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Dye Your Hair …with Coffee!

by Lisa on December 3, 2013

I dye my hair regularly. Not because I’m high maintenance or really care that much about my hair color… but because I have premature grays. I had one or two in high school, and about ten when I was in my mid-twenties. After my sister died, I almost immediately got a gray streak, and it kept spreading after that. The only reason I’m bringing that up is because it caused me to do a lot of reading about stress and gray hair–turns out, some mineral and nutrient absorption is blocked during the stress response, and this ultimately leads to gray hair (i.e. copper plays an integral role in hair color).

Oh, wait, there’s another reason I told you about that!

Because I have a combination of dark and gray hair, when I dye my hair naturally, the “dye” can’t be wimpy if it’s going to cover the grays! Generally, I find organic or natural salons and make sure the worst chemicals are not used in their color. However, right now I’m pregnant, and I wanted to delay coloring my hair at all until after the first trimester was over. I knew this would be a rough process—my hair grows quickly, and in 12 weeks, I’d have over an inch of regrowth.

I thought about using henna, but as I researched natural hair dyes, I found a few links that talked about using coffee. Of course, I didn’t follow any of the directions because I thought I could come up with a better way to do it—and I did, but it took me two tries.

hair coffee

Dye Your Hair with Coffee! 

1/2 cup conditioner (I used the most natural one I could find – Young Living’s Rosemary Mint)

3-4 Tbsp organic instant decaf coffee (the decaf part is optional, I was just being extra careful)

Instructions: Mix the two ingredients together until the coffee dissolves. Put a brown towel around your shoulders, dip your fingers in the “dye” and spread it evenly throughout your hair, starting with the roots. Clip your hair on top of your head so you don’t drip the mixture on anything, and leave it on for at least one hour. If you wait longer, it will start to dry and that makes it more difficult to rinse out. Rinse, but don’t wash, your hair until the water runs clear. Style as you normally would. The first time you do this, you’ll probably want to do it two days in a row (if you have grays).


  • Use more conditioner and more coffee if you have long hair. My hair is thin, so this amount worked.
  • Don’t worry about dripping the “dye” on your skin or sink—it doesn’t stain these things (but it might stain clothes or furniture, which is whyI recommend the hair clip and brown towel)!
  • This is not for blonds!
  • If you have grays, you’ll want to do this two days in a row to get full coverage initially
  • You’ll need to do this once a week if you want to keep the results (I wash my hair every 2-3 days)
  • Many of the recipes I looked at online involved brewing coffee (I tried this the first time, and it was way too watery and messy)
  • I read that putting a plastic bag on your head could help the color to “process” but I didn’t try this, and I don’t really recommend it (it just seems unnecessary)
  • Mixing this with henna would probably work amazingly well too, and probably help the color to last longer
  • You don’t have a lot of specific control about what color your hair will be–this is more of a “stain” and the mixture looks a lot lighter than you would think it would (assuming your conditioner is a whitish color)
  • After the first time I did this, I stopped measuring the conditioner and the coffee–it’s not so exact that you need to measure precisely

I did this process for several weeks, and it worked really well. I did stop a couple weeks before I hit my second trimester because I was feeling so sick that the smell of coffee (and the smell of conditioner) were making me want to throw up. I wore headbands and hats till I was feeling better.

Honestly, I don’t think I’ll do this 100% of the time. It does work, I promise! But I’m a bit lazy, and although it is very easy, affordable, and not messy AT ALL, I may supplement this with organic/natural hair color at the salon.

Have you used any natural products to dye your hair with? If so, what? And did it actually work?

Side note: I also have been using essential oils on my hair/scalp to help with dryness. I’m not sure how it affects the coffee color (I don’t think it does really), but it has been an awesome addition to my hair care routine! If you want to join my essential oils facebook group, please c’mon over! All I ask is that you’re nice, and you don’t solicit people… We just like to chat in there about essential oils and how to use them for all different body care, cleaning, health purposes and more. I’m slightly obsessed—so I’ll be happy if you join me in that passion!


