Beauty Hair

The Best Organic & Natural Hair Dyes For 2021

best natural hair dyes

Looking for the best organic & natural hair dyes? Our definitive guide is sure to help!

By Sophia Hussain

Women have always coveted long, luxurious locks, as it’s the ultimate signature of feminine youth and beauty. We use hair coloring and toners to better match our personal style, or to mask emerging grey hair. But as much as we may love them, there’s no denying that all permanent hair colours contain a cocktail of chemicals – the trick is choosing the best natural hair dyes.

So, what should you look for on the label?

The most common – and dangerous – of these chemicals is probably PPDs (p-Phenylenediamine). This has been linked to bladder cancer, lung, kidney and nervous system disorders and severe allergic reactions. It’s almost impossible to formulate a hair color without PPDs, but the most important factor is the concentration of the chemical.

In mainstream supermarket brands, it can be as high as 5-6%, whereas natural hair dyes use less than 1%. And yes, that difference does mean a lot: it’s the difference between, say, smoking a pack of cigarettes and being beside someone having a smoke.

Another dangerous chemical group is Persulfates. These include sodium, potassium and ammonium sulphates are present in hair dyes and bleaches, and are used in concentrations of up to 60%. However, concentrations of only 17.5% have been shown to irritate skin. Persulphates are also toxic when the fumes are inhaled, they cause asthma and lung damage. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel has concluded that they are safe for occasional use, provided that the skin is rinsed well after.

More chemicals to avoid

Resorcinol

This receives a nasty 8 out of 10 for danger at the Cosmetics Safety Database. It is classified by the European Union as harmful, irritant to eyes and skin and dangerous for the environment. It may also disrupt hormonal function, and lead to  hypothyroidism.

Ammonia

Ammonia is irritant to the skin, eyes and respiratory system, and can cause asthma and breathing difficulties. However, it is much less toxic than PPD, and only receives a rating of 3 out of 10 for toxicity at the Cosmetics Safety Database.  Still, many companies are phasing out this harsh ingredient, which compromises the integrity of the hair shaft, too.

Hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is used in hair bleaches. It is corrosive, and has been banned from cosmetic use in Japan and restricted in Canada. Animal studies have shown it has toxic effects on the nervous system, respiratory and digestive systems at low doses.

Lead acetate

This is present in some hair colouring products used for gradual darkening, and is another potentially toxic chemical. Lead has well-known damaging effects on the brain and nervous system.

4-ABP

This ingredient has been linked to development of cancer.

Worried your brand may contain some of these? A good tip for those living in the Americas would be to buy European or Japanese brands: the EU and Japan have banned many toxic ingredients that are still permitted elsewhere. Click here to see more information about that.

Beware non natural hair colors

Knowing that consumers have become savvy to the dangers of chemicals in hair dye, manufacturers have gone all-out in their attempts to greenwash their products. Don’t be fooled! Just because the name of a product may sound ‘green and clean’ doesn’t mean it is.

Some of the worst offenders? L’Oreal Natural Match (the ‘natural’ refers to your original hair colour, but could easily be misinterpreted); Garnier HerbaShine (yes, it contains bamboo and has no ammonia, but it also contains high levels hydrogen peroxide and chemical fragrance), and Clairol Natural Instincts (again, ammonia free, but packed with other harmful chemicals, including parabens and hydrogen peroxide).

It should be noted that permanent dark colours will always have some PPDs. In America, the legal maximum is 2%; brands that really try hard to be natural (such as those below) could contain as little as .06%.

Pregnant? It’s your choice

It’s up to you to decide whether or not to use permanent dyes, but keep this in mind: pregnant women are strongly advised not to colour their hair, and the Environmental Working Group found that 69% of hair dye products they tested for their Skin Deep database may pose cancer risks. A 1994 National Cancer Institute report states dark dyes used over long periods of time seem to increase the risk of cancers such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma. Despite all the potential dangers, in America, the FDA doesn’t regulate hair dye ingredients (synthetic or natural) at all.

