Can you believe summer is already over? Wow that went fast! Did you spend a lot of time outdoors doing the things you love with the people you love? I hope so! As fun as that may be, did you know that too much time in the sun not only damages your skin, it damages your hair too. Saltwater and chlorine can also take a toll on your hair.
So, hair that was shiny and easy to manage a few months ago now looks and feels fried, literally. According to New York dermatologist Jessica J. Krant, MD, MPH, the UV rays of the sun actually “cook the hair shaft” leaving your hair dry and rough. This is even more obvious on color-treated hair.
Most hair color dyes rely on harsh chemicals like hydrogen peroxide or ammonia to strip the hair and allow it to “take”, or absorb, the chemical color applied to it.
These chemicals weaken and destroy the hair shaft over time. Many of the chemical hair dyes use various petroleum or coal tar-based ingredients that have been found to increase the long-term risk of various forms of cancer over time. Yikes!
But don’t be fooled by the word “natural” on hair color labels. Natural doesn’t necessarily mean chemical-free; some brands commonly found in natural health stores use peroxide to prepare your hair for colorants.
In contrast, henna has a long history as a safe, gentle hair color. That is why I only carry henna hair coloring in my store.
How to Naturally Color Your Gray Hair
If you’ve started going gray or just are looking for a different look with a natural hair dye…
- If you have less than 30% gray hair, you can use an all natural gray coloring product called Gray Riddance. While it won’t color your grey to match your hair color, it turns your gray hair into great golden highlights. I use this product on my dark brown hair and love it. It literally takes a minute a day for three days and you’re good to go for many months. I tried it on my husband’s blonde hair but that didn’t work. It made his hair look yellow and not a pretty kind of yellow. It may not be ideal if you have patches of gray hair. My grays are evenly spread out so the golden highlights look really nice. It’s a good idea to do a patch test to see how you like the golden highlights in your hair before spraying Gray Riddance all over.
- Color your hair safely and naturally with Light Mountain Natural Hair Color. It is a 100% natural, safe, and made of certified organic premium henna and nothing else. Henna is just not recommended if you’re more than 40% gray or if you’re blonde and don’t want to go darker.
Tips to Fabulous and Healthy Colored Hair
Here are some tips (some from WebMD) to keeping your colored hair looking fabulous for as long as possible.
- Limit your shampooing to only two to three times a week to keep the color true as long as possible. If necessary, use just conditioner on the days you don’t use shampoo. Just refrain from shampooing your hair every day even if you don’t color your hair.
- Use a mild natural color-safe shampoo and conditioner that don’t contain sulfates. Sulfates are not only toxic, they can dull or fade your hair. Here are some great natural shampoos and conditioners.
- Wash your hair with lukewarm water. Hot water can fade your color faster.
- If you like to swim like me, remember to put on a tight-fitting swimming cap before taking a dip in the pool or ocean. You can also rinse your hair before and after a swim so that saltwater and chlorine won’t absurd as much salt and pool chemicals. Chlorine can change your hair color and damage the outermost layer. Saltwater can dry out your hair.
- Color-treated hair needs extra conditioning especially if you use chemical dyes (which I hope you don’t). So, make sure to have a moisturizing conditioner. If you want to go the DYI route, mix equal parts avocado, almond oil, and vitamin E oil. Apply it to damp hair and let it soak in for 10 minutes. Then rinse and style as usual. You can also use egg yolk. You can either use beaten egg yolks on your hair by themselves or mix them with other ingredients such as honey or olive oil. You will probably need two yolks for short hair and more for longer hair. Apply the yolks or yolk mixture to dry hair, leave it on for up to 30 minutes and then shampoo and condition as usual.
- While we need our daily sun (15-20 a day) to get our vitamin D, sunlight isn’t great for your hair because it can leave your color dull and your hair lifeless. Wear a hat if you’re going to spend a long time in the sun.
Foods to Eat and Avoid
According to Chinese medicine, your hair is a reflection of the health of your kidneys and the quality of your blood. Certain foods are believed to help strengthen the kidneys and quality of the blood which in turn can help premature graying. While graying is a part of the natural aging process, consuming foods that counter premature aging like carrots, green peppers, lettuce, bananas, strawberries, apples, peas, onions, cucumbers, sprouts and green tea can help the appearance of gray hair. Be sure to avoid excessive meat, dairy as well as saturated fats, sugars, processed and refined foods.
DIY Ways to Prevent Gray Hair
Here are some DIY ways that many help you naturally deal with gray hair. I haven’t tested any of these so do your homework before trying them.
- Coconut Oil – Combine 1 cup of coconut oil and the juice from one squeezed lemon and mix it together for about 5 minutes. Put this mixture on your hair and let it sit for about 15 minutes before washing it out. Do this about three times a week. It’s possible that you can retain dark color in your hair—it works best on black hair—up through the age of 70. There is no science to back this up but is a folk remedy that is followed by many people in the Philippines.
- Black Tea and Salt – Take 1 cup of strong black tea and mix it with 1 tbsp. of salt. Let it sit until it gets cold. Strain the tea and massage the mixture into your scalp so that it gets to the roots of your hair. Let it sit before rinsing it out. Do not shampoo after using it. Do this about three times a week.
- Blackstrap Molasses – Try taking 1 tbsp. of blackstrap molasses every day for two weeks. I even found online a person who took 2 teaspoons twice a day for 3 weeks and had her grey hair turn to black with a reddish pigment. Anecdotal evidence has been shared that the blackstrap molasses will reverse the graying process and restore hair color. You can find blackstrap molasses in health food stores. It contains calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron which help promote healthy hair, but again there is no scientific evidence proving this will prevent gray hair.
- Amaranth – Amaranth helps the condition and texture of your hair. The leaves of amaranth or amaranthus are known to be one of the best home remedies for gray hair. The extract from the leaves is helpful in restoring hair color. Apply juice of amaranth leaves to your hair and scalp after shampooing and rinse. Do this daily for best results.
- Wheat Grass Powder – Add 1 tsp of wheat grass powder every day in your tea, smoothie… I met a woman recently who said that she’d be doing this for a year and that her hair started growing out her natural black color vs gray. I haven’t put this to the test but since wheat grass is so good for you anyway, why not give it a try?! She did insist that it had to be the powder though so if you like to do wheat grass shots (they are delicious), this may not work the same.
What do you do to keep your hair naturally healthy and fabulous? I’d love to hear from you!