natural hair dye

The Best Natural Hair Dyes To Try In 2021

Published 28th May 2021
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Sometimes, it’s the little things in life that make us feel the best - and there’s nothing quite like that indescribable feeling of a fresh cut and colour! In the absence of salons and beauty parlours over the past few months, many of us have had to embrace the domestic dyeing approach, becoming self-confessed artists in the comfort of our bathrooms. According to Allure Magazine, over one-third of women took up the tinting mantle in 2020, with 32% blaming pandemic boredom as the inspiration for a much-needed change. After all, not everyone had the time (nor inclination) to sit and wait for shops to reopen, so often box colour was the only option… and a fabulous one at that!

We understand that home hair colour can seem a little daunting, especially when you’re trialling it for the first time. But, with our handy tips, tricks, and suggestions in your self-care arsenal, you’ll never have to worry about a botched job again. Whether you’re pregnant, going vegan, or are simply trying to be a more conscious consumer, natural pigments are the best place to start, and we’d love to tell you why. 

In this helpful guide, we’ll introduce you to some of the best non-toxic hair dyes OnBuy have to offer, providing application advice and plenty of recommendations along the way. If you’re wanting to mask those greys, brave the blonde, or simply add some highlights to better frame your face, we’ve got you covered… literally! Browse our selection and customise your colour today!

What is ‘natural’ hair dye?

natural hair dye

The term ‘natural’, when used in reference to hair colour, is far from one-size-fits-all. It can actually have many different meanings, such as the fact that harsher chemicals (like ammonia) have been swapped out for less aggravating ones, that it’s eco-friendly, or that it contains plant-derived ingredients. Whatever the case, it’s unlikely that you’ll find a 100% natural dye that doesn’t contain any chemicals at all because, in order for the substance to work, a reaction has to take place on your strands. Generally speaking, there are two well-known irritants that you’ll want to steer clear of if you’re seeking a gentler or more organic hair dye. 

Ammonia and paraphenylenediamine (or PPD) are both known to cause severe allergic reactions, and should be approached with caution. This might seem slightly overwhelming and confusing, but it’s often why salons suggest conducting a patch test before styling, and their names should be remembered if you’re prone to allergies and sensitivities. There are plenty of formulations that are higher on the natural side of the spectrum, and are therefore much better for your scalp and the planet – bonus! Once you know what to look for, the search can be just as exciting as the colour, so strap on those gloves and start testing… tinting will never have felt so good!

Our top tips for domestic dyeing

hair dyeing tips

If you’d sooner shave your head than colour your own hair, we hear you. But, thanks to our conveniently compiled list of essential hints and hacks, the once-laborious act of home colouring could soon become the easiest spa activity ever. Top of our list: make sure you’re comfortable. Pull on your cosiest PJs and don’t be pressed for time. Enjoy the experience… it’s one of life’s pleasures, after all!

  1. Don’t trust the model on the box. Sure, this smiling woman is beautiful, but don’t be fooled by the luminous colour she sports – it’s a fantasy. The hue always ends up lighter than the hair advertised on the packaging, as the developer in permanent home hair dyes is always stronger than those used at the salon. Your best bet is to check the chart on the top of the box, as this will often show you the final colour from a range of different shades. 
  2. Know when to go lighter, or darker. The general rule is as follows: for permanent dye, choose a colour slightly darker than what you want. For semi-permanent, err on the lighter side.
  3. Choose your colour wisely. Of course, there’s no hard and fast rule as to what colour you should go for, but if you’ve ever come away from the salon feeling more washed out than wonderful, there’s a high chance you didn’t pick the right shade for you. For more information on how to pick the perfect colour for you, check out our blog here.
  4. Buy two boxes. Running out of dye before the job’s complete = nightmare! If your hair is coarse or runs past your shoulders, stock up on two packets to guarantee a fuller coverage. 
  5. Contemplate your tools. If you’re an unnatural blonde, box dyes won’t hide your dark roots, so try using a spooley for application in harder-to-reach areas. This makeup brush disperses bleach evenly and precisely, so you’re less likely to end up looking like Billie Eilish! 
  6. Swot up on sectioning. To avoid patchiness, create a middle parting that runs to the back of your head, and split the hair into four sections – two in front of the ears and two behind. Use clips to create four sections and work through them, front to back. 

OnBuy’s best natural hair dyes

home hair dyeing

Now that we’ve established the basics, let’s delve straight into OnBuy’s selection of the top six organic hair dyes available. Having determined your preferred colour, shade, permanency, and brand, we hope you feel better equipped to make a final decision. An evening of excitement awaits…

The best for beautiful brunettes | Schwarzkopf Vegan Hair Dye

schwarzkopf

Pros: Natural, plant-based hair colour, vegan, covers greys

Cons: Can’t lighten hair, colour variations may occur due to ingredients used

Colour: Nut Brown

Nut brown hair (also known as ‘chestnut’), a deep brown with reddish hues, is a universally flattering shade that looks great on both light and dark skin tones. From Dakota Johnson’s warm, bronzey base, to Rihanna’s auburn and cherry highlighted waves, there aren’t many people that can’t pull off this fully complementary colour, as it automatically adds dimension and drama to any haircut and style. 

