DIY: Hair Color Booster

Whether you embrace your locks' natural hue or color-treat them, there's always room for more vibrance and shine. But don't rely on a fumy, bottled enhancer for results. Instead, restore your shade with nourishing foods from the pantry. 

Julie Gabriel, author of "The Green Beauty Guide," developed these temporary color-intensifying glosses for blondes, redheads, and brunettes. "You'll get similar effects to using store-bought products, but without the fragrances, dyes, or chemicals," she says. All it takes is a few minutes once a week -- and a few key ingredients.


Cocoa makes for a deeper, richer brown.

What you need: 1/2 cup cocoa powder, 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 1 teaspoon honey, 1 teaspoon apple-cider vinegar 

What to do: Whisk ingredients into a paste. Shampoo hair, squeeze out the water, and apply the mask. Keep it on for 2 to 3 minutes. Drape a towel around your neck to prevent the mask from dripping, as it may stain skin temporarily. Rinse, then style as usual. 

How it works: Honey moisturizes while acids in the yogurt (lactic) and vinegar (acetic) penetrate the hair shaft, allowing the cocoa's pigment to sink in. "Natural acids open the cellular doors to the pigmented molecules and make the results more pronounced," Gabriel says.


Tea, lemon, and potato enhance sunny shades.

What you need: 1 lemon, 1 raw potato, 1/2 cup chamomile tea, room temperature 

What to do: Squeeze the juice from the lemon. Grate the potato and blend with the lemon to form a paste. Add the tea and stir. Shampoo, then spread the mask throughout hair, massaging lightly. Cover your head with a PVC-free shower cap or plastic wrap, then lightly heat with a hair dryer for 2 to 3 minutes. Rinse, then style as usual. 

How it works: The chamomile and lemon act as whitening agents, and the acidic lemon juice allows potato enzymes -- which help brighten blonde hair -- to break through the tough, keratinized outer layer of the hair.


Carrots and berries boost red locks.

What you need: 3 medium carrots, 2 tablespoons honey, 3 tablespoons yogurt, 1/2 cup cranberries (optional; works best with copper undertones) 

What to do: Finely chop raw carrots in a food processor or blender, add cranberries if using, and make a coarse paste. Add yogurt and honey, then mix well. Shampoo, then spread the mask throughout hair, massaging lightly. Keep it on for 1 to 2 minutes and rinse. Style as usual. 

How it works: The yogurt's lactic acid helps the coloring antioxidants in the berries and carrots get past the surface of your locks -- so they really seep in. Honey, a natural humectant, hydrates the hair.

Text by Kara Baskin

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Comments (14)

  • Carly Ross 7 Jul, 2014

    I'm not sure if I should use blonde or brunette and which one will work better for me I'm half blonde half brunette aka a dirty blonde so please tell me what might look better

  • Kevin Estis 28 Mar, 2014

    I tried your suggestion for brunette hair color. I used Hershey's natural unsweetened Cocoa (from a new box), organic apple cider vinegar, organic honey and lowfat plain yogurt. I rinsed after 3 minutes, my hair looked exactly as it did prior to application. Not one lick of color stuck.
    Better luck next time. Any idea why your suggestion didn't work?

  • Dancer4ev 19 Mar, 2014

    What if you don't have the cider vinegar can you substitute anything?

  • DarleneC57 1 Mar, 2014

    Please send the concoction to use for med Brown roots that are white now, I know its coffee and something but need instructions.
    Thank you,

  • janeros 1 Mar, 2014

    Pls also post diy for black hair now with whites coming out.. Thanks

  • blossom44 28 Feb, 2014

    I am wondering....

    You have to leave the mask for only 2-3 minutes and it actually works? Is that possible?

    If anyone has tried the mask for Brunettes, please tell me how it worked out and if you have to leave it for longer time?


  • ocmom 28 Feb, 2014

    I am all gray and have been using blonde color for years. Was wondering if there is anything natural
    I can use on gray that would allow me to stay blonde?

  • indielady 18 Oct, 2013

    I am a brunette and I use leftover coffee grounds. They exfoliate the scalp and tint and add shine to my hair. I also use coconut oil occasionally.

  • Mindy Christiansen 19 Jan, 2013

    um. ok. we just tried this and there are carrot bits in my hair!!! like i rinsed it VERY THOROUGHLY, and still with the carrots. soooo... next time, i am going to juice the carrots and the cranberries and strain out the cranberry seeds as well.
    thankyou, that is all.

  • ecotrip 30 Aug, 2011

    I have auburn hair and tried the recipe for red heads. It was very messy and burned my eyes....no difference in color :-(

  • Yllota 9 Jul, 2011

    DawnnE, I'm no expert but I've seen black tea used as a natural dark pigment, and it surely won't damage your hair so I'd give it a try, maybe mixed with some honey and yogurt.

  • granmaboat 20 Jan, 2011

    I'm wondering if this might make the red hair a bit too orange. Like carrots do to hands when you are cuting them.

  • DawnnE 7 Sep, 2010

    What about people with jet black hair? the sun have damaged my hair during my away in Florida.

  • electric_lady 23 Aug, 2010

    How fun! Love this stuff. Keep it coming!

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