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What Really Happened...

What Really Happened When I Tried To Dye My Hair With Coffee

If you have questions, I probably have some answers.

With the summer months behind us, fall is always the perfect time of year to don a darker and richer shade on our tresses, so when I first heard about people using coffee grounds to darken their hair as a less damaging (and way cheaper!) alternative to chemical dyes, I was all aboard that train. As if coffee wasn' t already the answer to all of my life problems, it could even dye my hair AND fix some of the damage that had been wreaked upon my poor curls?! Sign me up. Like any responsible DIYer, I did my research first and found that everyone else's before and after pictures looked great, too. TBH, it actually sounded almost too good to be true, but I had to try.

I used a simple recipe originally from Spoon University that called for:

  • Shampoo and conditioner (It's best if it's extra moisturizing!)
  • Dark roast ground coffee (1 lb.)
  • Shower cap
  • Dark towel

Step 1:

"Make 2 cups of the Dunkin Dark Roast Ground Coffee. Let it cool down sufficiently (until cold)."

OK, easy enough. I made the darkest coffee I had seriously ever made (which is saying a LOT for me) and successfully avoided taking any sips while it cooled down to a temperature that wouldn't burn my scalp.

Step 2:

"Mix 2 cups of conditioner with 4 tablespoons of ground coffee. Mix it until the grounds dissolve and the mixture looks smooth."

Once again, this was definitely something I could handle. The original recipe even included a tip to double the ingredients for thicker hair which I opted out of because a) who has four cups of conditioner in their shower? and b) it was a serious struggle to get two cups on my head already. To each their own, though, I guess!

Coffee Hair Dye

Step 3:

"Wash your hair with your regular shampoo; make sure it's thoroughly washed. Squeeze out all the excess water with your hands. Then take the towel and put it around your shoulders."

Placing a dark-colored towel around your shoulders is a great idea and all, but while I was not-so-expertly completing the next few steps, my shirt became thoroughly espresso-soaked anyway. I would say definitely stay away from your favorite blouse and maybe stick with donning a dark colored t-shirt and move on.

Step 4:

"With the 2 cups that you made, soak your hair. You can simply pour them, but make sure your hair gets sufficiently wet. With your fingers, thoroughly add in the mixture to your hair. Make sure to get all the roots by massaging the scalp. Continue on until your entire head is completely covered."

Sounds easy enough, right? I'm here to warn you, though, two cups of conditioner is a LOT more than you'd think. It's hard, it's very messy, and you're probably going to want a friend to help, but on the bright side, the coffee grounds do add for a nice little scalp massage.

Coffee Hair Dye

Coffee Hair Dye

Step 5:

"Put on a shower cap to keep the hair together. After the hour has gone by, rinse your hair until all the dark color is out. Then, wash your hair as you normally would do to make sure all the coffee residue is out, and there you go! Your hair should be shiny with a beautiful, chocolate tone."

Instead of a shower cap, we decided to improvise by strategically placing three sheets of Saran Wrap around my head. Not only was it resourceful, but it was extremely fashionable as well.

Coffee Hair Dye

By the end of the next 60 minutes, there was a weird liquid dripping onto me (seriously I still have no idea what it was) and I was more than ready to get the lemon poppyseed batter-lookalike off my head.

By the way, if you do end up trying this at home I would highly recommend having a detachable shower head. Switching between shoving my hair under the faucet to dumping cups of water on top of my head kind of made it a little end-of-the-day workout (but if that's what you're feeling, then go for it!). Mid-rinse, I also realized that I was going to need to deep clean my bathroom afterward, but hey, if this worked it was all going to be worth it.

But alas, after cleaning my bathtub, thoroughly blow drying my hair, and using all of my power to will my curls to be darker, the results were minimal to none color-wise. However, minus coming across the occasional coffee ground, when it came to how my tresses actually felt, I couldn't stop enjoying their softness — but I do have an inkling that two cups of conditioner slathered on my head for an hour will do that to a girl.

Coffee Hair Dye

While this recipe didn't necessarily work for me, I do believe that with the right combination of ingredients, using coffee to naturally dye your hair can be a fantastic alternative to the harsh salon dyes. For now, I'll stick to keeping my coffee in a cup, but you can bet your Starbucks holiday mug that I haven't totally lost hope on one day brewing something up for my hair!

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Hannah Marsh

Hannah is a Texas-born, Iowa-raised alumna of Iowa State University. When not writing trending content across several Meredith sites, she enjoys all things fitness-related, binge-watching "Whose Line is it Anyway" episodes and fully embracing her self-diagnosed peanut butter addiction.

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