While traditional hair dyes and colorants work well for hiding gray hair, some seek more natural and gentle alternatives.
If you are one of them, coffee can be a great natural alternative for covering your gray hair.
Rich in antioxidants and natural pigments, it offers a gentle approach to hair coloring. Unlike chemical dyes, it minimizes damage and nurtures your hair’s health.
Since it’s not a mainstream dyeing process, many people don’t know the correct process of applying coffee to hide gray hair and create a mess instead.
Also, there is confusion regarding the result.
Some think dyeing gray hair with coffee is another internet DIY trick to fool people. Others think it covers gray hair but fades instantly after washing.
To clear up all the confusion, we’ve put together the ultimate guide on using coffee as hair dye.
Can You Cover Gray Hair with Coffee?
You can cover gray hair with coffee. The staining effects of coffee can temporarily darken your hair color, providing a healthier alternative to artificial hair dyes.
However, using coffee as a hair dye has drawbacks. If you have color-treated hair, coffee won’t be as effective as a dye and can result in uneven patches of dark hair.
Coffee-based hair dye also doesn’t last as long as mainstream dyeing techniques. Typically, the darkening effects of coffee will only last a few weeks on your hair. It fades a little with every wash.
That said, coffee dye is still an excellent way to darken gray hairs without exposing yourself to toxic chemicals or committing to a permanent color.
How To Dye Gray Hair with Coffee
If you want to cover gray hair with coffee, there are several different methods available. Each method is relatively similar in effectiveness, so your choice comes down to whichever method seems most appealing to you.
1. Coffee with Conditioner
Have you been feeling like your hair products aren’t caffeinated enough? This method, which mixes coffee with conditioner, is for you.
Since coffee can be made in multiple forms, you have different options at your disposal to mix your coffee with conditioner.
On one hand, you can mix finely ground coffee directly with your conditioner, blending the beans into the thick cream.
Time in the cream should dissolve the ground beans, ensuring that you don’t have any dirty-looking specks in your hair.
An alternative option is to blend coffee grounds with brewed coffee. Then, once the brew is cooled down, add the coffee to your conditioner.
Doing so might have a slight advantage, in that it gives the ground beans more liquid in which to dissolve, creating a creamy consistency even before you add it to the conditioner.
If you choose to use only the coffee grounds, aim for a ratio of about 4 tablespoons of coffee per cup of conditioner.
If you want to use cooled-down brewed coffee, you can mix a one-to-one ratio with the hair conditioner and add a couple of tablespoons of coffee grounds until the mixture is your desired shade of brown.
Once you’ve created your coffee conditioner brew, wet your hair and apply the conditioner liberally, distributing it from root to tip.
Leave the conditioner in for a half hour to an hour and then rinse it out. Doing so will allow the coffee to stain your hair to a rich dark color.
2. Cold Coffee Hair Mask
Our second method for dyeing gray hair with coffee is simpler, which is to cover your gray hair with cold coffee. For this method, all you need are coffee grounds, a coffee machine, and a large bowl.
Start by brewing a pot of coffee. You will want to use a dark roast and make the coffee stronger than you would for drinking.
When you use more coffee grounds to make the coffee, the resulting liquid will be darker in color and deposit more visible pigment in your hair.
Once you’ve made the coffee, wait for it to cool down. The coffee doesn’t need to be ice cold, only cool enough that you can comfortably dip your hand in it, otherwise, the dye will damage your hair and scalp before it can deeply stain.
Pour the cold coffee into a large bowl or bucket and place your hair in the bowl. You can either tilt your head forward to submerge all of your hair in the coffee or intentionally dip a section of hair into the bowl.
You should leave your hair in the bowl of coffee for at least 15-20 minutes to allow the brown liquid to stain your hair. For a more intense dyeing effect, leave your hair in the bowl for longer.
After you are done soaking your hair in the bowl, let it dry on your hair for another 5-10 minutes and after that rinse your hair with water (do not use shampoo).
3. Coffee Combined With Henna
For a slightly more permanent and intense way to dye hair with coffee, you can combine coffee with another type of organic hair dye henna.
To begin this method, brew a pot of coffee. At the same time, fill a bowl with henna (or another organic hair dye).
