How to Naturally Darken Your Hair – Successfully!

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For these photos, my hair was dried straight so you can see the color differences.

I used to color my hair regularly, and for about 20 years (egads!) it’s been varying shades of red.  For the past 3 years, I’ve switched to more natural hair color from my health food store, but still I knew there were chemicals in there I’d rather not deal with.  Since I went no ‘poo  8 months ago, I’ve colored my  hair once – with what I’d consider disastrous results.  My hair went back to the way it was on shampoo.  It straightened.  It flattened.  It lost the shine and softness I had come to expect from being no ‘poo .  So here I am several months later with the bottom 2/3 of my hair a faded light red and the top third dark, dark brown.  With white highlights.  (I’m young yet – they’re called highlights.)  So how was I to naturally darken my hair, and with success?  The answer may just be black walnut hull.

I’ve had a batch of black walnut hull in my cupboard waiting for me to try it for months, but I have to be honest I didn’t think it would do much.  I also have a couple bags of henna sitting around, but I really wanted to try and match my natural dark brown color.  So finally I decided to try out the walnut.  

My hair after going no 'poo for 7 months. No mousse, no gel, no hairspray, NO shampoo!


Black walnut hulls produce a very dark brown tea that easily stains everything, so it’s important to be careful when  using it.  Purchasing powdered black walnut hulls makes the process easier.  I put a couple tablespoons in a muslin drawstring bag that I reserve for this purpose.  I bring almost a full teapot full of water to a near boil, then I pour it over the drawstring bag into an old bowl.  After the tea steeps for several hours (even overnight), I remove the muslin bag and take the bowl of tea, along with a second larger bowl (preferably plastic), into the bathroom.  After washing and/or wetting my hair, I kneel down and lean over the side of the tub with the large plastic bowl in the tub beneath my head.  I then carefully pour the tea over my head, making sure to cover as much of my hair as possible.  Then I pour the tea from the large bowl back into the small one, and pour it over my hair again, as many as 15 times.  Once I’m done, I squeeze the tea from my hair, and then I wrap my head in a nearby OLD towel.  I leave my head wrapped as I rinse out the tub and bowls carefully.  

After the first tea rinse I did, I definitely noticed a difference – subtle, but my bright red hair had the dimmer switch turned down.  I’ve now done the rinse four days in a row, and I’d say the red portion of my hair is pretty much medium brown now, with the red still slightly noticeable in bright lights.  White hairs are now no longer sparkly and glowing, but dimmed.  I’m hoping the tea rinses will eventually darken them more.  They are taking to the tea slower than the rest of my hair, but I’m feeling hopeful.

The best part about these rinses, aside from the fact that it’s natural and chemical-free, is that the color doesn’t rinse down the drain the next day when I wash my hair.  It seems to be permanent, and I don’t expect to do the rinse every day for the rest of my life – just until I reach my desired shade.  There’s also no funky smells left in the hair, and the black walnut hull is cheap and lasts a long time.  

I’ll keep you updated on the powdered black walnut tea rinses.  If you want to try it for yourself, you don’t need to do the rinse every single day unless you’re as impatient as I am to reach a new shade!  You might try a few times a week.  And make sure you’re careful not to get the tea on any clothing, shower curtains, floors, carpet etc. because it does a good job of staining – including hair, thankfully.

If you want to try to naturally darken your hair yourself, you can purchase powdered black walnut hull at The Giving Essence for only $5 a 4-oz bag.  Local health food stores may carry it as well.  Just make sure it’s a simple bag of only the powdered hulls, with no additives etc.  And then come back here and tell me how it worked for you!

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