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How to dye your hair with turmeric

Turmeric makes a cheap alternative to saffron for colouring and flavouring your food. It also makes a reasonably effective yellow dye to make blonde or light brown hair more golden. Of course, it isn’t a bleach; so if your hair isn’t already pale, turmeric probably won’t have much effect. It might add a spot of richness to red shades, but anybody who has dark brown or black hair would be better off experimenting with henna, coffee or walnuts.

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  1. Tip a generous amount of turmeric powder into a small pan. Use at least a handful and more if you have long hair.

  2. Stir in water gradually until you have a runny paste. It is up to you just how thick the paste is -- thinner pastes are easier to apply to your hair but more prone to dripping.

  3. Bring the mixture slowly to the boil and let it simmer for a few minutes, which seems to bring out the colour, before turning off the heat and letting it cool. Don’t let it burn.

  4. Rub moisturiser into your ears, around the hairline and on the back of your neck, which helps prevent staining from any drips. Also, drape an old towel over your shoulders to protect your clothes, if you are wearing any while dyeing, or your skin, if you aren't. Pull on a pair of plastic gloves to protect your hands. Turmeric stains skin as well as hair.

  5. Apply the paste evenly to dry hair and comb through. Wait about 10 to 30 minutes before rinsing out. The longer you leave the paste in, the stronger the result.

  6. Tip

    Instead of a paste, you can make a rinse by using a lot more water and boiling for a little longer. Store in a clean glass bottle or jar, shake well before use and pour over your hair after shampooing but before conditioning. Make a fresh batch every few days -- it won’t keep well.

    Natural hair dyes and rinses might be eco-friendly and cheap, but they do have their limitations. If your heart is set on a particular vibrant shade or you want to make a drastic change, you’d probably be better off with a commercial product.


    Note that if you have very pale, porous hair, turmeric can make it blindingly yellow, although this will fade after a few shampoos. You might want to conduct tests on a small sample cut from your hair to determine exactly how long to leave the paste on for before rinsing it out. If you don’t like the result or if it always comes out too yellow, try a gentler colour-enhancing dye, such as camomile.

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Things You'll Need

  • Turmeric powder
  • Small pan
  • Spoon
  • Moisturiser
  • Towels
  • Plastic gloves
  • Wide-toothed comb

About the Author

Judith Willson has been writing since 2009, specializing in environmental and scientific topics. She has written content for school websites and worked for a Glasgow newspaper. Willson has a Master of Arts in English from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.

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