free options, but I cannot promise it will cover 100%.”
[She was yelling now.] Me: [very long pause] “In that case, the only option I can think of would be to buy a wig.”

Natural Hair Dye to Cover Gray: A Reality Check

Using natural hair dye to cover gray completely is unrealistic. If you, like the customer I mentioned earlier, would rather saw your legs off at the knees than live with gray hair, or were simply hoping I would tell you all about some incredible, permanent, non-toxic hair color brand you could run out and buy today, this article is probably going to be a bit of a letdown.

Now that I am in my 40s (sigh), I feel your pain, I really do.

It doesn’t change the reality of the situation, but at least I understand why so many women wish there were better options out there.

That being said, it isn’t all bad news. There are some pretty great natural hair color products, if you know where to look, how to use them, and what to expect.

In a follow up article I’ll cover a few of my favorite brands, and share with you some tips for getting the best results from them.

In the meantime, here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re planning to give non-toxic hair color a try (which I wholeheartedly recommend, by the way):

1. If your stylist/colorist tells you they’ve found a natural hair dye to cover gray permanently, do not believe them.

Before you post angry comments calling me anti-salon professional, please hear me out. Cosmetic chemistry is not typically included in their education or product training. I’ve run into many stylists who thought they had found a “natural” hair color – or worse, were told by the product rep it was natural – only to show me an ingredient label that included both peroxide and PPD every single time.

If finding hair color without these ingredients is important to you, and your stylist says they have found one, I suggest asking to see the ingredient list or, if that’s not possible, calling or emailing the company directly to confirm before giving it the green light.

2. Just because it’s at the natural foods co-op, that doesn’t mean it’s natural.

Yup, even the stuff at the natural food store isn’t always so natural. If it says “permanent,” odds are it still contains peroxide and PPD, albeit less than your average box of color, and usually with no ammonia.

That includes both NaturTint and HerbaTint, two of the most common co-op brands. Thankfully, pretty much all at-home color options have the ingredients listed on the box, so it’s easy to see what you’re getting before spending your money or risking your health.

3. Accept that it is not going to cover all the gray.

Nor are you likely to achieve a highly specific, consistent shade of color every time. The technology simply doesn’t exist (yet) in the world of non-toxic chemicals. Accept it now, and make life much easier for yourself and those around you.

If applied correctly, natural hair color will almost certainly give you some decent coverage of the grays, along with rich color, and a hefty dose of shine. Adjust your expectations accordingly, and you’re much more likely to be happy with the results.
Have you had good luck with PPD-free hair color? Are you in the “grey hair, don’t care” camp? Let us know in the comments below how you feel about natural hair dye.

Photo of allergic reaction source:

Terri Bly

Author Terri Bly

Terri Bly is the founder and former owner of The Nature of Beauty, one of the first natural and organic retail companies in the U.S. A writer and activist at heart, she sold her company in 2013 to spend more time writing, web designing, and doing what she can to make the world a better place. She lives with her two daughters and Norman, her 85-pound Goldendoodle, in St. Paul, MN.

More posts by Terri Bly

Join the discussion 117 Comments

  • patti says:

    I have tried “natural hair colors” for years and still haven’t found one that is truely clean. Hairprint does not cover gray and will mess up your entire bathroom, Herbatint has low ppd, covers gray- but contains ethanolamine which causes hair loss. I have experienced lots of hair loss from using it for 3 years. I used to use Surya Basil Henna Hair Color in cream version – covered gray but color was always coppery or reddish, and I wondered if it contained heavy metals-because most henna hair colors do. Still looking for a natural hair color that covers gray. Any suggestions?

  • Jodie Zammit says:

    Have a look at Logona products and colours. You won’t find any PPD or peroxide at all. I’ve been using Logona Colours for fifteen years. It covers grey. You’re not going from grey to black if you have more than 20% grey. That’s not possible with truly natural colours. But you can pick shades of blonde and natural brown if you have more than 80% grey. Logona gives a translucent effect which looks so natural. It’s not at all like the horrible opaque result you get with standard dye. Your hair will be soft and reflect beautiful light. People comment about the sparkly effect. There is a large range of colours made from nut and seed shells, herbs and depending on the shade some henna will be present in the darker and more intense red shades. I use golden blonde.

  • Mary says:

    I have been successfully coloring gray hair for years using henna – an all natural non-toxic hair dye. There may be different application needs depending upon the color desired. When using Henna, it is required to use the actual henna plant (lawsonia inermis) to cover gray completely… other similar plant dyes can be used to achieve other colors. Those can be used in combination blended with the henna (which is red) using the correct amounts or you can apply the Henna first and then the other plant dye after the henna. There is a plethora of information available on how to dye gray hair – or any hair with henna, indigo etc.
    I also recently tried an herbal plant haircolor called Green Hare Mud. I was not able to follow the preferred instructions to process it with heat, but I did try it without heat and still achieved reasonably good results – probably the heat method would have covered the gray more completely or entirely. Even without the head, the grays were colored but not as deeply.
    In any case, there are definitely all natural, organic and non-toxic hair covering options available that do cover Gray 100% – henna absolutely covers gray 100%. And there probably are other herbal/plants dye options that also cover grad 100% with the appropriate application and processing techniques! (Such as Green Hare Mud).

