Many naturals like to avoid adding chemicals and other unnatural things to their hair as much as possible. At the same time, they might need something to add depth and color without causing harm to what they’ve worked so hard to obtain. Luckily, mixing henna and indigo can do this and will provide fantastic results if done correctly. Bonus: it’s also a helpful way for naturally curly girls to cover up grays!
When using henna to dye your hair, avoid prepackaged “henna hair dyes.” While it may seem easier to use something that is ready-to-go, you’ll pay for the convenience. Many of these ready-to-go henna hair dyes have ingredients besides henna mixed into them. Additionally, since you have no control over the henna mixture, you risk your hair coming out a different color that you may anticipate. Often, you will see these listed as “natural” or “herbal” henna hair dyes.
The following is known as the “two-step” henna hair-dyeing technique, though there are clearly more than two steps. The “two steps” refers to doing henna and following it up with indigo for dark brown/black curls.
How To Mix Henna & Indigo
- Step 1: Protect your workspace! Indigo will dye surfaces blue, and the henna-indigo mixture can turn surfaces any shade of orange, red, blue, green or black. Cover your countertops, floors and any other area you think might get a drop of the mixture during the process. Also, don’t use your best towels (it’s a good idea to have “hennaing towels”) and put on some old clothes. This is also the time to make sure your hair is free of tangles.
- Step 2: For shoulder-length hair, put 200g of henna powder in a bowl. For dark brown curls, a good mixture would be 100g of Jamila or Rajasthani Twilight plus 100g Dulhan. You can double the amount of henna (400g total) if you’re unsure about how much you’ll need for the length of your hair. It would be best to make too much — and know to adjust the amount next time — than to not have enough!
- Step 3: Bring about three cups of distilled water to a boil, then toss in three bags of green tea and allow that to brew for a few minutes. Let the tea cool to room temperature. Then, slowly pour the tea (bags removed) into the henna powder using a wooden or plastic spoon until the mixture is the consistency of a thick batter.
- Step 4: Cover the bowl and seal it tightly, then let it set in a cool, dark place for 12 hours. If you later find that this quantity of henna is too much for the length of your hair, then you can separate the henna into two parts after it has set for 12 hours. Wrap one part in clear plastic wrap and wrap it up in aluminum foil, store it in a freezer bag, then place in the freezer for your next use. Just let the mixture thaw out, and then jump right into step 5!
- Step 5: Add 4 tbs of honey and approximately 1 and 1 1/2 cups of your favorite moisturizing conditioner. A good choice would be CURLS Coconut Sublime Moisturizing Conditioner for dry hair or Curl Junkie’s Curl Assurance Smoothing Conditioner for curly hair that tends to frizz.
- Step 6: Separate hair into four sections, put on some gloves, and dive right into the henna mix! Start at the roots and apply with hands the same way you would any hair dye.
- Step 7: Wrap your hair in plastic wrap, then wrap with a towel to catch any drips and allow the henna mixture to sit on your hair for four hours. Note that this length of time varies depending on your hair type and porosity. Type 2s may find that three hours is sufficient while more dry hair, such as type 4 coils, may need to wait the full four hours. Some curlies prefer to leave the henna mixture on overnight so as not to deal with waiting, watching and rinsing immediately.
- Step 8: Put on a new pair of gloves, then dunk your hair into a filled tub to remove most of the henna mixture. You can get the remaining henna out in the sink. Then, mix together 50g of indigo powder, a dash of salt and enough water to make a very thick paste.
- Step 9: Using glove-covered hands, apply the indigo mix to your hair. Adding indigo to henna'ed hair is what will give your hair that dark brown/black color!
- Step 10: Wrap your hair in plastic wrap and cover with a shower cap. Then sit under the heat for one hour.
- Step 11: Finally, hop into the shower and rinse everything out of your hair! It may take a few rinses before everything comes out completely. Follow this up with a deep condition.
How do you mix henna for fabulous color?