July is herbal/prescription awareness month. And speaking of herbs, remember bi-coastal Sacramento retiree, the late Sally Tucker? This artist used to tint her white hair a muted ash blond using the herb, sage. Here’s how to tint your white hair using only food, for example, natural herbs or spices.
The color should be muted and natural looking and be such that the white roots wouldn’t show obviously after several weeks, but delicately blend in with the surrounding colors. In Sacramento you can grow sage in a container or in your yard. Native Americans in Sacramento for hundreds of years also used sage as a fragrance, like incense. Basically, you apply a mixture of sage and water as a paste to your hair, wrap it in a loose shower cap, wait one or two hours, and rinse it out.
With white hair, test the hair every 10 minutes until you get the shade you want. Sage generally will darken white hair slightly, but every hair type is different. The color usually is temporary, but if your hair is porous enough, the color will remain longer.
The herbs and spices selected had to have no stimulant effect on the body. Here are some color warnings. Never use turmeric on white hair. Never use carrot juice on white hair. Don’t even use black tea on white hair as it streaks it a phony orange color.
Never use beet juice on white hair. Carrot juice and beet juice are great rinses for naturally red hair, not hair that has been tinted auburn, strawberry blond, or red. Also if your hair is naturally dark brown or black, beet and carrot juice rinses are fine as the ‘red’ absorbed won’t show up on black or dark brown hair, except, perhaps as highlights. Don’t use beet juice or carrot juice if you have any gray hair.
Just use sage and water or chamomile and water. Sample on a lock of hair first. If your hair is mostly brown with a few white streaks, black tea diluted with lots of water may also help to mute the color and drab it somewhat to make it look more natural. But sage is your best bet. Be aware that individual hair will respond in different ways to herbs such as sage or any type of tea or chamomile infusions. And always check first for allergies to any herb or tea before you put it on your hair.
Never use orange henna on white hair. All these neon-bright colors turn white hair a flashing artificial looking super-bright yellow or orange. Carrot juice is meant as a rinse only for naturally red hair or dark brown/black hair. Henna is meant for dark hair–dark brown or black. And turmeric is meant for black or dark brown hair only.
Before the late Sally Tucker could recommend to others herbs to tint white hair, the herbs chosen had to be neutral in effect or calming, and not capable of raising blood pressure or stimulating the body in a way that would promote nervousness, seizures, panic attacks, or organ problems in the elderly, in epileptics, or in people who are sensitive to stimulants. Don’t use rosemary on your hair, as this herb is a circulatory and nervine stimulant. See the site, Rosemary.
Always research the effect of spices and herbs on the body or on your particular condition before using them. The process also emphasized using natural, organic herbs and spices and not artificial hair tints containing substances known to change the electrical or chemical systems or the organs in the body. To comply with requirements, choose to use dried, powdered (or crushed and ground) chamomile, sage, turmeric, and cinnamon.
What food items such as herbs will you need?
• Sage (ground) (for all-white hair)
• Chamomile (also good on all-white hair)
• Black Tea diluted in water (for brown hair that’s partly white)
Caution: Don’t use turmeric on white or gray hair as it will turn your hair a horrible, bright, clownish, glowing yellow. Sage alone with water will produce a dark ash blond to light ash blond shade on some people’s white hair. It may or may not work well on your individual hair. But at least it washes out. And you can control how dark you want your hair to be from the sage…such as dark ash blond or a slight, muted hint of color to the white of ash blond.
Tea produces tea-colored white hair if the hair is porous and actually absorbs the tea coloring. Be careful your hair won’t turn pink. Cut a lock of hair off first and try it first in the sage and then in the tea or other spice or herb. Don’t put a solution on your entire head. Snip of a lock of hair and test the herbs out on the lock of hair.
In a pot of water containing about a quart of cool water add a half cup of sage and three tea bags of chamomile tea. Also, if you want, add a small pinch of cinnamon for a ‘caramel’ colored muted hue. Simmer the liquid for 30 minutes. Then let the liquid stand for two hours to cool.