    • Sue says:

      To cover grey hair I’ve found the 2 step henna then indigo process the most effective.
      For root application on my thick medium brown hair I use a mix of approx 20g pure Henna/Lawsonia Innermis and 5g Amla/Emblica oficinalis with approx 100ml lukewarm water which my is applied to my head immediately.
      Then cover hair with a couple plastic shopping bags and use a couple woollen beanies on top to allow the henna to oxidise/process (up to 2 hours max as the acidity of the Amla can irritate the scalp).
      Then remove coverings and allow head to ‘cool’ a little before rinsing with lukewarm water until clear. (Final ACV cool rinse can help pH for next step). Dry hair enough that it won’t allow drips if following immediately with Step 2. To approx 30g Indigofera tinctoria, 1/4 tsp salt and 1 tsp bs molasses (helps with application as indigo powder tends to be a bit more crumbly) add 75-100ml lukewarm water. Apply ASAP to scalp – if indigo oxidises to ‘blue’ it will not bind to/stain keratin & will wash out of hair. Cover head as before and allow 20 mins for MED Brown. Rinse etc as before – I use a conditioner to help wash particles out.
      In between 5+weekly hennaings I still use ColorWOW root touch up powder (probably not the best chemical wise..!) It’s all been a quite a learning journey to find what works for me..!😊

  • Ednita says:

    This is not correct information. It’s completely possible to fully cover greys using only plants. I do it every day! I am a professional hair stylist who is allergic to PPD and only use herbal ingredients like henna & indigo to dye hair. Most of my clients are in their late 40’s and 50’s and love the healing benefits and color results of herbal dyes. No chemicals, no food ingredients, just ground & finely sifted herbs. It makes me sad that there is very limited information about this so hair stylists and salon owners just don’t know about it. Chemists invented modern hair color but nature produces hair dye that has been around for thousands of years. 🙂

    • Naomi says:

      Hi Ednita,
      Would you be willing to share your natural grey cover process? I’m in Australia and struggling to find info on natural colouring. The latest PPD free colour I have found (Australian Made) still contains hydrogen peroxide and other not so friendly additives.
      Would love to hear from you.
      Regards, Naomi

      • Lisa says:

        Hi Naomi, Have you been able to find any good products subsequent to your comment in April? I am now looking to cover my gray which at this stage isn’t too bad but is making my hair a very boring and dull colour. My natural colour is very coppery already.

    • Rebecca De Leon says:

      Please be VERY careful with Henna color. These products are not regulated and MOST, but not all have metallics, this can really jack up your hair if you try and lighten it with bleach or other hair color, serious damage. Some reactions can burn or blister your skin and can mess with your nervous system. I am a salon owner and a hair stylist of 30 years, I have seen womens hair smoke, burn, turn horrible colors, break off and melt away. I too, am looking for an alternative to chemicals for my clients and myself. I personally will not not work on a client who has Henna on their hair, it is very difficult to remove.Yes, I know, some don’t have metallic salts, not everything that is “natural” is good for you. Again, please be Very Careful using Henna. READ the ingredients.

  • Maple Holistics says:

    Using natural products on your body is always the better than using chemicals.

  • I do like how you talked about a properly applied natural hair color with giving decent coverage of the gray hairs and rich color. My m9om is looking to cover her gray and white hairs and needs something that is gentler on her hair than other options she’s seen. Thank you for the information about how to be realistic with your hair coloring options, though. It’s good to know what you’re getting into.

  • mindy says:

    I am trying to decide whether to try desert shadow or hairprint. My hair is chemically dyed natural dark brown with resistant grays and dyed to a lighter brown. I think both desert shadow and hair print are equally non toxic re: ingredients is that correct or is one safer than the other? I realize hairprint is a long process as I must coat my already chemically treated colored hair. There is a new product sold out of Weston,FL but I can’t get any info about it and they are not responding to e-mails.

    Thank you

    • Charmaine says:

      Oh dear. There must be something wrong with our email!
      Maybe try
      I can definitely help with any queries and questions
      Warm wishes

    • Jean says:

      Hello Mindy,

      I tried Desert Shadow, i tried the sun shadow and followed their video instructions, and left it on for 3 hours. it turned out a nice yellow blonde,unfortunately not suitable for cooled tone skin. I would need a blonde ash which they don’t have. I think sunshadow would suit warm skin colour. They had lots of different coloured browns and didn’t irritate me at all, just a bit tedious, but better without chemicals.

  • Deb says:

    Hairprint is great for a week then sadly it fades loads which is depressing. I’d love this product if it would just stay in the hair longer even a month would be great. I’m now searching for an alternative that’s not going to poison me.

  • sophie says:


    I am also PPD allergic and have been using aromaganic hair dye.. and it’s great

  • Rita Simmonds says:

    Hi I am 66 and have been colouring my hair since my early teens, so far without any adverse reactions but I hate the smell of the ammonia and I have never been happy with how store dyes damage my hair.

    Years ago a hairdress put perm solution on top of hair dye by mistake and my hair fell out so since then I have done everything myself. Naturally I am a dark chestnut brown but because I am reaching the point where the grey comes back far too fast with proprietary dyes, I was using the lightest brown shade I could buy since that meant the greys wouldn’t notice as quickly. Like many of my friends the next stage would have been the blond shades but I don’t have the right skin tone to be blond so I have been looking for alternatives.

