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10 Ingenious Ways to Dye Your Hair without Spending a Dime

10 Ingenious Ways to Dye Your Hair without Spending a Dime

There are many reasons why people dye their hair. Some women do it just to change their look – from a brunette, they might opt for a red or lighter hair color. Others do it to cover grey hair, something which men also go through. It’s no wonder why hair coloring products have become very popular over the years.

But what if you’re looking for ways to change your hair color without spending a dime? Or maybe you’d simply like to improve the overall color of your natural hair at no cost? We will cover that in the next sections, and find out how frequently consumers in the US use hair coloring products in general. 

How Frequently Do We Use Hair Coloring Products?

First, here are a few statistics on how often people use hair coloring products:

  • According to, from January 2013 to March 2014, approximately 24,000 adults used hair coloring products in the last six months. Out of this, 4% used professional hair coloring services 4 times or more in the last six months.
  • For 2011, 5% of American households have had 2 to 3 hair colorings within six months in 2011.
  • For 2013, the top vendors of hair coloring products in the US are: L’Oreal Paris, Procter & Gamble, Garnier, Revlon, John Frieda, Developlus Inc., Soft Sheen Carson, OB Labs, Hoyu, Goodmark USA.

A lot of people do use hair coloring products and L’Oreal Paris is the leading brand in the US. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money having your hair color-treated at home or in a pricier salon, find out how you can dye your locks for free in the next section.

Top 10 Ways to Dye Your Hair for Free

Are there actual ways for you to dye your hair without spending a dime? Definitely! Check out our top ten list of some ingenious ways to dye your hair without spending a dime:

1. Quit dyeing your hair in the first place, embrace the grey

10 Ingenious Ways to Dye Your Hair without Spending a Dime

Embrace the Grey: It’s Who You Are!

There are women who panic upon seeing the first traces of grey hair on their scalp. Some experience greying hair as early as their late twenties, while others have grey hair during their thirties or forties. Instead of obsessing about coloring every bit of grey hair that shows on your locks, why not lovingly embrace it?

Grey is such a lovely, elegant color and when you match it with non-frizzy locks as well as an even shade of grey, you are bound to become a silver vixen! Depending on the degree of greyness of your hair, there are things that you can do to improve its overall color. For instance, if the grey and black area looks like uneven stripes, you might want to use a natural hair dye that will make the hue a lot more even.

If the color of your grey hair is very even but the texture of the individual strands is less than desirable, simply use a mask that will restore the moisture of your hair. Go online and look for recipes that you can whip up using the ingredients in your very own kitchen.

2. Refresh your hair color with coffee or tea

Next, you can use coffee or tea to hide the existence of grey hair. These two kitchen staples can actually be used to stain your hair.

If you’re using coffee, make a really strong pot and allow the black liquid to cool. Then, mix two cups of leave-in conditioner with two tablespoons of ground coffee, plus the cold coffee that you just brewed. Let the mixture sit for around five minutes, then massage onto your hair. You can also soak your hair with cold coffee or tea then let it sit on your hair for up to one hour before rinsing.

3. Clarify your hair color using beer or champagne

No matter what your existing hair color is, you can clarify its existing hue using beer or champagne. Hollywood actress Catherine Zeta-Jones uses this trick to maintain her gorgeous locks.

It might be a bit messy to use a can of beer in the shower, so use flat beer on your locks and let sit for a few minutes. The smell might be undesirable, so make sure to wash it off with shampoo and conditioner afterwards. Beer is said to contain proteins, vitamins, barley and hops which all help develop healthy hair.

4. Color your hair using vodka or cranberry juice

Similar to how brunettes can use coffee or tea to hide the existence of grey hair on their locks, redheads can enhance their hair color using vodka or cranberry juice. Cranberry juice is specifically for redheads while vodka can be used by blondes to clarify their hair color. After allowing your hair to sit in the drink mixture for up to an hour, use your regular shampoo and conditioner to get rid of the smell and wash it all off.

5. Go naturally black with henna

If you have black hair, you can use henna to cover grey hair. Those with lighter hair shades can also use henna to completely change their hair color. Aside from being a natural, low-cost hair dye, using henna on your locks makes it incredibly soft, shiny and healthy.