You should be aware that all permanent colors will always use some chemicals; that’s true even in the best natural hair dyes. Choosing the one that is the least damaging and most natural really is a case of using the best information you have to do so.

But never fear – we’ve done the research for you, and selected some of the best natural hair dyes – and even organic hair dyes – around.

15 of the Best Organic & Natural Hair Dyes

Best Natural Hair Dyes

1. Madison Reed

Smaller colour molecules called micro-pigments create a gentler colouring process that doesn’t require Madison Reed to use ammonia to aggressively open the hair cuticle to deposit their dyes the way other brands do. In fact, all Madison Reed’s dyes are not only ammonia free, but contain no parabens, resorcinol, phthalates, PPD or gluten. The result is no harsh smells, burning or itching that nasty chemicals normally bring.

This brand may not provide 100% organic hair dyes, but they do infuse their products with argan oil and natural keratin (not vegan: heads up!) to keep the products gentle. Of course, Madison Reed offers a range of colours, from Amalfi Blonde to Perugia Black, all of which promise 100% grey coverage.

Natural rating: 7/10 Colour hold: 10/10 Vegan? No

madison reed natural hair color

2. Saach Organics

PETA certified Saach Organics Natural Hair Colors are semi-permanent hair dyes derived from natural plants and minerals, making it a perfect blend of rare hair treatment herbs without any active chemicals.

Made by a small company with a speciality in natural beauty, Saach Organics is easy to contact if you have any questions. These natural hair colors are the first semi-permanent hair dyes which cover grey hair effectively in one simple step. Made with herbs grown and harvested according to Ayurvedic Indian traditions, the powdered dye gently coats your hair for vibrant, stable color that lasts.

The organic dyes balance and nourish each hair shaft and help prevent breakage and over-drying, leaving hair thick, lustrous and naturally healthy. They are even suitable for hypersensitive skins, and provide 100% gray coverage, without the use of PPD, Ammonia or Peroxides. This is a rarity, in that it is one of the few purely organic hair dyes, and it’s also one of the best natural black hair dye brands, too.

Natural rating: 10/10 Colour hold: 8/10 Vegan? Yes

best organic hair colorBest Natural Hair Dyes

3. Herbatint

This popular line of Italian-made natural hair dyes is specially formulated from herb extracts, including rosemary, cinchona and walnut husk, to gently bring a natural, vibrant color to your hair. Although the brand is 100% free of parabens, alcohol, ammonia, resorcinol and perfumes, it does contain hydrogen peroxide in most shades.

I have personally used this product for years, and though I have super-sensitive skin, I’ve had no issues. The coverage of gray is thorough, and the brand is 100% vegan friendly, and halal, as well.

Natural rating: 7/10 Colour hold: 10/10 Vegan? Yes

best natural hair dyes4. The Henna Guys

Have you got sensitive skin? Are you pregnant or breastfeeding? Of all the natural hair dyes here, this could well be the safest choice for you! It’s a certified organic, 100% natural hair color that has no PPD, peroxide or ammonia whatsoever.

The formula of their natural hair dyes uses premium certified organic herbs to create a herbal hair color that even helps to resolve issues like dandruff, dryness, and premature graying. Mainly based on plants like henna and indigo, like Saach Organics, this is one of the best all-organic hair dyes out there. Especially for natural black hair dye.

Natural rating: 10/10 Colour hold: 8/10 Vegan? Yes

 

best natural hair dyes

5. Natulique Organic Colors

This certified organic, pro-salon range of permanent hair color includes a selection that can either enhance your natural hair hue, or deliver more avant garde pastel hued locks. Promising 1oo% gray coverage, a blend of certified organic ingredients – including natural sunflower seed extract and jojoba, apricot and grapeseed oils – activates the color to fortify the hair for a healthy color boost.

This 95% natural brand also contains a cocktail of essential organic juicy grapefruit and lemon oils to help make your hair smell great, and contains a PPD-free range, too.