    I hadn’t tried henna because I didn’t want to end with orange hair but a few weeks ago I bought and tried a medium brown (Chestnut) henna and indigo mix made by Rainbow dyes and was amazed with the results. , the mixed up powder covered all of my greys and most of my split ends seem to have disappeared. The label states it is 100% natural plant material free from Chemicals and preservatives ingredients Lawsonia inermis and indigoferra to which I added coffee, cider vinegar, olive oil and water as per the directions.

    Today my hair looks, feels and smells fabulous . My friends and family thinks it looks great and even a complete stranger commented on my hair when I had a hospital appointment. She was the receptionist and when she looked at my notes she said she couldn’t believe I was anywhere near 66 especially with such a beautiful, shiny crowning glory.

    It is more than two weeks since I applied the henna and yet the shade is still just as vibrant as it was after I first did it, there is no fading and the familiar band of silver hasn’t reappeared at the top of my head which is the complete opposite to how my hair always looked two weeks after using a shop bought permanent dye full of unfriendly chemicals.

    So in my experience you can achieve complete coverage without damaging you or your hair and it doesn’t have to be red. I just wish I had found these henna and indigo mixes years ago, oh and I forgot to add it cost me £3.52 fraction of what I paid for a chemical dye!!!

    • andrea koch says:

      I have tried Khadi Henna Hazelbrown.It covered all grey,but left an orange color…im now ixing it with some darkbrown …hoping for the great result that you had.Thanks for sharing your experience.Andrea

      • Jo_B says:

        I started to go grey early in life and have coloured my hair for over 30 years. I have been PPD allergic for the last 12 years and also gradually developed sensitivity to all the alternatives I tried. I used Khadi henna products for a while but eventually became sensitive to that too. For the last few years I’ve been using a cream henna product called Surya which I’m able to order online in the UK. It comes in different shades – I use light brown which gives good coverage, though not 100% and it washes out over 2-3 weeks so it needs reapplying quite frequently. It’s still infinitely better than just being grey though, and leaves my hair in very good condition.

    • zee says:

      Hi Andrea Koch, Thanks for sharing. I googled ‘rainbow dyes’ and found a henna product. Going to try it. Hope this post is not just an ad.

    • karen Perry says:

      I am in Alaska….do you have a link or photos to share?

  • I actually find it easier to choose a light color: something between blonde and gray so that I can stay weeks without dying my hair. I don’t mind the gray hairs so long as they’re not very obviouos. The more subtle you “camouflage” it, the better off you’ll be, in my opinion.

    • Patricia says:

      what do you use to get the light color?
      Henna is not supposed to lighten

      • andrea koch says:

        pure henna always gives a lighter reddish on grey hair

      • Lucy says:

        I now have stubborn grey hair, but dye it black. The problem is that I have sensitive scalp & I end up scratching my scalp & end up breaking my skin.
        Do you have any recommendation for black hair dye for stubborn grey?
        Thank you.

  • Susan says:

    Eco Colors, Naturtint, O-Way, Tints of Nature, Naturlique all contain chemicals. These are not natural lines even though they claim to be.
    I emailed every company and got of list of ingredients they use in their color line and they still contain chemical that open the hair shaft to accept the color.
    I have tried a few of these and over time still had a allergic reaction to them
    There really is not a “Healthy” alternative to hair dye unless you do not react to henna

  • Val says:


    This is absolutely, totally wrong! I’ve been dyeing my hair with 100%, COMPLETELY natural vegetable dyes for the last eight years. I currently have almost 50% grey. I use pure henna alone (result: carrot “red”), or henna followed by indigo (end result: jet black). You can also mix henna and indigo, which will give you varying degrees of brown/ brownish red depending on your mixture.

    This method is not quick, and it is quite messy, but it TOTALLY covers my greys!! The key is using BODY ART QUALITY henna powder, with NO additives (besides what you may want to add when mixing, like lemon juice). I have used several different brands of henna and indigo and have always had great results. I currently use Hannah Natural and The Henna Guys (both on Amazon), but I learned about the whole process years ago via the HennaForHair website, which has detailed information on the process, as well as excellent products.

    I hope I’m not breaking any rules by posting a link, but this is where I started learning:

    They also have other types of plant dyes that you can mix with henna to get a lighter color. Btw, this works on all hair textures and ethnicities. Good luck and SPREAD THE GOOD NEWS!! Grey hair CAN be completely covered with absolutely ZERO synthetic chemicals! 🙂

    • Val says:

      I should also add that you want to make sure your plant dyes (especially the henna) are FRESH! The package should state the year the crop was harvested, and you want it within the last year or two.

      And cheap, questionable henna from the grocery or health food store is not going to work nearly as well, and will sometimes have chemical salts or other additives that you should avoid.

    • Terri says:

      Hi Val and thanks for sharing your information. I’m glad you found something that covers all the gray! Here’s the thing: I don’t have a ton of problems getting it all covered with natural color, either. But please know that for many women, that won’t be the case. So many factors go into whether a natural hair color will cover gray hair 100%. And for many women, it just won’t. I have a stylist at Intelligent Nutrients in Minneapolis who uses Logona 100% natural hair color to cover my gray completely. But he also has the advantage of some special tools that help the color penetrate deeper into the strand.

