How to Color your Hair Extensions Naturally
Hair Color

Go Natural: How to Color your Hair Extensions Naturally

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Go Natural On your Extensions

We all know that hair dye isn’t the friendliest product in our hair.

Whether it’s your natural hair or extensions, hair dye can cause damage and weaken your hair. Coloring your extensions with natural products is an excellent alternative to putting harsh chemicals on them.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with your extensions and try safer ways to switch up your hair color!

Why You Should Switch to Natural Hair Dye

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) states that companies use over 5,000 different chemicals in hair dye products, some of these products can be carcinogenic to animals.

Carcinogenic means that the products can cause cancer. Though manufacturers have improved dye products to eliminate some of the more dangerous chemicals that they put into products in the 1970s, many hair dyes contain things such as:

  • Quaternium-15, this is a known carcinogen that can release formaldehyde.
  • Alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs), this may disrupt hormones.
  • Phenylenediamine (PPD), this is a skin and respiratory irritant. PPD has a classification in the European Union as dangerous to the environment.

The National Cancer Institute notes that some studies have found that hairdressers and barbers are more likely to be at risk of bladder cancer, potentially because of coloring chemicals. Other studies have found the personal use of hair dyes could increase the risk of leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, but there is a mix of results.

natural hair dye ideas

Steps to Keeping You and Your Hair Safe

There are a few steps you want to follow to help you get the best results for your hair. Here are a few different tips you may want to consider.

Do not wash your extensions right before you dye it.

Although it seems like a good idea, washing your extensions a few hours or right before dyeing it may cause more harm than good. It is better to wash the hair at least one to two days beforehand or color on dirty hair.

Not only does color have a better hold on dirty hair; clean hair may be too slippery. And if you do wash your hair before coloring, it may make it a lot more difficult for the natural dye methods to hold.

Always use gloves.

Gloves are still a good idea to protect your fingers and nails from staining.

Some dyeing techniques require using your hands, and it takes months before hair dye will completely remove itself from your fingertips. You can easily avoid that by taking a few seconds to throw on some gloves.

Complete a strand test.

This step is not mandatory but is helpful if you are not entirely sure about how the color you chose will look on your hair.

What you want to do is pick a strand of hair to test. It’s best to select a strand that from an extension you will put in the back of your head. This step makes it easy to cover if you decide not to dye your hair. Then wait 24 hours to make sure you are happy with the hair color results.

It is essential that you only mix a small amount of hair dye and not the whole box to make sure it does not waste.

Get the right hair care products.

You should make sure to invest in the right products such as shampoo and conditioner to accommodate whatever natural method you choose. You do not want to use hair products that may alter the results.

hair products

General extension care tips

What To Do:

  • Be sure to color your hair at least 2-3 days before having your extensions put in.
  • Braid your extensions before sleeping or exercising to avoid tangling.
  • Brush your hair & hair extensions thoroughly before washing your hair.
  • Use professional hair products (recommended by your extensionist) that are NOT alcohol or protein based.
  • Use a deep moisturizing conditioner.
  • Use a leave-in moisturizer/treatment.
  • Ensure that your hairdryer is on a low heat setting when drying your hair extensions.
  • Brush your hair every morning and night. A loop brush is recommended to use on your hair extensions to avoid catching the attached area.
  • Do regular deep moisture treatments to ensure soft silky hair.
moisturize hair

What Not To Do:

  • Do not go to sleep with wet or damp hair; there are some cases of this happening and causing mold. You do not want that!
  • Do not rub the hair harshly when shampooing or conditioning, this could weaken the hair.
  • Do not apply conditioner to the root area around the extensions; it can make the extensions challenging to install.
  • Do not bleach or color your extensions yourself.
  • Do not brush extension hair too hard as you might pull the hair strands out.
  • Do not wet your hair in a pool or sea water. The Chlorine/ Saltwater will strip the oils from the hair extensions making them dry.
swimming pool

Pros and Cons about Natural Dye Techniques

No Damage

Needless to say, one of the most notable benefits of vegetable hair color is that it does not cause damage to your hair. This is because it does not contain chemicals and other ingredients that are harmful to your hair.

Retains Hair Structure

Regular hair color products break the hair, and this causes it to eventually become unhealthy. Luckily, vegetable hair dye does not have this effect. It does not change the structure of your hair, thus causing no damage.

Conditions Hair

With all the natural ingredients in vegetable hair dye, you can expect good things for your hair. The ingredients in this type of hair color condition your hair. This in turn makes your hair soft, shiny and strong.

Safe For Use During Pregnancy

For a lot of pregnant women, coloring their hair while they are expecting is a major concern because of the many chemicals that hair dye products contain. These chemicals may have an adverse effect on the unborn baby. However, with vegetable hair dye, there is no need to worry about this as they have no chemicals in them, making them safe to use during pregnancy.