When it comes to ‘natural’ dyes, 100% Vegetal by the hair care experts at Schwarzkopf reigns supreme. Inspired by the tradition of Ayurveda, a holistic approach to medicine that spans generations, this hair dye combines professional expertise with the knowledge of nature, creating a truly ‘natural’ product. The ultra-gentle formula is plant-based, made with Ayurvedic plants and herbs, contains no animal-derived ingredients, and is always cruelty-free, making it the go-to option for vegans and conscious consumers alike. 

Unlike many of the other conventional box dyes you’ll find on the shelves, 100% Vegetal comes in a powder form, and is activated by the addition of hot water. It’s specifically formulated to coat and colour hair fibres at the surface (rather than opening the hair structure), resulting in naturally stronger, more healthy-looking locks. Even better, it’s designed with durability in mind, with long-lasting colour payoff for weeks of terrific tresses. 

Unfortunately, due to the plant-based ingredients, slight variations in colour may occur. This is dependent on the season and the harvest, as the plants and herbs used in the formula may differ. As such, you should always do a patch or a strand test before application, to ensure that you won’t have any adverse reactions to the new ingredients.

The best for permanent pigment | Tints of Nature Hair Dye

hair tints

Pros: Extremely wide range of colour and pack size options on offer, vegan and cruelty-free

Cons: Natural ingredients may not achieve high colour payoff, permanence not suitable for everyone

Colour: 8C Ash Blonde

Ash Blonde is one of the trendiest shades of the moment, and has been totally rocked by some of the most glamorous women in Hollywood for decades: think Amanda Seyfried, Tyra Banks, and Cara Delevigne. There’s a reason why everyone from A-listers to hairdressers love this cool-toned hue, and that’s because (like Chestnut), it’s collectively becoming on a range of skin tones and complexions. On the surface, it may look a lot like platinum immediately after dyeing, but leave it to set for a few hours and watch the lusciousness take hold. It truly is a beautiful tint.

If your skin is too sensitive for traditional hair dye ingredients, you’ll love Tints of Nature’s super mild alternative. Nourishing hair and covering greys with ingredients that are 95% naturally-sourced, this box colour is completely vegan and always cruelty-free. With an extremely wide range of shades on offer, you won’t even have to stick with Ash Blonde, either. If you’re prone to changing your mind but are keen to remain faithful to a brand you’ve tried and tested, this kit is the choice for you!

Yet, on a slightly more negative note, the weaker formulation may lead to lower colour payoff, or a shade that’s somewhat more drab than fab. This shouldn’t be too much of an issue if you’re looking to maintain your natural glow, but for dramatic transformations, it’s not the most successful. The permanent nature of its longevity might also present a problem if you’re seeking something more temporary, or transient.

The best for natural nourishment | Khadi Herbal Hair Colour

khadi hair colouring

Pros: Great for grey or dull, lifeless hair, no synthetic preservatives, dyes, or colour boosters

Cons: Only suitable for tinting, natural shampoos (without silicone) are necessary for longevity 

Colour: Golden Hint Blonde

Golden Blonde is a multi-tonal mixture of honey and buttery hues. Generally speaking, paler, pinker complexions tend to suit this shade best, but there’s absolutely nothing to stop you braving the caramel if you’re slightly darker. Wanting to channel Reese Witherspoon, Margot Robbie, or Scarlett Johannsen? Bring out this gilded pigment… we promise it’ll look fantastic!

This Khadi Herbal Hair Colour is pretty much as non-toxic as it gets. The formula excludes almost all of the most common domestic dye irritants, including ammonia, peroxide, synthetic preservatives, colour boosters, fragrances, and nasty additives, and is one of the only examples on our list to have been certified Natural by the BDIH (a German-based cosmetics trading standard organisation). 100% herbal and organic, it effectively covers grey hairs while energising, nourishing, and caring for dull and lifeless barnets, to give an uplifting golden tint. What more could anyone want?

Unfortunately, it is only really suitable for tinting, so not the most appropriate option if you’re looking for a dramatic, intense blonde colour change. The brand also recommends using silicone-free shampoos to preserve the lighter hue, which might mean forking out on extra accessories and tools. 

The best henna hue | Tints of Nature Henna Cream Hair Dye

henna hair dye

Pros: The cheapest box dye on our list, wide range of colours and pack sizes available

Cons: Only lasts for up to twelve washes, semi-permanent hue may not be suited to everyone’s needs

Colour: Black

Though seemingly harsh and unforgiving, black hair (when pulled off correctly) can actually be one of the most flattering looks. Especially great on those with olive skin, there’s a plethora of undertones that you can opt for if you’re feeling adventurous. Elements of blue can really bring out brighter eyes, while jet can truly make a statement on those with darker complexions. 

