30/05/2018 11:56 BST | Updated 01/06/2018 09:20 BST

Should You Dye Your Hair With Ribena? Scientists Find New Use For Leftover Blackcurrant Skins

Ribena could offer a 'natural' alternative to chemical dyes.

Oats, coconut oil and honey - many a beauty product ingredient has been sourced from our kitchen cupboards, and now we can add Ribena to that list.

Ribena factories may not be your first port of call for the latest beauty products, but that could be about to change - as scientists have discovered an unexpected use for blackcurrant waste created during the manufacture of the squash.

Researchers at the University of Leeds have created a natural hair dye from the blackcurrant skins leftover in the production of Ribena, which they say offers a more ecologically friendly alternative to chemical dyes - as it is thought up to 95% of all dyes end up washed down the drain and their effect on the environment is unknown.

Professor Rayner, from Leeds’ School of Chemistry, said: “We’ve made it possible to have great hair colour, and to get it from nature in the most sustainable way possible.”

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The patented hair dyeing technology provides an array of colours - supposedly any that berries are i.e. deep reds to bright blues. When these colours are combined with a natural yellow, the colours vary even more and head into bolder browns. The dye is semi permanent and good for 12 washes, similar to other hair dyes.

But how have they done this and can you do this with leftover Ribena at home I hear you ask? Unfortunately this isn’t as DIY as it sounds. The experts developed new technology to extract anthocyanins from blackcurrant fruit waste for use in these renewable dyes.

Colour chemist Dr Richard Blackburn explained: “Anthocyanins are pigments that provide colour to most berries, flowers, and many other fruits and vegetables. They are non-toxic, water-soluble and responsible for pink, red, purple, violet, and blue and colours and are widely used as natural food colorants all over the world.”

Anthocyanins bind well with protein and as hair is exactly that, they work well as hair dye.

Now, the researchers are preparing to sell their dye through a University of Leeds spinout company, Keracol Limited under the brand Dr Craft. The blackcurrant-based dyes are expected to go on sale later this summer.

“We’ve also just made the first natural purple shampoo,” Dr Blackburn added. “The blackcurrant extract is used in our Natural Purple Berry Brightening Serum to counteract brassy tones in blonde and grey hair. The anthocyanins work just as well as the synthetic dyes they are replacing.”