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Fact Or Fiction: Can You Color Hair With Coffee?

28 August 2017
Coffee in red cup NEW
Jelani Addams Rosa

Jelani Addams Rosa

Associate Editor,

As an employee of L'Oréal, Jelani brings her knowledge and passion for hair care to Before joining the team, she spent time at Celebuzz, Seventeen, and Cosmo for Latinas.

In the never ending quest for killer natural beauty products, there’s almost nothing beauty obsessed girls won’t try. From DIY face masks to haircuts, there’s no stone left unturned—but what about DIY hair dye? We’re not talking about a boxed dye from your local drugstore, but rather a dye made from the ingredients you already have in your home. Is there any way that could work?

DIY coffee dyed locks have recently become popular on social media, with fans of the method claiming it’s a natural way to get the coffee color hair everyone has been lusting over. There are several popular techniques: Brewing several cups of strong coffee or espresso before allowing the caffeinated drink to cool down and rinsing or spraying locks with a cup of morning joe, as well as mixing the potent brew with a favorite conditioner and allowing the mixture to sit in your hair for about an hour before rinsing out.

While many social media beauty gurus swear by the method, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) there is no evidence to support that coffee can actually work as a hair coloring agent. Even though you may not be able to get the cappuccino colored locks of your dreams from your coffee pot, all hope isn’t lost. Whether picked up at your local drugstore or artfully whipped up by your favorite hairstylist, traditional color techniques are a great way to get the color you’ve been lusting after. Be it a light coffee and cream color or a deep espresso, don’t give up on your dream hair color.

A good hairstylist will not only be able to recommend the perfect shade for you, but also the best method to achieve and maintain your new hue. Not only will your stylist be able to get you the coffee colored locks you’ve been dreaming of, but your color can last longer with proper care. Furthermore, your stylist will be able to help bring a tone and depth to your color that coffee alone could never achieve. The best part is, you get to kick back, relax. Let someone else worry about the mess and subsequent cleanup—scrubbing coffee stains out of your bathtub is a task no one wants.

That means if you’re looking for high quality, long lasting color you’ll most likely have to go with a more traditional hair dye. But don’t worry, if you’re concerned about chemicals in your dye, we’ve broken down the three most common types of hair dye, explaining who they’re perfect for and what, if any, chemicals to expect.

Temporary Dye

Temporary dye is a great solution for those who are looking for a little change but don’t want to worry about chemicals wreaking havoc on their precious locks. While not free of all chemicals, temporary hair dye is often free of chemicals in most dyes like bleach and ammonia. Because chemicals like those aren’t involved in the process, people who choose temporary dye have the option of switching up their color almost as often as they’d like. Unfortunately, the formula, which is made up of larger molecules that just coat the surface of the hair as opposed to penetrating the hair shaft, isn’t made to last for long periods of time.

Because the color just sits on the surface of the hair, it typically lasts anywhere from two to eight washes, making it very high maintenance if you’re looking to wear the color for an extended period of time. If you’re looking for a super vibrant color like hot pink, temporary color is only good for ladies who already have naturally light hair. If your hair is very dark, the dye will just give your locks a pink tint. If you’re looking to enjoy the full effects of the funky color, you’ll have to consider bleaching your hair first to make sure it will be noticeable.

Semi or Demi Permanent Dye

Semi or demi permanent dye is perfect for ladies who are looking for a major change but aren’t sure if they’re entirely ready to commit. Semi or demi permanent dye is similar to temporary dye in that most formulas are free of chemicals like ammonia and bleach, although some companies add small amounts of the chemicals to help the color last longer. Semi or demi permanent dye is kind of like the stories you used to hear about when you were a child—the molecules are not too big, not too small, they’re just right.

The molecules that form the dye are big enough to coat the outside of the hair shaft, but just small enough to enter the edge of the hair cortex—the thickest layer of a hair strand. This allows the color to last a bit longer, anywhere from four to six weeks. While the color will usually last weeks, semi or demi permanent dye fades very quickly and (even with proper care) your color may begin to fade drastically before reaching the six-week mark. If you’re looking to make your color last a bit longer, consider purchasing a color-depositing shampoo and conditioner system to keep your locks looking vibrant.

Permanent Dye

Permanent dye is perfect for anyone looking for an entirely new look. While most permanent dyes are made with chemicals like bleach and ammonia, many modern day formulas are designed to create the most color impact while doing the least damage to your locks as possible.

Permanent dye is formulated with tiny molecules that can penetrate the hair cuticle and enter the hair cortex. Once the molecules are inside the hair cortex, the bleach and ammonia lift the hair’s natural color allowing the dye to give your strands a new hue. While permanent dyes can fade, they will never wash out. Once you’ve decided on a color, you’ll have to remain committed until it grows out or you get it dyed another color.

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