Not Permanent

For many women, hair color is all about having fun, and they like to change the color of their hair more often than others. The great thing about vegetable hair dye is that it is not permanent, meaning that you can change it without having to wait for too long as it takes just 8 to 10 shampoos to have it completely washed out.

With so many great benefits, it is no wonder that more women are turning to vegetable hair dyes to color their hair. Although they do not last, the fact that they do not damage hair like conventional hair dyes do make them a far better choice.

Negative Effects of Chemical Hair Dye

Overprocessing

Permanent hair colors often contain ammonia and peroxide.

The ammonia breaks through your hair shaft, and the peroxide neutralizes or bleaches out the natural pigment in your hair, stripping away color.

This process of relaxing the hair cuticles to reach the cortex of your hair and bleach out its natural pigment is, essentially, hair damage. Regular use of hair dyes, especially the permanent type, can render your hair brittle and over-processed.

During hair coloring, ammonia raises the pH of hair and opens up the scales in the cuticle so that the color molecules enter the next layer, the cortex.

Here, through a chain of chemical reactions, hydrogen peroxide bleaches the hair and the color pigments join together to settle down on the cortex. The cuticle closes when you then rinse the hair. Over treating your hair with these chemicals will cause it to lose luster, break easily, and in some extreme cases, wash away with water.

While processed hair can be revived to a certain extent with hair care treatments, the only way to get rid of the damage from over processing is to chop your hair off.

Allergic Reactions

Hair dyes causing allergic reactions is not uncommon especially because permanent hair dyes contain paraphenylenediamine which is a common allergen.

People who have contact dermatitis are particularly prone to reactions because of the PPD and other chemicals present in dyes. People with skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis should also refrain from using hair dyes to color their hair.

In milder cases, permanent dyes can cause itching, skin irritation, redness, or swelling on your scalp or other sensitive areas like your face and neck.

Another thing to keep in mind when using these dyes is that not having had an allergic reaction in the past does not mean you won’t have one in the future.

The more you color your hair, the more likely you become to having an adverse reaction.

Upkeep

While this is not technically a side effect, it can be cause for some.

A lot of people don’t realize just how much goes into the upkeep of colored hair. It’s a long-term commitment that will have you rushing back to the salon every month or so, which can be hard on your hair.

You will need to buy products that are specially formulated for colored hair. A few styles need regular touch ups, and your hair, in general, needs so much extra care. Post process hair is really vulnerable to damage and demands a lot of time, patience, and care.

Failing to give your hair what it needs will result in locks that lack shine, luster, and health.

Might Affect Fertility

While this might seem bizarre, hair dye can cause fertility problems in both men and women.

A recent study found that thanks to their constant exposure to chemicals found in hair products including hair dyes, hairdressers are more likely to have a reproductive disorder.

One chemical that could be held responsible is lead acetate, which is found in progressive or gradual hair dyes that require multiple application. The FDA maintains that the level of lead acetate found in hair dye is not sufficient to cause a lead buildup in the body.

However, it’s mandatory for hair product manufacturers to provide a cautionary note for all products containing lead acetate.

Fading

Fading can’t really be avoided since the color begins to fade with each wash over time.

Some women maintain their color with regular touch-ups or temporary color rinses. Permanent color upkeep is easier to maintain on shorter hair because the hair is being cut more regularly, leaving less concern about over processing the length you are trying to retain with longer hair.

Although color is applied to the roots for touch-ups, the length of the hair is still getting slightly processed with every rinse as it runs down the length of the hair.

The quality of the color, proper mixing, and application will determine how well the color retains, but nonetheless your color will look different over time. Reds become browns and blonde become less vibrant. How well your hair withstands potential color damage and brittleness is determined by the condition of the hair prior to color and maintenance.

Since permanent color naturally makes the strands more porous, your hair might be calling for a regimen update.

Basic Step by Step Method to Dyeing your Extensions

Step #1

You start the process by purchasing your materials to create your natural hair dye, gloves, and any other products you feel are necessary from a beauty supply store, drug store or salon.

Step #2

The second step is to comb through the extensions with a wide-tooth comb to detangle them. You should wash out any styling product in the extensions ahead of time before coloring your hair. Then place your extensions in an old towel after you have detangled them to ensure that they are dry.

Step #3

Put on the rubber gloves before you start preparing the natural coloring technique. Make sure you take your time creating the mixture.

Step #4

When the mixture is ready, coat your hair extensions strands using the dye.

You can use a comb to distribute the mixture evenly so that it coats the hair in the areas where you want the color placed. After proper application of the color on the hair extensions, you should then cover them with tin foil. Leave the color on the extensions for about 30 minutes.

Step #5

The fifth step involves rinsing the hair dye out of the extensions. Use warm water to do so to ensure all of the color mixtures are gone.

Shampoo the hair and then apply conditioner after the dye is washed out. You should then gently comb through the hair extensions after the application of the hair conditioner.

Step #6

The sixth step involves washing out the conditioner by using a cold water rinse. This step seals hair color and at the same time makes the hair look shiny.