Strain the liquid. Finally, pour the brownish brew twice over white hair and let it dry for several hours. A good combing removes some of the grains of sage. Finally, rinse twice with clear water and pat your hair dry with a towel.
The results will be different on each person. On most, the white hair may turn a very muted light ash blond. The gray hair usually becomes a darker blond with some gold and cinnamon highlights. And if you have some ash brown hair that did not turn gray naturally, it probably will remain brown. The colors blend and look natural.
You can leave out the cinnamon and turmeric if you wish. Please don’t use too much turmeric as it turns white hair an artificially looking bright yellow and looks like a clown’s wig. The most natural colors come from the sage which seems to make white hair a natural light ash brown or blond hue. Chamomile also is gentle to white and blond hair. Different results may occur. That’s why it’s wise to first try the herb bath on a lock of hair.
Notice that each time you put a mixture of sage boiled in water on your white or gray hair, your hair will keep getting darker, and you may end up with muted light brown hair. Some herbs wash out and others remain in porous hair.
Herbalists suggest that sage be used on brunette hair. On white hair, used only one time, it produced (on me) a natural-appearing shade of ash blond. Let the mixture stay on your hair at least two hours before rinsing it out. If your hair is very porous, it quickly will absorb a lot more color. Often, white hair becomes dry and porous and will absorb color from any herb faster than if your hair is naturally dark.
Use spices, teas, or herbs on your hair at your own risk. Find out first if you’re allergic to or have any other reaction to the herbs and spices or other materials mentioned in this article that you choose to use. It’s all about wise folk traditions in food being used to gently color and condition hair. Sometimes the herb won’t take on resistant hair. Other times, porous hair will absorb more of the herb.
Each person may have a different reaction to this solution. The next time you cut your hair, save a lock of hair to experiment with different herbs. Try sage first. See how the result remains on a lock of your own hair that you test out by trying different herbs and spices and then shampooing several times.
Does the color remain or rinse out? Usually herbal colors last about two weeks. Don’t use herbs to tint or dye clothing, as colors usually wash out, sometimes in streaks, from clothing. Here are some herb-tinting tips you may want to consider. Before you tint your hair with herbs or herbal teas and infusions, put on old clothing that is black in color in case the herbs stain your clothing. Or use a lot of black or navy blue towels. You don’t know how the herbs will stain different types of fabrics or whether the stains will wash out of clothing.
Choose an herb that makes a tea similar to the shade you want.
• Try a spice or herb that colors a lock of your hair the shade you like and see how many shampoos it will take before it washes out.
• Chamomile and sage works best on my white hair
• White and gray hair is dry and porous and will absorb any spice or herb. If use an herb or spice with a strong or bright color, use it on dark brown hair.
• Beet juice and carrot juice will turn white hair bright pink or peach and look unnatural. Don’t use it unless your color now is auburn.
• Test various teas on a patch of hair, such as green tea to see what is absorbed as far as color. White or gray hair colors differently with herbs than dark hair.
• Blond hair works well with chamomile tea.
• Test for allergies before trying anything on your hair.
• Test on a lock of hair that you snip before putting any solution on your skin or scalp.
• Don’t get any solution in your eyes.
• Don’t put turmeric and water as a paste directly on white or gray hair as it will turn your hair a really bad/phony looking shade of bright yellow. It was meant for use on very dark brown or black hair.
• Don’t use orange henna on white hair.
• Don’t use beet juice or carrot juice on white hair.
• Your scalp easily absorbs anything you pour or rub on it.
Sage and black tea simmered together also result in an herbal brew that may tint white or gray hair. But remember that black tea produces a shade the color of diluted black tea. Using sage alone has a more natural-looking tone that ranges from beige or ash blond to light brown after long-time use.
The color may wash out in two weeks like a rinse. Or if your hair is porous, the color could stay longer or permanently. Each person is different and the reaction would be different. Also, find out whether you’re allergic to any herb by testing it first on a patch of skin before you put any type of herb tea on your scalp. What you put on your scalp is absorbed through your skin. For more information, browse my book, Cutting Expenses and Getting More for Less.