Yes, you can dye your hair with chocolate hazelnut spread
EC: I Dyed My Hair with Nutella
Credit: Photo by Kathryn Lindsay, illustration by Lauren Kolm

What, you might ask, has led me here to the moment that I started mashing Nutella in my hair for beauty purposes? Well, it all started with an Instagram post, which made the rounds on the Internet last year, in which a hairdresser is using Nutella hair dye. “But that sounds ill-advised,” you say. You’d think, wouldn’t you? But there are multiple videos of this technique, where locks of blonde hair are magically transformed into a hazlenut-ty brown that’s as trendy as it is delicious using everyone's very favorite chocolate hazelnut spread as a coloring agent.

Like most bad ideas, I wanted to try it before conceding that there was no way it could ever work. I turned to Google to learn the basics of hair-dyeing to see if there was anything I could glean that would make my Nutella experiment more plausible. In the case of regular hair dye, you combine the color with a developer to activate the process. Was that also the case with Nutella?

“Developer is only made to be activated with hair color,” Alex Hartnett, a New York City-based hairdresser, explained. “There's something in each that when they are mixed together they open up your hair shaft to penetrate your cuticle. I don't think it would have the same effect mixed with Nutella.”

“I think the only way it will actually stick to the hair is if it is previously lightened,” Alex continued. I asked her if this was just an Internet stunt, or if you could really dye your hair with the same stuff you put on your toast. “If you have highlights or bleach of any kind you should be good to go with straight Nutella.”

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Luckily, I did. While my hair is naturally brown, over the summer I had gotten balayage with blonde highlights. If anything at all, I expected applying Nutella would even out the color, taking it back to its chocolatey hue for winter. I bought Nutella and foil and got to work.

I had been to a high school sleepover before, so I had some experience dyeing my own hair. I didn’t wash it for 24 hours, brushed it, and applied the Nutella with a spatula. Working with chunks at a time, I added the spread and rolled the sections of hair into foil. I then drank a milkshake and contemplated the choices I had made in life that lead me to this moment.

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That took about three hours. A thing that makes Nutella different from hair dye, apart from everything, is that it dries. Specifically, into crumbly pieces of chocolate that will knot your hair and clog the shower drain that your roommates literally just cleaned. It took a lot of shampooing and combing to get all of it out, but even now, a day later, I can still feel it. I hopped out of the shower, blow-dried my hair, and looked upon my handy work.

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If my hair was any darker, I definitely couldn’t see it. But it wasn’t a total waste of time. Nutella may not be an effective hair dye, but it does contain oils that function as a pretty effective hair mask. My hair is definitely a lot softer, although still somewhat greasy from the mess. Maybe I did it wrong, or maybe my highlights weren’t light enough to absorb the color, or maybe, just maybe, Nutella is really only meant for eating. Sounds good to me.