Step #7

Your last step I’d recommend air drying the hair as it keeps the hair looking shinier and maintains the hair’s moisture levels. To speed up the drying process, you may want to use a blow dryer or diffuser to dry the hair.

moisturizing hair

Ways to Naturally Dye your Hair

Some people enjoy having different colors in their hair but do not want to damage it completely.

There are many ways to naturally dye your hair that can keep it from the chemicals and unwanted damage caused by hair dye you buy at stores! If you do not want to create a hair dye, there are several different brands out there that you can choose to use.

However, if you’re going to make your hair dye, here are some ways to dye your hair naturally:

Coffee

Coffee is a great way to get your extensions darker.

What you want to do is brew a strong batch, let it cool down and mix it with leave-in conditioner and two tablespoons of ground coffee. Apply this mixture onto the extensions, and let it sit for an hour or longer depending on how dark you want the extensions.

You may have to repeat this dyeing process a few times to get significantly darker results and using apple cider vinegar to wash out your extensions is a great way to get the color to last longer.

apple cider vinegar

Henna

Henna is a powdered form of the leaves that people pick from a henna plant.

These leaves have a natural coloring pigment people have done for several years to dye nails, skin, and hair. Natural Henna produces a red or orangeish color so when we see henna that is black or white; it is mixed with different ingredients to get that color.

If you desire a reddish color, natural henna works perfectly for you. Combine about one cup of henna powder with 2 cups lemon juice. The mixture then needs to sit for about 4-6 hours or until it is noticeably thick. After the combination is complete, you then want to apply to your extensions and comb through.

Then store your extensions and allow them to sit for about 2-3 hours before rinsing it out.

Lemon juice

The Lemon juice will help to brighten up your extensions a bit and create a few natural looking highlights. You want to get some lemons and squeeze the juice out.

Once that is done, you want to take the freshly squeezed lemon juice and place it in a spray bottle. Then spray and brush it through your extensions. You then want to leave the mixture in the extensions for several hours.

An excellent way to increase your results is to lay your extensions out in the sun; it helps to lighten. Keep in mind that lemon juice is a long process so you may need to apply the mixture to the hair a few times before you achieve the results that you want.

lemon juice hair

Chamomile Tea

Another great way to brighten up your extensions is to use chamomile tea.

Your best option is to make the tea highly concentrated so you can achieve strong results. Use about 3-5 tea bags for two cups of water. You can apply the cooled tea to the extensions alone, or mix the tea in with conditioner (the same method as the coffee recipe).

You then want to leave the tea on your hair for at least an hour if you want the color to show up stronger and to get excellent results. You can even store the extensions and let the tea soak into them overnight, then rinse it out the next day.

The more time you leave the tea on the extensions, the more noticeable the color will be. You can also try repeated applications if you want very light results.

There are several more ways to dye your hair naturally.

The key is to be patient with your hair and know that you may need repeatedly complete the process to get the results you want since they are natural products and not chemicals. You may need to experiment around and try different things to see what works for you and that is okay!

This method is a safe way to change your hair color efficiently.

chamomile tea

What Product to Use to Get a Specific Hair Color

Blonde

Blonde hair usually takes up more color than most others. Lemon juice works well for light blonde and some darker blondes.

A tea made from chamomile and calendula will work for darker blonde types. Rhubarb root makes golden honey tones. Simmer the root in water. You want to use it as you would other tea methods.

It’s also possible that other berberine-containing roots such as mahonia (Oregon Grape Root), yellowroot, bayberry or yellow dock could work, but there are not many reports of people using them.

Brown

For brown hair, you want to use a strong black tea or coffee mix. You can also make a tea out of nettle, rosemary, and sage.

chocolate brown

Red

For red hair, nothing beats tomato juice. You want to massage a generous amount into the extensions.

If you want to let it sit, you can put the extensions along with the tomato juice into a plastic bag and let it sit. You can also create a tea from hibiscus flowers and calendula. If you adjust the amount of each, you can easily create several different shades of brown.

And the great thing is that both are full of antioxidants, which are very healthy for your hair.

Reddish

Pureed beets will give your hair a unique reddish purple tone. And all red tones of hair will pick up highlights from a vinegar rinse used after any hair color.

Black

Black hair is difficult. The black walnut powder will give you very dark, almost black hair. Indigo will provide you with blue-black hair, but most sources say you should use this with or after henna treatments.

blue black hair

Will you Try to Dye your Extensions Differently?

We all know how damaging hair dye can be to our natural hair and our extensions.

It is a great idea to be open-minded and try a more natural method to get color. It may not work out the way you want it to on your first try, but with time and patience, you can get the results you want. It is essential to research the natural products you want to use just to be sure you are making the right decision.

Not all colors are achievable naturally, but a lot of the most common colors are. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

About Maira Tarawallie

I am a student at the Ohio State University. International relations major and aspiring MUA. I love anything that has to do with hair and beauty!

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