Friends, when I thought of this sustainable upcycling idea I thought I was a freaking genius. I’ve now come to find out that everyone and their sister has already done this *eyeroll* but I’m doing it anyway! Find out the secret below…
Are you ready??? The secret is… pantyhose! Or other tights. In fact, I’m using old, pink, ballet tights because I have a lot of these from my days of dancing in high school that I’m not using any more. I couldn’t bear to throw them out, but now they have a new life!
The only things you need are tights and scissors. If you don’t have old tights lying around, you could buy them new (although, if you’re going to buy something, you might as well buy hair ties) or you could try thrifting them. Be sure to wash them very well if you thrift them, though.
The process here could not be simpler: just cut off the toe and then continue to cut bands to create hair ties. NaturalReign has a good YouTube video showing how to do this, including how to cut different size hair ties (which is literally just choosing widths to cut, so very simple). Pro tip from my experience: thinner bands seem to stretch out faster than thicker ones. I prefer using this to make thicker “scrunchie-like” bands that I simply place around my hair once without twisting, rather than twisting it multiple times around my hair.
Bonus Step: Dying
Since I’m using pink ballet tights, I wanted to change the color to something a little less… ballet tights-ish. I thought about buying regular old fabric dye for this, but who knows what ingredients and environmental harm goes into those dyes? (Answer: not me, and I’m not about to do all that research when there are easy alternatives with my food scraps.)
Instead, I tried two different methods for this: avocados for a darker pink and coffee grounds for a brown that blends with my hair. For each color, I dyed one 4” scrunchie size, two 1” regular hair tie size, and two .5” minis (I use these to secure the ends of my French braids).
The inspiration for avocado dying came from @madder.home on Instagram. They do some awesome natural dying and I love watching their tie dye videos. In particular, I followed this video of dying a t shirt with avocados: https://www.instagram.com/p/CG-awt5noK7/
I only had one avocado on hand, so I just prayed it would be enough. I cut open the avo, removed and rinsed off the pit, and then removed (and ate) the flesh. I washed as much flesh as I could out of the skins, using just water. Then, I put the clean(ish) pit and skins into a pot with about 2c water and let it simmer for an hour. I added the hair ties to the dye and crossed my fingers…
For the coffee dye, I’m using these old Kahlua grounds. I got these years ago to make cold brew coffee with, but then gave up on it. I was happy to find these tucked in the back of the cupboard so I didn’t have to use coffee that otherwise would’ve been drank.
To make the dye, I brewed ¼ c grounds in ~1c boiling water. I let this sit for 30 minutes. Since I was only doing a small dye job and I wanted the brown as dark as possible, I did not further dilute this dye, as other websites suggest doing. After 30 minutes, I added the hair ties to the coffee and waited…
I left the hair ties to sit in the dye overnight (about 15 hours) and the results were… underwhelming!!
The coffee dye did a little to turn the tights a yellowish/tan color (basically the color of regular nylons), but the avocado dye did basically nothing. Oh well. The pink color isn’t terrible, luckily. And I leave my house so scarcely, there’s no one to see anyway.
Overall, I’m a fan of these DIY scrunchies/hair ties. They’re great to use putting my curls into a pineapple for the night because they’re stretchy and smooth. I don’t have to worry about them pulling out my hair like a regular hair tie might.
One thing that worries me about these are potential microplastics coming off the cut ends. Since these are made from an acrylic fabric and they have raw (unsewn) edges, there’s a chance that small microfibers might shed off them. You could potentially fold in the edges and sew them closed, but that seems like a lot of work and would probably take some skill to work with the stretch of the fabric. (More power to you if you do this, though.)
All in all, a good DIY/hack and I would recommend if you have some tights lying around that you don’t wear.