Chemical free hair dye for grey hair

Which hair color is safe? In this article, we introduce you to 5 natural hair colors that cover gray hair without chemicals … or at least approximate to the original color.

What chemicals are used in conventional hair color?

Approximately 70% of women dye their hair, usually to cover gray strands. While in the male world, gray-mottled hair makes them attractive in old age, gray-haired women are still perceived as old  and less attractive.

Some of the dyes in conventional products have proven to be carcinogenic or extremely allergenic. For this reason, legislators have set limits ​​for some substances or banned them altogether in recent years.

Among the substances of concern in hair dyes are mainly:

  • Aromatic amines such as para-phenylenediamine (ppd)
  • Resorcinol
  • Ammonia
  • PEG / PEG derivatives as well
  • Organohalogen compounds.

What is the effect of Phenylenediamine (PPD) in hair dye?

To permanently dye the hair, aromatic amines are used. However, these can cause severe allergic reactions. Some are even labeled as so-called CMR substances.

They either have a carcinogenic, mutagenic or reproductive toxicity potential. The darker the hair color, the higher the level of chemical colorants. Since 2003, 181 dyeing substances have been banned and 106 have been restricted. Still not all substances are fully evaluated for their harmfulness.

The commonly used p-phenylenediamine or ppd is classified as extremely sensitizing. That means, it can trigger severe allergic reactions on the scalp. Since this substance has come under criticism, it is often replaced by Toluenediamine. But this substance has also triggered reactions in PPD allergic patients in the past. Below we present hair colors without phenylenediamine and toluenediamine


Resorcinol is included as a coupler in oxidative hair dyes and tints. It is used for the nuance of hues. Resorcinol is bactericidal, flammable and classified as a dangerous chemical.

It can lead to allergies and is also suspected of being responsible for mutations. It can be recognized on the packaging by terms such as resorcinol, resorcinol monoacetates, 3-hydroxyphenylacetate, hydroxyphenol 3, m-dihydroxybenzene, benzene-1,3-diol or 1,3-benzenediol.


Ammonia is known for its pungent odor. If ammonia is used, it will be listed on the INCI list as Ammonia. Ammonia irreparably breaks up the hairpin of the hair like a pine cone so that other substances, such as hydrogen peroxide and colorants, can penetrate the inside of the hair. If it is used regularly, the hair dries out and becomes brittle.

Despite its pungent smell, ammonia is not as damaging to health as the amines. It is only dangerous in high concentrations or in contact with eyes.

Naturcolor 4N Burdock. Hair Color without ammonia, resorcinol, PPD or parabens

Natural hair color without chemicals

The market for natural hair dyes is clearly geared towards women and it is booming in recent years as consumers become more and more aware and educated. On the other hand, hairdressers are not always the best guides when it comes to the components of the products they use. The industry has developed plant based products that you can apply at home.

The most commonly used plant dye is henna. Henna has been used for thousands of years for the coloring of skin and hair. It is cultivated in North and East Africa as well as in much of Asia. Henna powder is made from the leaves of the shrub. Thanks to modern product development, today’s plant colors for blond, red, brown and black are durable and are getting better at gray coverage.

However, especially in the case of gray cover, botanical dyes have to contend with the prejudice that they do not work. In addition, the use of herbal hair dyes is significantly more complex than just mixing together a chemical cocktail.

The reviews on Amazon show, that despite many positive reviews, some users experience that when they dye gray hair with natural colors it suddenly creates blue or green spots.

Practice and patience are required to find the best personal mix. But it is possible to cover gray hair without chemicals. It’s best to try out little by little.

When buying a product you have to be careful Even if it says “henna”, “organic”, “natural”, it’s not certain that the products do not contain some of the above mentioned substances. 

In the following, we have put together some natural hair colors, which do not contain PPD Resorcinol, PEGs or PEG derivatives as well as halogenated organic compounds.

Light Mountain Natural Hair Color & Conditioner

This fine, botanical powder allows for a creamy, easy to use consistency. All you need to do is add water. Light Mountain offers a range of 8 shades called Color the Gray! It is a unique 2-step coloring solution to dramatically enhance the ability of henna-based hair colors to stick to gray hair.

All Light Mountain hair colors are made using botanical ingredients, and are Certified Organic. They do not contain chemical additives such as parabens, PPD, ammonia, peroxide, or metallic salts. 

Surya Brasil Henna Cream 

Surya is a Winner of the Best of Natural Beauty Awards. There natural hair colors consist of a sophisticated blend of botanical ingredients from Brazil and India that are formulated to color and condition the hair. They use Henna, Amla Acácia Concinna Extract and Índigo. Hair Color with long-lasting grey coverage.

Radico Hair Color

Radico hair colors are known for a very good gray coverage. This is also stated in the user reviews on Amazon. The herbal hair colors of Radico are made exclusively from natural herbs. Radico’s natural colours are formulated without ppd, ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, resorcinol and parabens.

Radico Color Me Organics hair dyes have received the world-renowned certification from both Ecocert (Europe) and USDA Organic.

Khadi Herbal Hair Colour

Khadi Natural hair colors contain henna, amla and indigo in different blends. The natural hair colors of Khadi are purely vegetable and are free of synthetic dyes, fragrances or preservatives. They contain neither peroxides nor ammonia.

The Henna Guys 100% Pure and Natural Henna Powder

100% Pure, naturally grown without the use of pesticides, cruelty free and vegan henna and indigo powder hair color 


Thanks to the natural hair colors, covering grey hair without chemicals is no problem anymore. Every hair is different, there are different shades of gray. If you want to dye your hair with natural hair dye and protect your hair and scalp from the chemical mace, you should bring some patience to find your personal optimum of quantity, mixing ratio and exposure time. Use these alternative hair dyes without PPD, ammonia and resorcinol.

Photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash

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