How To Use Henna and Indigo To Dye Your Hair

Woman with long hair

Learn how to use henna with or without indigo to dye your hair, condition it, strengthen it and leave it shiny and full. In this article you will find the following information:

  • How to dye your hair reddish tones using henna.
  • How to dye your hair brown tones using henna and indigo together (one-step process).
  • How to dye your hair black tones using henna and indigo separately (two-step process).

Henna and Indigo Powder

From left to right: henna powder, indigo powder

  1. Mixing henna (lawsonia inermis) for healthy hair and great color:
    • Mix henna with warm lemon juice or warm water, and allow paste to sit from 2-12 hours (as this depends on the dye release of the henna powder you have chosen). Add enough liquid to make a paste the consistency of pancake batter. 
    • After dye release has been achieved, wearing gloves, apply the henna paste to your hair (either damp or dry) by sections starting from the back and moving forward.
    • Wrap your hair. Allow it to sit from 1 to 6 hours. The longer you leave the henna in, the more dye will penetrate your hair.
    • Rinse or wash the paste out.
    • Your hair's color will settle over the next 2 days.

    Extra tips:

    • For redder tones, you may add hibiscus, red wine, beet juice or paprika. 
    • For browner tones you may add coffee, cloves, walnut hull powder or amla powder (this will tone down the red dye and give you volume all at once).
    • You may also try out a henna gloss. You can do this by adding some henna powder to your conditioner and letting it sit in your hair for 30 minutes to an hour as a deep conditioning treatment. You will be able to achieve some light dyeing as well.
    • Feel free to add orange blossom water, rose water or essential oils to your recipe to leave your hair smelling great!
    • Storing your henna powder: freezer for six months to a year.
    • Storing your henna paste: freezer, for up to six months.
  2. Mixing indigo (indigofera tinctoria) for brown hair:
    • Prepare your henna paste as directed. 
    • In a separate bowl mix your indigo powder with warm water and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes.
    • Then mix these two together. The more indigo you add, the darker the shade of brown will be.
    • Wearing gloves, apply the paste to your (either damp or dry) hair in sections moving forward from the back.
    • Wrap your hair and allow it to sit for 1 to 6 hours.
    • Rinse or wash out.
    • As with the process above, hair color settles over the next 2 days. This method is called a one-step process.
    • Storing your henna and indigo powder: place henna as directed above, and keep indigo in a cool, dark place.
    • To store your henna and indigo paste: any leftover paste with indigo in it will not keep, and it must be thrown out.
  3. Mixing indigo for jet black hair:
    • Follow the instructions on how to henna your hair first, as you will indigo your hair as soon as you have rinsed/washed out the henna from your hair. 
    • Mix your indigo powder with warm water and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes. Add enough water so that the paste once again achieves the texture of pancake batter. Please view optional tips for thickening up your indigo paste. Add salt (1 tsp per 100 grams of indigo powder) to darken the indigo and help it cling better to the hair strand.
    • Wearing gloves, apply the indigo paste to your (damp or dry) hair in sections moving forward from the back.
    • Wrap your hair, allowing it to sit for 1-2 hours.
    • Rinse or wash out the paste. Some prefer to use only conditioner to wash out the indigo.
    • Over the next 2 days, your hair color will settle. This method is called a 2-step process.
  4. Optional: You may also add CMC (carboxyl methyl cellulose) to your indigo paste, as it tends to be drippy. The CMC will thicken your paste up, and is also used to thicken store-bought salad dressing. You will need 1 gram per 100 grams of indigo powder.
  5. The amount of powder you should use depends on the length and thickness of your hair. Use this guideline as a general measurement based on medium thickness of hair and adjust as needed.
    • Shoulder length: 75 grams.
    • Below Shoulder length: 150 grams.
    • Waist: 250 grams.
    • Right below bum: 350 grams.
    • Knee: 500 grams.

Be sure to get your powders from a reliable supplier rather then off the shelf where the products could have been sitting there becoming stale for a long period of time.

There are many people out there who are sensitive to chemicals in their hair and this is a safe and natural alternative. Even if you are not sensitive to chemicals, your hair will love you for giving it natural treatment and care. You will see major improvements in your hair in both strength and texture from using henna, indigo and other natural herbs for hair. Enjoy!


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