natural hair dye with black walnuts!

IT’S FINALLY HERE! a natural hair dye for those that want to be any shade of brunette (literally…from light brown to almost black) because, let’s face it, brunettes are better ;)
i tease, i tease!

and if you saw the sneak peek picture i gave y’all a couple posts ago, you’re right if you guessed i was holding Black Walnuts! i’ve always wanted to try this dye, but never wanted to shell out the money for black walnut hull powder when i knew i could pick them up in huge quantities from around my parents’ home. sooo i waited….and waited… BUT now i have 10 extras to take back with me! woohoo!

black walnut hair dye - all natural & completely non-damaging way to be any shade of brunette you wanna be!

i know you’ll probably jump right to the pictures and “how to,” but please try to bear with me for this first part so i can tell you about black walnuts, some precautions, and a health warning. please!

black walnut drupes (the outer part of the walnut; the hull) contain juglone, plumbagin, and tannin (like in teas). this allows it to dye pretty much anything it touches. it can be used as a wood stain, ink, hair dye, clothing dye, etc.

some people find this stain doesn’t work for their hair. here’s some reasons why that may be the case:
– if you have previously dyed hair (even henna), this “dye” may not take. this is because this walnut mix is technically a stain.
– if you use shampoo/conditioner with silicones (any ingredient ending in -zane, -xane, -cone, or -conol), this stain will not take. silicones coat your hair and the stain will have nothing to stick to.
– if you use anything other than the hull of the walnut, it won’t dye your hair. some hull powders aren’t pure. your best bet is to use the real deal and smash them up on your own.

black walnut are poisonous for dogs & horses, so please plan to keep your critters far from this stuff while you dye your hair! one of my dogs thought he had been blessed with 15 tennis balls haha. needless to say, he ended up locked in the house while i was outside!

whether you picked up some black walnuts off the ground or bought black walnut hull powder, be very aware that it WILL STAIN EVERYTHING. wear clothes you don’t care about, wear 2 latex gloves on each hand (in case you get a pin prick somewhere), use a stainless steel or enamelware pot, slather whatever natural oil you have on hand all over your ears, forehead, neck, etc., to protect it from the dye, and do NOT stand up in the shower to rinse it out (unless you want dye blotches all over your body lol). i would also suggest you do this outside in the grass or on concrete/etc, so you don’t accidentally dye your floors and bathtub.  (side note- you can dye clothes in brown shades with this same dye if you’d like!)

i don’t think i can stress enough on how careful you need to be with this stuff. i rent an apartment, so i don’t feel like having to pay to replace things when i move out. hence the whole dying my hair outside in the grass fiasco. haha.

because this is a stain, it will fade. how fast it fades will depend on your hair care routine. those who are water-only washers will find that this will keep for a few months before fading out. if you’re a low-poo-er, i’d give it a month or so, of course depending on how often you wash your hair. if you’re washing once a week, it’ll last longer (probably around a couple months) and if you’re washing multiple times a week, expect it to last a month or less. i know this isn’t ideal, but if you’re looking for a truly natural way to darken your hair, it’s not so bad! :)

ok, enough talking… let’s goooo!


  • black walnuts OR black walnut hull powder (the more you use, the darker the dye)
  • water
  • old clothes you can throw away
  • old towel you can throw away (or a black one that won’t show the stains)
  • plastic bag/shower cap
  • stainless steel pot/enamelware pot
  • metal sifter (used to strain without staining)
  • metal spoon/black plastic spoon (won’t show stains)
  • an old cup you can throw out, or lots of cotton balls
  • oil to coat your face/neck where you don’t want the dye to stain your skin
  • a couple pairs of latex gloves
  • a grassy area, or an area outside/inside that won’t be ruined by some walnut dye stains
  • a friend that will help you “dye” your hair (don’t say i didn’t warn ya!)

how many black walnuts / how much black walnut powder?
for a VERY dark brown, use a cup of water for every walnut you use (3/4 of a cup of water for every tablespoon of hull powder you use). i used 5 walnuts and 10 cups of water, and while the quantity of dye was good, the concentration of dye wasn’t as dark as i originally wanted. next time i’ll add maybe 3 more walnuts. i LOVE and miss having deep dark brown hair!
for a medium brown, try 5 walnuts in 10 cups of water (use ratios above for powder).
for a light brown, try 2-3 walnuts in 8-10 cups of water (use ratios above for powder).
*these are just a rough idea of where to start for your desired color of brown. please play around with the ratios/amounts to get the exact color you want. remember, you can do this back to back to deepen the color without risking damage!


