So you want to dye your hair darker for fall? We can get behind that idea. But first, coffee — or so say self-made stylists on the internet. Because according to DIYers and this step-by-step guide from Spoon University, the caffeine-infused must-have also makes for a pretty effective hair color. In addition to how it tints the hair a deeper shade of brown, self-made coffee-ground dye comes with some pretty promising benefits. The guide points out that coffee is free from chemicals found in typical hair dye, and also cites research that links caffeine to hair growth. Plus, the at-home hack doesn’t require fancy, fair-trade beans: It’s done with — wait for it — fresh brew from Dunkin’ Donuts. (Seriously.) Here’s how it works: Brew two cups of Dunkin' Donuts Dark Roast Ground Coffee, and then mix the cooled grounds with conditioner to prep a color solution. Next, soak freshly washed hair with the brewed java, then apply the just-made color solution, massaging from roots to tips. After letting it marinate on strands for an hour, rinse out and voilà — you now have darker and shinier hair.
As you can see in the before-and-after photos above, hair is tinted a darker shade of brown once it's colored with coffee. But as Andy James, a colorist at L.A.’s Salon Benjamin, says, you may not get salon-quality results. “I wouldn’t recommend doing this at home, because color isn’t going to be as even as when coloring your hair at the salon,” he says. “We as hairdressers understand porosity, and apply color in order to achieve perfectly even color. In [the tutorial’s] pictures, you can see that her roots are still similar to her natural color, but now her ends are black, which now requires color-correction.” But James does see the conditioning benefits that coloring with coffee can provide. And Melinda Miller-Rider, a colorist at L.A.’s Andy LeCompte Salon, likes the idea of DIY-coloring with natural ingredients. “Humans have been dyeing their hair with natural ingredients like teas, berries, and coffee for centuries,” she says. “Though hair tends to fade faster when dyeing with coffee and other natural ingredients, the upside is they may not have harsh additives — which can be hard on the endocrine system — when in raw or organic form. Coffee is also typically acidic, making hair shiny and soft.” Bottom line: If you're looking to give coffee-dyed hair a try, Miller-Rider suggests using organic beans only. “Unless you’re using organic coffee, who knows what chemicals and additives are being deposited in your hair shaft,” she points out. Or, skip the uncertainty and book an affordable, shine-inducing gloss treatment instead — the money you may save in color-correction alone could keep you drinking the good stuff for the rest of the year.