      The reasons the color won’t always cover gray isn’t about this brand or that brand. It’s about the very nature of all-natural hair color, and the unique structure of gray hair. For that reason, I think it’s best for women to reset their expectations, and then be pleasantly surprised if they get 100% coverage, than to expect 100% coverage, and be outraged/devastated/despondent if they don’t.

      Thanks for sharing your positive experience with Henna for Hair. The great thing about henna-based dye is all of the stuff you can add to it to make the color richer (like coffee, tea, red wine, etc)!


    • Diana says:

      I have been using the henna from the website tou mentioned above. They test each batch. The product is fresh. Customer service is incredible. And, the owner has a Phd in henna. I use a henna&indigo 50:50, I use nightfall rose as an acid to reduce brassiness. I get a chestnut brown. I have 80% grey.

    • Mary says:

      I use 1/2 henna and 1/2 indigo for a medium to dark brown covering my gray. Same as mentioned above, but it is Mehandi. They do have loads of info as far as how to. Not fast and a bit messy, but works well. I reacted to PPD, so I had no choice unless I wished to go totally gray. I’ve been using this since 2013. They do 3rd party test to be sure it is what it is supposed to be.

  • Doetie says:

    Hi ladies,
    I’m from Holland, getting more gray every week and use Khadi herbal hair colour for 2 years now. And my hair is beautiful, natural colored…. It’s henna with indigo, both natural hair colorants derived from plants. The powder is very fine and easy to mix with warm water. I’m now mixing 2 colors to make a more natural / personal color to suit my skin tone. And ofcourse, the gray is covered not as deep but that makes it very natural and everybody loves my hair color. Especially after not using any chemical shampoo etc. anymore and a ‘curlsys’ haircut. Never had nicer, shinier and more beautiful hair before – at 48 ;-))

    • Anna says:

      Anna from Poland, I’m also allergic to PPD.
      and I’m using Khadi Red Natural HEnna for 3 years after trying with Logona and Sante.
      Khadi covers 100 % of my gray hair and I have almost 80% of them grey or rather white. Logona and Sante are easiest in application on hair but they give me strange, yellowish shade, which my friends called the shade of pooo 🙂
      But Khadi gives beautiful deep red, everyone likes it, sometimes I even get compliments – right after colouring 🙂
      I was using PPD for 15 years, hope I don’t get cancer or anything like that.
      Unfortunately I got Hashimoto.

  • Kathy Dabanian says:

    Hi I just want to tell you that you are dead wrong. I have a white streak in the front and middle of my hair and while it started in my middle forties I wanted to color it. I also used so called natural dyes and ended up in the hospital with an allergic reaction. So there are three things i use faithfully that work great. Two are permanent and one is semi-permanent. The first is Logona and it completely covers white and gray if done properly. I also will enhance it with Rainbow henna’s. Also use semi dye Surya Brasil. I use a total of 7 different colors that I will mix same product and use separately. An example with Logona I use the mahogany, chestnut and walnut red brown. The trick is to read directions and leave it on a long time the longer the better. They give you a cap but I also wrap with saran wrap and put a wool hat for heat on. You can also go under a dryer if you have one. The hennas seem to be permanent for me. The Surya Brasil is semi but highlights all the colors I use and also nourishes hair. Again follow directions. The Logona is permanent -I have really long hair and only do the top that has grown out -it never washes out. Everyone thinks I go to a colorist and get highlights but it is the white hair being colored. I get a lot of compliments. The only thing it is a pain in the but to do but definitely worth the effort! I have been using it this way now for 13 years without any reactions and I am highly allergic to everything! Also warning if you are takig antibiotics do not get your hair colored with regular dye! That is how this all started before I could use a semi natural dye no problem. My friend who had a shop told me this and I was on them for years from Lymes disease.

    • Klara Lee says:

      Where do you purchase Lagona, Rainow henna, and the Surya Brasil? I have dark brown hair and every month I have to dye my hair since grey roots growth front of hairline. What proportion or ratio do you use? I tried henna many years ago but it did not work so I gave up. I would like to find out where to get specific product and instruction so it might work this time.

    • Terri says:

      I’m glad you are having a great experience with Logona. That’s the one I use as well. While it is advertised as permanent, it isn’t permanent like we usually think of as a permanent hair color. It still work by penetrating the hair strand, rather than splitting it open to deposit color.

      I think I probably should have clarified regarding #3. Or maybe I did, but then we edited it out, I can’t remember. But the whole point of saying dont’ expect 100% coverage of gray hair is so that women aren’t *expecting* that to happen. Some women will not get 100% coverage, no matter if they use the same brand you are using, or I am using, or other women are using with great success. When it comes to color-depositing color, the are far more variables involved when it comes to coverage, than with conventional, chemical-based color. By lowering expectations, you can be delighted if the coverage is 100%, and not surprised, devastated, and feeling ripped off if it is not. Does that make more sense?

      Thanks again for chiming in!


