Permanently changing hair color has limited options. You can either use standard permanent dye from the drugstore or salon or henna, and we are seeing more women in the natural hair community opting for the latter for obvious reasons. Henna is natural and less damaging to your hair than using chemical dyes. It is much cheaper than traditional hair dye. That does not mean it will never cause havoc, which can happen if you are not fully knowledgeable on what henna does and is. Carol.Robins inquired about a mishap she had using henna in our Curly Q&A that many may or have encountered when coloring with henna. 


I have been using henna with great results, this time my hair turned orange. How do I fix this? I’m 54 with bright orange clown looking hair, what will tone this down? I used henna, coffee, yogurt, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, molasses,  and coconut oil.  Not sure why it is so brassy this time.


The short answer is to go over your hair with indigo to darken the orange henna dyed your hair and it will be dark brown or black. If you are okay with that then you are good to go. You also many need to wait a few days for the oxidation process and the orange may subside to red. Here are some explanations on what henna and indigo are, and what may have caused your hair to turn orange.

What is henna?

Henna or Lawsonia inermis is a flowering plant that contains a very effective coloring pigment, Lawsone. A reddish-orange dye releases as the leaves are crushed. The pigment is maximized by the drying, milling, and sifting the henna leaves into a fine powder. Used since antiquity to dye fingernails, skin, hair, leather, and wool, the henna plant is native to tropical and subtropical regions in Africa, northern Australia, and southern Asia. 100% natural henna will only dye orange-reddish tones despite seeing some commercial brands claiming several henna colors.

What is indigo?

Indigo or Indigofera tinctoria produces a dark blue almost purplish dye that is among the oldest dyes used for textile and printing. Sometimes called black henna, Indigo will color the hair brown to black tones and will make existing dark hair colors even darker.

Why go over the henna with indigo?

Indigo is alkaline and reacts with henna, which is acidic to turn henna dyed hair from brown or red to black. They work quite well together and are often used to dye grays naturally.

What type of henna should you purchase?

As stated above, 100% natural henna will only dye hair a reddish-orange and any brands that claim it will dye it other colors is using other ingredients with their henna. There is no guarantee what you may end up with or how it will affect your strands.

How to fix a henna mishap?

Applying indigo will react with the henna and darken it to either a dark brown or even black. That may not be what you are opting for, but you may prefer it over the bright red orange. You may have used a different brand, the henna may be old, or your ingredient had some variations in your last application of the henna. Some add coffee and teas like chamomile to keep their hair from turning the reddish, orange color but going over the hair with indigo is the best way to remove the reddish-orange to a darker color.

Has henna ever turned your hair orange? 

Sabrina Perkins


Sabrina, founder of and contributor to several online publications, is a freelance writer who engages her audiences on the relevance of natural hair, beauty, and style.

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