How To Dye + Lighten Your Hair Naturally: Ditch The Chemicals For Good

Blog Green Beauty Hair

Yep. Even Unicorn Colors.

When I was 14, a girl lived down the block named Gia.

She was a little older than I was and she reminded me of a butterfly. She was always flying from one person to the next, seemingly high on life. She called herself a raver, even though she rarely went to raves.

Still, I envied her, because she went to public school and I went to an all girls catholic school. At public school, you could wear earrings. At public school, you didn’t have to wear our itchy uniforms or knee high socks. At public school, there were boys. At public school, you could dye your hair.

Gia’s hair was pink.

As we became closer, I realized that her hair really set her apart. Every single person in our town knew who Gia was. It became a part of her identity, like a badge of honor she wore that said, “I’m different.”

Today, it’s become a lot more mainstream to embrace a quirky color for a season or two.

According to a recent survey, women change their hair approximately 36 times in their lifetime, but this number is rapidly rising. Heck, I feel like I’ve changed my hair that much just in the last few years!

Recently, I went to my girl Nancy (I HIGHLY recommend her!) and told her I needed a change. I had something in mind – it was dramatic.

She suggested, gently, that maybe we didn’t want to ruin my hair completely. Nancy is the only person I’ve let touch my hair since I moved to San Diego, so I trust her. She’s always honest with me and she’s never been wrong.  There’s a reason she has a six month waiting list!

“Tara, your hair would never survive that. I’m just telling you.”

Then she looked into my eyes in the mirror, smiled, and said, “What about pink?”

All at once, I saw it. The color I had truly been wanting all along.

“It’ll look SO cute. Tara, it’s SO you. Let’s do it. It’ll wash out in a few days if you don’t like it.”

I couldn’t say no to that.

I agreed. And then, I started to get excited.


My mind flashed back to fourteen year old me. The girl who was SO bummed that she couldn’t dye her hair pink. The girl who wanted so badly to embrace parts of who she felt she TRULY was. I saw fourteen year old me.

She was beaming.

As Nancy washed the dye out of my hair and the lavender-red turned into cotton candy pink, I started beaming too. Nancy is an absolute master hair artist, and the color looked incredible – even organic! If hair could go ombre from dark to pink naturally, THIS is what it would look like.

I was very pleased, and feel like I am at my peak self with this color. It truly feels like ME.

So much so that I have kept up with the pink ever since!


Colors like pink fade in a few days. It’s rare you’ll keep your color for a full week if you’re washing your hair every day. But I did NOT want to bombard my hair with chemicals to keep up the color. What was my alternative?


Randomly, I had picked up some deep pink food coloring at our farmer’s market the week before. It was totally organic and plant based. This works!


I was seriously impressed with the results. It worked SO well, I just had to share it with you! You’ll feel like a hair artist, because the possibilities of color, saturation, vibrancy and hue are completely in your hands!

Here’s how to dye your hair at home – without chemicals:

  • Add 6-8 drops food dye color of your choice to half a cup of conditioner
  • Mix thoroughly until conditioner is 2-5 shades darker than the color you want
  • Add colored conditioner to the parts of your hair you want to dye (I focus on my blonde pieces + ends)
  • Leave conditioner in your hair for 30-60 minutes.
  • If you have thick, dark or ethnic hair, or you desire a richer color, leave it in for 90 minutes.
  • Pro Tip: The lighter your hair, the better the color will show up. It’s recommended if you have dark hair to bleach the pieces you’d prefer to dye.  Read on if you don’t prefer bleach; there’s a section below on how to naturally lighten your hair…

If you want to maintain the color every day, you’ll need to do this process at least once a week. Alternatively, you can add the coloring to your favorite conditioner, mix and use that in the shower every day. I find the once a week method is less damaging to my hair. I find it relaxing to give myself an hour and a half to treat to my hair with this color.

I then do an oil treatment in my hair and go to bed happy and pretty. 🙂

How to Naturally Lighten Your Hair Without Bleach:

  • Honey naturally contains hydrogen peroxide, a natural bleaching agent, and cinnamon has the ability to turn hair golden. (You can also try this concoction if you want reddish highlights in your brown or black hair.)
  • Most recipes call for equal parts cinnamon and honey, plus another part of either conditioner or olive oil.
  • Mix it all together, massage into your hair, and let it sit for about an hour before rinsing.

As with other natural hair dyes, you may need to do it several times to get the results you want.

Voila! Beautiful, healthy, vibrant hair – chemical free! 🙂