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  • Erin Arnold

    i would love to see an”after picture” ! before and after would be even better. just to help get an idea of what shade this recipe creates. Thanks!

  • Lisakthrives

    Hi Erin,
    I tried to take before and after pics but the difference for me was subtle enough that it didn’t look any different in the pics—it just covered up grays and gave sort of a glossy finish look (my before pics wouldn’t actually show the gray I was covering up). Somehow the pics just don’t do it justice! I’ll try again next time I do it though and see if I can use better lighting or something.
    I think the end color will be really variable based on (1) the person’s starting color and probably (2) the type of coffee/how long it is left on the hair. I’m guessing hair texture would make a difference too. I know my grays don’t get quite as dark as my brown hair, but it does cover all the gray up.

  • KM Logan

    I’ve always wondered about this. When I was researching natural ways to dye hair I kept coming across coffee over and over. I’ve been using Henna exclusively on my hair for a while now and love it, it’s good not to be putting chemical crap on my head :)

  • Lisakthrives

    I contemplated trying this for quite a while before I did it… and the first time it was a sloppy mess because I brewed the coffee first. Once I switched to instant, it changed the whole game. The downside is that it doesn’t last super long, but the upside is that it’s very easy to just put into my routine once a week! I agree—chemicals on the head just seems like an obvious bad decision!
    On Thu 16/01/14 09:16 , “Disqus” sent:

  • Marsha LaGrone

    Do you put it on your hair when wet or dry?

  • alec

    when does it come out

  • Lisakthrives

    It washes out gradually each time you wash your hair. So, the more you wash, the faster it comes out!

  • Erika

    I tried this using regular coffee right from the can and mixed it with conditioner and it didn’t work. Grays are still there. Even after doing this two days in a row. Do you think it’s because I didn’t use instant coffee?
    I’ve been trying to find a way to cover gray naturally…allergic to hair dye all the sudden.
    Also, my scalp seemed a little dry after that. Think coffee dries out the scalp?
    Thanks so much ;0)

  • Lea

    Henna mixed with indigo is a much better (and permanent) solution for coloring dark brown to black hair. It is actually good for the hair and does not fade.

  • Lisakthrives

    I’m not totally sure—I have always used instant for this (and it seems like it would probably dissolve more easily in the conditioner than regular). As far as grays go, it definitely takes more time/applications to get the grays to be completely covered. I find the best results happen over time when I consistently do this weekly. I believe hair texture has something to do with how well it absorbs and holds color (although I don’t know specifically why or how), and grays often have a different texture than other hair. Maybe your hair texture makes it more difficult to absorb the color–you might want to try adding henna or using a different method to get the color you want!
    On Sun 09/03/14 17:53 , “Disqus” sent:

  • Jill Adams

    I wonder it you could add a little something like beet juice to go a little more auburn?

  • Elizabeth Lopez

    Sorry for my ignorance, but what is indigo? Is it a flower?

  • Deb

    What is indigo?

  • onyourmark

    I use henna on my hair. It’s permanent…lasts as long as a permanent dye. It’s a red/Brown result when used on Brown hair. Covers Grey’s lighter than your darker hair so it looks like red high lights. I’ve done it many times and recently started mixing my henna with strong brewed black tea and a tsp of cinnamon and cloves and a tablespoon of lemon juice with 1 box of henna powder 100 g I think) mix the afternoon before you apply. Mix to consistency of thick muffin batter. Cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in warm place overnight. NEXT day, when ready to appladd more tea our lemon juice until consistency of runny yogurt. Apply to dry hair, cover completely. Cover head with plastic. Leave in for 2 to 4 hours. Wash out using water and condition. Style as usual. Color will darken of next couple of days. I use tea now ingress of lemon juice because straight lemon was drying out my hair and it felt brittle afterward. Tea makes the color more vibrant imo. Good luck!

  • stephirogue

    To make hair color last longer try not to wash hair too often and use cool water. Use shampoo that is sulfate free because sulfates strip your hair and roughen it. Look online for Pro Natural’s argan shampoo and conditioner. They’re crazy good for hair.