  • get your raggedy clothes on, slather on your oil, put your gloves on, etc. aka, Get Ready!
    (crack your walnuts if you’re fortunate enough to be around the trees! they will oxidize and turn dark brown in minutes. literally only minutes. crazy!)
    i couldn’t find a rock heavy enough to crack the walnuts, yet small enough for my kitten paw sized hands.. sorry garden turtle statue… 
  • bring your water to a boil
  • add however many cracked walnuts/powder you need to achieve the color you want.
  • let boil for at least 30 minutes. you should see it deepen in color pretty quickly.
    • ORRRR you can leave the cracked open walnuts/powder in room temp water for a week. then strain & use! but who has time to wait a week after waiting for the powder or walnuts though? maybe i’m just too impatient ;)
  • let dye mix stand until it’s cooled down (you don’t want your hair in hot water!! heat damage is heat damage no matter if it’s a curling iron or hot water), and strain the chunks out.
  • take your pot to wherever you’re going to “dye” your hair, and get to dye-in!  i set mine outside on the ground and dunked my hair into it. you can use a cup to pour the dye onto the roots/forehead/ear areas where the dunking won’t get to it without fear of your skin being dunked, too. you can also dunk cottonballs in the dye and use them to carefully go over your roots and other hard to dye places
    this was my first attempt….let’s not talk about it. the struggle was real. 
  • let your hair sit IN THE DYE for 5-20 minutes, depending on how dark you want your hair. you may re-dunk your hair in dye for darker shades if you notice it’s not dark enough.
    don’t ask why i decided to sit like this to soak my hair. it wasn’t a good decision. haha. 
  • when your hair looks a couple shades darker than what you want, rinse well, yet gently, with cool water. OR gently wring out your hair and let air dry. that’s what i did! regardless of if you rinse or don’t rinse, place the towel over your shoulders/back, and let your hair rest on the towel to air dry. i sat out in the sun with my best friend and chatted up a storm till my hair dried :)
  • you can re-dye your hair as often as necessary to keep your desired shade.
    **during this entire process, you’ll want your friend/SO/etc to monitor the dye & your skin. designate them as the dye-wipe-awayer lol.

if you mess up and go too dark – – don’t worry; it’s not permanent! it WILL fade!

now look at this before & after –
black walnut hair dye! completely natural & non-damaging hair dye for any shade of brunette you'd like to be!

my hair photographed a little light in the before picture… :/  but you guys have seen my hair enough to know the exact shade. too cool for school if ya ask me! so will i do it again? abso-freaking-lutely! i LOVE having dark brown hair!

who else has dyed their hair this way?? want to??


138 thoughts on “natural hair dye with black walnuts!

  1. Nevalia says:

    I sooo want to try it out, but we only have normal walnut tree, would that work as well? Now I’m trying to buy hull powders in a bioshop, but no luck so far. But I think I will try to ground it and then mix with hot water to get a thicker paste, like you get with henna, I think that would be more effective. Or maybe uye cofee instead of simple water. Anyway how long does your colur last this way?


  2. Madeleine says:

    I currently have dyed blue black hair(so black it’s slightly blue in the sun) I’m a naturopathy student, an ethical vegan and avid crunchy ;) my hair dye is the only thing keeping me from being 100% natural, and cruelty free, it’s quite disheartening. I love having black hair, I’ve had darkest brown/black/blueblack hair for 7 years, I look best with it and it’s as a part of me as my skin. How dark exactly do you think black walnuts can make hair go? Obviously there will be no more blue black, but I can live with almost black/super dark brown, do you think it can go that dark? Thanks heaps. I absolutely love your blog, been looking through it now for about an hour lol.


    • Nevalia says:

      you could try out indigo then, it is completely natural (if you simply buy the powder and take care so it won’t contain any additional chemicals like PPD) and it would give you a blue black colour!


  3. J.B.B says:

    Hey I did everthing got some black walnuts from my back yard and boiled them for 30 min and dunked my head in it. At the first dunk it was ok but at the second dunk it started stinging my head and the third dunk it stung really bad. After I took a shower it felt like I had sunburn. What do I do? Does anyone else have these problems? If so how do I cure it?


  4. Lauren B. says:

    I bought black walnut powder online, tried this method multiple times, as well as one where you add it to conditioner and leave on for a long while, but no change in hair color at all. I am SO disappointed because I really want to make my hair darker. I have very dark blond/very light brown hair and want a medium or dark brown but nothing seems to work at all. Besides black walnut hull powder, I have tried coffee and teas where I leave it in to soak then wash out and where you use is as a final hair rinse every time you shower. Nothing has worked in the least bit. I really want this to work but I have tried it so many times with absolutely no luck I am about out of hope. Is there a particular type or brand of black walnut powder that works well? I ordered mine from amazon, the brand is starwest botanicals, it’s organic, and the only thing in it are black walnut hulls. It did not stain anything at all, even clothes. Has someone had good results from any particular type of black walnut hull powder or is there a more concentrated product like an oil or something that would work? I am just tired of Nothing working. I’d appreciate any suggestions.


