Now that summer’s over, I’ve been itching to go darker for fall – you just can’t beat a rich, chocolatey hair color when the leaves start changing.

So when I heard people were using coffee to dye their hair as a less damaging, crazy cheap DIY alternative to chemical dyes, I was immediately on board!

I mean, coffee is already the solution to pretty much everything in my life, but the fact that it could transform my hair color AND actually repair some of the damage from summer? Um, yes please!

Like any responsible Pinterest addict, I did a little research first, and all the before and after pics looked amazing. Part of me felt like it was just too good to be true, but I knew I had to try it for myself.

The idea of pampering my poor dry curls back to health with my favorite morning beverage? Sign me up, I’m ready to brew up some beauty magic!

The recipe I used was one I found on Spoon University. It seemed easy enough – all I needed was:

  • Shampoo and extra hydrating conditioner (my dry hair definitely needs the moisture!)
  • About a pound of dark roast coffee grounds (Spoon U said to use the darkest you can find)
  • A shower cap
  • Oh, and a dark towel to wrap around my shoulders (learned later this was very necessary – things got messy!)

So a pretty simple ingredients list of stuff I had at home, plus some strong, dark AF coffee to work its coloring magic. I was excited to give this little DIY a whirl on my sad summer hair! Fingers crossed those four basic items were all I needed to breathe new life into these dried out locks.

Step 1:

“Alright, step one – make two cups of dark roast coffee and let that bad boy cool all the way down before putting it on my head.”

No problem! I brewed up what was truly the strongest, inkiest coffee I’ve ever concocted in my life (and for a caffeine addict like me, that’s saying something!). I could smell that bold, dark roast aroma filling my kitchen.

It took some serious self-control not to help myself to a cup while waiting for it to chill. I knew scalding coffee wasn’t going to do my hair or scalp any favors! So I managed not to sip a drop, even though my brain was telling me that jet black brew HAD to taste insanely rich and delicious. This was going to be a true test of my will power.

Step 2:

“Step two said to mix together two cups of conditioner with four tablespoons of the ground coffee until it formed a smooth, homogeneous mixture.”

No problem, I’ve got mad mixing skills! Although the recipe did suggest doubling up on product for thicker hair.

But as much as my wavy locks could probably use the extra love, there was no way I was going to attempt four cups of conditioner. I mean, A) who even has that much conditioner just hanging out in their shower?! And B) it was already tricky enough trying to fully lather two cups all over my hair.

I suppose if you have ultra thick hair it might be worth it, but this curly girl was sticking to the standard recipe amounts. This was going to be an…interesting…experiment either way!

Coffee Hair Dye

Step 3:

“Alright, first things first – give my hair a good wash with my regular shampoo. Lather, rinse, repeat until every last strand was squeaky clean – this was crucial for the coffee mixture to really grab on!”

Then I did my best to squeeze out allll the excess water with just my hands. We’re talkin’ serious towel drying – I wanted my hair as moisture-free as possible before dousing it in muddy conditioner.

Oh, and the instructions reminded me to drape a dark towel around my shoulders too. Not a bad suggestion! Buuut even with that precaution, and my intense focus on not spilling, I still ended up with quite the espresso-tinted splotch situation happening on my tee.

So fair warning – unless you wanna accidentally tie-dye your outfit a la coffee filter, maybe stick to wearing some old ratty clothes for this experiment. As fabulous as I felt in that shirt, RIP to a real one. Onto the next steps!

Step 4:

“So the next step was to pour my two cups of freshly-brewed, room temp coffee conditioner all over my squeaky clean hair. The goal was to completely drench every strand, from root to tip. Then work it in reeeal good with my fingers, massaging it into my scalp for maximum coverage. Seems easy enough, right?”

Okay, turns out two cups of conditioner is no joke – that’s a looot of thick, gloppy liquid! I highly suggest asking a friend to help dump and lather at this point. It got messy fast, and an extra set of hands would have been nice!

I’m not gonna lie, it was tough trying to thoroughly coat all my hair by myself. My shoulders got quite the workout! But I gotta admit, as I rubbed that coffee-infused concoction into my scalp, those exfoliating grounds felt ah-mazing on my head. Like a little at-home spa treatment! Now I just had to see if this mixture would work some real magic on my hair

How to Dye Your Hair With Coffee in 5 Simple Steps
Does coffee really work to dye hair?

Step 5:

“After fully lathering my hair, the instructions said to pop on a shower cap and let it soak in for an hour before rinsing – supposedly leaving me with glossy, chocolate-colored locks.”

But thinking on my feet, my friend and I decided to wrap my goopy head with Saran wrap instead. Three sheets of that bad boy pinned up strategically and I looked like I was ready for the salon!

How long does coffee dye last in your hair?

An hour later, after chatting and watching TV with plastic cling wrap on my head, I was more than ready to rinse. Some weird warm liquid had started dripping down my neck at one point (no idea what that was and I decided not to ask questions). Between the lemon chiffon batter-esque conditioner and the crinkly head situation happening, I needed to get to a shower ASAP!

The site promised after a good rinse to get all residue out, my hair would emerge shinier than ever with a beautiful chocolate brown tint straight from the coffee grounds. Fingers crossed!

Okay, real talk – if you dare to try this coffee dye situation at home, do yourself a favor and use a detachable showerhead! I was alternating between awkwardly crouching to shove my head under the faucet and precariously dumping cups of water on top of my head just to rinse.

It was quite the impromptu plyometric workout! I mean hey, go for it if that’s your jam. But fair warning, things got preeetty messy up in my bathroom. Mid-rinse I took a good look around at the coffee splatters everywhere and realized this stain situation called for a legit deep clean when I was done.

But no pain, no gain right? If I ended up with a gorgeous coffee-infused mane at the end, all this would totally be worth it in my book! Time to scrub away…

Welp, after practically chiseling those coffee stains out of my tub, blow drying for a small eternity, and mentally willing my hair to turn several shades darker…I unfortunately saw little to no actual color change. Major bummer!

Buuuut can we talk about how freaking soft and silky my curls felt post-treatment?! Aside from finding the occasional missed coffee ground tucked into my waves, all that ultra-hydrating conditioner had worked some serious magic on the overall look and feel of my locks.

How long can I leave coffee in my hair?

I mean let’s be real – massaging two full cups of thick, nourishing conditioner into every strand for a full hour? That’s some Grade-A pampering right there. And while it didn’t deliver the chocolate-y hair of my dreams, I can’t deny how insanely smooth, strong, and shiny my ringlets turned out! My dry, damaged hair is definitely rejoicing.

So while this DIY coffee hair dye experiment was a bit of a bust for me color-wise, I’m not throwing in the hair towel just yet! I still think with some tweaking of ingredients and techniques, using natural coffee to transform your tresses can be a pretty awesome alternative to harsh chemical dyes.

For now, I’ll be enjoying my coffee in a cup vs. on my head. But hey, at least I get to keep rocking my fab Starbucks holiday mug! And who knows – maybe one day I’ll brew up the perfect recipe to give my curls that ideal rich chocolate shade. Fingers crossed!

Till then, I definitely recommend giving this a go if you’re feeling adventurous! Let me know if you come up with any tasty tweaks. I need all the coffee hair dye tips I can get!

Discover your perfect hair color match! Click here to explore our latest blog post on ‘The Best Hair Colors for Your Skin Tone’ and find your ideal shade today!

This story first appeared on More by Hannah Marsh.

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