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Is Black a Natural Hair Color? | Surprisingly, No It’s Not!

When looking to dye your hair, you might want to go for a natural shade. But is black a natural hair color? Read on to learn more about this surprisingly controversial topic.

Is Black a Natural Hair Color?

Though it may surprise some, “black” is not a natural hair color. You may wonder how that’s the case. You’ve likely seen countless people with undyed black hair. Even the World Atlas states that roughly 70% of the world has black hair!

So what’s up?

What we often call black hair is instead extremely dark brown hair. Brown hair can range to such a dark shade that it appears completely black.

However, if you hold a strand of “black” hair up to a light, you will always find brown, hazel, or even red undertones.

This contrasts with dyed black hair, which will appear completely black. Brown hair can come in countless shades and forms the dark brown that we call black hair.

Read Next: What Is the Most Common Hair Color?

How Your Hair Tone Is Decided

Most common hair color chart by color for a piece titled is black a natural hair color

The tone of your hair is dictated by a variety of factors, but we can simplify it. Like your skin tone, your hair color is decided by melanin.

Specifically, there are two types of melanin at play: pheomelanin and eumelanin:

  • Pheomelanin gives off lighter tones and is responsible for lighter colors of hair. Eumelanin does the opposite, helping create darker hair tones.
  • Melanin is something everyone has, though in different accounts; the combination helps to show what color your hair will ultimately be.

However, nobody has 100% of either melanin. To have completely black hair naturally, one would have to have 100% eumelanin. That said, one can have so much eumelanin that their hair is a deep, dark brown.

These browns can become dark enough to appear black, but naturally speaking, will never fully be black. Generally speaking, the amount of melanin you have will come down to genetics.

If you have two fair-haired parents, it’s unlikely that you’ll have an excess of eumelanin and black hair. If your parents both have deep brown hair, you’ll likely have plenty of eumelanin as well. Hair darkness can also change with age.

In part, this is why hair eventually goes gray as we age. Hair follicles die out and less melanin will reach the hair, causing it to turn into more “transparent” shades of gray, white, and silver.

It’s also not uncommon for people to be born with one natural shade of hair and grow up with another. Hair will often darken with age as melanin production shifts.

How to Lighten Naturally “Black” Hair

Woman holding a lemon to her hair

Mr.Cheangchai Noojuntuk/Shutterstock

There are many ways that you can lighten your hair to be a brighter shade of brown without dying it. If you want your brown hair to brighten away from black, here are some methods you can try.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice has a long history of use in brightening your hair. It was especially common in the 70s and 80s for people to spray lemon juice onto their hair and skin before lying down in the sun.

However, it’s worth noting that lemon juice works much better for hair that’s already bright. You may have mixed results spraying it onto dark hair, but over time you’ll likely lighten it a few shades.


Chamomile is another excellent natural way to brighten your hair. Chamomile flowers have a pigment in them that creates a golden hue. This pigment, apigenin, can attach itself to your hair when you apply it.

Chamomile also has similar properties to conditioners and hair softeners. While it certainly shouldn’t be the only thing in your hair care box, it should be part of it. To apply, you only need to brew chamomile tea.

Damp your hair and apply the tea to your hair. Pouring it over or dipping your hair in the mixture both work fine. Afterward, dry it with a hair dryer or lie in the sun, as sunlight helps to activate apigenin.

Sea Salt

Sea salt is a third great way to naturally brighten your hair. It’s also one of the easiest ones to use, even more than chamomile or lemon juice. If you live near the beach, all you need to do is go swimming and let your hair dry in the sun.

There’s a high chance that you’ll do this at the beach anyway! The natural salt water will brighten your hair as it dries out.

If you aren’t near the ocean, mix one tablespoon of sea salt with about half a cup of warm water. Leave this mixture in your hair for up to 20 minutes. Over time, repeating this process will brighten your hair.

How to Naturally Darken Your Hair

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If your hair is a shade of brown too far away from black, you may want a way to try to darken it. For natural ways to darken your hair, try the following.


One great way you can darken your hair naturally is with the use of coffee. There are multiple methods you can try. The first and most common is to simply brew black coffee.

As with chamomile tea, you only need to lather it on wet hair or dip your hair into it. You can also use coffee without brewing it.

Using a homemade conditioner with coffee as a prominent ingredient, for example, should work fine. Be aware that you should only use black coffee. Adding other ingredients to the coffee like milk or sugar can have detrimental effects.

Black Tea

Just as with coffee and chamomile, you can brew black tea for your hair. There are many different kinds of black tea, but the effect should be similar regardless of what kind you use.

You should brew your tea with only the leaves. Careful not to add ingredients like lemon juice, as these can lighten your hair instead.

Read Next: Does Black Hair Look Good on Light Skin?

Frequently Asked Questions

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With everything we’ve covered, there still may be a few questions in mind. Here are some frequently asked questions about naturally darkening your hair.

What Is the Best Way to Darken Hair?

The best way to darken your hair is with coffee if you’re staying natural. Coffee will darken your hair more effectively and into a deeper brown than most other natural methods.

What Is the Best Way to Lighten Hair?

Staying natural, no one method sticks out as a clear winner. They all require repeated applications as well. Consider a beachy vacation week and see the color of your hair when you’re back home!

Can I Mix Coffee and Shampoo?

Yes, you can mix coffee into your shampoo. There shouldn’t be many negative effects, but you shouldn’t mix it in the bottle. This is primarily in case you change your mind, as the coffee would effectively be part of the shampoo.

Can I Use Instant Coffee or Tea?

You can use instant coffee, but brewing fresh coffee is better. Your hair is sensitive, so use the best ingredients you can!

What Is the Rarest Hair Color?

The rarest hair color is red. Experts say that roughly 2% of the world’s population has red hair.

So, Is Black a Natural Hair Color?

Hair that appears black is natural, but what we consider “black” hair is a deep, dark brown. Due to melanin production, no one has completely black hair. 

Be sure to visit our website for more hair color, styling, and care guides. We’re sure you’ll learn something you didn’t know before visiting the site. Happy coloring!