Ribena Hair Dye Is The Newest Way To Switch Up Your Colour – & It's Natural

Photographed by Jessica Castro
Whether you identify as a colour chameleon or simply aren’t willing to embrace your greys just yet, dyeing your hair yourself is no mean feat.
Besides the possibility of the colour not taking or looking entirely different from the shade you had in mind, there’s always the fear of how your scalp will react to the army of chemical irritants – the most common being paraphenylenediamine, otherwise known as PPD. Welts, scabs and swelling? We’d rather not.
But scientists have discovered a natural way to nip most allergic reactions in the bud – and it’s all thanks to Ribena.
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We know what you’re thinking: Ribena and hair dye – how on earth do the two relate? Well, it's pretty clever. A recent study by colour chemist Dr. Richard Blackburn and organic chemist Professor Chris Rayner, both from the University of Leeds, found that the naturally occurring pigments (otherwise known as anthocyanins) from blackcurrant fruit waste used in the production of Ribena, made a non-toxic dye that was extremely effective in colouring hair.
So how does it work?
"After being pressed, the skins remain as a waste product," said Professor Rayner. "They have very high concentrations of anthocyanins and represent a sustainable supply of raw material because of how much blackcurrant cordial we drink."
"We knew [anthocyanins] bound strongly with proteins," Dr. Blackburn went on to explain. "Hair is a protein – so we thought if we could find an appropriate source of these natural colours, we might be able to dye hair."
And dye hair they did. In fact, the anthocyanins from blackcurrant waste work just as well as the synthetic dyes they are replacing, according to Dr. Blackburn. But you can cast aside the notion that the finished product – available to buy this summer, through a University of Leeds spinout company, Keracol Limited under the brand Dr Craft – will leave your lengths like Charlie And The Chocolate Factory's Violet Beauregarde’s (bright blue and bright blue only). According to the experts, the patented hair dyeing technology not only serves up intense reds, purples and blues, but when combined with yellow, could provide a wider spectrum of hair colours, including browns. Impressively, tests showed that the colour stayed put for up to 12 washes, similar to DIY dyes we all know and love.
There's even an all-natural purple shampoo in the pipeline to banish brassy tones in blonde and grey hair, too. "The blackcurrant extract is used in our Natural Purple Berry Brightening Serum," said Dr. Blackburn.
The best part, though? The new hair products are eco-friendly, something that is especially important seeing as it is thought up to 95% of all dyes end up washed down the drain. While the exact effect on the environment is unknown, opting for sustainable hair dye like this can only be a good thing – even if only for your poor scalp.
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