Natural rating: 8/10 Colour hold: 10/10 Vegan? Yes

Image: eleganthaircuts.com

6. ONC Natural Colors

ONC Natural Colors are much healthier than almost any of the other natural hair dyes out there. They have a low pH. They use heat from a blow dryer to open cuticles rather than a high pH chemical that can damage your health and that of your hair. It smells a bit of bananas, washes off your skin easily (but not your hair, obviously), and doesn’t leave a hard demarcation line after regrowth.

Because this is basically hair care and hair dye in one bottle, it nourishes your locks and scalp whilst changing the color of your hair. Of course, it’s permanent and lasts as long as any nasty chemical brand.

Natural rating: 8/10 Colour hold: 9/10 Vegan? Yes

best natural hair colors

7. Naturtint Natural Hair Colors

Fancy rouge ends or an ombre gradient? In three easy steps, choose to either dye selected strands, sections, or simply coat the entire head in your selected hue with Naturtint Natural Hair Colors.

Of course, there are the basic staple options for brunettes and blondes, too. This low-chemical brand contains no parabens, resorcinol, DEA, SLS, mineral oils or ammonia. 

Their creamy, plant based formula is safe for anyone of any age. Naturtint easily and permanently covers gray hairs, no matter how many you may have!

Natural rating: 9/10 Colour hold: 8/10 Vegan? Yes

Best Natural Hair Dyes

8. Tints of Nature

Tints of Nature is an effective range of hair colouring and treatment products, including permanent and semi-permanent colours. Each box comes with a prepping shampoo that alters your hair’s pH slightly, which results in less damage and more dye penetration.

The various tones can be custom-mixed, and these formulas are natural and gentle, using Certified Organic ingredients whenever possible. Tints of Nature’s vegan-friendly, natural hair dyes contain no resorcinol, nonoxynol, parabens, or ammonia. The average percentage of PPD (which depends on the shade) is also quite low, at only 2%.

Natural rating: 7/10 Colour hold: 9/10 Vegan? Yes

best organic hair dyes

9. Naturigin Permanent Hair Colour

This innovative Danish brand won the best Natural Beauty Product 2014-2015 in the US market. No surprise, since its natural hair dyes are 100% free from PTD, SLS, ammonia, resorcinol, and parabens.

It contains a naturally derived formula, with a special blend of certified organic lemon and mandarin essential oils, along with 10 additional pure and gentle organic extracts. These natural oils  protect the hair during the coloring process. Each shade of this brand’s natural hair dyes will reveal shiny, nourished locks!

Natural rating: 9/10 Colour hold: 9/10 Vegan? Cruelty free only

 

best natural hair color

 

10. Oway Hair Color

Organic Way (Oway) is the beauty industry’s first holistic hair color brand. All 95 ammonia-free permanent hair color shades are made with biodynamic botanicals. These are handpicked and grown on their family farms in Italy. The brand is defined by its use of organic plants, Fairtrade ingredients and pure essential oils. The base of their natural hair color is nourishing plant butters, which leave your hair rich, shiny and healthier than before.

The brand is also certified cruelty-free by PETA and is vegan-friendly. Of course, it does contain some chemicals as well as organic ingredients, otherwise it wouldn’t color your hair permanently. The concentration of those chemicals varies, depending on the shade, so please ensure you read labels carefully.

Natural rating: 8/10 Colour hold: 10/10 Vegan? Yes

oway hair color

11. It’s Pure

The name kind of says it all! This is the first ever herbal hair dye to be Certified Organic by Soil Association, and with good reason: it contains only 3 ingredients, and all are 100% organic and natural. No matter what colour you choose, it will always gives your hair plenty of shine and volume, without doing any damage. This product covers grey, too!

Natural rating: 10/10 Colour hold: 9/10 Vegan? Yes

best organic hair dye

12. Surya Brasil

Surya Brasil is a henna based dye that also features loads of botanical extracts from the Amazon, such as Brazil nut, Malva and Babacu seed oils. There’s even organic chocolate extract!

Henna is actually a great conditioner for your hair. It not only adds shine and volume, but also shields your locks from damage. Henna can help maintain the natural acid-alkaline balance on your scalp and cleanses dirt, too. In addition, it promotes hair growth, reduces hair loss, dandruff and other scalp problems. In short, it makes this one of the best organic hair dyes ever!