Surprise! Semi-permanent hair colour doesn’t have to require toxic chemicals, as evidenced by this clean formula from Tints of Nature. This bargain buy is the cheapest option on our list, not to mention available in a wide range of hues and pack sizes combined. Ideal if you’re seeking a temporary change, looking to experiment, or add some all-important depth to your existing colour, this cream penetrates deep inside the strands, strengthening and conditioning to give beautiful, healthy results. 

One of the main drawbacks with this product however, is the lack of longevity in its formulation. Only lasting for a maximum of twelve washes, it’s not the most enduring of our box dyes, and not entirely suitable for those who have neither the time nor inclination to constantly update their tresses.

The best for longer locks | Orientana Bio Henna Hair Dye

bio hair dye

Pros: Fantastic for longer hair and improved scalp health, box contains disposable gloves and a cap

Cons: Not the most pocket-friendly option, intense red colour may not be to your taste 

Colour: Mahogany Red

Unlike most of our popular models, red hair is slightly more difficult to achieve. You may have taken inspiration from a celebrity, but there’s a chance their chosen colour won’t look quite as good on you. Different shades are likely to suit different people, depending on their skin tones, and red is no exception. If you have fairer skin, try auburn. This will create a beautiful contrast against your paler complexion. If you have medium skin, try copper, and if you’re slightly darker, go for deep burgundy. 

As with the option above, this box dye is known as a ‘henna’ hue. This means it’s found in the leaves of the Lawsonia inermis plant, is incredibly kind to hair, and fades after a dozen or so washes. Fantastic for longer, drier hair (but not so great in terms of permanency or colour payoff), it’s one of the gentlest options on our list. The box also features a handy cap and pair of disposable gloves, saving time and money when shopping.

Though it has been proven to help produce shiny, well-nourished, and thoroughly strengthened hair, Orientana does come at a heftier price. The intense red colour may also be seen as too vibrant by certain consumers, and won’t suit the features of everyone.

For semi-permanent splendour | Clairol Natural Instincts Vegan Hair Dye

clariol natural hair dye

Pros: Non-drip formula is designed to feel more like conditioner, gentle on all hair types 

Cons: Slightly more on the expensive side, only 80% of the ingredients are naturally-derived

Colour: 5W Medium Warm Brown

Warm Brown hair has a certain element of depth and dimension that’s harder to achieve with lighter or brassier tones. Often accompanied by streaks of gold, honey, dark blonde, and even red on natural hair, it can really add warmth and vivacity to your face, without seeming overdramatic or harsh. For inspiration, look to the likes of Bella Hadid, Natalie Portman, and Selena Gomez. 

Ultra-gentle and ammonia-free, Clairol’s drugstore favourite is made with a plethora of gorgeously organic ingredients, such as coconut oil and aloe vera, just to name a few. Showcasing a non-drip formula that’s designed to feel more like a conditioner, your hair won’t be left feeling thin or straw-like after extensive application - a real plus for domestic dye! Gentle on all hair types, including heavily damaged hair, the gorgeous colour boosts shine, blends away greys, and (most importantly) lasts for up to twenty-eight washes, leaving you with no harsh root line – bonus!

Unfortunately, as with the Orientana model shown above, this dye is on the pricier side, which may cause an issue if budget is a primary concern. In addition, only 80% of the ingredients are naturally-derived, compared to other examples that boast 90% and above on their packaging.

Become a colour connoisseur

natural hair dye colour

We hope you’ve enjoyed this foray into all things non-chemical hair dye-related, and now feel better equipped to customise your colour, and become a certified connoisseur! Should you require more information though, or are simply in need of some further advice and guidance, be sure to check out our blog and buyer’s guide resources. Packed full of helpful expertise on dyeing, both domestic and otherwise, you’ll never have to worry about hair hesitation again. In search of some in-depth intelligence on 2021’s hottest beauty trends? Be sure to read this piece. On the hunt for an ultimate handbook to home hair dye, or the best blonde box kits on offer? Delight in our comprehensive collections. 

If these don’t tickle your fancy, how about a spot of virtual window shopping instead? With extensive online shelves simply stuffed to the brim with bleach, toner, tools, and removers, there really is no end to OnBuy’s far-reaching range. If general care is your bag though, it might be worth exploring our selection of fabulous accessories, too. Whether it’s treatments and tonics you need to maintain the lusciousness of your locks, or perhaps even some curling tongs and straighteners to enhance the beauty of your barnet, we certainly have everything you’ve been looking for. Browse the sheer variety today and be prepared for a total transformation… we promise you won’t regret it!

The information in this buyer’s guide is correct at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.



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