Related Blogs: How to Apply HennaMixing Your Red HennaNeutral Henna - Get Strong & Glossy Without the ColorHow to Remove Henna Naturally

Indigo is the super bean (fine, we’re just using the leaves, but it IS in the legume family) that can transform coppery red henna into an array of browns and even deep raven’s wing black. Traditionally, indigo used to dye fabrics deep shades of blue, but with a little science hacking, it can be used to safely darken your hair without chemical dyes and PPD.

Remember, you can always darken your hair by adding more indigo to your mix the next time you dye, but you can’t go back to red as easily. Start at least a shade or two lighter than you want to go, or do some strand tests to determine the exact mix for the color you want. Henna and indigo are not as easily lifted out of the hair as traditional chemical dyes.

One of the easiest & most commons mistakes that people make using indigo is mixing it too early and not using it fast enough. Without getting into the molecular science of it, think of indigo as a sprint compared to the cross-country running that is henna. Indigo powder should be kept sealed and dry in a cool/dark location until it’s ready to be used. If your paste turns blue, your indigo has oxidized and will not stain your hair well.

Only mix up as much indigo as you feel you can use in 20 minutes. If you’re using it to mix with henna to create a brown tone, and have short hair for quick application—fantastic, go ahead and mix it all together and apply it. If you have longer or thicker hair and it takes longer than 20 minutes to apply your henna mix – mix part of your indigo and then add in the red henna in the correct ratio (depending on your color goal), stir until well incorporated, and apply to the sections of hair you're working with. Repeat this process mixing small batches of indigo and adding henna until your whole head is covered. The reason goes back to how quickly the dye molecule in indigo oxidizes. Mixing your indigo and henna together all at once can lead to uneven results as the henna/indigo paste applied later will have fewer indigo dye molecules left to bind to your hair and it may turn out redder than you expect.

The same applies to the two-step process to dye your hair black. Only mix as much indigo as you can apply within 20 minutes, keeping the rest of the powder dry until you’re ready to mix and apply.

 

Creating brunette shades – one step process

Some common mixes for brunette and dark brown shades:

  • 90% henna and10% indigo = cool auburn
  • 75% henna and 25% indigo = brownish auburn
  • 50% henna and 50% indigo = medium brunette
  • 75% indigo and 25% henna = dark brunette
  • 10% henna and 90% indigo = nearly black

We make this easy by providing kits to match your color goals, but also selling indigo and henna separately so that you can create your own hair destiny.

Mix your red henna in a bowl with something a little acidic. There’s a whole post about it here and let the dye release. If you’re looking for a cooler brown tone, use amla as your acidic ingredient to cool off the red. Keep your indigo packet sealed and come back in a few hours, maybe even the next day if it’s cold.

While your dye is releasing, wash your hair with Morrocco Method Apple Cider Vinegar shampoo or another clarifying shampoo. Avoid conditioner. If your hair is fully unmanageable without conditioner, use an apple cider vinegar rinse to untangle your hair. Clean, dry hair presents the best conditions for dye uptake.

After your red henna has achieved dye release, you can open your indigo and mix it separately from the henna. Indigo should only be mixed with distilled water--adding any acidic liquids can ruin your dye. Add water a little at a time and keep some handy as you may need to add more water during application since indigo tends to thicken as it sits. Don’t add the indigo powder straight into the henna mix.

Remember to only mix as much as you can use in about twenty minutes, this is important for anyone with very long or thick hair who can’t get all of their henna in during that 20-minute window. Once your indigo is thoroughly mixed, add as much henna as needed to meet your ratio. Mix until fully incorporated and apply to your hair. Repeat this process until you have applied your henna and indigo mix to your whole head.

PROTIP: If the pea-like smell of Indigo isn’t your cup of tea, you can mix in a couple of tablespoons of vanilla instant pudding mix. This will also make it easier to apply while masking the scent. Add a couple of tablespoons of pudding mix (about 28g) into the indigo powder while both are dry and stir together well before adding any liquid.

After you’ve applied your henna/indigo mix, wrap your hair in plastic wrap and cover for 2-4 hours. Leaving in your henna/indigo mix for too long can cause your hair to start becoming redder as the indigo dye molecules oxidize completely while the henna dye molecules are still migrating into your hair. 

Rinse your hair with cool-to-lukewarm water until it runs clear. Conditioner can help loosen the mix in your hair to rinse it out more easily. Our Citrus Silk Conditioner Bar is hands down the best conditioner to help loosen and remove the paste, plus the citrus scent will soften that 'freshly hennaed' scent AND make your hair extra silky. Do not wash your hair for the first 24 hours. Your hair will achieve its final color after 72 hours.

 

Creating black – 2 step process

This process is best done in the same day; however, it can be done in two days as long as the indigo is applied to the hair within 48 hours after rinsing out the henna. If you’re going to do this in two days, we do recommend washing your hennaed hair before applying the indigo so that the hair is free of any oils that would hinder uptake.

Only mix as much indigo as you can use in about 20 minutes, apply all of that to your hair and then mix another batch if your hair is long or thick enough that you can’t apply it all at once. This will ensure even coloring throughout since the indigo dye molecule oxidizes so much faster than henna.

After the indigo is applied, wrap the hair in plastic and cover for 2 hours. Rinse with cool-to-lukewarm water until the water runs clear. Your hair will achieve its final color 72 hours after the first henna dye, as the henna continues to oxidize for a full 72 hours.