      • Tracey Bryant says:

        I am one of those people that have “resistant gray”. I started using henna about a year ago while searching for a safe, natural hair color alternative. I studied the site, This woman received her phd on the chemistry behind henna. I initially started with a 50/50 mix of twilight henna and indigo but learned that my gray is stubborn and would not color to my dark brown. The henna support groups on FB and the customer service people with are fabulous and suggested I try pure henna on first application (I sleep in it) then when I wash it out my gray roots are bright red/orange. Then in the morning I apply 50/50 mix of henna and indigo and coverage and color are perfect!! Henna can ABSOLUTELY cover gray. You just have to figure out what works for your hair. It’s like a science experiment! It’s not quick and it is a pain but it is completely natural and actually improves the quality of your hair. I encourage you to check out[admin removed link] and educate yourself!!

        • Kristen Arnett's GBT says:

          Just a friendly request to the commenters on this thread. Please choose kind language when you disagree. Yelling at the author with CAPS and multiple exclamation points comes across as rude, especially since her responses have been clear, kind and helpful.

          It was written by someone who is very respected in the natural beauty community. All experiences and differing opinions are welcome for sharing – that’s how we learn – and your kindness in communication is appreciated.

          This article is a free, educational resource to help you find solutions to an issue that is probably more complex than 1000 words can cover. My guess is you sought this article out because you still have questions, but some of these comments come across as if you already have all the answers and are pushing a particular website’s product – that seems a bit suspect.

          So I appreciate your consideration in communicating your points going forward.

          • Stacey Brewer says:


            Thank you so much for saying this. I was thinking the same thing. Many people have become so unkind on the internet. Your request is absolutely on point.


  • karen says:

    I have bad reactions to ppd . i would breakout in a rash on my scalp and neck that would ooze itch and was painful. I finally found a temporary dye that works cosamo . it washes out and fades quickly but it covers and doesnt cause reaction. I have dark brown hair and the dark brown fades to purple but if i mix it with golden brown it works well

    • Kristen Arnett's GBT says:

      Oh yes, if you have PPD allergies, they are not to be taken lightly. I’ll be following this article up soon with some other options for folks like you.

      • Shelley says:

        I am 56, naturally a mid-blonde, but now about 40% grey. I have never fully dyed my hair but have been getting hi lites for 30 years. In the last couple of years I have had gradually worse reactions. Now it’s at the point where I feel very unwell using just a few foil hilites. Yesterday I tried again. They only used 4 foils, being careful not to touch any skin but after a couple of minutes I felt very unwell and my mouth started to tingle. So they immediately washed it out.
        Do you have any suggestions for natural blonde colour?

  • angela says:

    I’m 57, my hair is 100% grey so I cover the roots every 10 days with a demi tint from ION . I buy it at Sally’s. It has not ammoniac but Im loosing a lots of hair and after 8 years using it I’m looking a better natural product but is difficult because my color es burgundy and I love it .

  • Cherie Jump says:

    What was the list of color that you recommended that the article that follows?

  • Mrinalini says:

    Have anyone tried Shahnaz Hussain’s colorveda. It claims to be chemical free and promotes hair growth.

  • Jewels says:

    Nnooooooo so disapointed to geat naturtint might not be the saviour i was wishing it to be. Im 31 and ive got a grey streek, not cool in any way. All i want it black hair but im allergic to perminant dyes. I get swelling and a rash around me neck where my hair touches that lasts months…. henna is ok, but it never gives me a jet black colour i want. I will go home and skin test my naturtint…just in case it IS the miracle I’ve been hoping for. Thanks for this article. Was a great read 🙂
    Good luck everyone else

    • Ruth Newman says:

      Hi Jewels. If you dye your hair with henna, dry it, then dye it with indigo, it goes a very dark colour (mine went black). The indigo binds with the henna. It’s such a faff though, and if you’ve got a lot of greys then you get very obvious root regrowth!

  • Mckenzie says:

    Hi Green Beauty Team! Have you heard of Oway Hair Color?

    It can only be done in hair salons, but the grey coverage looks really good and they break into the scientific reasons as to why permanent hair color (that covers grey) still needs some small percentage of synthetic ingredients (like PPDs) to work:

    In terms of natural or more organic hair color, their products have the most promise:

    • Kristen Arnett's GBT says:

      Yes!! I actually am currently using Oway with my hairstylist. I just have yet to do a new article on it. Do you work for them or use them in your work?

      • Isabel says:

        Hi Kristen! But if Oway is 100% natural and covers the gray please please let us know! And in that case there is a product without the PPD and ammonia we can use! So maybe Terri should say that in the article!;)

        • Terri says:

          Oway is not 100% natural. I put this in the “best of the worst” category. I also give them a huge thumbs down on highlighting the natural/organic aspects of their products, and making it impossible to find information on the chemicals they use.

          That being said, please know that this article was sent into the world of internet a while ago, and it is likely that at some point it will be outdated and there will be new technology and options. We can hope, anyway!

          I would also say, however, that at some point, it might even be better if we women learned to embrace our natural hair color, including gray, rather than believe covering it up is a critical necessity, thus resigning ourselves to using whatever nasty chemicals we *must* until new products are available to try. Note: I am still in this category, so by no means am I speaking from up on any kind of high horse. At best I’m sitting on a pony, since my gray is getting pretty visible again and I don’t care as much as I used to. Of course, that’s probably just laziness.