Note: This natural hair color will cover gray. But if you have more than 70% gray hair and are trying to achieve a black or dark brown hue, you should purchase two packages of product.

Natural rating: 10/10 Colour hold: 8/10 Vegan? Yes

 

surya brasil henna cream

13. Original & Mineral

This is one of the best natural hair dyes, according to the many top models and celebrities who are fans. This Australian salon brand was one of the first to produce professional grade ammonia, resorcinol and PPD free permanent hair colour making it gentle on hair, scalp and hands.

Their latest offering is called CØR.color nudes, and I can honestly say this may be the first ever ‘woke’ hair dye! The brand says it was created to “embrace the concept of diversity, inclusion and originality.”

CØR.uses ‘clean colour technology’ to give hair technicians the ability to create vibrant pastel or blonde hues any client can rock, no matter what their natural hair colour may be. The light and cool shades embrace any base pigment to create unique looks that celebrate diverse hair and skin tones.

Natural rating: 7/10 Colour hold: 9/10 Vegan? Yes

Original & Mineral hair color

14. Naturcolor

Got stubborn grey hair you’re trying to cover up? Try Naturcolor! This natural hair color brand has a lot going for it:

  • It contains no ammonia, resorcinol or parabens
  • It’s available in 31 colors. Each color can be used alone or blended to create personalized hair colors
  • Safe to use over color treated or permed hair.

It’s also packed with natural botanical oils, including jasmine, rosemary, and lavender. They make a rich range of brown hues, and a wonderful natural black hair dye. What’s not to love?

Natural rating: 8/10 Colour hold: 8/10 Vegan? Yes

 

 

15. Hairprint

Rather surprisingly, hairprint works to restore gray hair to its true colour – but it’s not a dye! It’s a patented breakthrough that replenishes the natural pigment (eumelanin) found in brown and black hair that has turned gray. It’s also a great protein treatment that adds body, strength, texture, and shine, while reducing frizz, and discoloration. Hypoallergenic and odour-free, this unique formula only works on dark hair colors. But it always results in a highly natural look for both men and women.

Hairprint recommends using their Chelating Shampoo to eliminate minerals, chlorine, calcification, silicone, and other residues on your hair in order to achieve the best results. If you regularly use styling products, they suggest doing a seven day Hair Detox to ensure the colourant really takes well.

Natural rating: 9/10 Colour hold: 9/10 if used correctly Vegan? Unsure

 

hairprint hair color

Note: It’s  always important to conduct a hair colour safety test prior to using any natural hair dye. Follow these helpful guidelines for further information.

Sophia Hussain

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177 Comments
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Mills
6 years ago

Hi,

Great article! So many companies out there falsify so much information to salon professionals and in turn people think they are using less chemicals when they are not. I was a long time Aveda professional over 10 years, which still has PPD and ammonia in the color. I have made it my goal to always seek out the most natural products and healthy alternatives for my clients. Its definitely up to us as hairdressers to educate our clients on what chemicals we are using on them. Whilst living in Australia I found Original Mineral. No PPD. No Ammonia. No Resorcinol. and it preforms beautifully! I myself and extremely allergic to hair color (PPD and ammonia) I can use every single piece of the O&M color line and retail products. I am so happy to of found this company and their products and I love to tell every hairdresser I meet about the brand.

Cheryl
Cheryl
4 years ago
Reply to  Mills

Hi, wondering if you still consider OM a winner.

NATURIGIN
6 years ago

Great article! These points cannot be stressed enough.

Johan Galster
Johan Galster
5 years ago
Reply to  NATURIGIN

Naturigin: Please be aware: this hair dye contains PPD, which is even more allergenic and sensitizing that PTD. PPD is evaluated “extermely sensitising” by the Scientific Commettee of EU (2007, MEMORANDUM ON Hair dye substances and their skin sensitising properties).

