Since I hit my 30s, I’ve been noticing greys creeping up one by one. Maybe not 50 shades, but enough to be noticeable! Sadly, most of them turn up around the crown of my head and end up being very visible. Ever since I decided to grow out my hair, I’ve been trying to take care of it better and part of that was to stop using chemical dyes on it.
I just got tired of the whole cycle of getting damaged and split ends, cutting it then wondering why I wasn’t able to grow it out. So around 3-4 years ago I decided to start using henna. My henna of choice is the one by Shahnaz Hussain, and I’ve been happy with it. I actually like the smell and love the way it conditions my hair.
But, from 8-10 greys or so, I now have loads more…sigh, the perils of ageing!! And, I really detest those bright orangey-red threads running though my hair. I literally had nightmares of my whole head turning a ghastly orange. After the usual internet research, I found there were 2 options to naturally colour hair dark-brown to black, though it doesn’t seem to be used commonly in India. Please correct me if I’m wrong.
Both these methods involve the use of indigo, and as fate would have it, when I happened to step into the local organic store a few days later, I spotted it on the shelf, so picked up a pack. This is the one that I’m using, and it’s available on flipkart and amazon, probably other sites too. Since then I’ve used it twice, and I did get better results the 2nd time I used it. Just like plain henna, it builds up colour with each use.
By the way this is the same indigo used to dye denim, and it can’t be used on it’s own, it’s always used in combination with henna. So, if you would like to know how to use it, read on ladies (and gents)!
So, the thing about the indigo molecule is that it literally needs the henna to hold onto the hair shaft and they are used together either as a 1-step or 2-step process. In a 2-step process, you get a deep blue-black colour, which I understand colours even lighter toned hair and the 1-step gives you a deep auburn to dark-brown shade.
I’m going to talk about the 1-step process as that’s the only one I’ve personally tried, also blue-black shades don’t suit my skin-tone. So, do think about that as well when deciding upon a hair colour. I see a lot of girls around with hair shades that don’t at all suit their skin tones, and it makes one look either washed-out or clownish. My natural hair colour is dark brown, but this brings out much richer brown hues in it. Here’s what you will need.
- 60% Henna
- 40% Indigo
- enough water to mix
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt
The quantity you use will depend on your hair length and thickness so I’m going to assume for the purpose of this post that you’re already familiar with using henna and know how much is required for your own hair. That’s the total amount of henna + indigo you would need. Also, the more auburn you want your hair, the higher the proportion of henna required.
The henna mix has to be prepared first as it takes roughly 4-8 hours for dye release. I add enough warm water to it to get a thick yogurt-like consistency and leave it overnight. Be sure to add plain water. Unlike your standard henna mix where you add an acidic ingredient like lemon juice, here you must not, as an acidic medium inhibits the indigo.
Indigo, when prepared must be used immediately as the dye demises very quickly. The next morning (after preparing the henna) I wash my hair with a clarifying shampoo and don’t apply conditioner, so that all the build-up is removed from my hair and it’s completely clean. Then I mix the indigo powder into the henna, add salt and some more water to keep the consistency.
Salt is supposed to further enhance the dye release. By this time my hair is damp, not dripping wet, and I apply the mix and cover my head with a shower cap. Indigo cannot be stored once mixed. The application and look of it is pretty much the same as a henna mix.
Most people recommend to keep it in the hair for 1-2 hours but I usually end up leaving it for around 3 hours and then rinse my hair out with water. If you leave it in for longer, the henna colour will gradually overpower the indigo. When using indigo, it’s not recommended to use shampoo/ conditioner for at least 48 hours after. Since it does tend to dry the hair out a bit, I lightly oil it while it’s still damp. Indigo will take 48-72 hrs to oxidise, so don’t worry if the colour looks too red. It will darken over that time.
As with anything else, when trying this for the 1st time be sure to do a patch test somewhere not noticeable. Also, this may react adversely with chemical dye, so be sure to check that before use. And finally, enjoy your luscious shiny-brown locks!