Beauty Hair

15 Of The Best Organic & Natural Hair Dyes

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.

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.

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

Best Natural Hair Dyes

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

best natural hair dyes

14. Logona Herbal Hair Color Crème

Logona offers a range of semi-permanent natural hair dyes in both powder and cream formulas. They cover gray hair whilst nourishing your locks and delivering added volume. The innovative one-step hair-color-in-a-tube process almost makes dyeing your hair feel like a relaxing spa ritual!

This vegan friendly hair dye contains organic henna from Sekem Farm (an Egyptian FairTrade initiative), rhubarb root powder, jojoba seed oil, and a fragrance based on pure essential oils.

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

 

BEST ORGANIC HAIR DYE

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

 

best natural hair dyes

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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