You also would not have to deal with any damaging effects that chemical-based colorants have. Aside from black, there are other shades and colors of henna dyeing products that you can choose from.

6. Use herbs to color your hair

10 Ingenious Ways to Dye Your Hair without Spending a Dime

You Can Use Herbs to Dye Your Hair!

Another low-cost or no-cost option to dye your hair is to use herbs for coloring. If you want to lighten your hair organically, for example, simply mix a cup of lemon juice with three cups of chamomile tea. Repeat a few times per week to lighten your natural hair shade.

If you want to go red, mix half a cup of beet juice with half a cup of carrot juice. Massage onto your locks, let sit for one hour before rinsing. You can also use a cp of rosehip oil with two cups of water; three hibiscus tea bags with two cups of water; or one-third of a cup of crushed marigold flowers with two cups of water.

For a darker shade, you can use half a cup of dry sage with two cups of water. There are many herbs that you can use to color your hair, depending on whether you want to go lighter or darker.

7. Use a color enhancing shampoo

Doing an overhaul of your hair color or completely changing it is quite costly, especially if you are going from light to dark or vice versa.

To minimize the costs, simply use a color enhancing shampoo. There are many brands of color enhancing shampoo in the market which you can use as a hair dye alternative. These have formulations that strengthen the color of the hair, but minus the chemicals associated with using hair dyes. These rinse off pretty fast but if you use them plenty enough, the existing color of your locks should be enhanced.

Related: 10 Ways to Save Money on Shampoo? Yes, please!

8. Request hair coloring product manufacturers for free samples

L’Oreal, Procter & Gamble, Garnier and other beauty product manufacturers are more than willing to send out product samples to their customers. This is especially true if they are introducing a new color or a new line of hair coloring products in the market.

In order for you to try out a new shade, simply e-mail the manufacturer and ask for a free product sample to be sent out to you. You can also scope out the promotional events at supermarkets or malls where free hair coloring services are given to customers, which are usually offered by beauty product manufacturers.

9. Make your own organic hair dye

If you want to make your own organic hair dye, all you have to do is look for recipes online. For instance, to lighten your hair naturally, you can mix three cups of cinnamon with eight ounces of yogurt. Massage onto damp hair and let sit for up to eight hours before rinsing. The acidic nature of the yogurt will lighten your hair naturally.

10. Use natural ways to enhance the color of your hair

Finally, you can use natural ways to enhance the existing color of your hair using staple ingredients in the kitchen.

Egg whites, for instance, give your hair a lot of extra shine while an avocado hair mask mixed with olive oil will restore hair moisture. Honey, a natural humectants, locks in the moisture in your locks. Even if you have greying hair or if your blonde locks are fading due to chemical damage or too much sun, there are natural solutions that you can use to enhance the color.

If you would like to change your hair color or enhance the existing hue of your locks, there is no reason for you to spend a lot of money on it. There are plenty of natural solutions that you can go for, ranging from natural hair dyes to ingredients like coffee or tea which all enhance the color of your hair.

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10 Ingenious Ways to Dye Your Hair without Spending a Dime

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About the author

Oana Schneider

Oana Schneider is a published author located in Chicago, Illinois and was part of our team as a communication specialist and blog editor. She writes about lifestyle, family budget and has a degree in Communications.


  • Having gray hair as a man isn’t really that much of a problem. Unless you have tailored your overall look to a particularly flamboyant style, men can get away with it, and can even be complimented on looking distinguished. Women on the other hand may have a little more trouble ignoring it. While some women do carry some gray hair particularly well, most don’t. Unless you want to look like a particular character out of the X-Men comics, I would suggest following steps 2 to 10 above. I’d like to think the world is ready for confident gray-haired women, so maybe someone can prove me right. Also, just so everyone knows, I think Storm is hot.

    • My boyfriend is extremely self conscious about getting grey hair. Some of it is coming in here and there. He does not have a flamboyant style either. Honestly, I think men being worried about grey hair is more common than we think. As for women, I see nothing wrong with grey hair. It can still look fashionable. However, in this day and age people devalue looking old.