Chere Di Boscio
Admin
5 years ago
Reply to  Johan Galster

No worries Kathryn, Sophia totally researched these brands, even calling them when no other info was available. It’s worth calling the brands if you are interested in further into 😉

Chere Di Boscio
Admin
5 years ago
Reply to  Johan Galster

Is that true for all colours? Can you provide a link to evidence? Thanks!

Stelios
Stelios
4 years ago

Hi Chere every Permanent professional hair color today does contain PPD or PPT. only some demi and semi permanent color don’t. The darker the color the greater the amount of the above chemicals.

Johan Galster
Johan Galster
5 years ago

Some permanent hair dyes, like Naturigin, are based on the colour PPD (p-phenylenediamine) or PTD (toluene-2,5-diamine) or derivates hereof.
The EU SCCP has produced several reports on PPD and PTD, all of them stating that these dyes are strongly og extremely sensitizing, i.e. they have very strong potentials of inducing a lifelong hair dye allergy in the consumer or in the hair dresser. The findings on allergy and sentizing are summarized in in a EU memorandum: http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/04_sccp/docs/sccp_s_05.pdf
Other problematic effects of single hair dying chemicals are described in specific scientific reports by the SCCP.
Always be aware that when a hair dye claims to have 100 % gray cover and will be permanent you can be sure it contains PPD, PTD, or derivates herof.
You may find some help in the Positive list of professional hair cosmetic products, (our homepage is in Danish, but the list is written in Danish and English). Groen Salon (Green Salon) is an NGO without any commercial interests and doesn’t sell anything.

Barbara
Barbara
4 years ago
Reply to  Johan Galster

That is so interesting. I have been colouring my hair with a permanent blonde dye to cover greys for over 20 years and would like to change to something safe – are you able to provide any names of products that are safe – I live in Australia. Thanks!

Monette
Monette
4 years ago
Reply to  Johan Galster

Johan, I feel that you are very knowledgeable on this topic of hair dyes, can you just name at least the best three hair dyes so we can have a guide to what brand to buy.

Anne
Anne
5 years ago
Reply to  Johan Galster

Thanks for providing this source.

Tiffany
Tiffany
6 years ago

Can you provide links for NYC salons that use these products? Also ca. You provide links to the ingredients in each of the different products?

Chere Di Boscio
Admin
6 years ago
Reply to  Tiffany

Hi Tiffany
The ingredients can be found if you go to the links for each brand in the title (just click on the title). As for the NYC salons that use the products, we don’t know, as we’re based in Paris and London, but this salon looks good! 🙂 http://halesalon.com/

Kathryn
Kathryn
5 years ago

Many of these websites do not list the ingredients…on originalmineral.com there are no ingredients listed…

Lora
Lora
6 years ago

So glad you’ve covered organic hair dyes!
I’m always dying my hair and am so conscious of the amount of dangerous toxins in them!
Great article, Eluxe!

Vera
Vera
4 months ago
Reply to  Lora

HI, Lora
I did appreciate the information.
I have severe reaction to hair coloring.
The doctor advise me to stay away from all the chemical PPD, ammonia, peroxides,etc…
However, I am desperately looking for a black hair coloring in order to cover the gray.
Your article did not mention any hair “type”, can you advise if any of the mention brands are better for Black ethnic hair?
Please advise.
Thanks

Chere Di Boscio
Admin
4 months ago
Reply to  Vera

Hi Vera
I would highly recommend Saach Organics black dye. It ONLY uses plant based ingredients, and I think there are only a total of 4, none of them are toxic. I am very sensitive to chemicals myself and use their medium brown. Never had a problem. It takes longer to ‘take’ on the hair (up to two hours for stubborn white hairs) but it’s worth it!

d scott
4 years ago
Reply to  Lora

so glad i thought to ask i have learned a lot and will be more careful thanks

Where can i buy any of these products ???

Babita
Babita
2 years ago
Reply to  d scott

Hello Vee,

Can you recommend some natural hair colors?