    • JC says:

      if it did not stain anything…honey you ain’t got black walnut…when my children were young and found a stick to play with and whittle not realizing they had a black walnut stick, they had stained everything! You learn from that mistake. I have stained items on purpose to get the color I needed, from reed baskets to cloth and never had any trouble getting it to take.

      However, I too did it on my hair…first time I did the hot method…laying on the deck with my hair in a paint roller tray with my daughter squirting the “dye” on my hair for really long to no avail. Then another time with it cold and still nothing…it does sort of affect the color but it did not last.

      Now, I have henna dyed hair…it is red because my gray hair is abundant and when you want to be a dark color all you get to have is red! So that could be a factor for me…but, I was attempting to darken my roots and it still did not take. I am in agreement with you that it just does not there has to be something to it…because black walnut is a stain.

      Maybe a mordant like one uses to dye fiber..wool, etc. Alum is a common mordant…it is something you would have in the baking section. Vinegar can be a mordant. I have trees galore in my neck of the woods so getting my “hands” on them is not a problem, so I am experimenting to find a solution because frankly there is no reason it should not work other than hair is a strange creature in and of itself. Different than our skin.

      So for any science minded people out there…let us know if you know of something that could work. Beautician’s perhaps, if they could gather their shock and set it aside that there are those of us who want a safer, more natural method for dying our hair.


      • Lisa says:

        I’ve posted on this page previously but wanted to update: For those of you looking for a natural brown dye a henna/indigo mix worked for me. I purchased a pre mixed powder from Henna Hut online and it works great for both grays and all over evening out.


  5. Twyla says:

    We have a TON of these walnuts at my house so I can wait to harvest some. They’re ready now! Going to pick them tomorrow. I wonder if my stepdaughter will let me dye her hair……


    • oh kay corral says:

      yes, I have hulling black I have HUGE stash of hulls. I used juice can,potato water,help thicken liquid. while it cooled,ad salt/vinegar. squirt jug as I do not have mist sprayer. I suggest to use one while misting into your hair. then I blew it dry. FEELS great to have color again.


  6. Mary says:

    Hello I have a question..when you crack the walnuts and have to put them in boiling water what do we put inside, only the hulls or also the nut


  7. Lili says:

    Does the outside skin of the walnut have to be ‘green or black ‘?

    I hear a lot about toxicity, so i wanted to know which one should i use on my hair/skull for grey.

    The tree next to my home used to give walnut but this year nothing :(
    I think i have to buy them maybe online ?!


  8. sandy says:

    Can you please tell me what is the size of green walnut on the tree?Is it as hard has crock ball? Because near my house in the wood, there are some trees and the fruit look so much green and very big and hard like stone. Is it black walnut?


  9. remi says:

    Do you know any natural/hair healthy ways to dye hair unnatural colors? I would like to try no poo or even water only hair washing but I like to dye my hair with weird colors like bright blue, orange, and pink. And even more unfortunately my hair is naturally a fairly dark brown, so I have to bleach it. I know there’s no healthy way to get around bleaching, but is there any no poo friendly way to do the coloring?


  10. Autumn says:

    Do you know if this will work well for covering grey hair? I’m trying to help my mom find a natural alternative to using commercial dyes every month :?


  11. Shaik Riyas says:

    Hi., I am from Dubai and recently started getting allergic reaction whenever I dye my hair, and for your information I have used/tried A to Z popular brands of hair dyes from the market.,un
    fortunatey the walnut mostly importing from Iran and the color of the same is like light brown, and black walnut is not available here., any idea what to do…,Pls..any healp?


  12. Anonymous says:

    Would this work on someone who isn’t a brunette or blonde. I have red hair and used to dye it dark brown but stopped due to it killing my hair


  13. z13 says:

    I have ordered a powder online through eBay. Its currently in my hair and I’m planning on leaving it for half an hour. Hopefully it will work!! (Yes it is messy and I’ve stained a few things!)

    My hair is naturally pitch black and I made the terrible decision to get a full head of highlights in blonde and caramel. It doesn’t look good 😣

    And I’m also switching to natural homemade shampoo bars. It contains black walnuts. (Also ordered off eBay)

    I’m hoping it will work and it should last a while as I wash my hair 1 to 2 times a week.

    Wish me luck!!


  14. Anonymous says:

    Hi Alex,

    Your experiment is very interesting, as kids we used to eat walnuts a lot from trees along our village river (Lebanon), The walnut hulls stained our fingers and took us a whole month of time to regain normal skin color.
    Always thought of it after my hair went grey but never tried it, now I’m gonna do it.

    Thank you.


  15. Kayla says:

    I really want to do this, during the winter I had an ombré done to my hair, now it’s summer my naturally dark hair has lightened quite a bit from being out in the sun so much, I really like the ombré and don’t want to mess it up, should I put coconut oil in the blond parts of my hair to aviod saturation and/or can I dab the dye on my hair and let it sit like that instead of dunking it?


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