Gradually add coffee to the bowl, mixing the dye, until the mixture creates a shade of brown that you like (Important: The color in the bowl should appear darker than the color you’d like your hair to be)
Just like adding dark food coloring to light-colored foods, like a snow cone, will result in a lighter-tinted color in the food, adding hair dye to gray roots will result in a hair color that is lighter in tint than the dye itself appears.
If you only darken the dye to the color you want your hair to be, it’ll turn out lighter than you want!
Depending on the dye, you may need to let it sit for a couple of hours for the dye to mix with the coffee.
Once the dye and coffee have fully combined, you can then proceed with the regular process of using that particular organic hair dye.
Keep in mind that henna can be a somewhat unpredictable hair dye; the final product might not be as dark as you expect. For that reason, you may need a few sessions to experiment but the result will be a bolder, darker shade of hair.
4. Leave-in Conditioner
A final method for dyeing gray roots with coffee is to mix coffee grounds with a leave-in conditioner rather than a standard shower conditioner. It is the most convenient way as you can stay supplied with a ready-made touchup tool.
The process for this method is fairly similar to the coffee conditioner method.
Buy a container of organic leave-in conditioner, then mix a tablespoon of ground coffee. Apply the coffee conditioner to your hair via a spray bottle, let it be for several hours, and then wash it out.
But wait, don’t stop now! Check out the resultant color to decide if you need to mix more coffee grounds or not.
After you’ve determined the appropriate ratio of coffee to conditioner, empty the leave-in conditioner bottle, mix the liquid with your determined amount of ground coffee, and then fill the bottle back up.
Now, you have a spray for touching up your roots when the dye starts to fade!
Besides this convenience, the advantage of the leave-in conditioner method is that it works well for fine hair. The lightweight consistency is gentler to apply to your hair, making for easier distribution.
Tips To Maintain Gray Hair After Dyeing with Coffee
When you dye your gray hair with coffee, you are staining the top surface of your hair strands, rather than penetrating them. Thus, the coffee color will slowly fade each time you wash your hair.
If you want your coffee-dyed hair to last a long time, you will need to stretch out the time between washes. However, the fading process is unavoidable with this kind of dye. Even if you use an extremely dark coffee mixture on your hair, it will still fade within a few weeks.
To maintain your hair’s dark color, you can keep a conditioner and coffee mixture on hand to use when your hair starts to fade. Since it doesn’t take that long to dye your hair with coffee, it’s not a major inconvenience to re-dye it every few weeks.
How Often Should You Dye Your Gray Hair with Coffee?
You can dye your gray hair with coffee as often as you like. Coffee is a plant-based substance and there’s no risk with using it regularly as a hair dye.
Since the effects of coffee hair dye only last two or three weeks, you should probably plan to dye your hair every few weeks or perhaps once a month. Depending on how your hair grows out, you may want to do a touch-up on your roots slightly more often.
Although there’s no real issue with regularly using coffee on your hair, it can be a good idea to give your hair a break once in a while.
Most people benefit from diversifying the products they put in their hair to ensure they are receiving a well-rounded combination of nourishing ingredients.
Does Coffee Dye Damage Gray Hair?
The coffee dye will not damage gray hair. Worst case scenario, you will not like the way the coffee stain makes your hair look, in which case you wash your hair several times and wait for the color to fade.
Unless you are using a coffee product that has artificial flavors or sweeteners, you aren’t putting any harmful chemicals in your hair when you use coffee as a dye.
Coffee contains oils and antioxidants that can strengthen your hair and add extra shine.
So, coffee is a viable, natural alternative for covering gray hair, offering a gentler approach than traditional dyes. It’s perfect for those looking for a temporary solution without the harsh chemicals.
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about how to dye gray hair with coffee.
Yes, you can cover your gray roots with coffee. If you only need to dye your roots, you can make a small mixture of coffee dye and apply it with your fingers or a brush.
Coffee lasts on gray hair for around two or three weeks. Every time you wash your hair, some of the pigment from the coffee stain will fade away.
For some people, it takes several dyeing sessions to get their gray hair to darken, especially if their hair is a naturally light color.
However, it’s best to start with a lighter brown and slowly darken the tint until you get to a shade you like.
If you are dipping your hair in pure coffee, you usually only need to submerge your hair for five to 10 minutes.
On the other hand, if you have diluted the coffee with a hair conditioner, you may want to wait closer to an hour before rinsing the coffee out.