      • Kat says:

        Hi i know this is out of place but i tried clicking the contact but i couldn’t find anthing. Maybe it’s my phone. Could u possibly write an article on Nu Skin and paula’s choice and al Burt’s bees? Thanks. I almost wanted to try Kiehla for a more natural product but not anymore.

        • Kristen Arnett's GBT says:

          Hi Kat, yeah, not sure why you couldn’t get to the contact form either, but it does work. So I appreciate your letting me know in case there are others with the same issue. Your requests are so noted. In the mean time please consider using brands listed on the Beauty Awards pages which have already been vetted.

      • Susan says:

        OWay and Simply Organic Hair Dye still has nasty chemical in them. I spoke with each company directly and they did send me various ingredients list for the colors I was thinking to use.
        Unfortunately I am going to embrace my grey hair for now until a truly , healthy, chemical free hair color comes along. I am too chemical sensitive to try these lines that “Claim” they are Organic and Natural.
        I am afraid to try henna because of how sensitive I am. I have not read any where that people have reactions to henna as of yet. I will research that!!
        Hope this help.

        • Kristen Arnett's GBT says:

          Yep – I hear you. There’s still a lot of progress to be made. I have my color painted on strategically so it never touches my scalp. See this article on balayage. Now I use Oway instead. Also I have another article coming out soon on something you might totally love about the truly safest alternative for grey hair that is unlike anything else. Be sure you are on my email list so you know when it comes out. (Sign up below this article or by downloading the Toss the Toxins Toolkit at the top of the page). Henna is fine, but the colors are limited, not super stable and can be too red for many. Also it totally depends on the purity. Hope that helps!

        • Nicki D says:

          A late reply to Susan’s comment about Henna. I have been highlighting my hair for 15 years, so that I could use foils and keep dye off my head. I get an allergic reaction each time. so spent 6 months looking into Henna. Used the Henna colour lab dark brown product. Was very surprised that I had an allergic reaction….didn’t think this was possible with Henna, (was possibly the Indigo in it) thankfully I had only used a very small amount to do a test patch. however we know allergies to natural substances are possible, think nut allergies, so not really sure why I am surprised and I do not blame the company.
          good to read everyone’s posts I am a bit lost now,

  • P Acton says:


    Has anyone tried products from They claim 100% organic product?

  • Debbie Manson says:

    Please be very wary of organic colour systems. I resorted to this after mild to medium reactions from dark and reddish dyes (salon applied). Honestly it was horrible. That night my scalp was in agony, by the next day the back of my neck was so swollen I could not move my head, scalp swollen up. By the second day my face, eyes were alien like and I was in acute admissions in hospital on steroids. It took 4/5 days for the swelling to go down and now 1 year later my scalp is a dry scaly mess. Too afraid to ever try anything again. Would love to try green hare mud but they want $50 to ship it to the Uk and considered hair print but apparently reviews are negative for previously coloured hair ? As much as I hate to say it at 46 I can never colour again so will just have to accept it!

    • Cher says:

      Have you tried the ground henna leave? You can get this henna leaves from oriental stores. Boil, add tea for a darker look or coffee for darkest look. Let it cool down (cold) then stir in a couple of raw eggs. Raw eggs conditions the hair while the coloring is in process. Apply the mixture into hair, cover with plastic cup for two hours or more. Rinse, shampoo and condition.
      This natural coloring covers all your gray hair but only in shades of brown; from mahogany to darkest brunette. This is the only coloring I trust.

    • Donna says:

      Debbie, oh my God that was the same reaction I got to organic color systems!! I also had difficulty breathing, complete lethargy and rash. I almost missed my daughters high school graduation! Was it not for the lymphatic drainage massage I received I surely would have missed it I was so sick. The only thing organic in this stuff is the herbs and who cares about that!! I only have about 2 inches of regrowth so this is going to be a long process and I am afraid to color with anything ever again.


      • Donna says:

        I forgot to add this most important risk factor after using the Organic color systems color on myself. It made my hot flashes come back after not having them for almost a year! Fortunately I had used Hylands homeopathic remedy “Menopause” previously to end the hot flashes the first time. I used it again and it took about a week of using the remedy for the hot flashes to go away but it worked again thankfully..

  • Karen says:

    I use Cassia Obovata, a 100% plant based blond hair dye, to cover my gray. It works great, I get total coverage but I have to leave in on for about 5 hours. And it looks orangey which I have had limited success color correcting with a blue color correcting shampoo. But the gray is definitely 100% covered.

  • Deborah says:

    I am definitely in the Gray Hair Camp….. Have come to embrace it!!! Just get a great haircut and use the right products (purple shampoo every 2 or 3rd wash) and make sure to keep it conditioned and shiny.

    After many years of coloring, (professionally) my hair was becoming over processed and I was tired of all the time not to mention the money spent at Hair Salons!!! If you are observant about people you will start to notice quite a few women are embracing “The Gray” loving it and looking fabulous!!! I receive plenty of compliments!!!!

  • Denise says:

    Has anyone experimented with steeping hot tea that gives a hue you want and leaving your hair wrapped in the tea for a number of hours to see if this colors the hair? Just wondering since this would be non toxic…

    • Sally says:

      Steep sage leaves in a cup of boiled water and when cooled apply rinse to hair and let it dry. The green brown tint of the sage blends the grey into a light brown.

