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How to make hair dye from walnut shells

Updated February 21, 2017

You can make your own hair dye from walnut shells easily and inexpensively with only a few dried herbs, walnut shells with hulls, and high-quality oil. It works well on all hair types, except extremely dry or chemically treated hair. The resulting colour will be light to very dark brown, depending on the original hair colour. This hair dye is especially good for covering grey hair. This recipe yields approximately 16 treatments, which can be used daily to enhance the depth of colour, and will leave hair shiny and soft.

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  1. Boil eight cups of distilled water in a sauce pan, and then remove from heat. Add 28.4 g (1 oz) dried sage, 56.7 g (2 oz) of black walnut shells, 28.4 g (1 oz) dried rosemary and 28.4 g (1 oz) dried nettle.

  2. Cut open two regular tea bags and add the contents to the water with the other herbs. Cover the pan tightly, and allow the mixture to steep for at least three hours but no longer than four hours.

  3. Strain the liquid into a medium-size mixing bowl. Add 2 tbsp jojoba oil, and mix well. Transfer the mixture to a 1.1 litre (quart) size bottle or jar, label with the jar and store in the refrigerator. This hair dye will keep for up to three weeks, after which time it should be discarded.

  4. To use the hair dye, shampoo the hair normally and rinse. Put on gloves, as they dye will stain the skin. Shake the bottle thoroughly, and apply about 118 ml (1/2 cup) directly into the hair. Massage into the scalp for about one minute, and then squeeze out any excess and towel dry the hair.

  5. Combine 59 ml (1/4 cup) of the walnut hair dye with 59 ml (1/4 cup) baby shampoo, and wash the hair daily to maintain colour, and/or cover grey. No gloves are needed when applying this way. Use daily in this manner for two weeks, for best results, and then as necessary for touching up.

  6. Tip

    All hair will react differently to herbal hair dye. If you have thick, porous hair, it will be more resistant to the colour. However, everyone's hair is different. Gray hair may turn light to dark brown using this hair dye, and most people's hair will turn out significantly darker. Castor, sweet almond or virgin olive oil may be substituted for jojoba oil, if necessary. In addition, Castile soap may be substituted for baby shampoo. All ingredients used to make this herbal hair dye can be found at health food shops or ordered online.


    If you don't like the colour, discontinue use of the hair dye, and the colour will fade after several washings. To avoid this problem, perform a test on a small strand of hair before using the dye on all of your hair. Avoid getting the hair dye in your eyes. It won't cause permanent damage, but it might sting for a while. Use dark-coloured towels when towel drying your hair, as the walnut shells will stain lighter-coloured materials.

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Things You'll Need

  • Dried sage
  • Black walnut shells, with hulls
  • Dried rosemary
  • Dried nettle
  • Teabags
  • Mixing bowl
  • Jojoba oil
  • 1.1 litre (quart) size bottle or jar
  • Labels
  • Towels
  • Baby shampoo

About the Author

Willow Sidhe is a freelance writer living in the beautiful Hot Springs, AR. She is a certified aromatherapist with a background in herbalism. She has extensive experience gardening, with a specialty in indoor plants and herbs. Sidhe's work has been published on numerous Web sites, including

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