natural hair dye with black walnuts!

2021 edit: i no longer subscribe to or support the “all-natural” label. more here.

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!

also, if you have a nut allergy, obviously do not use this natural dye, as it uses the hulls of walnuts.

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!

where to find black walnuts:

if you can’t pick them up from the ground anywhere around your house, you can get the hull powder from here or here (neither are affiliates).

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


180 thoughts on “natural hair dye with black walnuts!

  1. I have the black walnuts. Ready to try to naturally dye my grays as I let the red henna and grays grow out. Thank youuu

  2. This post is so funny “the struggle was real”. I collected maybe 30 walnuts yesterday and separated the nut/shells from the husks. We’ve has some rain in the last week, so the hulls on the ground were softer and very easy to separate. I left the nuts as an offering for the squirrels and have just simmered the hulls outside on a burner for about an hour. Not sure if I’ll go through with the hair coloring, as I have had natural grey & light brown for about 5 years. I’ll probably add some thickener like xanthan gum and then apply it.

  3. Why do you have to use/crack the actual nuts to put it in water? The hull itself has the dye in it. Can’t you leave the shell intact & just toss it in to get the rest of the dye of? Cause if it’s cracked, its not edible anymore is it?

  4. Alexa, thank you for the incredibly detailed description. I think it will help a lot for my first time using black walnut powder, which I hope will be in the next 2-3 weeks. One question: When you air-dry your hair instead of rinsing, what happens when you get in the shower next? I’m worried I’ll stain my brand new shower. Thanks!

  5. I know this is quite a bit of time that has passed since you asked your question and all but we wanted to share my first hand with the black walnut coloration. We have a black walnut tree in our yard and I have stained myself more times than I can count with them. It doesn’t have any red to it at all actually. To me it is an extremely neutral brown. Much more of a black brown depending on how much gets on your skin and for how long the contact occurs. It doesn’t take long AT ALL for staining to begin to show up!! There have been a lot of stains that surprise me seeing as I had already thought “Sweet! I didn’t get any on me this time!!”. Only to see I was wrong after a few min/further inspection. Definitely wear a couple pair of gloves as previously noted a couple times in the directions she lists and I’d recommend changing them halfway through or so if you can. Many stains have mysteriously appeared on my fingers. Only once did I have to get rid of it due to a next day work meeting and was force to quick soak my finger tips in a light bleach solution to help reverse some of the stain “damage”. I hated to do it bc I hate bleach but was desperate due to the severity of the stain and it’s not so professional look it had me sporting around. Hope this helps you even a little!

    1. hey love! it’s a temporary hue adjustment. the stay will depend on how often you wash your hair and what you wash your hair with. i hope this process works for what you’re looking for!

  6. For a dirty blond look just rub the raw FRESH GREEN Black walnut into your hair. I use it on my beard . hides the gray, retains my natural highlights and no one even notices.

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