keratin bonds

How to: All Natural Black Hair Dye with Henna and Indigo 🌿

You may of heard of henna and indigo being used for body art or clothing dye, but did you know that these 100% natural plant pigments are great for the hair as well? In addition to providing lasting rich color, they also serve to clean, condition and strengthen the hair when combined. 

The henna plant, or Lawsonia Inermis is able to dye through it’s main pigment molecule, Lawsome. When applied as a pastethe lawsomein henna will bond to the keratin in your hair, leaving a red stain. The indigo plant, or Indigofera tinctoria is fermented and dried to produce the indoxol molecule, which when activated by warm water, will form a deep blue indigo color that also bonds to keratin molecules. Neither can lighten or bleach the hair, only deposit color. When used in conjunction, these 2 pigments will produce varying shades of brown to black, depending on the ratio of each used. 

* Note: Pure Henna and Indigo in their unoxidized form will always be in the form of a green, earthy smelling powder. This is natural and does not indicate that your hair will be dyed green. Make sure that what you purchase is of body art quality with no chemical additives. Jamila Henna is an example of such and can be found at local ethnic markets or online for around $1.99. Some companies such as HennaColorLab provide pre-mixed ratios of pure plant pigment powders. For this tutorial, I will be using their Natural Black mix with about 50 grams of extra Indigo powder mixed in. Henna and Indigo can also be purchased and applied separately if you’d prefer a 2-step process of dying the hair first with henna, then indigo. The two step process is a bit more intensive but may produce a deeper color and longer lasting results. Always perform a spot test on hair before full application, especially if hair has been previously dyed or chemically altered, as this may affect to resulting color.

Now, on to the fun part!

To begin, you will need : 

A non-metal bowl ( metal may cause pigment to alter)

A non-metal spoon or spatula 

A towel, or two ( this process could get messy!)

Gloves ( skin will be stained if left uncovered)

A Shower Cap

Pure Henna + Indigo ( 100g of powder is generally enough to cover shoulder length hair. Make sure you have enough for your specific hair length and thickness. I used about 150 grams for my hair.)


Step 1: Pour henna and indigo powder into a bowl, then gently stir while pouring warm water into the mix. Amount of water needed may vary, so monitor consistency until a smooth, yogurt-like texture is achieved. *Tip: Try your hand at experimenting with natural add-ins like coconut milk for extra conditioning or salt to bring out a deeper indigo dye release.

Step 2: Apply paste to freshly washed, damp hair from roots to ends, making sure it is evenly saturated all around. * Tip: if your hair is in a loose, unloc’d state, it may be easier to part hair and apply paste in separate sections, braiding or twisting each section as you go along.

Step 3: Cover hair with shower cap, letting the paste sit and oxidize for at least 2-4 hours for maximum dye release. Since leaving it in for longer will not harm your hair, feel free to experiment with time, taking note of how the color changes. The process can be sped up with gentle heat from a hair dryer or by simply wrapping a scarf or towel over the shower cap to trap in body heat.  *Tip: for large amounts of hair, try using 2 shower caps overlapped.

Step 4: Once the dye has gotten a chance to oxidize and penetrate, remove shower cap and rinse hair thoroughly until water runs clear. A gentle, non-stripping shampoo may help with removal. * Be sure not to let any splattered dye sit on any surface for too long as it will stain. 

Step 5: Gently towel dry hair and admire your freshly colored mane, compliments of mother nature ;) Feel free to add a leave in conditioner if hair feels dry. I personally just use a small amount of coconut oil. * Note: hair color may continue to oxidize and darken slightly over the next couple of days, so try not to load it up with too much product as this may impede the process. 

In my experience, the black henndigo color will last for about 3 months before I notice any fading. Your results may vary based on hair care and products used. Since it will not harm your hair, you may repeat the dying process all over your hair as often as you’d like, or just stick to touching up the roots. 

* Note I will most likely do more posts in the future on how to achieve or enhance different hair colors with with plant based dyes, but feel free to message me in the mean time for more information and tips  👍

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