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The Ultimate Coffee Hair Dye Guide

coffee hair dye materials

If you have a bunch of old coffee lying around and you’re looking for something to do with it—besides drinking it—one option you might not have considered is using it to whip up homemade hair dye. Believe it or not, coffee can serve as the base for hair dye and help you stretch the time between more extensive dyeing sessions.

While it doesn’t work as well or last as long as actual hair dye, coffee-based hair dye is an excellent option for a quick touch-up. It’s cheap, easy to make, and does a respectable job. In this short guide, we’ll teach you how to make coffee hair dye, tell you what coffee works best, and give you some tips for applying it to make sure you get the most out of it.

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What Kind of Coffee Should You Use in a Hair Dye?

You might think that the details of the coffee don’t matter, and, for the most part, you would be right. The one exception is the roast level. Dark roast coffee tends to work better than light or medium roasts, so much so that we only recommend using a dark roast to make your own coffee hair dye.

Dark roasts naturally have a darker color than medium and light roasts, but they’re also softer and produce coffee with more oil, which helps color your hair. Coffee hair dye doesn’t last long, so it’s important to get every ounce of color out of the coffee you use, and dark roasts make that much easier.

coffee dye for hair
Image Credit: NIKCOA, Shutterstock

coffee hair dye materials
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How to Dye Hair With Coffee

If you have a bunch of old coffee lying around and you're looking for something to do with it—besides drinking it—one option you might not have considered is using it to whip up homemade hair dye. Believe it or not, coffee can serve as the base for hair dye and help you stretch the time between more extensive dyeing sessions.
Prep Time10 mins
Active Time6 mins
Soaking Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 16 mins
Yield: 1 head of hair
Cost: $5

Equipment

  • A soft brush (optional)
  • Coffee maker
  • Bowl

Materials

  • 2 tablespoons Dark roast coffee beans (Ground)
  • ½ cup strong dark roast coffee
  • 1 cup your favorite leave-in conditioner

Instructions

  • Brew ½ cup of dark roast coffee; the stronger, the better. Don't be afraid to use significantly more coffee than you normally would. We find that a 14:1 water to coffee ratio or less works best.
  • Let the coffee cool to room temperature, and add 2 tablespoons of coffee grounds.
  • Add 1 cup of leave-in conditioner. This helps even out the coffee dye and makes it easier to apply.
  • Wash your hair with shampoo.
  • With your hair still damp, apply the coffee dye evenly. This is where a soft brush can help, although you probably want to use your hands a bit anyway. Using your hands makes it easier to get all the way down to your scalp. We recommend using a brush to speed up the initial application and then using your hands to make sure the dye is evenly applied.
  • Let the dye sit in your hair for at least 1 hour. The longer you leave the dye in, the darker the color will be.
  • After at least an hour, rinse your hair in the sink. Continue rinsing until the runoff from your hair is clear to ensure you've washed out all the dye.

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How Long Does Coffee Hair Dye Last?

Coffee hair dye is not meant to be a long-term hair coloring solution, and it won’t replace traditional hair dyes. Depending on how often you wash your hair, you can expect coffee hair dye to last about 2 weeks. People who wash their hair less often might be able to stretch it to 3 weeks, but beyond 3bweeks, it will be mostly gone.

Using more coffee or stronger coffee in your dye will change the color but won’t make it last any longer, so it’s best to tune your recipe to the color you want and accept that you’ll have to reapply it frequently.

Who Is Coffee Hair Dye for?

It can be fun to experiment with coffee hair dye, but some people will be disappointed with the results if they go into it with unrealistic expectations. If you’re looking for a quick, short-term touch-up that’s inexpensive, easy to apply, and easy to rinse out, then homemade coffee hair dye is perfect for you.

On the other hand, if you’re hoping to avoid buying expensive hair dyes or paying your hairdresser for regular colorings, you’ll probably be underwhelmed by the results. Coffee hair dye is a subtle effect and is only good for boosting existing color, covering small gray areas, and other secondary coloring purposes. Coffee hair dye isn’t suitable as a standalone hair coloring regimen.

So far, we’ve left out one important detail: coffee hair dye works best on brown hair. If you have light-colored hair, coffee hair dye can help you darken it, and if you have darker brown hair, it can help you cover grays. Unfortunately, if you have black hair, coffee hair dye isn’t usually the best option for you. The effect from coffee hair dye is too subtle to make a noticeable difference to your hair’s natural shade, and covering grays won’t mask them much since they’ll still stand out as brown hairs in a sea of black.

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Coffee as a Hair Dye: Conclusion

Coffee hair dye is a quick and easy solution to hair coloring for people that need a subtle color change or are looking to mask a few pesky grays. It’s easy to make and only requires a small amount of coffee, so it’s perfect in a pinch when you don’t have any regular hair dye. If you decide to try out homemade coffee hair dye, make sure you approach it with tempered expectations. Even strong coffee will only make a subtle dye, and the results will be muted rather than dramatic.

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Featured Image Credit: NIKCOA, Shutterstock

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Sean Brennan

Sean’s obsession with coffee started when he received his first French press as a gift almost ten years ago. Since then, his love of coffee – and the number of coffee gadgets he owns – has grown considerably. A scientist by training, there is no stone he has left unturned in the never-ending quest for the perfect cup of coffee. He has spent many hours tuning his pour-over technique, thinking about how to best compare grind quality, and worrying about whether the Nicaraguan or Kenyan beans will make the best cold brew. These days he favors the Hario V60, and starts each day by hand grinding his coffee before enjoying a cup prepared with care and attention to detail.

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