  • Melisa

    You have to use instant to mix in the conditioner with this recipe. There are other recipe’s out there that call for brewed coffee.

  • Hair Dye Color

    Hair Dye with Coffee, quite a new and interesting post!! Great read here!!

  • Nature Goddess

    I use a couple tablespoons of hot water w/strong coffee (from instant, about two tsp) mixed with Surya Henna…. this stuff is amazing and lasts for at least a couple of weeks. My favorite Surya colors: Light Brown and/or Chocolate. The results are gorgeous.

  • Nature Goddess

    SURYA henna — it is the best color I’ve EVER used…lasts at least a few weeks, if not longer (with daily washings). Allergen-free…I too have to be super careful about chemicals of any kind. STRONGLY recommended…you will love it! Mix it w/a couple teaspoons of coffee (in hot water) to extend it even further before putting it on your scalp. I mix colors — Chocolate & Golden Brown, then add a little very strong hot coffee. Let it sit for 1-1.5 hours. Gorgeous and natural!!

  • Jen @ Go Green

    This looks really great! I would love a natural way to cover up the grays so I can stop pulling them out.

  • Naahy

    Does it work on black hair?

  • Rena McMillan Nunley

    I’m going to try this today. I’m already sold on using coffee for conditioner, it makes my hair lovely and soft! Woohoo!

  • Felicia

    How do you use coffee as a conditioner? What is your “recipe”?

  • Ahad Ammar

    virgin coconut oil or castor oil mix it with blendered moringa oleifera lam (malungay) fresh leaves, apply it on the scalp, massage thoroughly and let it stay overnight.shampoo it and rinse with lukewarm water. apply hair conditioner on the ends of the hair only,rinse well and pat it dry.No hair dryer please. Comb it to your desired style. after some days effort then your Hair Grow Faster.

  • Derrick Sly

    Just one question. Does it make your hair smell like coffee? I’m a fan of coffee, don’t get me wrong, but I think we all know how long it can smell afterwards. I have some friends who don’t like the smell and I don’t want to make them dislike being around me. Does washing it get rid of the smell but not the color?

  • Lisakthrives

    It does smell a bit like coffee—and then whatever scent of conditioner you use. I didn’t find the smell overwhelming, but I’m not sure if it would be noticeable to someone who really dislikes the smell of coffee.
    On Tue 18/11/14 20:36 , “Disqus” sent:
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    td.spacer img { width: 28px!important; }
    ————————- [6]” target=”_blank” style=”color: #49B3F5; text-decoration: none”> [7]” Target=”_blank” Title=”Visit Derrick Sly’s Profile” Class=”user” Style=”color: #353a3d; Text-decoration: None”>Derrick Sly
    Just one question. Does it make your hair smell like coffee? I’m a
    fan of coffee, don’t get me wrong, but I think we all know how long it can smell afterwards. I have some friends who don’t like the smell and I don’t want to make them dislike being around me. Does washing it get rid of the smell but not the color? [8]

    8:36 p.m., Tuesday Nov. 18 [9]” target=”_blank” style=”color: #fff; text-decoration: none”>


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  • Obat Penumbuh Rambut

    I want to stop hair loss and balding hair grow quickly how?.shampo penumbuh rambut

  • Faria

    can you use it on black hair and will it work?

  • JustMe

    I haven’t been able to make this work at all. Not even a tiny bit. Any idea why? On clean hair I have tried strong brewed coffee in conditioner, and strong organic instant coffee in a serum, and even tried leaving it in my hair for several days. Not so much as a hint of a stain. I’m baffled how you are getting this great grey coverage and I am getting zero coloring effect. Any insights?

  • Trance Kuja

    The whole thing is great. But, did you really say “organic instant coffee” that was decaf. as a option ? Decaf is made with chemicals that cannot be fully filtered out. Kinda counter the whole organic idea. That part should not be an option. You should just avoid it

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