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DIY Hair Dye?

Hi Brains,

Is it possible to mix up your own hair dye, without using henna or other plants? I love Clairol Beautiful Collection Semi-Permanent dye. I've used it for years, and nothing looks as good or keeps my hair as healthy, but the smell bothers my husband a lot. I think he has developed an allergy to it. I can't find an unscented semi-permanent dark brown dye. Henna is too red for me, and I am afraid to use plant-based "natural" dyes because I'm also allergic to a lot of plants and fragrances.

So I bought two small bottles of cosmetic pigments from the Making Cosmetics online store: An inorganic iron oxide brown, dispersed in castor oil, and food-grade caramel colorant. I thought I'd try mixing the iron oxide with coconut oil, or mix the caramel with conditioner, put it on my hair, wait a few hours, and see what happens. I will test it on an inconspicuous part first. Is there any chance either of these methods will create temporary color that will last through at least 2 shampoos? Or is there another ingredient I could use to copy the formula of Clairol Beautfiul Collection Darkest Brown? I pasted more information about all the ingredients below.


Clairol Beautiful, Darkest Brown:
*Water, Ethoxydiglycol, Peg-50 Tallow Amide, Amino Methyl Propanol, Hc Blue No. 2, Fragrance, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Isopropyl Alcohol, Cirtric Acid, Lauryl Glucoside, Disperse BLack 9, Disperse Blue 377, Hc Yellow No. 2, Disperse Violet 1, HC Red No. 3, Erythorbic Acid, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf juice, Glycerin, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Extract, Trimethylsilyamodimethicone, Panthenol, Tocopheryl , Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein*

Iron Oxide Brown, Liquid

Description: Cosmetic-grade inorganic pigments (iron oxide red, yellow & black) dispersed in castor oil. 45-50% pure dye content. Very fine dispersion (free of aggregates > 5 microns). Viscous liquid, odorless. Water-insoluble, oil-dispersible.

CAS: 1332-37-2, 8001-79-4

INCI Name: CI 77492 (iron oxides), castor oil

Properties: High-quality extra fine color dispersion providing superior color purity & saturation, can be easily incorporated into various color cosmetics.

Caramel Colorant

Description: Natural, dark brown liquid colorant made from heat-treated food grade carbohydrates (sugars). Kosher certified. Specific gravity: 1.19-1.33 (60F). pH 2-3.5. Liquid, water-soluble, rinses off, non-permanent.

CAS: not available

INCI Name: Caramel

Properties: Caramel colorant suitable to add a natural brown color to hair shampoos, tanning products or other skin & hair care products, but also acidic beverages.


  • Temporary hair colors deeply stain the hair. Iron oxide aren't soluble enough to do much of anything. Carmel will provide a little surface staining but it may or may not be dark enough to suit your tastes. (And I doubt it will last very long.) There's no harm in trying it though. I'm curious to see what kind of results you get. 

    Hair colors are very difficult to formulate so I can't suggest you do much more than this on your own. 

    Good luck!
  • ThAlt+MAlt+N
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