    • Winedus says:

      Looks like something to consider

    • Kathy says:

      So did you find anyone who has used this product? I am going to find out more about it.

    • jill says:

      Yes i tried daniels colour and like all the other brands even pure henna i was allergic, itchy scalp, sore eyelids etc. Have given up on any form of hair colour now 🙁

    • Mikki says:

      Unfortunately does this product of Daniels Color this ingredient:
      p-tolueen diaminesulfaat

      This is considered to be a carcinogen. So not very organic and natural as it is pretending.
      I am also looking for a good alternative for grey hair. I am grey for 70 % even I am in my 40s. So too young to keep it grey. Hennah works but always leaves a reddish tone. I wish there would be an ASH TONE available . If someone ever has tips, please inform me.

      kind regards, Mikki

  • Rosemarie says:

    WOW! I wish I can afforded that, but I know it is expensive. That is so neat.

  • Khalid says:

    Thanks for the article – very interesting and we must be careful of the chemical reaction of PPD by using chemicalised colours.

  • nB says:

    I have to say when I was younger, didn’t care that much whether it’s chemical or natural hair color. Just fast and nice color would do. Yeah, I got dry hair and damaged so badly. Then I stop using chemical one and use natural hair color treatment instead. Well, I have to say it is 100% natural hair color and it really does cover all of my grey hair. I have to say this type of product does exist nowadays since I’ve tested it and see result myself. By the way, it made of 5 types of Thai herb though.

  • Andrea says:

    I am one of many very confused and desparete women who are searching for nontoxic alternative to color their hair. I switched from Wella to henna and indigo mix about 6 months ago. I used Wella for about 5 years and had no problems but wanted to use less toxic dyes once I learned about the dangers of PPD. Now after coloring my hair with henna and indigo mix twice in two months I developed allergic reaction. I had itchy scalp, headache and felt unwell which fortunately went away the next day except of itchiness that persisted for a week. I loved the effect the mix had on my hair though. It covered my grey completely and the hair was fuller and shinier. I wish I could continue to use it but am afraid of developing more severe reaction. I have read many many reviews and articles and it seems there just is no safe alternative and it comes down to trying what works for every individual. Some people with PPD allergies still report no reaction and good results with the dyes that do contain small amount of PPD (which does not make sense to me). I am not sure what to do. I am not even sure what is causing my reaction as henna and indigo are supposed to be safe. Any suggestions?

    • Kristen Arnett's GBT says:

      Wow, Andrea! That is a conundrum. A lot of times people do have reactions to naturals because they are potent. I’ve not heard of this mixture or your reaction before, so I don’t feel qualified to offer you a suggestion, but I’ll talk to my hair and derm experts and see if they come up with anything for you. I wish you only the very best and that you find a great solution soon!

      • Claire says:

        I would also love some advice, like Andrea. I’m really fed up today, having patch tested Desert Shadow’s ‘Deep Copper Red’, which only has two ingredients, henna (Lawsonia inermis) and Aloe vera (Aloe Barbadensis), and I STILL had a bad reaction, which 12 hours later (right now) is a big, angry, sore patch on the inside crook of my elbow (where I usually try out dyes). So my endless search continues for anything I can use…


    • Cherise Haslam says:

      I have heard that henna is often mixed with other chemicals which may be why people have allergic reactions. I have used Desert Shadow Henna for years now and had complete coverage with greys and my hair is very healthy. Until now…. Now I’m 46 and the greys seem to be multiplying at an alarming rate! My greys are still well covered at the back but now there are stubborn ones in the T zone (front and sides) and I am currently covering them with a browny red lipstick that I melted and keep in a small glass jar. It works a treat but I too would like something natural which covers those henna resistant little buggers! PS I leave the henna on for 5 hours with a shower cap and towel. It would be nice to only have to leave it for an hour or so as it really chews up the day.

    • Renee McAdams says:

      Andrea, keep in mind that it is possible to be allergic to plants, any kind of plant or any kind of natural substance (henna and indigo being natural plant derivatives for instance), just as it is possible to be allergic to any chemical substance (whether a man-made or naturally occurring one). The key is to try to find out what caused the allergic reaction…it could have been any ingredient in the dye or even something you came into contact with while applying or removing it. A good allergist might be able to help figure out what caused it or can try to help you find out what all you are allergic to so you can avoid it in the future. Best of luck (spoken from someone with a lot of allergies to both man-made as well as natural substances, so I sure sympathize and feel your frustration)! I found out I was allergic to chamomile and echinacea recently, which are in the daisy family for instance, and I already knew I was allergic to daisies, so I suppose it makes sense I would be to other things in that plant family as well. Working with an allergist and then a homeopath and naturopath have helped me a lot to both find out what I am allergic to as well as how to best cope with it. I know not everyone has insurance that covers those (I wish!!!), but it can be a great thing to join allergy forums and support groups online as you can learn a lot about it and it helps to know you are not alone it it. Also, if you can find good herbal information pages they can often say who should not use that herb (what is contraindicated in medical terms) and why (such as folks with auto-immune illness should not use immune system boosting herbs, for instance). Hope any of this helps!