  • I have blonde hair, and for a long time I have been using lemon juice to make it a little lighter. I find that if I put it into my hair, and then go and sit outside in the sun, it can act as a natural bleach, and that is something that I enjoy doing very much. It means that it is something that I am able to do myself from the comfort of my own home, and also means that I don’t have to bother going to the hairdressers in order to get the colour that I am searching for.

  • I agree with the above comment about using lemon to lighten your hair. That’s a good tried and true method, especially when you combine it with the sunlight, which will also lighten your hair naturally. Another thing I heard for lightening is to use Chamomile tea mixed with lemon juice. I’m not positive, but I think that might be part of the ingredients for henna too.

  • There are some really great ideas here thank you! My grey seems a bit unbeatable at times and as soon as I have dyed it, the grey seems to be visible again. I am definitely going to try the beer thing, I still have a few sitting in the fridge leftover from New Years!

    • Hey, they always say that you can never waste beer (or other alcohol) after all. I haven’t had to deal with graying, but it’s an interesting idea to combat it. I’d rather drink my beers, though, so I’ll have to use another tactic! I’m too much a fan of beer to use it for anything but consumption.

  • I have jet black hair, so I’m not exactly in need of hair dye, but I’m sure the gray will come at some point in the next few decades. I’ll have to keep these tips in mind for that eventual day, or I’ll completely forget them. Still, they’re useful tips, and now I can recommend them to other people that I know!

  • I had no idea that beer contained proteins and all that good stuff for hair. As someone who changes hair color every couple of months by bleaching and then recoloring, I am going to keep that in mind. I currently use a keratin reconstructor once a week (completely necessary when you are bleaching this often, in my opinion) but I’m going to try using beer in my hair as well. I wonder if a dark beer, such as Guinness, would work better than a light beer, being thicker with more body and all? As for the henna suggestion, I have a friend who colors her hair with henna (red) and she has the most healthy, thick, shiny, and beautiful hair I have ever seen in my life. I would recommend it based on that! She loves it.

  • Do not advocate the use of so-called “black” henna. There os no such thinh. Henna only dyes things red/reddish-brown (even burgundy with enough applications). The stuff called henna that is available in different colors may occasionally contain some henna for it’s permanence but it usually contains salts and metals which can make your hair green at best and trigger severe allergic reactions in worse cases. If you have dark hair and would like deep burgundy-ish accents, then by all means, do use henna but only 100% body art quality (aka BAQ). If there are other ingredients, it is not henna, and if the package warns against using metal spoons or bowls, do not put that stuff on your head!

    Education is the key here.

  • This is exactly what I needed. I thought about just letting the gray come out, and gradually getting my hair cut shorter and shorter to get rid of the darker color, but I just can’t do it! NO!!!!!!!! I refuse to give into it gracefully. Sorry Mom. And my younger sisters, who are all varying shades of gray having never colored even once.

    So I’ve got my latest box of hair color just waiting on me to get up the energy for one more round. Then I saw this article. I’ve done so much research on other topics, why did I never research how to color my hair naturally or any other way besides what I’ve been doing for the past 5 years. Who knew that coffee grounds or tea could be used? I would much rather try something natural.

    I’m going to color one more time–can’t waste that last box–then I will be experimenting to see which method works better for me. Thank you so much!

  • This is really neat! I’ve considered dying my hair before, but because I’m on the younger side, I’ve always been told how damaging it is and that it is difficult to maintain. Other than that, the only thing holding me back was the cost of having to get touch-ups and making frequent appointments at my hair salon, which is not ideal! I think I’m definitely going to try emailing some of the bigger hair color brands to see if I can get some free samples to try on my ends before I really commit to anything. Has anybody tried food coloring or Kool-aid? Although the pigments only show up well on lighter hair colors, I heard that they are an awesome (and affordable) alternative to professional hair dye.

  • Henna can be good if you get body art quality (no extras), just know that it is permanent and cumulative (each application will get darker). To get black w/o the bad stuff in it you need to combine it with indigo (can get shades of brown that way as well). The indigo is what will turn your hair green if you try to dye your hair later using a process that lifts/lightens color in the process. I’m growing my hendigo out right now, in fact. 🙂

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