Bonnie
3 years ago
Reply to  d scott

Wow do you have a website VEE Claerk. I have Lupus now for 30 years. I have colored my hair over the years, but not in the last 7 or so. I an 60 and have no grey, but anted to add color. Can you chat or email. [email protected]. I am working on a website – TheLupusLounge

silver
silver
3 years ago
Reply to  Bonnie

Just let your hair go grey. First cut it short, around ear length, and then keep it clean and fluffed up. I let my hair go grey and not a day goes by when I don’t receive one or more compliments from stangers, and lots of admiring glances. Now collor length, straight, silver and shiny. Just do it. No chemicals, no ammonia, no nothing but plenty of gorgeous.

Elizabeth Palumbo
Elizabeth Palumbo
3 years ago
Reply to  d scott

Can you give me your contact number as I am looking for Chemical free hair color products. I also do a lot of research on toxic free products and want the best products for me and to educate others. It’s so important as I have been reading some ingredients in hair colors can lead to bladder cancer. It shocks me what s allowed in so many products. SHOCKED!!

Ambrosia Poe
Ambrosia Poe
4 years ago
Reply to  d scott

Hi~ I was just wondering if you found out where to buy the hair colors listed. Thanks so much!!!

Chere Di Boscio
Admin
4 years ago
Reply to  Ambrosia Poe

Hi Ambrosia
Yes, you can buy Saach Organics at http://www.eluxeexclusives.com and if you click on most of the titles, you can buy other brands inthe links, too. Madison Reed sells online, for example – just click the title. Hope that helps!

Robert Topal
Robert Topal
4 years ago
Reply to  Lora

Be careful everyone hair dye that has hydrogen peroxide can be damaging to your hair and nervous system banned in Canada and other places as well thought should know this

Karen Worhol
Karen Worhol
1 year ago
Reply to  Robert Topal

Where do I buy this Henna hair dye in Houston

Chere Di Boscio
Admin
1 year ago
Reply to  Karen Worhol
alice
alice
1 year ago
Reply to  Robert Topal

Hydrogen Peroxide is most definitely not banned in Canada… In fact it’s not even banned in the EU which have much stricter cosmetic regulations

belle
belle
1 year ago
Reply to  Robert Topal

I became allergic to hair dye and I was told by my dermatologist to try Goldwell, no PPD. Has anyone ever tried this? Thank you.

sophie wilde
4 years ago
Reply to  Robert Topal

I agree with you there Robert and being a European decided to look and the O+M Scandanavian range which is being sold as being ‘pure and natural’ and hydrogen peroxide was one of the 1st ingredients I saw.As a matter of interest how do women in Canada lighten/highlight their hair if peroxide isn’t allowed anymore?I have Lupus and have no choice other than to go the natural route as I’ve had my hair coming out with illness and want to make the best of myself still and blend in a few grays.

Jane Worthington
Jane Worthington
1 year ago
Reply to  sophie wilde

Hi Sophie Just wondering if you found anything g good?

Laura Malone
Laura Malone
4 years ago
Reply to  sophie wilde

Sophie I also have lupus and trying to find some way to color my hair (also a hair stylist). Not being able to do all the fun and crazy things to my hair is killing me and I look like a ridiculous stylist in the salon bc I have brown new growth and red mid length and ends.

Vee Claerk
Vee Claerk
3 years ago
Reply to  Laura Malone

Did you find a All Natural & Organic stylist. I am a Licensed Cosmetologist and Alternative Medicine Professional and Educator, I specialize in Chemical free hair color and products. I have been an herbalist/formulator for over 25 years to begin with – as well as a medical professional and educator. Where are you located? I have a clinic and contract out to Green Salons and Organic Health Spas. Most of my clients have Auto Immune Illness/C.I./C.S. I am located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Contact me if you need assistance as I have a lot of experience. May I ask where you are located..

Deborah Miller
Deborah Miller
3 years ago
Reply to  Laura Malone

Try Kevin Murphy color.me
ppd free, ammonia free

Nayana
6 years ago

Hi,
I like the way you organization the post…
Very good Information about Henna powder, For herbal Henna Powder contact us .
Singh Mehandi

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