      Also, thank you to the creators and admins of this bog, just stumbled upon it today in going online to try to research safe non-toxic hair dye options.

      • Kristen Arnett's GBT says:

        You are SO right about this subject of allergens. Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge and experience, and I’m so glad you found us too! 🙂 xo – Kristen

  • patricia says:

    try taking copper and or use blackstrap molassess , i use both and they work for me, it takes around 30 too 90 days to see results,

  • lada says:

    Madison Reed gave me a terrible allergy ! Don’t use it!

  • Jennifer Moscatello says:

    Hi Terri. Thanks for the article – very interesting. What brands of natural hair color products do you recommend? I’ve come across Madison Reed on my quest; are you familiar with this brand and if so, would you recommend?

  • Cee says:

    Great read! I’ve been using the NaturTint products and am starting to have a reaction (hair breakage). So I will try the other suggested brands. Best

  • Annie says:

    i unfortunately became severely allergic to all dyes at a prematurely grey 32, and if society would ACCEPT the wisdom of it graciously, us ladies wouldn’t have to continuously risk our health and breast tissue for the vanity of it all. All bitchiness aside, MEN ADORE MY SHORT SASSY GREY HAIR, and constantly lament they “wish their wife would let it go”…*sigh* now look at all the trendy fashionistas who are purposely dying their tresses lavender/grey..

  • Great article! Informative and funny!!!

    Question for you… can you suggest a product line for me to stock at my shop? I am constantly asked for hair dye … and really have no answer to offer as I have never dyed my hair so am completely out of touch … I have looked and spoken to wholesalers but a safer hair dye – and one not marketed to food co-ops is elusive!!! Would love your expertise! And so would our customers 🙂

    With Thanks!

    • Terri Bly says:

      Hi Jennifer! My stylist friend, Desiree, and I are going to be trying a new line called O & M. It’s not all natural (there really aren’t any salon/professional color lines that are truly natural), but falls under the “could be worse” category when it comes to ingredients. I will definitely be posting results once we’ve conducted our experiment with this new line, so keep your eye out! ~ Terri

  • Ilana says:

    Hi Terri, have you heard of or tried the Danish Naturigin or Natulique line of natural hair care?

  • Hi Terri : ) I’ve only used pure henna and indigo for years, since I was becoming more and more sensitive after 15+ years of using conventional dyes. It completely covers my grey, is as permanent as any conventional permanent dye I’ve ever used (home or salon), and leaves my hair looking fabulous. I do have to leave it on overnight for the rich color I want on the greys, which come out a bit lighter but it just looks like natural hair variation since it’s not one solid color. I have so much grey and my hair grows so fast that the only problem is how often I need to do my roots. If I was more careful with the application at the roots I could avoid layering color, but I actually think it looks really cool that the ends are a bit darker.

    • Terri Bly says:

      Rebecca – thanks for sharing your experience with Henna. I have heard from women who have had great experiences with henna, and from others who found it impossible to use, and far too messy. Logona – one of the brands I’ll be talking about in upcoming pieces – combines henna with other ingredients to customize the color a bit. Again, mixed reviews, but I’m thrilled to hear you’re having a great experience with the Henna! Which brand do you use, if I may ask? ~ Terri

  • Mary Balint says:

    What people need to realize is that dying one’s hair is a chemical process. There just isn’t a way to do it without chemicals, unless you are using henna- which is a whole different animal. With that being said, my stylist uses Organic Color Systems. No, it’s not totally organic. There are chemicals in there for sure. But at least I’m using the least evil-est dye I can find.

    • Terri Bly says:

      Mary – Totally agree with you – it’s impossible to create a chemical reaction without chemicals, and achieving permanent, customized color just happens to require a very involved chemical reaction! Organic Color Systems is definitely one of the “could be worse” brands. Unfortunately, they seem to have lost their US distributor, which is why we are going to be trying out O&M, the new brand being distributed in the US. Like OCS, it still uses PPD, but hopefully it will be a good option for those who are just looking for fewer toxic ingredients. Fingers crossed! ~ Terri

    • Susan Cann says:

      If you have brown or black hair, there is a nontoxic alternative now, created by John Warner of the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry:

      • Ruth Newman says:

        I found I got a great colour with Hairprint, but it faded after only a couple of weeks. If it wasn’t so expensive to ship to the UK then I might have kept using it anyway…

        • Kristen Arnett's GBT says:

          I’m going to be doing a story on Hairprint, so it’s interesting to see your comments here.

          • Susan says:

            I’ve used Hairprint several times now, and it claims to actually “find” the exact pigment molecule of your true hair color and restore your hair to its natural color, and I can say that it really does. Looks totally natural. It only is available for brunettes, presently. The problem I found is that it is quite time and labor intensive, the color doesn’t last very long, and if you have more than 30% gray, you have to use 2 kits. At 40 bucks a crack for 1 kit, I just can’t afford that, but otherwise, I would still be using it.

          • Rika Woodward says:

            Hello. I have already used Hair Print 4 times because I have developed an allergy to PPD. I like the product, but it only covers the gray for about 90%. I’m just like other women, and I want 100% coverage, but I prefer not to take a risk for my health than worrying about my beauty. What helps me preserve the color is to wash my hair once a week. If I wash my hair once a week, the color will last about 6 weeks.

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